frustrated man using a laptop
PHOTO: Tim Gouw

By now, it's accepted that intranet and digital workplace (DW) designers need to focus on improving the digital experience of employees. Yet it's impossible to deal with all use cases at once, so a little prioritization is in order.

Depending on the background of the people managing the intranet, some use cases will be better managed than others, resulting in some of the users' needs completely unmet.

Typically, communications, HR, IT or marketing own the intranet or digital workplace, and as a result, their DW approach renders different results.

HR is most likely to say that all employees need to easy access to manage their days off. As a result, they will look for a tighter integration between the intranet and the HR information system. Marketing-owned intranets will most likely have a very nice section for products and campaigns. IT will do their best by providing links to the apps and their technical documentation. And comms will make sure that all the news is beautifully written and presented.

Another approach to improve the employee experience is to look at the employee lifecycle. Based on this perspective, intranet designers will focus on scenarios like onboarding, integration, training, promotion, exit, and all the other scenarios derived from this approach.

Improving Digital Employee Experience in the Core Business

While these approaches do yield results, there is one area which, if done right, will surpass by an order of magnitude all other scenarios in delivering improved employee experience: improving the digital employee experience in core business scenarios.

Improving the way an intranet supports the core business isn't an easy thing to do, so a methodical approach will help.

A challenge with this approach is that the apps used for core business cannot be substantially changed by the company. Building a user experience layer using APIs or microservices isn't a very practical approach here as it involves duplicating the user interface of large, complex apps.

Most users have shortcuts to these apps, which leaves little room for interacting with the user outside of the app.

But while it is true that in most cases users will access the app directly and fulfill their task without consulting the intranet, there are also cases (new employees, new products, procedures or changes) where the person will require some additional reading. In these cases, make sure that the intranet provides all of the information on every core-business related topic a user would need to perform all the topic-related activities.

Take a topic such as a current bank account. First, it is a product which involves information related to the product itself, like description, training materials, specific news, active campaigns, product owner contact details or FAQs. Second, are all the activities the employee must perform in relationship with the product such as opening, suspending or closing of the account. They involve their specific procedures, software tools or support methods. Feedback mechanisms that channel the message to each topic/process owner must be put in place to identify all of the opportunities for improvement.

There is another area of optimizing digital employee experience that is important, and that is identifying any important scenarios for employees from a personal perspective. Finding out the number of outstanding leave days, requesting a leave or getting paycheck information are all areas companies should spend effort to streamline.

Related Article: Digital Workplace Complexity Is Slowing Down Your Workforce

What We Call a Win-Win-Win

Done right, focusing on the most productive areas of digital employee experience will win the hearts and minds of the executives paying for such an initiative, will make life a lot easier for employees, and will deliver better service and products to customers.