Maintaining good well-being and a great overall experience for employees is vital to creating a safe and welcoming work environment. The employee experience (EX) is a key factor in the success of any organisation as high morale, good work-life balance and good engagement lead to higher productivity and the creation of better products.
Technology is at the forefront of shaping the employee experience. The COVID-19 Pandemic saw many firms across the world embrace remote and hybrid working.
However, many employees also fear that this hybrid working environment and the ushering in of new remote technology will hurt their work-life balance and make it easier for managers to carry out workplace monitoring and surveillance.
In the remote and hybrid era, it’s harder than ever to build a cohesive and inclusive employee experience. In this blog, we’ll discuss how technology can both enhance and detriment the employee experience, and explore how you can transform your EX into a positive, inclusive aspect of your organisation.
The Importance of Employee Experience
Employee experience encompasses every experience an employee has from looking at a job advert to leaving your company. Just as the customer experience and journey are vital for maintaining high customer engagement, the same is true for your talent.
A positive employee experience will keep your employees happy and engaged. Creating a truly inclusive work environment and ensuring good employee engagement will drive your teams to develop a better product, provide better customer experiences, and ultimately improve your bottom line. Those companies that invest in EX can see up to 25% greater profitability, 100% greater customer satisfaction and can expect twice the innovation – according to Avanade.
Ultimately, good EX helps your organisation stand out in the talent market. A new generation of tech-savvy employees are now demanding more personalised employee journeys – and investing in technology is a brilliant way to achieve this.
Technology and the Employee Experience
There is a clear experience gap between executives and staff about whether or not technology investment pays attention to the needs and experiences of employees – with 90% of C-suite executives agreeing that due attention to people’s needs are taken, compared to only 53% for all staff.
Employees fear a loss of the ‘human touch’, but also want digital assistance and the benefits of WFH when possible.
How Technology Can Negatively Impact the Employee Experience
Let’s first start with the negatives. Many employees are pessimistic about the role technology plays in their daily work life. According to a CIPD report, 40% of workers believe the complexity of their work has increased due to technology, and many (50%) feel they lack the skills and knowledge needed to properly engage with new workplace technology.
Moreover, employees overwhelmingly are disillusioned with technology’s impact on business performance. 93% of employees don’t believe technology increases revenue, and 84% don’t believe it reduces cost.
Many employees believe that the use of portable devices leads to blurred boundaries between work and home life and many find it difficult to switch off from work. Employees are increasingly concerned about the ability of managers to carry out workplace monitoring – with 73% of employees believing activity surveillance would damage trust between workers and employers.
Furthermore, much of the employee animosity toward the technology – that’s devices, AI, automation etc. – can be attributed to fears that automation will replace labour. A World Economic Forum report predicts that the ‘human’ share of labour hours will decrease from 71% to 58% by 2025.
However, the CIPD argues that such fears are unlikely to come true. Automation is firstly happening at a slow pace that re-training is entirely feasible. Secondly, more new jobs working with automation are being created than those being lost.
How Technology Can Positively Impact the Employee Experience
During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote access technology and virtual collaboration software played a huge part in ensuring business continuity. As we move away from the pandemic era into one of hybrid working, WFH maintains a lucrative selling point when hiring new talent.
Research has shown that whilst employees generally prefer face-to-face interactions for certain aspects of their jobs, they prefer mundane tasks such as logging annual leave or submitting expenses to be digitised.
Any new technology innovation that speeds up processes and improves the customer experience can also enhance the employee experience. The key factor in their sentiments is how involved employees are in the decision-making process for new tech projects.
According to the CIPD, only 35% of employees are consulted on new tech projects – whereas HR is typically the least involved department in such decision-making processes.
This breeds a culture of workplace technology that is customer-centric or business-focused, but not people-centric. What effect does this have? The CIPD states that when employees are not consulted, only 20% feel positive about the likely impact of technology on their job quality. This rises to a staggering 80% when workers are consulted.
Therefore, it’s clear organisations must pay attention to employee voice and seek informed insights from their workers to make sure technology aids EX, not harms it.
The second barrier to tech and EX is the knowledge gap. 50% of employees now believe they’ll need more skills and knowledge for their roles – owing to new technology.
Despite such concerns, virtual communication brings organisations together, making it easier than ever to share ideas and expertise across teams. What’s needed to ensure a positive EX impact is a focused employee experience and engagement platform. That’s where Microsoft Viva can help.
Introducing: Microsoft Viva
A first of its kind, Microsoft Viva is a dedicated employee experience software suite that’s built right into Microsoft Teams, included within your M365 licensing. It’s designed to help organisations manage employee well-being, foster engaging relationships across your company, and give your employees the knowledge and skills to succeed in their roles.
Viva is split into four feature areas:
- Viva Insights: Helps employees improve their productivity and wellbeing by tracking their flow of work habits and hours. Insights give staff actionable recommendations for reducing stress and limiting burnout. Flexible reports give managers a better insight into the well-being of their team members.
- Viva Learning: A smart, social e-learning platform perfect for bridging a tech skill gap. Viva Learning integrates with Teams to make learning a natural part of each employee’s day. Organisations can easily create knowledge banks – combining your own resources, those from Microsoft and your third-party learning providers. From here, managers can set assignments for employees through Teams.
- Viva Topics: Using AI, Viva Topics organises your company’s content and knowledge, making it easier for employees to discover updates on projects, and be exposed to new topics and ideas.
- Viva Connections: A social network where employees can share and explore company news and connect with others across the business.
Microsoft Viva aims to be people-centric, allowing for employees to feel included and valued. Viva is private-by-design, with it primarily designed to help individuals – not facilitate surveillance. It is ultimately a software suite employees can engage with and trust.