The digital workplace is evolving, and that includes HR teams.
Technology has transformed the way employees work. The latest tools feature AI, automation, targeted workflows, and increased channels for communication. In addition, generational demographics of the labor force are shifting. Baby boomers are leaving the workforce, while millennials now make up the majority of the labor force. Millennials have different expectations from their employers in comparison to previous generations. Millennials want organizations to adopt technology as quickly as possible and expect companies to value their opinions and voice. This means HR is often left trying to balance legacy organizational processes with the new demands posed by a new generation of employees.
With all these changes taking place, HR needs to become more strategic. Specifically, HR needs to think of more than dealing with just payroll, benefits, and procedures; HR teams need to recognize that employees need to be catered to much in the way a company’s customers are. With that in mind, HR should focus more on engagement, retention, and culture. All these elements can have a positive effect on the employee experience.
Your workforce is composed of diverse segments that have different needs and pains. To create the best “worker journey,” HR needs to target and personalize its services. HR strategy needs to be employee-centered and focused on empowering teams throughout their time at a company. Digital workplace tools can help you implement positive transformations to meet the changes of the modern workforce.
Why the Employee Experience Is so Important
Enhancing the employee experience is the best way to increase productivity and boost engagement. Currently, many employees struggle to get the information that they need from their employers. This can cause frustration and impede the pace of any strategic organizational change initiatives.
HR needs to focus on providing solutions that work for every employee. The entire journey of a worker, from recruiting, onboarding, to the job itself, needs to be optimized.
What is the best way to measure the employee experience? Gartner found that, in 2019, 75% of enterprises still use formal, large-scale surveys to gauge how employees feel about their jobs and workplace. Yet these once-a-year surveys fail to keep up with the rapid changes in technology and expectations of the modern workplace.
By contrast, pulse surveys are fast and frequent surveys conducted weekly or monthly. They provide quick insights into employee satisfaction levels. Instead of waiting an entire year to assess the employee experience, pulse surveys give you more consistent insight into engagement. This can help you frequently pivot your strategy to increase the success of your engagement tactics. Having shorter, more frequent surveys can be beneficial in showing your workforce that HR cares about their experience and happiness.
When you conduct surveys, you need to ask the right questions to measure engagement. This means going beyond asking about satisfaction in relation to payroll and benefits. Instead, you should ask employees about key indicators of engagement. Asking about key indicators of engagement is more important than asking about procedural services. This would include asking questions like the following.
- Do you feel valued at work?
- Do you feel supported by your manager or supervisor?
- Do you feel clear about your role in the company?
Remember that engagement is often also affected by your digital workplace. You should ask if your digital tools are easy to use, what types of technologies workers need, and what tools do they use daily. This will show your workforce that you care about their digital experience. Asking questions that attempt to uncover the key indicators of engagement will help you plan a strategy around maximizing your employee experience.
Combine this qualitative way to measure the happiness and engagement level of your workers with quantitative communications metrics. By tracking how many employees read, like, and share a company article or news blast, you can gauge how connected and informed your workforce is. Since a major issue for most working is getting the right information, gathering data on communications engagement can help you figure out where there are holes in your communications strategy.
In addition, analytics can provide a deeper insight into the types of content (think of video or infographics, for example) your teams like and what is the most relevant content to different workforce segments. Engaging your workforce involves meeting them on the channel and medium that they prefer to use. Data can help you inform your communications strategy to increase engagement.
What HR needs to succeed
Your workforce is your greatest tool. In order to create an amazing business, you need to support the people that build it. Gallup’s recent research on the employee experience reveals that “organizations rarely meet people’s basic needs at any stage of the employee life cycle. Leaving only 15% of employees worldwide and 33% in the U.S. engaged at work.” Engagement requires much more than surveying your employees. HR can increase employee engagement by transforming the way the workforce gets work done. Here are 10 strategies that HR needs to succeed.
1. Transform from tactical to strategic.
Tactical, compliance, and compensation issues often take up the bulk of HR resources. These issues, while necessary for a company to function, take time away from creating a positive employee experience. HR should consider investing in technology that expedites tactical work (background checks, getting a corporate ID card, issuing computers, etc.). This will free up HR to focus on strategic initiatives that impact and align with broader corporate goals.
2. Improve employee experience with personalization.
Your workforce is composed of many different business units, job functions, and branches. Some workers may sit at a desk; others may be frontline workers who don’t go into the office every day. Not every worker has the same experience at the same company. This means that HR needs to be strategic in how it engages and reaches different workforce segments.
Employees need to be thought of as distinct segments in order for HR to provide value to each group. To engage every worker, you need to personalize and target your communications. Different job functions and regions will have unique characteristics that provide ample opportunity for HR engagement.
3. Measure the impact of your services.
It is also important to measure the success of HR services. Where might HR be underperforming? Where is HR investing too much in something that’s not important to employees? HR should reframe and redesign the service model to provide focused and expert support to each worker segment based on their differing needs. Measure your impact through pulse surveys to capture information on how much of an impact your services truly have.
4. Partner with internal communicators.
HR and IC both exist to serve employees. Engagement, retention, and culture are all influenced by HR and IC. Working together will ensure that messaging is more aligned and employees are better informed. HR and IC should work together to keep employees up to date about organizational changes and critical information they need to do their jobs well. Blurring the line between HR and IC will help integrate the two teams and allow them to work in sync.
5. Invest in your managers.
Managers have a huge impact on the employee experience. Gallup found that managers account for 70% of the variance in team engagement. If HR does not include managers in their strategy, it will be very difficult to have a positive worker journey. How your managers feel about an organization impacts the employee experience. HR should develop and invest in the company’s managers in order to create a positive experience for an entire company.
6. Implement a unified employee engagement platform or workforce communications platform.
Whether it’s running open enrollment, building employer branding, or reaching new talent, HR needs to be able to communicate to employees in a way that inspires them to act. Increasingly, however, workers receive so many messages (on so many channels) that they suffer from message fatigue. It can be a challenge for employees to receive the most important information. A workforce communications platform will allow you to personalize and target your messages and use data to make informed decisions. It will also help you evaluate the impact of HR communications with reach and other performance metrics.
7. Accelerate talent acquisition.
In order to have a confident, competent, and competitive workforce, HR must hire the best talent. They need to identify candidates with the right digital skills for each position and help them develop those skills accordingly. And HR must work with company leaders to ensure they have the appropriate digital skills for both present and future human capital needs. HR also supports the organization by providing learning and development programs for employees to continually develop their own digital career paths.
8. Shape the organization with a clear communications plan.
Company values and culture are fundamental components of any company’s successful digital evolution. Additionally, HR must ensure that the whole company has a clear communications plan. This plan should provide a consistent vision about what digital transformation means for the company, how employees would benefit, and how the organization expects to drive employees to the right behavior. HR also helps leaders understand the company culture and recommend shifts necessary to smooth the way for a successful digital transformation.
9. Adopt agile methodologies.
Agile working methods help support employees and optimize the organization’s operations. Although agile methodologies are often associated with product development, they can also help other types of teams (including HR) become empowered to work efficiently and maintain high quality and performance. More than anything else, agile enablement prizes progress over perfection by embracing small, iterative changes. HR teams can use agile enablement and management tools and processes to help employees feel more confident and adjust to change successfully.
10. Explore a digital consultation.
A digital consultation assists HR by providing the best services to employees who are coping with digital challenges. HR can work with and coach both employees and senior leaders when considering the appropriate tone for the organization. Remember, everyone in the company needs the right digital skills so they can thrive and help meet strategic business objectives.
As technology continues to shift the way HR operates, it is important to remember that HR will always be about the people. Technology and new tools offer new ways to streamline, enhance, and improve your work. Your focus should always be on how to create a better experience for every worker. Taking steps to accommodate diverse preferences in your HR services can make a major impact on keeping your talent competitive and helping attract top talent.
The future of HR needs to meet the transformations in the digital workplace. As new tools emerge that change the way we work, HR needs to be ready to meet those changes and support its workforce. As millennials have begun to make up a majority of the labor force, making sure that they are engaged at work has become a top priority for many enterprises. HR can positively influence the employee experience through optimizing engagement, retention, and culture. To create a positive employee experience, here are some HR best practices:
- Use pulse surveys and content engagement metrics to measure employee engagement levels
- Segment your employees into unique categories to personalize and target their experience
- Measure and analyze your performance by tracking your employee data
- Implement a digital communications platform to unify your digital experience and inform your workforce more effectively
Learn more about HR communications and how to improve the employee experience. Read our new guide, New Insights For HR: A Four-Step Guide To Improving Employee Engagement now.