Originally published on HR Technologist
Digital Transformation and customer experience have become synonymous, and rightly so. Focusing on your customers as their needs and desires change is both smart and inevitable. As organizational resources have been focused in this area, this has created a yawning gap between the customer experience that organizations offer and the experience their employees receive.
This ever-increasing gap has consequences, and especially in the race for digital talent, this compounds a known and tricky problem. Productivity gaps emerge, which we can try and close with automation – but in this, we will lose the intrinsic creativity and humanity that make the special organizations special.
Put simply, the experience is critical. Customer Experience is vital, but we are seeing that Employee Experience is equally important. And as we dig into what that ideal experience might be, we find a simple universal answer from all employees: “Make it simple!”
This has profound implications if we consider it. For many years the mantra of technology-driven transformations has been standardization. This drove large investments in ERPs and shared services, and some of these investments have delivered value. When looking under the cover, we found that often the experience delivered back to the employee in the wake of these big technology transformations was at best neutral, and often became more confusing and complex.
This doesn’t have to be true today. We have a choice. While Digital Transformation is often perceived as a technology issue, it can be equally ‘muscle memory’ for companies to assume CIOs will lead the charge, when Digital should really be a vehicle to overhaul the approach to transformation.
Employee experience should drive business transformation. When placing the employee – the human – at the heart of the change, and driving simplicity from their perspective, rather than pushing standardization from the company’s perspective, remarkable things happen.
It unlocks the true value in human capital – their engagement, their creativity, their innovation, their productivity. To do this, HR leaders emerge front and center in driving the transformation of the employee experience. This is a particular area where HR leaders have become pivotal in facilitating employee experience-driven transformations.
Make Organizational Boundaries More Porous from an Employee’s Perspective
Breaking down silos within organizations is a constant refrain across the C-suite. Yet we tend to forget that sometimes organizational boundaries help employees define themselves and their roles. They define budgets, controls and, to a certain extent, teams. In large companies, boundaries are important. What gets in the way is when they become rigid and inflexible – but they don’t have to be. In the world of Digital, HR leaders should become the navigators of making organizational boundaries more porous, by helping employees see-through and cross them effortlessly when needed. What does this look like? Help people search and find across an organization; help them connect, collaborate and transact seamlessly; and help them access knowledge and insight with ease.
Creating a Voice for the Employee Experience at the Board Level
Consistent sponsorship with the right leaders at the helm is vital. Complexity in the employee experience has emerged because of spasmodic change to a process, systems, data or organizational structures. It is vital that HR leaders become the custodians of the employee experience at the board level, and that vital business transformation be conducted where employee experience is at the core of change. If there is a clear message that we have seen from years of large transformational changes, no matter the leadership alignment, companies will fail if old processes and mindsets hinder employees.
Don’t Get Blinded by the Technology – the Experience Is More Important
Because being digital is sometimes confused with doing digital, there is a temptation to throw technology at the problem. Don’t. More often than not, we have seen that organizations have more than enough technology to deliver a great experience. What they have done is ‘connected the dots of the technology’ and curated what they expose to employees to create a truly simplified experience. This is not to say that HR technologies aren’t good – there are world-class solutions in the market – but they won’t deliver a world-class experience alone. Understanding how people interact with corporate information, processes, and systems – what their preferred methods of request and approval are, the types and variety of interactions either touch, type, voice or gesture – and then delivering it quickly and seamlessly … this is what drives a world-class experience.
Be a Leader for Employees by Showing It’s Not Too Late
Most importantly, HR leaders become a vocal leader for employee experience driving cultural dissonance, leading cultural re-alignment. The mere visible fact that your employees’ experience is as important to you as your customers’ experience, and that you care about removing their frustrations with processes, systems, data is profoundly important. The act of wanting to change – and bringing employees into that act of change – will improve attrition rates, unlock creative and innovation, and unlock productivity. You will be amazed at the remarkable things they will achieve.
It’s up to HR leaders to step up to the plate and make that happen.