In today’s high-speed digital age, companies realise that going digital is not just about improving customer or employee experience. It is also about opening up organisational opportunities by enhancing employee productivity and achieving the organisation's strategic objectives. The modern-day digital workplace is about providing stakeholders, employees, and business leaders the ability to seamlessly collaborate in a borderless environment, to be able to get work done. In addition, the need for portability and sustainability of talent calls for a tech platform to help connect, inform and engage effectively.
Cornelius Ariyanto W., Vice President of Human Resources - PT Indo Tambangraya Megah, Tbk, believes that leveraging digital HR can help create a people mindset of communication, engagement, and collaboration to manage the future of work. Designing the ‘workplace of the future’ depends on curating a rich employee experience. “How do you build and develop the workplace for the future needs of the diverse and mobile talent?” asks Sujay Bhat, HR technology strategy advisor at SAP SuccessFactors.
How to design the employee experience for digital workplaces
A digital-first employee experience is built on the basic foundation of a mindset shift because it is a massive cultural shift for an organisation.
- Defining the desired employee experience: Sujay suggests HR leaders first understand how to define the employee experience they want in their specific organisation based on workforce demographics, types of employee groups, employee journeys in day-to-day functioning, etc. To plan the roadmap, leaders must ask themselves hard questions- “What is the final destination?”, “Where do we start?”, “How do we pan out?” etc. According to Ariyanto, employee experience should foster diversity, equity and inclusion even for differentiated stakeholders; it should ensure the same user experience in the business-facing application, whether for millennials, Gen Z or other employee segments.
- Managing and monitoring the touchpoints: HR leaders have to lead the way in managing and monitoring employee touchpoints and enhance the HR practices and policies for a digital workforce. HR must develop essential skills and competencies, improve employee well-being, and build equity. “We need to use design thinking tools and techniques just like we would simulate a customer experience to highlight critical moments that matter”, says Sujay. Leaders must understand that different stakeholders have different needs and should make stakeholders understand what’s in it for them.
- Foster collaboration and connect: Digital transformation is a challenging process for any organisation. However, the connection between the digital workforce and employee engagement is important to drive it. Companies with intelligent, effective and integrated tech solutions will thrive in the next decade. “So many organisations realised that IT and HR don’t have the necessary skills to manage digital transformation, hence the rise of the Chief Employee Experience Officer is starting to get traction to lead digital transformation, by finding connect between employees, managers, C-suites and organisation”, says Ariyanto. Sujay shares how organisations design and position physical office spaces as areas of collaboration, design thinking, and innovation by bringing employees together for whiteboarding.
- Use tech to enable implementation: “From a tech perspective, there has to be a fine balance with a leverage-and-invest model”, believes Sujay. Leaders must leverage the investments already made and consider how to invest in new components to bridge the gaps and create a differentiated experience. In addition, there should be a hard look at the feature functionalities ranging from compliance and regulatory concerns, payroll capabilities, partner ecosystems, places of application, etc. “Opt for a best-of-suite approach versus a best-of-breed approach to ensure effectiveness”, suggests Sujay.
The core of transformation begins with building a “case for change”, i.e. why do we need to change the employee experience in the first place?
The role of SAP SuccessFactors
A great system will help demonstrate quick wins at the outset, ensuring continuous leadership buy-in. This is especially critical in a virtual working environment to curate a wow experience. For example, when employees join an organisation in a virtual ecosystem, they still need to collaborate with peers, reach out to SMEs etc. The SAP SuccessFactors Onboarding piece enables virtual access to information, processes and people. Similarly, for Learning and Development, it fosters experiential learning, peer-to-peer learning, and access to knowledge across the organisation irrespective of geography and hosts relevant content both within and outside the organisation through massive open online courses (MOOCs). For career pathing or talent development, a talent marketplace helps employees collaborate with mentors, take on short-term assignments to build cross-functional acumen, and understand avenues of growth in a matrixed organisation. In short, tech platforms enable and empower dynamic, collaborative teams by bringing employees together to deliver, reorganise, dispatch, and get work done.
Measuring for success
Ariyanto believes that any digital transformation is aimed at increasing company profits. Therefore, involving people in the transformation should increase employee engagement, leading to higher productivity and increased revenue. According to Sujay, organisations should define the KPIs that determine the success of an HR digital transformation exercise. Metrics such as adoption rates, cycle-time reductions, attrition, employee engagement rates etc., must be directly linked to the business outcomes the organisation wants to achieve. Employee listening, sentiment analysis, and continuous feedback will help course-correct or fine-tune the stakeholder experience for all, i.e. employee, manager, HRBP or business leaders.
HR needs to keep it simple to fit both employee and business needs. Ariyanto shares, ”We applied work-from-anywhere but to stay connected, we had a week when people physically came into the office. And we asked them a simple question everyday – ‘How are you feeling today, and they sent us answers in icon form. It helped us stay connected with small, simple steps during the hybrid work environment.”
Going digital is not just about improving experiences but about opening up the organisation to new opportunities by creating a culture of empowerment. “When employees have the right to choose how to do the job, engagement will be high, i.e. how employees feel about their work and about their employer brand, they will do more for the company because they have more meaning and purpose to their work life”, says Ariyanto. Sujay also agrees that employee needs and expectations are drastically changing, forcing organisations to rethink how to connect, inform, empower, and engage with employees better in a rapidly changing ecosystem. “Digital tech is a non-negotiable and undeniable enabler to help this purpose. Not nice-to-have, it’s a must-have“, says Sujay.