Digital employee experience (DEX) is almost impossible to separate from the overall employee experience today and it is certainly an essential part of the overall EX. Technology is a crucial part of many jobs in today’s world and that’s why the digital employee experience requires a special focus if we want to create a productive, profitable, and stress-free work environment.
In this article:
- What is Digital Employee Experience (DEX)?
- Why is it important?
- Current Problems with Tech Environment
- Benefits of Improving DEX
- Where to Start with Digital Employee Experience(Departments)
- 7 Best Practices for Improving DEX
- Challenges of Improving DEX
- The Future of DEX
- Further Reading:
What is Digital Employee Experience (DEX)?
Digital employee experience includes all interactions employees have with any digital technology that is required as a part of the job. Simply put, it is how your people engage with and use software (tools, apps, etc) at work.
The technologies may include (but are not limited to) the following:
- Communication software (Email, Slack, Skype, Teams, Zoom)
- Collaboration tools (Asana, Trello)
- HR Systems (self-service portals, check-in)
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems (HubSpot, SalesForce, Zoho)
The list above is what almost any employee working in an office will be using today. Of course, it expands to role-specific technologies, and learning and development platforms and we can find many more examples, but it’s important that you understand the idea and everything that includes the digital employee experience.
Why is it important?
In short, the higher the level of digital employee experience is, the better business results you can expect. Having a well-designed DEX will boost a number of aspects that have a high impact on productivity, employee engagement, and customer experience.
Whether or not your organization adopted remote or hybrid work during the pandemic, many aspects of it are here to stay. This means that you need to enable your team to work from home or to be in touch with co-workers, clients, or vendors that do work remotely.
Better Employee Experience
Improving DEX will boost your overall employee experience. If you’re not convinced that EX is essential to any business, DEX is probably not the best article to start with, but you’re still at the right place. Stick around and read many articles and resources available on our website.
Having the tools that perform the way employees need them to perform is the right first step in creating a productive environment. It’s simple, really. If the technology is user-friendly, things get done faster.
Better Customer Experience
Ultimately, everyone wants to get the job done. DEX will allow everyone to do their tasks in a way that’s faster, more efficient, with less friction and better coordination.
All of the factors mentioned above will eventually lead to higher profitability, thus benefiting all stakeholders.
Current Problems with Tech Environment
Creating a seamless digital experience isn’t always easy. Here are some of the issues that today’s workplaces are recognizing:
In a physical work environment, an employee encounters all kinds of noise. Whether it’s another employee coming to your desk or someone else chatting and laughing, it could often become disturbing. Similarly, digital noise is just as important. Many emails coming in, different chatting platforms along with social media. All this digital noise causes distractions from a typical day’s work.
Too Many Apps
Especially with the pandemic arriving, employees introduced numerous additional applications that were believed to somewhat help the process of working from home. CEO of Inpixon, a data intelligence company, Nadir Ali claims that what he calls a ‘platform singularity’ is rapidly needed to be adapted.
“Having too many disparate applications and platforms can waste time, impede productivity and deliver a poor experience,” Ali claims.
Today’s workforce is becoming more and more dispersed across different time zones, geographical locations, languages, and cultures. Still, everyone is looking for a unified working experience. Companies need to include a work experience that is inclusive and frictionless for everyone.
Benefits of Improving DEX
Improved Employee Satisfaction
As previously mentioned, our team is a great fan of the overall employee experience. An improved DEX will improve employee satisfaction and productivity. An updated and functional DEX will inevitably ease the days of your employees.
An Aligned workforce
With improved Digital Employee Experience, a company can reach out and send messages to any employee anywhere geographically located – in real-time. This can especially come in handy in critical situations when rapid intervention is required.
Every employee is connected to their organization through a uniform DEX, making it simpler to conduct employee surveys and work together to create a common sense of purpose. In the end, a shared purpose can aid organizations in achieving their overall goals.
Foster a Healthy Work/Life Balance
With an improved DEX, employees have the chance to finish multiple tasks in a shorter period of time. This requires less energy from them and hence fosters a healthier work/life balance. An improved DEX also enables the employees to access health-related resources.
Increase Flexibility and Reach
With a strong and improved Digital Employee Experience, reaching out to your employees is a piece of cake. For example, when Covid first hit, with a strong digital employee experience that is employee-focused, companies could easily and fast influence their employees to respect safety measures.
Where to Start with Digital Employee Experience(Departments)
Every company has an individual journey when it comes to unlocking the best possible Digital Employee Experience. Still, there are some general aspects we will further elaborate on to provide the best experience for you.
Every person and team play a role in this process, but there are three main departments whose commitment is crucial to enable a successful DEX.
CEO and Executives
The CEO, executives, and general leadership don’t necessarily play a primary role – but their support and involvement is important. They need to be properly informed and on the same page with the changes, updates, and process as a whole. If the team decides to start using a new ‘fast communication app’, the CEO and executives need to be the representatives and supporters of such a process.
Internal communication and agreement are crucial. The projects and team managers are the ones who have to properly internally inform everyone and keep their team accountable. For example, let’s say that your company is introducing a certain management app – it’s up to the team managers to inform everyone and keep track of the usage.
IT Departments play a key role in the improvement of the Digital Employee Experience. They’re the ones directly responsible for the creation and building of the whole DEX updating process.
HR Department/Employee Experience Team
Of course, HR and/or EX teams will take on the lead role or actually be the ones to initiate the project. If an organization has a dedicated employee experience team, obviously, they should be the ones to lead the project. If employee experience is part of the HR team’s responsibilities, it will be up to them to take on the lead of improving DEX.
7 Best Practices for Improving DEX
As you probably figured out, improving DEX isn’t an overnight task. It required a clear strategy and commitment from every actor in the company. A lot of organizing is needed – starting from simple conference calls to who processes transformed.
For this reason, we are breaking down the whole process into simpler smaller tasks that you can follow and that will help you with improving your company’s DEX:
Define the DEX Journey by Prioritizing Employee’s Needs
The process should start by keeping in mind that this DEX journey needs to serve your employees – not the other way around.
Start the journey by surveying and gathering data from your employees regarding what is working on their day-to-day processes and what is not. Which apps are causing difficulties, is digital noise too much of a problem for them and similarly. Lastly, remember to seek their honest opinion on what they would like to improve/change.
For example, Mono, a communication and creative agency working with clients such as Apple and Target, improved their company’s DEX by introducing a new communication platform, which eased the overall employee’s job and day. The employees wanted to be provided with a simple platform to meet with their clients. The IT manager of Mono claims: “Digital employee experience updated have helped us build stronger one-to-one client relationships.”
Clearly Measure the Outcomes
Picture how the digital employee experience is going to fit the overall employee experience. Gather a team of key members or leaders, as well as IT professionals so that you can clearly answer the following questions:
- Do the employees lack tools that could simplify their work?
- What are the digital tools that could help in this area?
- What technology are you going to incorporate (automate processes, self-service functions, etc.)?
- What training are you going to offer for the employees (in-house, consultants, etc.)?
- Do these changes suit the overall business goals?
- How are you going to measure the success of the updated DEX?
Answering these questions will give you a clear measurement of the process, results, and outcomes your company is about to have.
Communicate Important Steps Along the Way
It was earlier mentioned that communicating and having everyone on board is highly important for this process. Our advice is to tackle key team/project leaders to clearly communicate the processes and changes about to be undertaken.
The importance of this step is crucial, especially in practical terms. You need everyone on the same page if you want a smooth DEX. Start by informing the senior leadership and getting their support by informing everyone else on the team. Clearly explain why DEX is important for the company and the employees themselves – and how this process is going to mainly benefit them. Early mentioned that there is going to be training organized so that it doesn’t sound like a new/scary process.
If you manage to maintain a good communication process with your company members from the smallest steps to the most important ones – the employees will better understand why the changes are being undertaken, what is their part in it and how they’re going to be influenced.
Designate the Teams
There are different areas of help you need to ensure a smooth DEX process. The procurement team is crucial in helping with the purchases, legal and other business aspects. Other teams depend on each company’s experience but make sure to accurately tackle all your needs.
Conduct Research on the Best Technologies – then Choose
Digital tools can often be complicated, and not always worth the investment. For this reason, we suggest you conduct thorough research on the best available tools – and their usage.
Always keep in mind that the simpler the tools the better they’re going to be accepted by the employees. Digital technologies that can sync and integrate with each other are always best serving their purpose. Conduct trials on the short-listed technologies and choose the best ones – keeping in mind your employee’s experience. Maybe, choose a few team members as representatives to help you with the trials.
In addition, don’t neglect data breaches and privacy, so ensure to request the data policies that each of the technology’s vendors has.
Digital Changes Need Some Time – Try not to Rush It
The digital employee experience can be surprising for the employees, hence you should be careful. Try to only implement some things at a time, and start by trialing different tools and steps. Of course, we’re aware that not every company has the resources to slow down such a process, but if possible, take all the potential advantages of it.
For example, Fenway Health, a health centre with over 600 employees in over 15 locations, decided to move its company to a hybrid/remote environment. New communication platforms were introduced, but the process was prolonged to a 1 year period. The company’s IT director claims that sufficient training was provided over every step and that with every “level” completed, the process got easier and faster.
Provide Sufficient Training
If you have thoroughly read through this list of steps (which we hope you did), you probably noticed we mentioned training multiple times. From the best practices we analyzed, we learned that training is a crucial step in introducing DEX. For each tool you’re introducing, keep a training program as a backup to help and teach the employees how to use these changes implemented.
Before starting the training to support your DEX, go through these important steps:
- Designate the roles and responsibilities: Designate what each employee is supposed to accomplish and give deadlines that support them with enough time.
- Organize the training: Within working hours (so that the employees are more encouraged) organize and hold the necessary training. Engage outside consultants and professionals if needed.
- Motivate your employees to complete the training: Clearly describing what the DEX is doing for the employees and the company along with the benefits it brings is crucial. Also, mention that this training will thoroughly influence the overall professional growth of the employees.
Let everyone know that making mistakes is more than understandable at this point. Also, make it clear that all the employees are encouraged to seek help and ask questions along the way.
Challenges of Improving DEX
All and all, we know that improving DEX isn’t easy. Like with any other process, there are certain challenges that can occur during implementing an updated DEX.
We have identified the 4 main challenges as in the following:
- Investment: An efficient DEX process required financial, human resources, and time investment. There are necessary budgets that need to be designated, along with resources that should be hired. Hence, always measure the long-term profitability of such an investment.
- Getting all the team players in: Often, stakeholders and other important factors may not be on the same page with the investments. For this reason, getting everyone to approve the budgets and other resources is a challenge in itself.
- Spread workforce: Especially in recent years, the company’s workforce is getting more and more dispersed. Often, the communication aspect, documents, systems, and other processes could apply to only a part of the workforce/company. Unifying everyone is a challenge in itself.
- Digital issues: Even though an improved digital employee experience is greatly beneficial (better communication, personalized, etc.), it could come up with some digital/technical issues that could be a challenge. Sharma, 2020 stated for Enterprise Talk that “the digital employee experience is frequently overly busy”.
The Future of DEX
According to the TotalExperience Report from ServiceNow and ESI ThoughtLab, in the next 1-2 years, 8 out of 10 companies will invest in the overall employee experience, with a focus on the Digital Employee Experience.
Companies need to implement employee-focused solutions in the future to stay ahead in a recruitment environment that is getting more and more competitive. In the same way that people can choose the technology they use in their personal life, more and more organizations will value employee participation and give them the freedom to choose how they want to handle the digital requirements of their daily work.
According to Harvard Business Review, the tools employees use will “more or less define the digital employee experience” as hybrid and remote employment become the norm, because “technology and workplace tools constitute, for all intents and purposes, the new workplace.”
The future of work and the digital employee experience depend on employers maintaining constant communication with their staff, who as we understood, is the group that is most affected by the introduction of new apps, tools, and technological advancements.
Supporting your employees through investments in digital areas and experience, will not only benefit them but your company and business as well. A smooth process of the digital employee experience ensures a more productive and engaging workforce – which directly benefits you and the business goals.