Reaching for gold in employee experience technology

Double trouble this issue so I thought I would pull in some additional expertise. Please welcome Libby Mason, a recognised organisation and change management expert as co-author of my column.

Let’s imagine we live in a world where we have an unlimited budget and the world is our oyster. So what would the gold standard in employee experience technology look like?

The algorithm of business – experience

economy nirvana

Achieving the gold standard in the experience economy is truly mastering the equation of fully integrated and seamless business execution through the eyes of the user. Technology evolution means that this panacea is within reach allowing organisations to drive experiences that are multi-dimensional and changing constantly over time. Our future digital nirvana equation will comprise the following variables:

• Pro-active technology individually personalised to me: the technology will serve us. Technology will know the individual, not only in regard to our role within the workplace but also how we are best engaged based upon our needs, our work pattern, job location and behaviours. Individual personalisation that intelligently connects data across different systems, recording patterns in work habits and preferences is the norm. The technology enables us to always operate both efficiently and effectively but in a way where we control delivery of the work. Consequently, the technology is pro-active as it comes to us, rather than we go to it to execute a transaction.

• Immersive experiences driven by digital workflows: our experiences will be immersive underpinned by digital workflows that spread across an organisation’s entire enterprise, no longer pigeon-holing the user into legacy ERP functional silos. Things that were once seen as gimmicks will be mainstream as chat bots and self-directed workflows are standard and expected. User interface of choice will be a combination of voice and retina, facilitating the practical use of virtual reality through glasses creating immersive experiences in the moment.

• Holistic experiences incorporating macro events: Macro-economic events in a fast changing world can have real impact so being constantly informed of real-time events that are relevant to me at work will ensure the business remains relevant in an operating context. Any business that loses relevance to its marketplace can become lost. Experiences are now so much more than just what is going on at a micro-level within the organisation. 

• Enhanced decision-makingadvanced features that support decision-making by AI, machine learning and predictive analytics into understanding and presenting scenarios, rather than simply presenting a flat set of choices, will be the norm.   

• Immediate access to human contact if needed: the ability to reach out immediately and contact face-to-face human assistance via video, as part of any transaction whether it is to collaborate or just request further assistance or guidance will be normal. There will always be a point where we do not want to interact with a machine or something impersonating a machine.

• Ability to feedback so the organisation can continually learn and evolve: everything needs a feedback loop that can be executed quickly. Being able to measure constantly, gain insight through analysis if something isn’t working ready for experience and process correction is a fundamental pillar in reaching for gold.

• Enhanced capabilities monitoring personal health at workeven gold standard experience-driven technology is not a silver bullet for addressing workplace wellbeing, however the technology will be able to detect patterns of behaviour and enable value added strategies to help support a pro-active approach. For example, the ability to restrict contact out of working hours, monitoring and flagging line managers when our behaviours through our digital responses become erratic, or diverting workloads seamlessly. Connecting to personal devices like smart watches also allows for engagement around fitness and activities which can be gamified to increase awareness around the impact of physical activity on wellbeing.  

Employees can shape the direction of the company and their role in it, creating enhanced career pathway”

The human dimension – great technology is only one half of the equation

There is a strong psychological human behavioural and cognitive element to the employee experience nirvana. It is this that needs to be understood as part of any design.

People want to be connected with a purpose and companies need to find new ways to engage their workforce, communicating and engaging with that purpose and freeing people up to deliver it. Empowerment is the name of the game. 

Those that embrace this mindset will come out ahead in the competition for talent as job seekers and employees become more demanding about not just their role but the experience they have at work. Benefits include, but are not limited to: 

• Increased brand loyalty: a positive experience supported by the right technology creates a positive connection with the organisation and its stakeholders, creating an environment for more meaningful engagement. 

• Increased productivity: giving time back by the application pushing the relevant information, event or required action to the individual at the point in time thereby delivering enhanced service.

• An informed workforce: ensuring the workforce is constantly made aware of external events that are relevant and accurate to their role making the organisation more effective. 

• Promote inclusion and democratise happiness:  shared experiences encourage participation in the organisation and help build and maintain company culture; removes access barriers and promotes equality, builds engagement with everyone being equal and part of something through shared experiences; provides a platform to demonstrate that the organisation cares about the individual by enabling them with the right technological tools.

• Human psychology and providing real-time feedback on the organisation: amplifies the employee’s voice so they can be heard; facilitates an ability to determine an employee’s value of connection to the organisation through measuring their active participation. 

• Enhances skills and improving employee impact: employees can shape the direction of the company and their role in it, creating enhanced career pathways and ability to invest in new skills and roles which are shaped by the demand of employees, they are closest to the customer or citizen which they serve and they often have a better understanding of what is required.

Who is leading the way?

Done correctly, gold standard successful organisations focus on business outcomes; break down delivery silos; create positive employee experiences free from frustration and perceived bureaucracy and consider human behaviours alongside technology fit, all with the goal of delivering exemplary customer experience. No-one has reached nirvana today, but there are organisations that excel around the different variables. 

From the human perspective one company stands head and shoulders above the rest – Disney. Disney exists to deliver fantastic customer service every moment of the day. How do they do this and more importantly how do they sustain it? The foundation is their culture of empowering their employees and ensuring they are equipped with the right skills to deliver excellence. Its investment in the customer facing technology MyMagic+ ensures their customers have a seamless experience when engaging with them. No doubt how they continue to evolve with their employees in the same way will remain a core focus.

Organisations who get it wrong 

We won’t name and shame anyone here but the consistent theme we saw in studies around employee experience is a failure to address the culture and behaviours of leadership in implementing new ways of working. CX and EX platforms and strategies become enablers, but in the absence of visible leadership commitment and an organisational culture that values and leverages the benefits of these strategies they will fall flat.  

Achieving gold

The bottom line in achieving the gold standard is the combination of both human and machine. We can have great technology at our fingertips but if we have not got the human side of the business operation right the experiences become meaningless. 

The technology experiences we create can contribute to driving positive social behaviours, but it is still up to us as humans to remember that it is always the people who are the heart of any business and not the machine. Walt Disney once said, “You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.”  

Mark Sweeny, founder de Novo Solutions

Libby Mason, founder Alluvion Consulting