Why employee experience is critical to business transformation

The race towards digital transformation has led to rapid change in the type of service that businesses deliver to their customers, from more intuitive, easy-to-use solutions to immediate response times. But in placing customers at the heart of their product innovation, employers must also place greater emphasis on creating an exceptional employee experience. How can a customer be expected to love the brand if its employees don’t love it first?

Taking a more human-centric approach to the workplace can help business leaders to accelerate digital transformation, retain talent and maintain a competitive advantage. Here, I consider how technology can be used as an enabler to support this process, from wearables that track moods to data analytics that deliver real-time insights for managers to deliver a better employee experience.

A renewed focus on the employee

Employee experience looks at the world through the lens of the employee and ensures enjoyment is central to company culture and strategy. It’s important that workers feel a sense of belonging, from a team level to a wider company level. Having a purpose is also key and this involves employees having a clear understanding of the role they play within the organization. Ensuring staff have the flow and space to focus and deliver their best work is also a contributing factor. Having a sense of achievement at work, enthusiasm, happiness and passion for the role encompasses what an ideal employee experience should be.

Happiness as a business model

Focusing on employee experience has measured business benefits. Gartner recently reported that it’s one of the eight building blocks of the digital workplace, a growing industry that according to IDC, will grow to $7.1 billion by 2020.

Adopting happiness as a business model can have lucrative returns by supporting wider business strategy. Forward-thinking businesses are catching onto this quickly, with Deloitte reporting that over 80% of executives rank employee experience as very important. By keeping staff happy, businesses will see higher retention rates (particularly Gen Z) and increased productivity levels.

Technology as an enabler

Technology has a vital role to play in improving employee experience. Recent research from VMware suggests that European employees who are free to use the applications and devices they want and need to do their job, are almost five times more likely to report gains in productivity. Having access to the right technology can support the ease and speed to which workers can perform their role and in turn, boost focus, happiness and enthusiasm.

In recent years, wearables and connected devices for tracking health and wellbeing have been gaining pace. From fitness trackers to mood sensors and even smart fabrics for measuring posture. With more than half of UK consumers being prepared to use wearables of this nature, this trend suggests an increasing amount of mood and health data will soon be at European businesses’ fingertips to help improve wellness and subsequently productivity.

Employers are getting on the front foot to prepare for this, with Josh Bersin recently revealing that 69% of large organizations already have a people analytics team in place. Analyzed effectively, employee data can provide valuable insights for both managers and their direct reports to perfect the employee experience and maintain competitive advantage.

Balancing privacy and progress

With the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal recently hitting the headlines, data privacy must be top of the boardroom agenda. For teams to achieve their full potential, a level of trust will need to be established between the organization and employees. There should always be an opt in or opt out for sharing personal data. For those willing to entrust their company with personal information, the business will have to ensure that the trade off is worthwhile. Reporting back to employees, introducing new initiatives or perks will be key.

Creating an ideal employee experience requires a holistic approach focusing on the working environment, access to innovative workplace technologies and finally, a culture where people feel a sense of belonging and purpose. By making employee experience a key pillar of business strategy, staff will feel happier, more fulfilled and in turn, dedicated to the company and its mission for growth.

Marianne Hewlett

Creative communicator, storyteller, marketeer, IT girl, sustainable business developer and social media explorer. Senior Vice President at Atos, connecting people, business and technology. Chief Marketing Officer Benelux & The Nordics Head of Global Business Communications & Content Additional activities in my portfolio include: * The Innovator Network BTN and chairing the Innovation Steerco BTN * Wellbeing@work for clients * Leadership for Women * The Happiness Initiative

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