Why the work tech landscape has changed forever (according to Josh Bersin)

Josh Bersin recently joined us on the Applaud HR webinar series to talk about the changing work tech landscape. We’ve captured some key takeaways from his presentation.

Why Employee Experience (EX) really matters now.

Since as far back as the 2008 recession, companies have been going through a mass digital transformation to support the changing world of work. But the pandemic was responsible for accelerating this even further as businesses had to adapt to accommodate remote workers, hybrid workers, and office workers along with ensuring that all HR tech worked across a multitude of devices.

Added to that, as we move out of the pandemic, the job market is becoming increasingly tumultuous; according to the US Labor Department in April alone, 4m employees left their jobs. Now, companies not only need to keep employees motivated, productive, happy and engaged - there’s added pressure not to lose existing employees and hire more simultaneously. Bersin explained:

“It’s no longer just a ‘good idea’ to be nice to your employees, it’s a business continuity issue. If you can’t hire during a growing economy then you can’t grow [as a business] and your competitors are probably taking market-share away from you.”


Business Transformation.

Not only are companies competing with each other for talent. Employees have realised that they have additional options, gig-work or project work and, one of the key tools that companies have in their arsenal to retain and attract the best people is EX.

Companies like Applaud are helping businesses leverage the opportunity to improve EX because they are focused on making work easier and better for the employee, whilst improving engagement and internal mobility all through the vehicle of consumer-grade technology. The message back from employees is loud and clear, this is what they want. 

There are many facets to EX, and technology is just one of them. The Applaud product is particularly interesting at this junction because it enables organizations to deliver the technology experiences employees need without forcing them to go through a period of change. The backend systems that employees and managers have learned to use remain in place, Applaud sits over the top and upgrades the entire experience. Okta has found that the average company has 70 employee applications and for the most part, these are necessary tools. It’s not realistic to trade them all in for one overarching system (ignoring the huge disruption and lengthy implementation this would cause) but, there is another option, and that option is Applaud. 


What really matters?

EX is a microcosm examination of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. 


If we imagine that career progression, self-fulfilment, and employee engagement are at the top of the pyramid, then we can’t expect our employees to reach that level of thinking if we can’t get past the basic needs at the bottom of the pyramid, for example working computers, easy access to payslips, knowing where to go to log annual leave, etc. We have to simplify the bottom so we can reach the top.

We have to design solutions that work for employees and then stay in a constant state of design so that we’re always iterating for the current needs of employees. HR tools have existed forever, but most of the core HCM systems that dominate the market today were never meant to be design tools and don’t have agility at their core.

The best strategy for designing and iterating is listening-based - a continuous response model. Giving employees the opportunity to feedback and integrating that feedback quickly (e.g. in the form of opening a ticket on their behalf) is in some cases more important than ease of use.


Defining (EXP) by Layer.

It is fundamentally hard to change software. Therefore, a lot of the backend transactional systems are not going to disappear overnight. They’re baked in and that counts for a lot. What Applaud is doing is acting as a layer that sits over the top of these systems and underneath the productivity layer (containing comms tools such as Slack, Zoom, Workplace, etc). Back in 2019, Bersin wrote that it was unlikely that every HR app that has been built to serve a specific function would become an end-to-end platform covering all bases and that it would be helpful to have a layer that sits over the top.

Applaud is one of the more sophisticated implementations of this - giving users the option to connect to their existing systems (e.g. your onboarding system), grab a template from the template library to implement that onboarding journey in a best practice way, whilst connecting up with any other relevant systems that need to be a part of that journey (e.g. payroll). All of which can be done with built-in search and discovery and security, voice or chat tools, case management, knowledge management, surveys, and feedback so you’ll always be providing a beautiful, connected experience for the employee that constantly evolves.

This simultaneously solves a problem that is occurring in HR depts right now around ‘where do we build the EX?’. The big opening that Applaud provides is that you’re no longer dependent on developers to design the EX in a tool built for developers. 

"What is really cool about Applaud is that it's designed to be an easy-to-use creator platform. So you can, (not as an IT engineer, but really as an HR person) build workflows for various use-cases that work on top of any existing HR applications."


Business outcomes improve as EX matures.

Good practices around EX can drive significant impact for business, people, and innovation in your organization. Through platforms like Applaud, HR will be free of dealing with technical issues that come part and parcel with HR tools, and free up HR to work with employees and managers to support them in their roles in a meaningful way.


Not yet watched 'Why the work tech landscape has changed forever?', you can find the Josh Bersin webinar here.


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Published September 14, 2021 / by Duncan Casemore