We’ve all experienced how rapidly the world of work is changing, from the technology employees use to the role of HR. One of the seismic changes we’ve seen at Applaud over the past few years, is the expectations of employees – how they want to have the same exceptional experiences at work as they do in their everyday life, as consumers.
You’ll have seen this if you attended any of the major HR technology shows, where “Employee Experience” dominated nearly every keynote and session. For HR professionals, Employee Experience is no longer a trend or a buzzword. It has now become a number 1 priority. We’ve all seen how consumer-brands have made frictionless experiences a reality, and it’s time for us in the HR world to do the same.
So, how did we get here?
Today, we’re living in the Experience Economy – a world where businesses obsess over how they can turn every customer interaction into a memorable, effortless experience. For years, consumer organizations have been using strategies like customer personas and journey mapping to create valuable brand experiences that go beyond a single product. And they’re incredibly successful methods. Just think about the last truly exceptional experience you encountered with a company – do you think it was by chance or by meticulous design, tailored to your exact needs and expectations?
Driven by this seismic change, HR executives have been forced to rethink the way they serve their workforce. In order to meet their employee’s high consumer standards, organizations are increasingly implementing employee experience strategies in an effort achieve their wider business goals and gain a competitive advantage.
But something’s been holding them back from success.
Putting employee experience to action
Delivering improved employee experience has proven to be a challenge for many HR teams, mainly because the industry has spent the last decade restructuring organizations into Centers of Excellence (CoEs) including Resourcing, Performance, Learning and Payroll. Unintentionally, this approach has left many workplaces with departmental silos that deliver disjointed, fractured experiences.
By continuing to use this traditional service delivery model as a core strategy, organizations are adding to their technology landscape with new solutions and tools, but are unable to streamline any user journeys. To create unified experiences for employees, we need to look beyond new technology and examine the way we structure HR organizations so that we can centralize delivery and eradicate silos.
Adopting a digital mindset
The employee experience projects I’ve seen succeed have been because HR have ditched their transactional approach to technology and service delivery – which prioritizes output and completed tasks – and adopted a digital mindset. This ‘customer-first’ approach centralizes HR, enabling teams to work together to focus on how technology can be used to promote better experiences through an employee’s entire lifecycle. After all, great employee experience is built from 80% interaction and 20% transaction, and a customer-first mindset helps teams continually find new ways to deliver value, interactions and experiences.
In Josh Bersin’s description, design thinking “empowers HR to reimagine every aspect of work: the physical environment; how people meet and interact; how managers spend their time; and how companies select, train, engage, and evaluate people.” This holistic approach to service delivery is transformational. It doesn’t just add new solutions to your existing technology landscape, it creates an environment that helps hire, develop, retain and deliver outstanding service to our #1 customer – the employee.
Your new HR technology roadmap
In delivering consumer-grade experiences, technology is a key enabler. But technology transitions alone do very little: simply upgrading to the latest cloud versions of your HCM products will only deliver the same disjointed experiences on newer tech.
Instead of adding more technology and silos to HR landscapes, we need to provide employees and managers with user experiences similar to what consumer-brands like Amazon has done for their customers. We need to hide back-end systems from employees, masking complex architectures with interfaces that deliver effortless user experiences and help employees work more effectively. That’s why Applaud has focused on developing experience layers that seamlessly connect with core HR transactional systems whilst adding interactions and streamlining journeys.
For those looking at their HR technology roadmap for 2021, it’s vital to incorporate design thinking in your core HR strategy. But to do this effectively, you must accept that the role of HRBP has changed forever. Today, it requires brand new skillsets and an entirely different way of thinking. For HR leaders to succeed, you’ll need to embrace this change and actively reskill in areas such as designing personas, creating journey maps and experience paths, storytelling and marketing, so that you can create a roadmap that truly meets the needs and expectations of your workforce. Plus, this upskilling will pave the way for emerging roles like Experience Leaders and Experience Agents.
Whilst adopting this new mindset is by no means an easy task, it’s critical to success. The world of work has changed forever – HR’s old way of thinking has failed to give employees the experiences they deserve. To create long-lasting change, we must take a new course of action and that starts with design-thinking.
I have no doubt that adopting a design-thinking approach to HR technology and a customer-first mindset will allow HR teams to become more focused, innovate faster and achieve better results for years to come. But to deliver consumer-grade employee experiences to the masses, it’s up to HR managers everywhere to embrace this change and new way of thinking today. Those who do this fastest will be the ones who win.