The recognition that shaping positive customer experiences has yielded enormous benefits has inspired a new movement, which is leveraging technology to focus on employees. Leading organizations are now paying careful attention to an employee’s journey, from potential recruitment to moments that matter, such as the first day at work, training and support for unfamiliar assignments and other special occasions.
A company in Germany, for example, alerts prospective employees via an app that they can get a free coffee on their way to the job interview and take 10 extra minutes to enjoy it. After the interview, feedback is offered in a timely manner and, if a job offer is forthcoming, it can be accepted with a digital signature via the app. After they join the team, employees are similarly well looked after.
This evolution toward a heightened focus on workplace experience is a natural progression, believes Jeff Gilchrist, general manager for Avanade Canada, a leading global provider of innovative digital and cloud services, business solutions and design-led experiences, as well as the leading digital innovator on the Microsoft ecosystem. “The transformation of the workplace is just beginning,” he says. “Technologies have evolved, and people have certain expectations on where and how they want to work.”
Businesses looking to maximize sustainable competitive advantages increasingly turn to innovative means for attracting talent, says Florin Rotar, who leads Avanade’s global Modern Workplace business. He sees the German company, which is transitioning from an industrial manufacturer to a service and software provider, as a model for how businesses can leverage carefully designed workplace experiences to attract and retain top talent as well as overcome an “image of being old-fashioned,” he says. “By combining technology, operations, culture and employee experience, this fundamentally changes how people work.”
Extending the customer experience model to employees
The imperative to engineer employees’ experiences comes from the success of paying similar attention to customers, which started 10 or 15 years ago, says Mr. Rotar. “Organizations realized that people were paying more attention to their experiences. Customers expected a level of continuity and context, for example, when they dealt with a bank over the phone or the web or at the branch.”
Businesses that invested in designing positive customer journeys came out ahead, according to Mr. Rotar. “They were more competitive and had higher sales. And now, companies are looking to apply this concept to facilitating employees’ experiences.”
Analytics enabling effective employee engagement
Supporting this shift in workplace culture are data analytics capabilities that allow companies to hone in on work experiences and determine what is beneficial, neutral or even detrimental, says Mr. Gilchrist.
Avanade workplace data, for example, can show insights into what needs to be fixed, says Mr. Rotar. “We use analytics to understand what works and where we need to make changes.”
Analytics show how long a person is working on one engagement, whether she or he has opportunities to travel, or who is part of a small or a big team, Mr. Gilchrist explains. “It becomes very obvious when you look at a chart and recognize the correlation between certain activities and attrition,” he says. “When I see that certain projects are marked red, I have to worry that the people on that engagement are at risk for burnout.”
With organizations increasingly using new technology to collect data on their employees and work to gain actionable insights comes the need to use this information responsibly, says Mr. Gilchrist. A recent Accenture Strategy report found that 92 per cent of employees were open to collecting data on them and their work, provided it was used to improve their performance or well-being, or provide other personal benefits.
Boosting creativity and innovation
Research coming out of MIT – and supported by Avanade – confirms that paying attention to employees brings positive returns, says Mr. Rotar. “The findings are quite astounding. Organizations that have a really good employee experience show twice the level of innovation and are 25 per cent more profitable than their competitors.”
While technology needs and employee expectations vary from industry to industry and country to country, organizations that want to stay competitive don’t have a choice – they have to adopt technology capabilities that enhance the work experience for their employees, says Mr. Gilchrist. “Companies have already worked to improve the relationship with customers for years, and now they understand that when they provide attractive places to work, they enjoy cost efficiencies and a superior performance.”
Mr. Rotar adds, “The big picture is that employee experience is now as important as customer experience. And by addressing both, organizations can gain advantages that go beyond productivity and cost savings – to boosting creativity, innovation and revenue growth.”
Sponsor content feature produced by Randall Anthony Communications. The Globe’s editorial department was not involved in its creation.