Unlike many shifts in the workplace recently, the concept of the “employee experience” isn’t a new phenomenon driven by the pandemic. The goal of improving the employee experience, particularly through the application of new HR and workplace technology, had been a primary concern for many organizations prior to COVID. While the practical and acute challenges of the pandemic—and the associated disruptions and challenges to work, workplaces, and employees in all organizations—may have lessened the focus on employee experience, it perhaps ironically was revealed that employee experience is more important than ever.
With most organizations having more or less emerged on the other side of the pandemic, we have seen many HR and business leaders return to emphasizing the employee experience—crafting, managing and improving it. And while most acknowledge the impact that HR and workplace technology have on employee experience, it can be challenging for HR to get past some of the HR tech marketing hype to see a clearer through line between the implementation of new HR and workplace technology and an improved employee experience.
For some time, organizations have deployed stand-alone or targeted solutions for capabilities like employee pulse surveying or peer-to-peer collaboration or messaging, only to find their effect on employee experience to be hard to understand and minor in impact. What has been missing in many of these point or targeted technology solutions is a more thorough, comprehensive and integrated technology approach to enhancing employee experience. Newer solutions emerging in the HR technology market over the last few years—really since the start of the pandemic—are simpler, more focused on the employee and their needs, and over time, adapt to the needs of the user and the organization – often through better artificial intelligence and “learning” capability. In short, the newer technologies that have been developed are finally living up to the promise of workplace technology that provides an employee experience on par with the best in consumer technology. But landing on the “right” solutions for your organization is challenging.
As you tour the expo at the HR Technology Conference, you are likely to encounter dozens—maybe hundreds—of solutions that claim to improve or enhance employee experience. As you consider your many technology options, I think it’s helpful to keep a few questions in mind to ask of these providers so you can conduct your research and due diligence.
Here are a few ideas to help you assess a new technology solution from the point of view of your employees:
- Does the solution provide easy access to the information to help me get my work done and to succeed in my career?
- Will it help me develop a stronger, more open working relationship with my manager?
- Will it keep me informed of important organizational information that is highly relevant to me?
- Does it offer an easy, flexible way to get answers to the questions I have about HR, benefits, policies, programs?
- Will the new technology understand “me”—who I am, what I have done in the past, what I hope to do in the future and more?
As you can see, these questions are not about system “requirements” in the classic sense, but rather more fundamental ideas about how this technology will impact employee experience and the work of the organization. In many ways, these are more important, and more difficult to answer, than “check-the-box” functional requirements from an RFP.
When you attend HR Technology and meet with many of the best, most innovative technology providers in the world, I hope you will ask them some of these bigger-picture questions as you develop your HR technology plans for the balance of 2022 and forward. Believe me, they would love to have these conversations with you!