12 February 2020
By Andy Downs – firstname.lastname@example.org
In today’s digital age, employees expect a different kind of workplace. No longer is the typical nine-to-five experience enough. Employees want their work to be engaging, enjoyable, meaningful and mobile. People want to work where and how they want to work. That’s why top organisations are investing in efforts to reshape the employee experience using an integrated, holistic approach that looks across the entire workplace at distributed teams, new business models and complex security issues.
Many organisations recognise that providing a better employee experience (EX) can not only help them find and retain top talent, but it can also improve the customer experience and drive business. According to a Gallup poll, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147%. However, we’re not quite there yet. A Deloitte UK Human Capital Trends study found that while nearly three-quarters of organisations said EX involves a positive work environment and meaningful work, half or less of the respondents thought their employer was effectively delivering such an environment.
For many organisations, improving the employee experience requires a new approach – one that integrates collaboration, communication and security across the entire business. In this post, I share three core considerations to successfully transform your workplace and redefine employee experience this year. After all, in 2020, your employees have become the new customers.
Take a Holistic Approach
Once you recognise the value of investing in employee experience, the next question you probably have is how? How can I transform my workplace in an effective and sustainable way?
The answer is to think and act holistically. Begin by defining what transformation looks like at your unique organisation. Then, identify the collective tasks, actions and tools required to make such a transformation. Looking to what others have done is one starting place for insights, best practices and, sometimes, for hard lessons learned. However, a better starting place is with your own employees. Look to your staff to inform your desired workplace transformation. This valuable input will help you understand how you can “re-engineer” EX, from the ground up.
The Deloitte UK study highlights a company doing this right: Arm, a global semiconductor and software company. According to the study, Arm “has brought the elements of its workforce experience – such as workspaces, people, technology, shared services, and mobility and travel – under a single function, to help build a consistent and holistic experience for its employees.”
Another consideration is to think beyond the interface. I’m reminded of some of the work my colleagues here at KA2 do to provide robust and secure environments for our clients. Often, with cybersecurity, your people are the first line of defence; it’s important to involve and educate them to best mitigate the threat of an attack. Similarly, when it comes to EX, it’s equally important to consider not just the processes you put in place, but the people behind it. How will your employees utilise new tools or technology to enable better ways of working? Will they? As you redefine and transform your workplace this year, involve your team at key moments throughout the journey.
The result is a more meaningful definition of transformation, more buy-in at all levels and appropriate adoption of tools and technology. The Deloitte study, for example, suggests building an employee experience that is “both bottom-up and personal” to create a supportive environment in which workers feel truly valued and that their contributions matter.
Align EX Initiatives with Business Outcomes
Another recommendation for workplace transformation is to connect employee experience initiatives to measurable and positive business outcomes, such as company profitability, customer satisfaction and business revenue. Technology should drive this connection, both in terms of delivering positive, productive EX and in measuring the transformation and its outcome on your business.
Modern workplace tools, like Microsoft 365, offer cloud-based solutions to help employees get more done through AI tools and online file sharing; to work better together through mobile and flexible workspaces; to improve operational efficiency; and, to safeguard this activity against both internal and external threats.
Investing in technology for a modern workplace is worth it on two key fronts. For your staff, tools like Microsoft 365 can help them feel more connected, collaborative and productive. Streamlined, secure and cloud-based solutions help employees break out of silos and reach across teams; they also enable real-time, multi-device access to the information they need to do their jobs. As employees experience less frustration in some of these seemingly basic tasks, they feel increasingly motivated. One study showed that more than three-quarters of people said the right digital tools made them feel more productive at work; over half said it made them feel more successful; a third said it made them feel happier.
The other front is your customers and your business. In helping organisations transform their workplaces, I’ve seen firsthand how productive, successful and happy employees can deliver a better external customer experience; the connected outcome here is often increased revenue and business growth.
Try thinking of technology and EX in terms of operational impact, such as how it influences the customer and the company, rather than just internal impact, like reducing turnover or cutting costs. While the latter metrics are important, the former will carry more weight with decision makers at your organisation. Connecting EX initiatives and technology investment with clear business outcomes will also help ensure that your workplace transformation remains a strategic priority (and receives adequate resources) across all levels or your organisation.
Rethink your Approach to Technology
Once your business outcomes are aligned, begin to think about if – and how – you can leverage technology to achieve them. For example, one trend is a shift to the cloud, especially as it relates to HR; the cloud can be a “foundation” to make workplace systems more engaged, data-driven and personalised. The Deloitte UK study also found technology to be a key factor shaping today’s workplace; 85% of leaders felt they had new and unique challenges driven in part by new working practices and technology.
How can your organisation use existing platforms, like Microsoft’s Modern Workplace tools, to foster intelligent collaboration, provide a connected workplace experience and enable mobile working? As Deloitte’s study suggests, today’s new leaders must lead through change, embracing uncertainty and understanding digital, cognitive, and AI-driven technologies.
Remember, when it comes to workplace transformation, it’s not just about any technology, but the right technology. A Workfront survey of 3,750 people in the U.S., U.K., Germany and the Netherlands found that over 90% of workers were proud of the work they did, but 42% said that the number of applications provided made them feel less, not more, productive. Consider working with digital workplace transformation experts, like my team here at KA2, to ensure that you’re adding the right tools and technologies for the optimal employee experience. It’s a balancing act.
The City of London Corporation is a perfect example. The company needed to migrate its end-of-life systems toward a more modern, responsive and collaborative working environment for it’s more than 3,000 staff members. Key goals were to enable people to work anywhere and to easily find and share critical information. With support from experts, the company charted a digital transformation strategy and migrated to Microsoft Office 365 to optimise staff productivity and efficiency. Not only did this redefine the workplace experience for employees, but the company came out with a better security posture and enhanced compliance capabilities. Staff are happier and more satisfied and it’s now far easier for them to find what they need, when they need it.
Keep efficiency and security in mind with any technology upgrade. With the City of London Corporation, employees had previously relied on an extensive amount of intranet content to find the information they needed to perform their jobs. As part of the transformation, the company reduced this content by 80% before migration, for a more streamlined and customised online platform. The lesson here is to catalog your current tools, platforms and information to avoid overlap and redundancy. And always keep security top of mind, for both your IT infrastructure and in terms of how your people work. This is especially true if you intend to re-engineer your IT platform to achieve a modern workplace. Consider working with an outside consultant to chart a secure transformation plan. The City of London Corporation, for example, continues to receive training and best practices on its new tools and processes.
When planning a holistic, integrated approach to workplace transformation, another consideration is timing. Beyond implementation, training and adoption of certain technologies, what is your long-term plan beyond those critical first months? Applications, for example, will require updates and integrations, especially as the rest of operations becomes increasingly digital. And what about future planning on the people front? How will you ensure the shelf life of your workplace transformation amongst your workers? Workforce challenges will include turnover, retirement and role changes.
At KA2, we can help redefine the workplace experience to improve employee experience and reach your desired business outcomes. From digital workspaces where your staff can access on-the-go information to state-of-the art identity and data security services, we empower you to join the modern workforce, and better align your infrastructure for both your processes and your people.