How unified employee experience will win CHROs a seat at the table
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Today workforce in most companies is more complex than it was a decade ago. For example, companies as small as 50 to 100 employees can have employee presence in up to five countries. Workforce in growth-oriented companies in the range of 4000 plus employees could have employee presence in up to 80 countries. This complexity brings tremendous pressure on Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) groups to continue to support employees 24/7 on complex and varied issues.

We have listed high-level issues that plague particularly HR and IT departments when supporting employees resulting in considerable loss to employee productivity.

1) Increasing volume of employee questions

Employee questions handled by HR and IT continue to grow while these departments are been asked to cut down workforce. In some companies, a single HR rep could support up to 300 employees leading to impossible administrative burden.

2) Siloed structure

Employee questions often start with IT helpdesk, then are thrown over to askHR helpdesk and then to corporate IT or to finance etc until it gets lost. Often time employees have to followup resulting in delay, frustration and loss of productivity. This is because of the siloed structure of departments or groups within the same department.

3) HR is unable to effectively market their programs

In general, the HR department does not have the marketing skills required to effectively communicate and drive employee engagement programs in order to help develop and retain employees. This leaves employees in the dark and unable to see career paths or growth ultimately leaving the company

4) Shiny new tool syndrome

Employees end up using atleast 18+ different tools for accessing HR applications, payroll, expense, purchasing, employee portals, leave and vacation application etc. It's not only making them unproductive but also they have to spend time understanding how to navigate various tools which means HR or IT personnel end up transacting in the tools on behalf of the employees.

So how can Chief Human Resource Officer (CHRO) start creating a unified employee experience strategy and successfully implement it?

1) Applying design thinking approach

The best first step is to think about what processes would look like in your organization with the EMPLOYEE at the center, not HR, or IT or facilities or any department in general. You need to assess what are the needs of that employee and then design an experience around that employee. As you collect more employee personas from different areas and levels in your company, you will start seeing patterns. Design thinking applied to employee experience will also help surface gaps in processes and current technology used leading to loss in employee productivity. A typical example could be an employee portal that is now become a link farm of broken and stale links making it impossible for employees to get to the information they need.

2) Buy in from other departments by providing insight into "What's in it for them?"

CHROs can start collaborating and building strong relationships with IT, facilities, training, marketing etc. to help propagate the value of building an employee experience that will help employees get to the information they need faster. Ultimately, other departments will benefit when they can help their employees move from working on administrative intensive work to working on strategic initiatives. Generally, all these departments look towards HR to help them with defining employee experience and without HR initiating they are clueless. Building a cross functional team with backing from top management will provide the required urgency and drive.

3) Creating long term Employee experience strategy

Building a strategy only from HR's perspective and then getting buy in from other top management executives might be difficult. HR should collaborate with other department leaders and incorporate their inputs and perspective. Better yet, draw parallel to customer experience strategy, which will help better understand how to start the process.

4) Technology consideration

IT and HR together should assess on where the company as a whole is on their digital transformation journey. What are the new technological trends? How to make a business case for buying the right tools needed for designing and implementing an employee experience? In addition, based on how educated your senior management might be, HR and IT leaders need to educate and dispense certain myths about digital strategy. According to a report from McKinsey & Company many senior executives aren't fluent in what digital actually is and might think this is a onetime digital implementation rather than incremental improvements.

Innovation and open mindedness is the key to take that leap into the future. Explore innovative technologies such as artificial intelligence and Chabot along with Omni-channel experiences that are most common in consumer-based technologies such as retail.

We at AptResponse are developing an employee experience platform combining design thinking with natural language processing and machine learning, which powers a contextual knowledge base of answers, delivered via Chabot, email or SMS. Based on our research 60% of repeatable questions and transactions can be done by employees via a simple interface such as a Chabot in one minute or less. Design thinking helps to ensure adoption rate of our tool is high. For example, we have already preconfigured our Chabot Apto, to understand more than 150 scenarios around pay, benefits, training, internal opportunities, corporate systems access issues etc. Request a demo to try Apto for yourself!

5) Get Employee feedback

Employees can provide valuable insights into what is working and what is not. Setting up regular feedback loop and measuring incremental success is paramount to ensure long-term success. Short check-in surveys and face-to-face interactions with employees who were part of the personas during the design-thinking phase should help create the iterative process of continual improvements.

To summarize, changing workforce needs requires a fresh perspective and courage. Companies that do not put effort in prioritizing employee experience might have a hard time scaling since employee productivity, which is already stagnant or even declining, can directly affect companies' bottom line.