HR: Prioritize digital competency in the employee experience
Human resources professionals and leaders have faced a very challenging couple of years due to the pandemic and now they face further challenges in how they respond to the pandemic, particularly in the area of the employee experience.
The employee experience is becoming more and more crucial because the new hybrid and remote working model now enables qualified candidates to choose from a much broader range of global employers. Location is simply not the issue it was, and qualified candidates can seek employment opportunities all around the world and deliver their duties remotely.
Therefore, the employee experience is important to securing qualified candidates and also with staff retention levels. Global companies and business leaders need to respond to the needs of the employee in a more proactive way than perhaps before the pandemic.
In this article, we will look at the need for HR professionals and leaders to prioritize digital competency in the employee experience.
Why it matters
Simply put, people have become used to a specific level of digital competency and innovation in their personal lives, and it is a natural human trait to simply carry these expectations into the working environment. Whether or not this is how it should be in reality is somewhat irrelevant, it is simply human nature, and this is the way it is.
If a generation of emerging potential employment candidates are used to outstanding digital innovation in their personal lives in the form of smartphones and tablets, instant access to entertainment applications as well as financial services applications, then unsurprisingly, these digital tools will act as a benchmark when these same people come to judge the competencies and efficiencies of the digital technology stacks available at their employer.
Okay, so they may not expect employer software to exactly match the latest smartphone, but they will certainly take notice if they feel that the digital tools or technology stacks in use at their place of work are miles behind the curve in terms of digital innovation and modern capabilities.
Candidates and employees talk and network- thanks to online forums and smartphone apps as well as social media, they have more platforms than ever before to air their views. Company reputation and the employee experience matter, word can spread very quickly, and everybody has an opinion to share!
While you have no obligation in the HR department to introduce innovative digital tools and new technology, it is quite likely that you will find strong demand for digital capabilities that allow for self-service access and a smooth, intuitive user experience. Failing to make any progress in this space could result in the loss of potential candidates or problematic global employee retention figures.
The mobile first approach
One thing that HR leaders and professionals can look to implement relatively quickly is a general mobile first approach to digital tools and applications. This can be viewed as meeting global employees halfway and pretty much speaking their language.
They will appreciate the ability to access relevant material on the mobile device of their choosing and a mobile first approach can be implemented in a range of helpful and even innovative ways:
- Allow new starters to upload relevant new employee information via a mobile app
- Enable them to work off their own device or the device of their choosing
- Provide them with self-service access to payslips, tax, and personal pay information
- Secure cloud access to relevant work files on mobile devices for hybrid and remote working
- Ability to choose their own range of company benefits via an app or mobile device
- Digital wellness apps or financial wellness apps
- HR files and useful information available in the cloud or via app for easy download 24/7 in any location
- The best and most helpful digital tools in terms of communication and collaboration to enable remote teams to work in the best ways
Introducing this kind of technology and innovation to the digital employee experience can help in two ways, firstly it can go a long way to creating a positive first impression on new employees or potential candidates, secondly it can help with retention figures for those existing employees who might be considering a change, and then find out that alternative employers do not really offer these or have a long way to go in terms of digital innovation. This does not have to be an overly complicated initiative to implement, but it can make a big difference when it comes to the employee experience and could significantly influence the employee view and relationship with the company.
Test and learn
Of course, the human resources team, like any other team, will not be given an unlimited budget to splash out on a range of trendy or innovative digital devices. There must be a business case reason behind this.
In the case of HR, the business case will be that it can really help with new employee recruitment as well as existing employee retention figures. There is also the bigger picture aspect, and this is around a culture of digitization. Digital tools are the present and they are also very much the future; HR teams and managers can stress the importance of becoming a digital first organization. There are major productivity gains and cost saving advantages that can be alluded to as well with the implementation of new technology, such as automation which will make employee workloads easier to manage. Digital tools will always be needed in businesses and as time goes on, employees will expect a certain standard when it comes to what technology is going to be available to them.
Testing and learning what is proving to be helpful and productive as well as popular with a global workforce is one way to go. HR teams could consider soft launches of digital tools to see how they perform and what the employee engagement levels are like around the company. They could also consider test pilot programs of specific digital tools to see how the employees respond.
It will be a case of meeting the needs of the many rather than a few, and a digital innovation needs to have a long-term plan behind it. But a measured and patient approach can reap dividends. It is also useful to keep an eye on the competition and see what other companies are deploying in this digital space to match the expectations of a global workforce.
Having a high level of digital competency is important for the employee experience at companies today. Employees and potential employees expect there to be innovative digital tools available to them in the workplace as this is what they are used to in their personal lives and making sure that this technology is implemented in the business can greatly help enhance the employee experience and assist with employee retention.
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