Perspectives

Creating a consumer-grade employee experience with digital HR

What HR organizations can learn from successful customer service stories

​Companies need to step up their employee experience efforts, so they start to more closely mirror the consumer experiences people have come to love and expect. Upgrading digital HR practices can require significant investments in technology and communications, but the consequences of not keeping up with a consumer-grade experience can be significant, not only for brand reputation, and employee attraction and retention, but also for the bottom line.

Breeding "customer" loyalty in the workplace

As consumers, we've been spoiled not only by excellent service, but also by innovation. In fact, the very attributes that technology has enabled–simplicity, flexibility, convenience, personalization, and connection–have come to be what we expect, even demand, as consumers.

So how has this translated to the workplace? We're seeing a changing set of values from companies' internal customers–perhaps their most important business asset–as well as requests for more innovation, flexibility, and opportunity. Digital HR has become not just a "nice to have," but a necessity for an organization's future growth and acceleration. And just like a consumer who has a bad experience and moves onto another brand, your employees may also seek new experiences if their expectations are not being met.

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Why “buy” now?

Talent shortages are forthcoming. The workplace is undergoing a massive change. Technological advances, shifts in the way work is being done, and the skill sets needed in today's automated, digital world are all affecting how businesses operate. Today's marketplace has stiff competition for skilled talent. To make matters more challenging for employers, baby boomers are continuing to retire at unprecedented rates, leaving open experienced hire positions for younger generations that have big expectations and even bigger voices–which they can use to express and amplify any kind of frustration or complaint with the touch of a button.

Recruiting and employee retention efforts will intensify. One example of how companies are losing candidates to the competition is in the employee onboarding experience, and how it may not always reflect what was envisioned by a new hire–leaving the opportunity ripe for competitors. Turnover is more costly than you may think. These are avoidable costs that ultimately affect your bottom line and should be evidence enough to start prioritizing your employees.

Research shows employees aren't very engaged and companies are at risk. The employee experience is increasing in importance. Yet in Deloitte's 2017 Human Capital Trends report, only 22 percent of executives surveyed reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.

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The employee is the new consumer: How digital HR can make a difference

If you hope to accelerate growth, then you should also accelerate your investment in the productivity and well-being of your employees. This means taking the time to understand your workforce and their changing needs, and adopting strategies to improve their experience.

Like customers, better employee understanding can not only improve satisfaction and retention, but also bolster innovation and performance. Turns out employee values are not so different from those of a consumer. These include:

Connectivity
Helping new employees adjust, and fostering connectivity for all employees, can make a big difference. Digital HR tools can enable employees to build their own learning and development plans, initiate conversations with management remotely, and work when and in the ways that work best for them as individuals. This will help foster independence while, somewhat ironically, helping them feel more like part of the community.
Convenience
Companies that can offer more flexibility in when, where, and how people work, will be at an advantage. Traditionally, HR has functioned in a silo, responsible for compliance and service-oriented functions; however, as the workplace evolves, so does HR, with a chance to lead organizational change, including what Deloitte defines as "being digital." Digital organizations are smart and agile. They offer self-service and are "on-demand" for employees—giving them access to the tools they need 24/7.
Simplicity
Keeping it simple means making it easy for employees to engage daily. Everyday items, like requesting a shift change or requesting vacation time, should be as simple as a click of a button, like ordering from Amazon. Conquering small tasks online increases everyone's productivity.
And in the HR world, employee reviews, management expectations, and open lines of communication should also be clear, simple, and available on the go.
Personalized experiences
Just as consumers value a customized shopping journey, tailored to their interests and needs, employees are demanding a personalized experience with their company that is catered to the individual, giving a greater sense of purpose and value. With digital HR, training, company initiatives, and volunteer work, for example, can be tailored to the employees' career path. Cognitive technologies can help create that experience based on their own online behaviors and interactions, and guide managers to take next steps.
Segmentation
Segmented groups that have specific career needs and expectations, and could benefit from customized experiences and communications, could be divided by job level (from recruits, recent hires, new employees, managers, leaders, alumni, and retirees), as well as other applicable divisions, such as new parents, relocated personnel, or alt-scheduled employees. Once defined, a specific group can be targeted to improve the employee experience.
Service
Employee service, much like customer service, is extremely important in driving satisfaction and loyalty. It is in making these small yet impactful strides towards putting the customer first and improving the overall experience that sets companies apart from the competition. Organizations that apply this approach to successfully create consumer-grade capabilities for recruits and employees—especially digital ones—are well positioned to be ahead of the curve in years to come.
Purpose
Increasingly organizations are emphasizing a commitment to social responsibility—focusing not only on profit-generation, but also on society as a whole. Our research indicates that purpose is important to employees too. Digital technologies can enhance HR's ability to communicate an organization's social responsibility initiatives, offer learning opportunities aligned with an employee's personal interests, and even suggest volunteer groups that might appeal to a particular employee.
Keeping employees happy
As talent shortages grow, companies that embrace digital HR will likely recognize a more satisfied and dedicated workforce. The secret to keeping happy employees isn't so different from retaining satisfied customers—using tried and true consumer strategies and digital information to drive higher satisfaction.


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What is Digital HR?

HR is transforming the way it delivers solutions to employees and, in the process, enhancing the employee experience. Digital HR brings together mobile, social, analytics, and cloud technologies to create new digital platforms, apps, and tools to access HR services and resources.

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