Workplaces rely heavily on manual processes and non-integrated systems to drive business outcomes. Plus, the increase in adoption of a distributed workforce creates more performance complexity. Today, a holistic workplace technology becomes the main connection employees have with their co-workers, company culture, and customers. In chapter one of three, I introduce the rise of the Digital Employee Experience (DEX), the intersection of technology, culture, and the physical workplace.
What is Digital Employee Experience (DEX)?
Digital Employee Experience (DEX) refers to the perception employees have of digital interactions and experiences within a company. It encompasses the various engagements, including software applications, devices, communication tools, online platforms, and interfaces that employees engage within their work environment. DEX goes beyond usability and functionality, focusing on the emotional and cognitive aspects of the digital journey. The Digital Employee Experience (DEX) becomes the main vehicle that drives the key in of the employee experience.
Why is DEX important?
A positive DEX fosters a sense of belonging, engagement, and satisfaction among employees, leading to higher retention rates and better overall performance. In a joint Microsoft and Qualtrics Study, they found that
Leaders focused on DEX understand how a digital workplace can become their nemesis. Digital solutions automate processes but can also create complexities in the workplace. DEX as a framework helps executive teams balance company and technology strategy with people-first initiatives. DEX roadmaps balance the needs of the company’s customers, employees, and shareholders. Creating a digital workplace that connects, aligns, and moves key stakeholders (customers, employees, and shareholders) in the same direction. When everyone is rowing in the same direction, you achieve higher-quality outcomes. When done well, DEX puts in place just the right amount of governance, policies, and approval flows.
Without a DEX framework, companies today find that as they work to transform numerous workplace processes digitally, they are left with a tangled mess. Without a clear strategy, companies will likely have multiple communication channels not integrated companywide, creating silos. Company information is stored in numerous locations that are hard to find and search, resulting in outdated documents and version control. Security concerns are high due to multiple endpoints and applications that are not integrated or centralized. IT teams are overburdened and struggling to support multiple timezones, standalone business applications purchased outside their knowledge, and employee personal home office equipment working with company systems. This digital mess leaves employees feeling digitally overwhelmed. A recent Gartner report noted that: (https://www.gartner.com/en/newsroom/press-releases/2021-04-26-gartner-survey-finds-1-in-5- workers-consider-themselves-digital-technology-experts-since-covid-19):
- 68% of workers spend much of the day toggling between apps
- 28% of their time is spent on email
- 20% is spent looking for information
- 400x – how often they context switch in a given day
The Anatomy of Work global index (https://asana.com/resources/anatomy-of-work#form) found that employees use 10 apps used per day yet still 62% of the workday is lost to repetitive and mundane tasks. Digital improvement is needed but needs to be done thoughtfully. DEX equips companies to achieve digital transformation in a streamlined and integrated way that drives business outcomes with the employee in mind.
What Goes Into Achieving a Positive Digital Employee Experience?
To create a positive digital employee experience (DEX), organizations should focus on the following key elements:
- Alignment with company strategic plans. For example, IBM has been focusing on digital transformation and employee experience through its strategy called “New Way to Work.” They have developed various digital tools and platforms to support remote collaboration, flexible work arrangements, and employee well-being. IBM’s employee experience strategy emphasizes using artificial intelligence (AI) and automation to streamline work processes and improve productivity.
- Invest in design thinking to build intuitive, user-friendly, and integrated digital tools.
- Facilitate effective collaboration and communication by providing digital platforms that support real-time collaboration, document sharing, and efficient communication channels.
- Allow employees to customize their digital interfaces, within reason, to prioritize relevant information and tailor their work environment to their preferences.
- Establish companywide norms and governance for using applications and technology consistently.
- Create KPIs and feedback channels to inform the iteration of norms to support evolving business needs.
- Provide continuous digital skills learning and development opportunities to equip employees and foster a culture of digital growth.
Implementing DEX Strategies
To execute effective digital employee experience (DEX) strategies, companies need a systematic approach. Start by assessing the current state of DEX using a user-centric approach. Consider the needs, preferences, and capabilities of employees to create intuitive and accessible experiences. Understand employees’ pain points, challenges, and satisfaction levels with existing digital tools and platforms. This could include issues like slow systems, complicated interfaces, a lack of integration between tools, or inadequate training and support. Companies can prioritize and design solutions that address these challenges directly by understanding them. This assessment will be a foundation for setting baseline measurements and identifying targeted improvement metrics.
Establishing measurable metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) will improve the effectiveness of implemented DEX strategies over time. By regularly tracking and analyzing these metrics, companies can gauge the impact of DEX initiatives. These measures should include regular sentiment feedback from employees, data on user behavior, and engagement metrics. Leaders can foster a sense of ownership and collaboration by actively engaging employees in the decision-making process. Technology and employee needs constantly evolve, so be prepared to iterate and adapt digital solutions accordingly. Embracing an agile mindset can help companies focus on regularly evaluating the effectiveness of implemented strategies to inform necessary adjustments.
Overcoming Common DEX Challenges
Implementing DEX strategies can present challenges that organizations must overcome to guarantee success. Some common challenges include:
- Technology Integration and Compatibility – Integrating diverse digital tools and platforms while providing compatibility can be a complex task. Organizations should invest in robust IT infrastructure and collaborate with vendors to create seamless integration and compatibility between systems.
- Data Security and Privacy Concerns – As digital interactions increase, data security and privacy become critical considerations. Organizations must implement robust cybersecurity measures, data encryption protocols, and secure access controls to protect sensitive information and employee trust.
- Resistance to Change and Adoption – Introducing new digital tools and workflows may face opposition from employees accustomed to existing processes. Proper change management strategies, clear communication, and comprehensive training programs can help overcome resistance and facilitate smooth adoption. Modern workplaces leverage intelligent assistants and automation to meet employees where they are at in their digital employee experience. Through real-time prescriptive answers and personalized notifications, employees and managers get the answers they want and when they want it— and enable continuous learning of new digital tools and be timely notified of company changes. Plus, gather in-the-moment employee and manager feedback that surfaces actionable workforce needs and increases change resiliency.
Cracking the code for the digital employee experience is crucial for enhancing workforce performance — productivity, engagement, and employee well-being. Look to prioritize user-centric design, seamless collaboration, personalization, continuous learning, and adaptive strategies. Embrace future innovations. It’s your competitive advantage to empower your business, customers, partners, and employees to thrive in today’s innovation era.
Ready for the next chapter? Read about Decoding Digital Employee Experience Ownership Dynamics.