Meet the CIO’s new ally in digital transformation

Cool office perks are no longer enough. Employees want great digital experiences that make work, work better for them

By Divina Paredes May 14th 2018 A-A+

Cool office perks are no longer enough. Employees want great digital experiences that make work, work better for them

A tech-enabled excellent employee experience is becoming the new weapon of organisations to retain top talent.

“The best talent today expects great digital experiences at work,” says ServiceNow chief talent officer Pat Wadors.

“Top talent can work anywhere, and they are choosing companies that embrace advanced technology to make work simpler, faster, and better,” says Wadors.

“HR leaders are creating a new employee experience as they realise that great benefits and cool office perks are no longer enough. Employees want great digital experiences that make work, work better for them.

“Companies that don’t offer this will find themselves losing out on, or struggling to hold on to, the best talent.”

Thus, chief human resource officers are now playing a major role in their organisation’s digital transformation, according to a new research commissioned by ServiceNow.

“The leaders of a new movement in HR are focusing their budgets on technology that fuels increased collaboration, engagement, and job satisfaction - and they are being rewarded not only by winning the war for talent but also by being awarded more prominent roles in the C-suite and higher responsibilities for organizational strategy,” the report states.

ServiceNow says the research interviewed 500 human resource executives across 12 countries, including 45 from Australia and New Zealand.

Three out of five or 57 per cent of respondents in the global survey report they are now driving digital transformation projects in their organisations.

The relationship between these two executives is one of the most critical in this new digital era, says Mark Souter, ServiceNow HR strategy lead, Australia and New Zealand.

 “This executive team can put the employee or manager, the internal customer, so to speak, at the centre of all employee experience decisions,” he says.

“They can focus on the ‘moments that matter’, bridging and orchestrating the multiple transactions that cross the workplace, not just HR or IT, with a customer service feeling and orientation.”

Read more: Many firms still see digital transformation as a ‘one-off project’: Forrester

The research notes, however, that HR leaders in New Zealand and Australia are behind their global peers when it comes to adopting technology to improve experiences at work. 

Less than than half (47 per cent) of HR leaders in Australia and New Zealand say that the HR function is a driver of digital transformation at their company. This is significantly lower than their regional counterparts in Singapore (64 per cent) and Japan (65 per cent).

This may be due to the fact that around the world HR is now seen as a strategic business function, with 78 per cent of global CHROs believing HR strategy is an important differentiator for the company. In ANZ, this falls to just 51 per cent, the report states. 

Improving the employee experience with personalised, predictive and seamless digital technologies is at the core of this digital transformation, it states. 

Read more: The top 3 customer service trends for CIOs

More than half (56 per cent) of respondents acknowledge this, saying the ability to create a digital, consumerised employee experience will define their roles in three years,compared with only 6 per cent who say their role will continue to be defined by traditional HR activities. 

Analyst firm Forrester says employee experience (EX) is one of the top 10 trends that will have a huge impact on businesses in the next few years. “It's for good reason - firms that focus on improving EX yield better customer experience (CX) outcomes and outperform their competition over time,” says Forrester. 

“Employee experience certainly has captured the mindshare of today’s leaders in the workplace,” says Souter. 

“What is clear, is that there is a difference and correlation between a transaction and an interaction,” he points out. 

Read more: Be serious about employee experience, or don’t bother

“An interaction requires the right level of support, from the right channels, with the right information. 

“If we consider 'experience' via the lens of a customer or consumer, it is based on great service.” 

He says some questions organisations can ask are, how does a workplace typically provide a service experience to their people today? How do people ask and find answers to questions, in a consistent way? 

Often, he says, there are multiple help desks that are heavily reliant on email, offering limited channels to engage. 

Read more: CIOs must use CX practices in designing work systems

There could also be an intranet “link far”, with dozens of links to general policies and information, that usually is less relevant or contextual to one's role or location. 

“Or, in addition to these two, is it to a place where people complete key processes and transactions (like an HCM) after the interaction/ questions with HR and management have been cleared away?”

These, he says, are already three different employee experiences.

“There is a place to adopt a service delivery approach to work, partnering with human resources and workplace technologies,” he states. “An employee experience is largely based on service.”

Read more: ‘Differently-abled’ ICT staff: How to fit these great people in your workplace

These experiences, he says, are demonstrated in three areas:

  • Service: How do managers and employees find information and get answers to their questions? How do people know who is exactly looking after their questions, at what stage is their matter being resolved and how to measure HR service expectations and where is the opportunity to reduce cost and find efficiencies?

  • Device: Does HR offer a service experience using the channels we use in everyday life, like bot ‘chat’ functionality/SMS/ mobile/ softphone integration, or is it just via email and self service notification transactions, like in the past?

  • Enterprise: Service delivery is a workplace, not just HR, platform need. In an onboarding/ offboarding/any employee lifecycle event, an organisation needs to connect and have visibility to all the lines of business and support (like facilities, security, IT, finance, HR, etc.) and manage the questions accordingly. “Email is not the best answer,”  says Souter.”Everyone gets a lot of email!”

Souter says the Canterbury District Health Board is an example of a local organisation that practices these insights. CDHB plans, funds and provides publicly funded health services for more than half a million people across Canterbury, with a budget of $1.6 billion and 9,500 doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and supporting teams.

In CDHB’s most recent Wellbeing Survey, he says more than 4000 employees were asked what would make the biggest difference to their wellbeing, and enable them to continue delivering extraordinary care.

Two of their top requests were to ‘simplify bureaucratic processes that waste my time’ and ‘give me technology that helps me do my job well, not stand in my way’. HR processes were identified as one of the biggest disablers, he states.

The board developed a strategy to build a technology platform that will optimise processes, simplify query resolution, improve workflow and reduce transactional work, says Souter.

The changes included creating a single portal to access information, make requests, and track progress; merging of six mailboxes into one place’ and ability to request repairs and report damage through the portal.