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How to keep employees happy in the digital era

Uma Ganesh
employee engagement, digital tools, HR managers, employee engagement, Robotic process Automation

Most organisations have been focused upon driving employee engagement in order to enhance motivation and loyalty of employees. However, lately, energised by the digital tools HR managers are excited about the concept of employee experience. Some managers feel employee engagement and employee experience are one and the same. However, there is a significant difference between the two.
Employee engagement is a series of activities which are by and large planned and carried out for a group of employees. Employee experience on the other hand is aimed at personalised experience of the employees lately facilitated by digital tools. Employee experience refers to regular and ongoing transactions between the employee and the organisation as well as specific moments of emotional connects with other employees or the organisation.

Often there is a debate whether the organisation should be employee centric or customer centric. However, studies have indicated that positive employee experience could lead to positive customer experience as well. As per the Gallup State American workplace report, among the Gallup Great Workplace Award winners, companies with highly engaged employees have 10% higher customer metrics and 20% higher sales as compared with companies that have less engaged workers. Businesses are recognising the need to address employee experience on a priority as these efforts would not only generate goodwill among the employees but create healthy business outcomes. Hence a blended focus on employee and customer experiences would be necessary instead of working in silos.

Back office and call centre employees who do repetitive jobs are being relieved of doing the mundane work and these are being addressed through Robotic process Automation (RPA). Employees have a pleasant experience of not having to work on mechanical tasks and have less frictions interacting with customers and by being skilled and equipped with the right digital tools are in a position to deliver superior experience to their customers while transacting with them.

Most companies start their digital transformation journey by addressing the customer journey cycle first and have implemented initiatives aimed at enhancing customer experience. The successful approaches adopted for enhancing customer experience could be adapted for crafting the plan for achieving delightful employee experience. Just as in the case of customers who face challenges criss-crossing the organisation to find solutions or spending too much time to find a simple answer, employees too often face issues which require better coordination and need to be addressed some times through policy changes at the behest of senior management. Therefore, one of the first steps would be to have a mechanism to expose these irritants in a transparent manner for those concerned to address directly.

By mapping customer journeys organisations attempt to remove the irritants in the system and put in place digital and mobile friendly systems to support them. Similarly HR systems require to be redesigned and suitable digital touch points need to be put in place to make employee experience impactful.

Empowering employees with the right skills, tools and information would be critical for this transformation with trust and transparency being the important pillars. As Doug Conant, former CEO, Campbell Soup Co. says, "To win in the marketplace you must first win in the workplace."

The writer is chairperson, Global Talent Track, a corporate training solutions company