Let’s be honest. There are really two reasons employee experience is important: the default we hear about incessantly, and the other, which is infinitely more important. The first is more obvious, probably why we default to it. An awesome experience in moments that matter results in employees who feel like their company really cares about them and wants them to succeed. This means employees actually want to work for you. Not only that, they want to work harder, do more and make your company more successful. This doesn’t only do great things for your company, it also has a positive impact on the individual. Engaged employees are generally happier employees. Clearly a good thing. While important, this is a small part of why a great employee experience is critical to the success of an organization.
DIGITAL BEFORE TECHNOLOGY
A great experience today is digital, frictionless, and gives employees and managers options to own their careers and easily manage teams. Performance management conversations are interactive, proactive, and provide continuous improvement opportunities throughout the year, informing a year-end performance review that already drove results and serves to inform succession planning. It doesn’t rely on multiple, duplicative emails or tabs upon tabs in Excel spreadsheets. By default, that means frictionless work happens in a system. And that is the more important reason for a great employee experience… it creates a boatload of really valuable data.
Using technology to aid work doesn’t automatically create a great experience. Technology in a vacuum doesn’t equal improvement. We’ve seen companies just automate processes without a digital-first mindset. If the process was terrible and frustrating on paper, it’s just as terrible automated and just as frustrating as the paper forms and offline work. But when companies truly digitize, they are able to create processes that leverage technology to work smarter and add more value for everyone involved. When processes are that simple AND the employees and managers see what’s in it for them, they use it! And when they use the systems, we get data!
If people are the most important asset to any organization, people data makes HR the most strategic linchpin in the executive suite. Workforce analytics informing business decisions sets aside a successful company from a failing one. Even the best talent in the world, without insight into the value they create, look like a cost. When we can begin to demonstrate the ROI of our people or use HR data to predict people outcomes, we can affect business outcomes. We can transform an HR department from a cost center to a value center. Data is the key to that.
Pull one lever at a time. The days of 12–18 month implementations are over. Your board of directors is no longer willing to wait a year for soft ROI on a ten million dollar investment. We need to find ways to make an impact now. Focus on one COE and find ways to improve the people, processes and technology within the current infrastructure.
Start with a few simple things. If your first lever is recruiting, turn on all the functionality in your recruiting system. Give managers access to request requisitions and review and make notes on resumes directly in the system. Use the built-in interview scheduling software and the interview notes functionality. Turn on every single delivered report and start to walk your recruiting team through a new one each week. Put a chatbot on your career site to answer simple questions. Let your recruiters pilot your ATS’ new AI functionality to review and rank candidates.
Listen, we know the excuses: “Our managers can’t put interview notes in the system; what if they write something inappropriate?” “What if the algorithm is biased and we get sued for systematically excluding minority candidates?” “We can’t agree on standardized processes because our lines of business/regions are too different.” If you don’t think it will work, it won’t. If you follow the exception instead of the rule, you’ll stay in the same place. For every ten HR professionals with the same response, there’s one out there pushing the envelope, the one saying “cool, let’s do it!”. These professionals are building “next-gen” HR, a function where we support innovation, truly empower our workforce and focus on how the people function of an enterprise can provide a competitive edge to the business.
Next, set up an anti-fragile foundation to collect, store and leverage the data you need. One of the biggest obstacles to workforce analytics adoption is when a business partner asks for insights about a particular talent issue and HR has to respond, “well we don’t track that.” It is impossible to report on something you don’t collect — even more dangerous to do so with incomplete, invalid or inaccurate data. For more information about building an anti-fragile foundation, check out Leapgen’s Essential HCM Playbook for building a strong core HR.
Finally, use the data to drive decisions on real problems. Too many workforce analytics functions fail because they start by asking “What reports and dashboards should HR produce?”. Start with specific issues your leaders are facing (e.g., productivity losses, optimizing labor plan based on budget, skill gaps for strategic initiatives) and provide data to support informed strategic decisions to solve the problem.
The devil is in the details, which is why we’re here to help.
Check out a two-part webinar series I conducted with the CEO and co-founder of Leapgen, Jason Averbook. In the first, we demonstrate guiding principles for Turning Your HR Technology Strategy Into a Digital Transformation Strategy. In the second, we discuss Workforce Experience as More Than a Pretty Face, one that produces incredibly valuable data you can use to inform and drive decisions for your business.
Building a personalized, relevant, value-driving employee experience requires data and produces data, but it requires a strong core HR foundation as its vehicle, one that allows you to innovate and will flex to the evolving needs of your organization. Register for our webinar series: The Essential Playbook for Building a Strong HR Core or download our HCM Playbook.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex DePolo is a people strategist, technology lover and data advocate. She has focused her career on helping organizations reimagine HR through data and tech, first with Time Inc. and Morgan Stanley and now as a strategic consultant through Leapgen. In her career, Alex has led implementations of Workday, Visier’s workforce analytics solution and Collibra, a data governance technology. She has always had a focus on data and analytics, first building a strategy and analytics team at Time Inc, then later when she was responsible for strategy and administration for HR Business Intelligence solutions at Morgan Stanley.