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Supporting HR to bring consumer grade experiences to the workplace

by wrich

Duncan Casemore, CTO and Co-Founder, Applaud

Consumer user-experience experts map out customer journeys down to the minutest of details; which shade of blue to use on the ‘buy it now’ button, which patterns of behaviours should trigger discount code notifications, etc. It has traditionally been nearly impossible for HR departments to  understand their employee-base down to this same level of detail, and create a digital employee experience accordingly; resulting in some clunky, generalised work tech experiences. In fact, only 27% of organisations offer consumer-grade HR services.

Added to this, best in class HR tech solutions typically don’t play nicely together. Leading to a disparate, broken experience for the employee, who is often required to log in and out of multiple platforms to complete various HR tasks and utilise HR services. 

However, in today’s hybrid working world, employee expectations are rising. HR leaders are increasingly looking for streamlined, integrated, one-stop-shop style platforms that encompass all HR tasks and services. Enter, workforce experience layers. The focus of these platforms compared with traditional HCM solutions are centred around the needs of the employee (not HR). This ethos, (coupled with a sleek interface and intuitive navigation) leads to employee engagement and, subsequently, productivity. 

This is good news for HR, who are faced with disengaged employees costing the UK economy an estimated  £70bn every year in lost training and recruitment costs, sick days, productivity, creativity and innovation. The increasingly tech-enabled HR function can make data-driven decisions when coming up with innovative ways to keep employees motivated and productive in spite of the rapidly changing work circumstances.

Role of HR

New-age HR tools are offering employees a very similar experience to what they would expect from their consumer platforms; simple to use, hyper-personalised and built for agility. These platforms achieve this consumer-grade experience by adopting an employee-first mindset, mapping out personas and journeys, and leveraging a blend of back end systems similarly to the philosophy behind our favourite consumer apps. But with less than 10% of organisations offering hyper-personalised digital experience platforms, there is still a long way to go. 

Businesses that have adopted ‘the simpler the better’ mindset, as in customer experience technology, are already making strides in improving the digital employee experience. Having one integrated, personalised HR platform means relevant information to the user can be prioritised, which will already result in productivity gains. Similar to what one would experience as a consumer, where complexity occurs behind the scenes and multiple systems are interlinked without disrupting the user experience. If you liken this to Amazon, the consumer searches for a product and purchases it, it arrives the next day – you don’t see the stock levels in the warehouse, assign a product packer or a delivery driver. 

When employees are searching for HR services, they should experience this same level of simplicity. If they want to change their name after getting married, for example, they should be able to access the correct form, fill it in and start seeing their new name appear everywhere. Not contact payroll to update their banking details, IT to get their email switched, etc. We have seen workforce experience layers really spearheading this change.

But it’s not just simplicity that HR should be mimicking. HR has traditionally been slow to execute ideas to digitise their workforce, and recent events have revealed that agility is critical as our working environment can change overnight. The faster you can update employees, the faster you can reduce anxiety levels and the lower disruption your business will experience. Consumer-focused platforms were quick to adapt, for example to the rise in eCommerce: pivoting advertising and stocking products to suit customer needs. 

Employee wellbeing

Throughout the pandemic this has been invaluable, as employees have seen the government announcements and questioned, does this apply to me? Am I expected to head into work tomorrow? etc. This is especially important, following figures that revealed 37% of working adults in the UK who are given less than a week’s notice of their working hours. 

Some of the best examples of this are ‘borrowed’ from consumer tools used day-to-day. For example, an enterprise contextual-based search engine – think Google for an organisation – can enable knowledge to spread rapidly and give employers immediate answers to job-related questions that can inform urgent decision-making.

We have been living in a rapidly changing working environment for the past 15 months. And HR has been under more pressure than ever before to deliver the best employee experience. HR should learn lots from the everyday consumer platforms we use, and apply these to employee experience layers. This will ensure employees remain in the know, productive, and motivated at work. Ultimately, this will help offer employees a more consumer-grade experience in their working lives. 

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