These days, a job is no longer just a job. Instead, workers across industries are looking for some meaning in what they do. Sure, a higher paycheck is a strong motivating factor, but if everything else is equal, individuals want a job that fulfills and engages them. Unfortunately, that's not common with today's workforce. In fact, according to a Gallup poll in 2021, just over half (51 percent) of all employees felt disengaged, with 13 percent actively so. The latter group dislikes their job so much that their negativity spreads to other workers, creating a much larger problem overall.
Thankfully, brands don't need to sit back and let this trend play out. Instead, they can be more proactive in how they interact with their employees to ensure positive feedback. While there are multiple ways to breed positive engagement, one critical factor is the digital employee experience.
If you're not familiar with this term, now's the perfect time to learn what it's all about. As the workplace becomes more and more digitized, the employee experience needs to keep up with the times. Fortunately, we've compiled the top five ways to ensure that your business is engaging workers as comprehensively and positively as possible.
Here's everything you need to know about the digital employee experience.
Why Does the Digital Employee Experience Matter?
We're living in a golden age of technology. As the saying goes, there's always "an app for that," and the number of apps that can assist with various positions and duties never ceases to amaze us.
However, companies need to do better than just sticking the latest smartphone in a worker's hand and expecting them to be more productive. Brands must actively engage their workforce to merge people and machinery (and software) as cohesively and smoothly as possible. To coin a phrase, you can lead an employee to a new app, but you can't make them use it efficiently.
That's where the digital employee experience comes in. Companies that put this experience front and center as a priority will see their productivity levels increase, while brands that couldn't care less will fall behind. But what does this term mean, exactly?
A digital employee experience is how an employee interacts with different digital tools and services on the job. These tools may include hardware and employee engagement software, and some companies may use a variety of different devices and apps for specific positions. The more digital interactions an employee has, the more vital this experience becomes.
In an ever-connected world, the digital experience goes far beyond physical technology. The right softwares and programs can streamline employee communication and productivity.
Digital vs. Regular Employee Experience
It's important to know that an individual's digital employee experience is slightly different than their overall employee experience. The former relates solely to one's interactions with digital tools. However, the overall employee experience relates to how a worker interacts with their employer.
Ideally, your business can focus on both. Because digital tools are just one component of a larger employee experience, it's crucial for brands to pay attention to all the pieces of the puzzle, not just one or two.
So, with that in mind, how can you build a better digital employee experience? Let's count the ways.
Step One: Understand Your Workforce
If you want to sell to a particular demographic, what marketing methods would you use to reach them? One of the best options these days is to create a customer avatar. This avatar represents the "ideal" customer for your product, and the goal of creating it is to understand how to sell to this potential client. To make an avatar more valuable, companies will conduct lots of research into the individual's needs, wants, and perceptions.
As a company, you also must take this same approach to your workforce. All too often, businesses tend to ignore their employee's needs or lump everyone together into a single monolith. However, it's much better to recognize individual differences, especially when it comes to technology.
For example, older generations may know how to use some devices, but they can often struggle with different apps and digital functions. Some workers may love using a particular app, while others might neglect it or refuse to use it altogether. Understanding these differences can help you customize the employee experience accordingly.
Typically, workers feel disengaged from their employer when they feel their needs aren't being met or addressed - like they're faceless cogs in a machine. If an employee feels replaceable and unimportant, why should they invest in their work? Taking the time to focus on the individual can maximize engagement and lead to happier and more productive employees.
Step Two: Leverage High-Quality Employee Engagement Software
Since we're talking about a digital employee experience, it makes sense to leverage technology to enhance that experience at the individual level. Fortunately, comprehensive back-end programs make it easy for businesses to engage with their employees in a myriad of ways, such as:
- Open Communication - In many companies, workers can feel isolated because they work within a specific department and rarely meet anyone outside of it. However, digital tools like Structural allow individuals to cross these artificial barriers and reach out to others based on shared interests or experiences. Basically, the right employee engagement software can help connect your workforce more seamlessly. When that happens, employees are more eager to stay on board.
- Social Engagement - Who says social media has to be the realm of third-party apps like Facebook or LinkedIn? Back-end programs can function as an internal social network where users can share posts, pictures, videos, and other media with everyone else within the company. By encouraging such social activity, businesses can help workers, especially those working remotely, feel more connected with everyone else.
- Opportunity Marketplace - One critical way for employees to feel engaged is if they see a clear path forward within the company. While not everyone will want to rise through the ranks to the executive level, it's important for these pathways to exist. Opportunity marketplaces allow workers to see openings for new positions and apply internally. When they see your commitment to promoting and hiring from within the company, they're more willing to stick around.
Overall, having high-tech employee engagement software allows workers from every level to interact with everyone else in the company. With the right structure in place, you can see your workforce flourish in real-time.
Step Three: Make Onboarding a Priority
As the saying goes, you only get one chance at making a first impression. However, most companies are often so focused on the impression they get from new hires that they don't consider the one they're presenting to both old and new workers.
So, proper onboarding can make or break your digital employee experience from the beginning. Also, keep in mind that onboarding doesn't just happen when someone gets hired. It can also occur when you roll out a new app or device for workers to use.
By making onboarding a priority, you can build a more stable foundation upon which to foster engagement. Employees will see that you care about how they interact with technology and that you're willing to put in the effort to ensure they thrive and don't fall behind. Some tips for a better onboarding process include:
- Maintain Consistency, But Be Flexible - Just because you're doing something one way right now doesn't mean you can't do it a better way tomorrow. So, while consistency is critical to ensure everyone's getting trained the same way, don't be afraid to update your onboarding process as necessary. For example, if a worker figures out a faster method of completing a specific task, you can train everyone else on how to do it. Not only will your workforce be more productive, but employees will see that you listen to their suggestions.
- Consider Individual Employee Needs and Limitations - Onboarding and training are essential for turning a worker into an asset. However, some people may need extra coaching, or they might need help using a particular tool. During this process, be sure to recognize these needs and address them accordingly. Again, your workers will feel seen and respected, making them more likely to stay engaged.
- Make Onboarding an Ongoing Priority - It's easy for people to fall into a routine, but that routine isn't always the most efficient. Overall, don't assume that you have to onboard someone once and they're ready for the rest of their career. By investing in ongoing onboarding sessions, you can ensure your employees adapt to new tools and procedures as they come.
Step Four: Get Feedback From Workers
As we mentioned, some people may embrace technology while others might despise it. Without comprehensive feedback from all employees, how would you know who falls into which category?
Gathering feedback from employees is essential for all aspects of your business, not just the digital employee experience. Overall, it's crucial to build a system where workers can deliver their responses in a way that they'll be seen and heard. It's one thing to take suggestions and feedback, but it's another to implement changes based on it.
Also, don't forget to celebrate and give credit when someone makes a positive suggestion that leads to change. For example, if a worker in the sales department figures out an easier way to use a specific tool, you can call them out on your employee engagement software so everyone knows who to thank. Then, other employees are more likely to offer their insights because they'll get recognition for it.
Overall, consider your least tech-savvy workers and try to accommodate them as much as possible. If they can feel engaged with new technology and software, everyone else should feel pretty good too.
Step Five: Make Geography Work For You, Not Against You
These days, remote workers are far more common. While you may be able to find local remote employees, most of your remote workforce will likely be out of state or in a different country.
At first, you may see that kind of network as inefficient, but it could actually be beneficial. For example, let's say you have remote customer service agents across the globe. These agents can field calls and messages from local customers who may need help late at night or in the early morning. This way, you don't have to push a local team to stay up all night, and everyone is more refreshed and relaxed as a result.
As a rule, remote staff members should be more familiar with technology because they need to use it for work all the time. Nonetheless, you can't forget to focus on everything else we've mentioned, including back-end engagement, comprehensive onboarding, and personalized attention.
How Structural Can Help You Build a Better Digital Employee Experience
Structural is a comprehensive tool that allows you to build a digital employee network from scratch. This network allows your workers, both local and remote, to engage with each other in different, positive ways. Our program helps foster better relationships and empowers your workforce to feel more connected to your business. If you're interested in seeing how Structural can work for your company, schedule a call today!