Filed under: Digital employee experience
Like other strategic initiatives, digital employee experience (DEX) is a means to end. A focus on DEX uncovers employee needs and determines solutions, but all towards the ultimate goal of benefiting the organisation (and the staff within it).
What makes DEX powerful — its broad scope — also presents a challenge for quantifying and demonstrating benefits. It’s more than just a mechanism to increase employee engagement (typically a priority for HR), and it’s also not just about delivering tools to support new ways of working (championed by IT).
As we explore and shape digital employee experience, the pressure is (and should be) on making a strong business case, and demonstrating outcomes. To assist with this, this article outlines an approach that groups benefits into three broad categories: people, process and technology.
This framework comes from Step Two’s work with clients around the globe, and we hope it will help teams to move forward faster, and with more confidence. This article also shares practical tips for identifying and communicating the benefits of DEX initiatives.
Putting shape around DEX benefits
The following table groups potential DEX benefits into three broad categories, with examples for each:
|Engaging employees and fostering a strong culture||Streamlining tasks and supporting core business||Enabling new ways of working|
|Potential business benefits|
|Enhance internal communication
Improve employee engagement
Support culture change
Improve employee onboarding
Foster career progression
Improve talent retention
|Simplify business tasks
Streamline business processes
Improve employee productivity
Improve customer experience and satisfaction
Support flexible working
Support agile practices
Foster knowledge sharing
Accelerate digital transformation
With this framework in place, the following sections provide practical advice on putting it into practice.
Use existing measures
Many aspects of organisations are already measured, on a regular or semi-regular basis, and these can be used by DEX initiatives.
For example, employee engagement is often assessed via a yearly survey, that covers many aspects of staff satisfaction. This typically drills down into a number of key areas, including leadership communications, understanding of strategic priorities, and satisfaction with the tools that are provided.
This last aspect is a natural focus for DEX projects that aim to deliver better digital solutions that streamline common tasks. DEX projects can also address internal communications and wider staff satisfaction.
By piggy-backing onto existing measurements, no additional effort is required for DEX projects. It can also be assumed that organisations care about these aspects, as effort is being put into their measurement. This should give an easier route to demonstrate value to senior leaders.
Draw on wider successes
In the early stages of DEX initiatives, it may be necessary to demonstrate potential benefits in order gain approval for proceeding. To avoid the potential chicken-and-egg problem, benefits demonstrated from the wider community can be used.
For example, work done by the Gallup Q12 shows that organisations with highly engaged staff are 18% more productive, and 16% more profitable. Similar productivity gains have also been correlated with the adoption of collaboration tools, for example.
These wider industry studies provide a solid foundation for DEX projects, and they can be followed up with concrete assessments within the business once projects are further progressed.
There are also numerous case studies that show how DEX projects deliver tangible business benefits, and many of these can be found in the annual winners of the Intranet and Digital Workplace Awards. For example, the Platinum Winner in 2013, Barclays Bank, delivered a new mobile experience to frontline staff. While the solution was deceptively simple in functionality, it was able to demonstrate a 2% increase in customer NPS, and a 50% decrease in customer complaints relating to staff knowledge. The case studies for these examples can also provide compelling narratives that senior leaders can engage with.
Measure before and after
The greatest power can be to quantify the size of the improvement, but this requires a baseline to measure against. Where possible, DEX initiatives should therefore measure key metrics before the start of the project.
The easiest route is to use a pre-existing measure, such as staff engagement discussed in a previous section. In these cases, it’s crucial that the relevant ‘business owner’ of the measure is engaged from the outset. In order to proceed with confidence, they need to be happy for the proposed DEX project to target improvements in their area.
Relatively simple measures can also be made by the project itself, as the basis for demonstrating later business benefits. For example, task-based usability testing — a core element of UX methodologies — can measure the time taken for key tasks. This can then show time saved, by improvement in business systems or intranets.
Plan to measure success
Over a decade ago, Step Two published the article Planning to demonstrate success. At its core, this article strongly advised against planning a project and then, after the fact, trying to determine success measures.
Instead, it argued that the starting point should be to determine the business benefits that must be addressed. The project can then be scoped and designed specifically to get those outcomes.
For example, a project that seeks to improve employee onboarding would target recruitment processes, HR systems, and the first six months of new hires. In contrast, a goal of supporting flexible working would be tightly coupled with office changes, such as the shift to activity-based working.
Get support for your DEX initiatives
Digital employee experience is still a new field, and the community as a whole is still exploring the possibilities (and challenges). Step Two has been playing a lead role in this, by first introducing the term DEX, and then by putting shape around it. We are also working with forward-looking organisations on their new DEX projects, from research through to strategy and beyond.
Don’t hesitate to get in touch if we can help you plan your DEX projects, including quantifying the business benefits they’ll deliver.