Digital employee experience (DEX) is a holistic concept that looks at the entire experience of staff, as they progress through their working year. It’s about more than just rolling out new technology platforms, and it’s as much about how staff work with each other as it is about the digital services provided by the business.
If this sounds strategic, it is. DEX is most powerful when it engages with senior leaders, as well as guiding a myriad of UX decisions. The challenge, however, is how to best shape and articulate DEX, in a way that’s meaningful for all stakeholders.
Traditional approaches to solution design and delivery struggle when it comes to DEX: no amount of business requirements or agile ‘user stories’ will meaningfully articulate the desired future DEX.
Instead, teams should look towards narrative techniques to build and share a consensus DEX vision, utilising techniques such as:
- day-in-the-life stories
- journey maps
We explore each of these techniques, in the context of digital employee experience projects.
Personas have been a standard part of the user experience (UX) toolkit for a long time now, and we described how they work as far back as 2004.
They convey an ‘archetypical’ set of users who represent the real-world environments, challenges and needs of key staff groups. They’re particularly powerful in front-line environments, such as hospitals, call centres, travelling sales, factories, and the like.
Digital workplace personas have a couple of key characteristics, when compared to ‘typical’ personas:
- To start with the obvious, they describe employees within the organisation, rather than customers.
- As a result, they contain different details, with less about personal lives (has kids, or is a heavy user of Facebook) and more about working conditions and details (years of service, type of employment).
- They also have a wider scope than intranet personas, as they need to articulate the full context of employment.
- Finally, they have a more strategic role, ideally used as much in the boardroom as in project meetings.
Despite these differences, draw on the excellent resources in the UX community when creating personas. That will allow you to quickly and confidently create personas, shaping them as you go to fit the enterprise context.
2. Day-in-the-life stories
One of the key limitations of personas in the context of DEX is that they only describe the current state of who is in the business, and how they work. This is an inherent part of their power, that they reflect the actual reality of day-to-day work activities.
As it doesn’t make sense to create ‘future personas’, there is role for narrative to outline the desired future state in different ways.
One of the most powerful narrative techniques involves ‘day-in-the-life’ stories. These outline future states, pulling together various technology, process and behaviour changes into single engaging stories.
A few tips when creating day-in-the-life stories:
- Make sure they’re based on a strong understanding of the current state, including how staff work day to day.
- Decide how far into the future the stories will go. Ten years is almost certainly too far out (hoverboards anyone?), but next year is the focus of a strategy, not a future story.
- Engage a wide group of stakeholders, to get the most holistic view of DEX in practice.
- Convey your stories using an engaging design, to maximise their impact
- Include emotions in the stories, to ensure they connect on a ‘human’ level with stakeholders.
3. Journey maps
If day-in-the-life scenarios cover a single ‘future day’, then journey maps cover a greater passage of time. Now widely used in customer experience projects, journey maps for DEX show:
- user actions and interactions (of employees, rather than customers)
- work environments, including devices used, at each step
- what the employee is thinking (what is the best way of doing this task?)
- emotional responses (confused, satisfied, frustrated, etc)
- future possibilities at each step
Journey maps often target ‘moments of truth’, when interactions between employees and the business are critical. For example, one could look at the DEX of onboarding, as a crucial process that everyone has to go through.
Journey maps are often more substantial deliverables than day-in-the-life stories, but they are only truly meaningful when there’s an actual ‘journey’ that employees are going through.
Creating narratives to describe your DEX vision
As outlined in this article, multiple approaches can be taken to create engaging, meaningful and powerful narratives that describe your desired DEX.
These may be as simple as a carefully selected set of personas, or as all-encompassing as a journey map from initial employment to retirement.
As Step Two has been leading the exploration of DEX, we’ve been doing hands-on consulting work for a range of clients around the world. Reach out if we can help you create your DEX vision.