Digital Employee Experience: How to Get it Right

  • May 03, 2022
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The deeper we get into the 21st century, the clearer it becomes that keeping employees happy isn’t just a nice thing for companies to do — it’s an essential strategy for business success. Because happy employees are less likely to leave, they’re also more likely to be engaged and productive. And as the workplace becomes increasingly distributed, the employee experience is directly impacted by the technology they use at work. People correlate job satisfaction with the quality of the IT ecosystem — the devices, applications, and services they rely on every day.

For organizations — specifically IT departments — delivering a high-quality digital employee experience is more important than ever; it’s more complicated than ever. With work-from-home employees now strewn about the globe and the threat of the Great Resignation still lingering, the need to meet workers’ technological expectations has become more urgent and complex. It’s so important that many IT departments are now focusing intently on the named discipline of Digital Employee Experience (DEX) management. They’ll need to measure what’s delighting employees versus driving them away accurately to get it right.

What is DEX management?

It’s not that companies have never tried to measure IT performance; it’s that what they’ve been measuring hasn’t given them the complete picture of what’s happening. Traditionally, IT departments have focused on meeting service-level agreements (SLAs) by looking at key performance indicators like network availability and the average time to resolve service tickets. But those metrics, while helpful, don’t tell the company if employees are delighted with the service they’re receiving. Such gauges are commonly subject to the “watermelon effect,” reading green on the surface but red when you dig into them.

To better understand the employee mindset, companies are prioritizing DEX management as a practice to collect and analyze more relevant data, extract valuable insights, and take appropriate actions. They’re moving beyond simple SLAs that measure only quantitative data and holding IT accountable to experience-level agreements (XLAs), which focus more on the quality of the employee experience. In this way, companies can achieve a much clearer view of how well they’re meeting the needs of employees and the business itself.

DEX fundamentals

For organizations getting started with DEX management, the practice should consist of three foundational building blocks:

  • Monitoring: With the help of modern software, IT can keep a close eye on health and performance data from devices, applications, and networks, as well as gather qualitative user feedback to get an insider view of how employees are experiencing workplace technology.
  • Problem hunting and diagnosis: Through a combination of endpoint performance data and machine learning (ML) engines, a modern DEX management system can proactively alert IT to critical issues degrading the employee experience and employees’ sentiment toward technology use. A DEX management system can also help determine friction points for different user personas and identify unreported technology interruptions for long-term improvements.
  • Taking action: Learning from the mix of hard data and anecdotal evidence gathered through problem hunting and diagnosis, IT can make changes — whether it's improving human-led elements of IT or automating them away — that remove choke points, prevent crashes and outages, or limit service desk calls. DEX tools provide workflow capabilities to implement automation for automated self-healing of technical issues.

In short, the goal is to find and fix problems swiftly and autonomously before users even know a problem exists. Doing so will improve employees’ relationships with technology and empower them to be at their best.

Four key areas to track

While measuring and improving DEX sounds like a straightforward concept, the definition of “employee experience” can become a bit murky in practice. What, exactly, constitutes the employee experience, and what should companies measure in hopes of making meaningful improvements? While specific metrics will vary, NTT DATA suggests focusing on these general areas:

  1. Digital persona lifecycle: The aggregation of adoption, sentiment and endpoint data provides insights into the digital profile of employees. These insights include the devices and applications employees use; where, how and how often they use them; and their sentiment toward the technology. Organizations can use this information to discover new digital workplace personas and continuously refine existing personas. This information can help IT determine essential applications that a particular persona requires to be installed on a new laptop. That means getting them the correct type of computer for knowledge workers, with enough processing power and memory and access to required applications.
  2. Modern support experience: Self-help portals, digital lockers and tools should be friction-free and easy to navigate. And in the event employees need human assistance, those interactions should also be tracked to ensure problems are resolved quickly, and users are satisfied. Companies should explore ways to offer automated self-healing solutions to repetitive technical issues.
  3. Unique endpoint hardware refresh cycles: Many organizations use device refresh cycles based on a fixed-year estimate, which is estimated by the number of years the device was in use. This practice leads to wasted money and IT support time by refreshing a device that has a remaining useful life. A DEX management solution can offer a more nuanced approach to understanding employee workload, usage patterns and device consumption before deciding on hardware replacement. The IT procurement team can use the performance and usage data to determine optimal hardware specifications to meet business demands.
  4. Physical space: It may lean counterintuitive, but employees’ physical workspaces — from work points to collaboration spaces — are included in the digital employee experience. Beyond the traditional IT requirements of robust wireless connectivity for high-quality, real-time communications, video-enabled collaboration spaces and smartboards for rich co-creation activities, many office spaces and buildings are becoming smart with IoT and sensor technologies. The ability to include sensor data for real-time employee experience monitoring in the physical workplace is part of the overall workplace experience picture. As such, despite many employees continuing to work from home, the needs of those who have returned to (or never left) the office shouldn’t be neglected.

These are some of the key elements that make up the digital employee experience, which is ultimately a reflection of how well a company can equip and enable its people to succeed in today’s tech-driven world of work. By prioritizing this experience, companies can send a message that they’re serious about providing a seamless, intuitive, powerful technology ecosystem that makes employees’ lives easier and helps them build rewarding long-term careers. In the future, monitoring, measuring, and constantly improving DEX will be the key to an engaged and productive workforce. And that’s something no organization can live without.

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Vishal Brown

Vishal is the Chief Evangelist and Dynamic Workplace Leader at NTT DATA with over 20 years of industry experience. Focused on elevating the employee experience and productivity, he brings modern workplace expertise and leverages AI, automation, machine learning to enable the digital workplace ecosystem.

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