You and your employees don’t go a single day without touching some sort of app or tool (and honestly, you’re probably using dozens of them daily). That means you simply can’t talk about the employee experience without talking about the technology your employees use.
Are workers stuck with clunky, archaic, inadequate, or irrelevant tech? That’s a huge (perhaps even insurmountable) hurdle to a positive employee experience.
Gone are the days when workplace technology was viewed as a “nice to have” supplement to enhance efficiency and productivity. Today, and especially as remote and hybrid work arrangements persist and increase, tech is the bedrock of the overall employee experience—and people leaders need to get it right.
3 reasons technology is crucial for the employee experience
The average remote worker spends about 13 hours each day in front of some sort of screen. It’s a little less for on-site workers, but undoubtedly still a major chunk of the day. So in this modern working world, there is no employee experience without technology.
And while all of that screen time might sound like nothing more than a recipe for eye strain, technology’s ever-increasing role in the employee experience offers a number of distinct advantages for workers and employers.
1. It fits a remote or hybrid workforce
The employee experience feels easier to understand and plan when everybody is co-located. You get a certain gut feel about the overall vibe and morale when you walk through the open office or pick up on some small talk near the snack counter.
But things feel more distant when your workforce is remote or hybrid. In fact, research from Gartner found that only 24% of hybrid and remote workers say they feel connected to their company’s culture.
So what’s the secret to connection when everybody is spread across their respective couches and home offices? Technology.
The right tech tools make it easier for employees to communicate, collaborate, and get their work done. And they also provide better visibility into employee sentiment and even real-time insights that leaders can use to strategically shape and improve interactions and experiences.
As an article for Harvard Business Review states, “The technology experiences that employers provide will more or less define the employee experience—technology and workplace tools are, for all intents and purposes, the new workplace.”
2. It scales with your company
As companies expand, their workforces do too. And while they might have previously been able to stay on top of different teams and initiatives with a spreadsheet or disparate email threads, that becomes unwieldy as the company grows.
That’s another reason why tech is so crucial to the experience of all employees. The right technology scales with the team and the entire organization, while giving people opportunities to connect, learn, and achieve without cumbersome and archaic systems.
3. It supports people leaders
When it comes to the employee experience, the HR team has a lot to do—but so do all of the other managers and people leaders within the organization. Managers are one of the most influential factors in employee engagement, but many are also trying to pour from an empty cup:
- Almost 60% of leaders say that they feel totally used up by the end of the day.
- According to Gallup research, managers report more stress and burnout as well as worse work-life balance and physical well being than the people they directly manage.
HR leaders themselves are struggling too, reporting the highest level of burnout of any type of employee—even ahead of other business leaders and frontline workers.
Every employee’s experience matters—including the experience of the executives and HR professionals leading charge on culture. And using the right technology helps them streamline their workflows, save time with automations, and maintain more manageable expectations and workloads.
How (and where) technology fits into the employee experience
While employee experience technology might make you think of dedicated platforms for planning and managing initiatives (and yes, that’s certainly a part of it), that’s really only a slice of the pie.
Tech is ingrained in every single part of the employee experience—the platform you use to onboard and train new employees. The tools workers use to communicate with each other. The specific software they need to complete their tasks. All of that technology impacts their overall experience.
Sound like a lot to wrap your head around? It can be. So let’s break this down into the three major ways technology is used for the employee experience: to understand it, to improve it, and to monitor it.
Technology to understand the employee experience
Before you can improve the employee experience, you need to know where you’re starting. What are your employees current feelings about your organization? What do they love? What needs aren’t being met?
There are non-tech ways to gather this information—like focus groups and conversations with managers about what’s happening on their own teams. But technology can help you build a baseline far more efficiently and effectively.
There are a couple of different types of tools that help you take the temperature of your workforce, including:
- Feedback tools: These platforms are focused on creating and launching employee surveys. Employees answer questions (either directly or anonymously) so that you can collect and aggregate data about their experiences. For example, employee engagement software like Lattice combines surveys, employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), sentiments about onboarding and offboarding, and daily experiences.
- Workforce intelligence tools: A tool like Erudit gives you real-time insights into your workforce based on employee sentiment. Erudit’s AI analyzes workplace communications to give you an understanding of how your organization is performing with regard to engagement, burnout, turnover, and other key metrics. Erudit can be connected to your employee engagement platform (like Lattice) or your HR software (like Factorial) for an even more complete picture.
Technology to improve the employee experience
Understanding the employee experience is an important first step. But now what technology do you need to actually make it better?
There are seemingly never-ending apps, tools, and platforms that fall under this category. Literally any new technology—a new onboarding tool, organization-wide chat platform, or payroll system, to name a fews—has a direct impact on your employee experiences (and their ability to do their jobs well).
Yet it’s an area where a lot of organizations fall short. Only 30% of employees say their experience with their company’s technology exceeds or greatly exceeds their expectations.
The same study found that, while 90% of C-suite executives say their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, only 53% of employees agree.
So ultimately, the best technology to improve the employee experience is the technology your employees tell you they need. This tailored approach not only equips workers with the tools they need to do their jobs, but it also emphasizes that you hear, value, and actually take action on their insights and experiences.
Beyond rolling out the right tech to support job-specific duties and functions, there are also other tools focused on improving your employee experience, such as:
- Employee appreciation tools: These platforms make it easy for managers and colleagues to provide recognition, show appreciation, or offer rewards to other team members.
- Employee intranet software: This software allows you to create an intranet or knowledge base where employees can easily access important information they need.
Technology to monitor the employee experience
Shaping the employee experience is a process, not an event. So leaders also need to be equipped with the right technology to keep their finger on the pulse of how employees are feeling at all times (and not just periodically throughout the year).
What has the response been to any new employee experience initiatives? Have metrics moved the way you thought they would? What else could you try?
While the intent here is different, the tech itself is the same as the tools you’ll use to build an initial understanding of your employee experience. You can use your feedback tools to directly collect employee insights about changes and overall sentiment, as well as Erudit to monitor your dashboard and see how your risks and metrics are adjusting in real-time.
Your employee experience: Technology isn’t trivial
From autonomy and access to management to compensation and benefits, there’s a lot wrapped up in your employee experience. But there’s another big element that doesn’t always get the attention it deserves: technology.
Today, workers don’t go a day without interacting with some sort of technology. And from your HRIS or other dedicated HR platforms to the apps and tools people use to get their jobs done, the technology you offer to employees can’t be a supplement or an afterthought.
When it comes to your employee experience, technology isn’t irrelevant or inconsequential—it’s imperative.
Learn more about how the right technology can help you track and manage your employee experience initiatives in "The employer’s guide to impactful employee experience initiatives."