Digital workplaces
17/10/2018

The employee journey: empower your team to delight your customer

Channel proliferation, fragmentation and massive numbers of apps seem to highlight the value of investing in personalized customer experience over employee experience. However, nurturing the digital workplace leads to even more business value – and it’s crucial for future success. Let’s have a look at the prevailing trends and how technology can be used to help your people tackle the challenges of doing business in the digital era.

Is it a customer vs. employee world?

The educated, skilled employees of today are less engaged than you might think: only 13% of current employees report feeling engaged with their companies (source: Gartner). If you combine this with the knowledge that companies with engaged employees generate 2.5 times more revenue than competitors with low engagement levels (source: Hay Group), it’s clear that employee engagement level is crucial.

Next to lack of managerial support, the lack of adequate equipment employees need to work effectively is reported as the major reason for low engagement in this digital age. Your people increasingly look for the same ease of use when it comes to technologies in the workplace as they get in their private lives.

At the same time, customers are becoming more demanding, more informed and more socially connected than ever. Centering your strategy around their desires, behaviors and preferences means enabling your employees to quickly and swiftly collaborate and respond.

Here are some striking figures that highlight just how urgent the need for a supportive workplace, and the necessary digital tools and culture, is:

  • Only 34% of workers are satisfied with their physical workplaces.
  • 82% of jobseekers use IT infrastructure as an employment decision-making criterium.
  • 42% of people leaving their jobs do so because of substandard IT.
  • Only 5% of companies have strong digital leadership development programs in place.

Employee empowerment leads to customer delight

Figures like these prompted Vineet Nayar (CEO of HCL) to publish – in 2010! – Employees First, Customers Second, a book praised by giants like C.K. Prahalad, Tom Peters, Gary Hamel and the like. The book pointed out that if you invest in employees, you will (almost always) automatically improve service and customer experience.

Isn’t the symmetry beautiful? You can delight your customers by putting your employees first, simplifying the roles of CxOs: one of their most important tasks is to empower their employees by providing the best-possible work environment. Enter the digital workplace.

An urgent need for transformation

While customer journeys are important, more companies are increasingly investigating employee journeys. Improving these processes through digital tools and automation – i.e., creating a digital workplace – doesn’t just enable them to do their jobs better and thus offer better customer experiences. It also helps companies manage an increasingly multigenerational workplace and find, retain and nurture talent in a cutthroat job market.

The digital workplace achieves its full potential only in a company that is turned inside out, a company in which employees come first. Creating a digital workplace means offering employees access to the intuitive tools and information they need to collaborate, boost productivity and respond to customers in hours – or even minutes. But it also means that business leaders must delegate more to their talent and move to more participative leadership styles and promote a new culture within the company.

“The digital workplace achieves its full potential only in a company that is turned inside out, a company in which employees come first.”

Business leaders as change catalysts

As a business leader, it’s important not to underestimate the impacts that the transition to a digital workplace will have on your employees and your company as a complete entity. It takes guts – and change management – to create a culture of honesty, transparency trust and dialogue at all levels of the organization. C-level executives have key roles to play in ensuring that the transformation moves forward as smoothly as possible:

  • as a CEO, ensure that your team makes the right strategic and cultural choices and lead by example;
  • as a CHRO, monitor workplace culture, train, coach, give feedback and incorporate new ways of working into career plans;
  • as a CIO, keep a close eye on tech trends, select and integrate the ones that support the company’s strategy, protect your company’s information assets and improve employee journeys. This last one is a new, important and interesting role for CIOs.

Fostering the right conditions for success

Technology will not save your business – but it is a core enabler of success that fuses the human and the digital to create value. The beauty is that every company can identify its own ideal mix of technologies to develop a seamlessly integrated, personalized employee experience to boost business results. However, business leaders can’t leave this to chance. Jump in, nurture the perfect conditions for success by supporting your people.