What is the Digital Employee Experience?

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Move over CX, there is a new buzzword in town: Digital Employee Experience or DEX. DEX encompasses how employees work, what tools and technology they use, and the culture they exist within.

It’s almost impossible to find someone who doesn’t understand the significance of customer experience (CX) and its impact on the success of their organization. But how many leaders are considering the actual employee experience? And more importantly, how many are considering the impact their technology infrastructure has on the employee experience?

Move over CX, there is a new buzzword in town: Digital Employee Experience; otherwise known as DEX.

Just like it sounds, DEX aims to convey the impact of the digital workplace on its employees. The digital employee experience encompasses how employees work, what tools and technology they use, and the culture they exist within.

While the digital employee experience itself isn’t new, the terminology and growing focus is. Digital workplace expert James Robertson has defined DEX as “the sum total of the digital interactions between a staff member and their organization.”

If you are still scratching your head trying to understand what this actually means, imagine a scenario where there are a wide assortment of technologies in the workplace. There might be a documentation storage repository, some shared network folders, a form building technology, or maybe even an activity stream of sorts. All of these applications aim to serve a purpose by assisting employees in some way. However, if these applications or documents are not easy to access, or use, then the employee experience won’t be very great.

You could have amazing technology that is secure and designed to solve a specific pain point, but, if it doesn’t enable employees to easily and effectively do their job, what is the point of having it?

We recently talked about how the digital workplace isn’t about how we think employees work, but rather how they actually work. Therefore, when we infringe technology on employees without considering their experience, we not only fail at the employee experience, we fail at achieving a digital workplace.

DEX aims to solve this because it shifts the focus to technology that employees want to use, can use, and enjoy using. It puts employees at the heart, with a focus on their engagement.

Why Does DEX Matter?

Employees who don’t understand the technology, or how to use it, are frustrated, disengaged, and unproductive. According to TechRepublic, slow response times and broken processes are the main reasons many people quit their jobs. While that sounds dismal, the solution isn’t really that complicated: Design and structure technology around your employees. Seems simple, right?

So, then why aren’t we all winning at DEX?

Many organizations fail at DEX because no one has taken real ownership over it. Human Resources want happy employees, and IT wants good technology. But, as you can imagine, these two groups rarely interact or align with each other. So there might be some strong employee experiences, and some good technology acquired, but they are still mostly happening in isolation of each other.

A good example of this is often seen around tools like SharePoint. It’s a tool that’s easy to manage for IT but not so much for end users, hence a poor digital employee experience. This inevitably leads to frustration on both ends as adoption is low, and users end up creating their own workarounds.

The digital employee experience aims to close that gap with tools like modern intranets (and extranets!) —which serve both IT and HR better than they did ten years ago. At the center of your digital workplace, an intranet provides a seamless user experience, reducing the need for additional applications, but more importantly, ensuring employees have access to tools that help them get their jobs done. From the time a user first logs in there is a cohesive experience with Single Sign-On. The result is a strong consistent experience across different devices, giving employees access to everything they need, from wherever they are.

Your people are at the heart of your business, and therefore their experiences must be considered with every digital workplace touchpoint. If you are aiming to improve the digital employee experience at your organization, there are three things you need to examine:

  • IT Infrastructure: What tools do you currently have? Are they all necessary?
  • Employee Interaction: How do employees interact with each other? Which processes do they rely on to complete their jobs?
  • Experiences: Do employees find the technology they use difficult and complex or is it intuitive and productive?

It’s also worth looking at the demographics of your employees, particularly as it applies to generational differences. For example, we know that younger employees lack the patience that older generations have (can you really imagine a 25-year-old waiting for a dial-up modem to connect?).

Whatever your approach, I think we can all agree that more needs to be done to bridge the gap between the digital workplace and the employee experience. A strong digital employee experience isn’t a passing fad, but rather an evolutionary shift in how we use and view technology in the workplace.

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January 10, 2019

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