Designing for Employee Experience

By Rahul Sekhon, Senior Vice-President, Enterprise Infrastructure and Chief Technology Officer, Sun Life Financial

Rahul Sekhon, Senior Vice-President, Enterprise Infrastructure and Chief Technology Officer, Sun Life Financial

We are in the middle of an information age. Technology is changing everything that we do, whether at work or in our personal lives. The mobile and app revolution has spoiled us with choice and we now have instant access to data and information that, theoretically, should be improving our productivity and quality of life. Productivity tools and applications touting the ability to streamline our workflows continue to become increasingly pervasive. But is technology having the desired effect or is too much information adding to the noise and resulting in information overload, attention fragmentation and a reduction in our mental ability to process information? Add to this question the complexity of technology onboarding, change management and creating awareness of new ways of working. What if more technology is not the answer? Rather, is a focused and disciplined approach to designing experiences coupled with less technology the right approach to enhancing engagement and productivity?

"Leveraging what employees already know will help fast-track the overall change management process."

The design of a fluid employee experience starts with putting the employees at the center and evolving processes and capabilities around this to enhance individual productivity and team collaboration. In this journey, technology becomes an enabler, rather than the starting and end-point. Culture also plays a significant role in this entire transformation, as the focus shifts from delivering capabilities to managing change. Involving employees and business partners in the design process is very important, thereby ensuring that the product (or service) is a close fit to meet expectations. Of course, things will go wrong, but what is crucial is that there is a feedback and servicing mechanism to fix things quickly. Since technology is integral in all parts of this experience, it is imperative that the technology selection focus should be on integrated platforms, rather than those that are best of the breed. Learning programs are also fundamental in ensuring that employees can get the best value out of the service platforms available to enhance engagement and productivity. Leveraging what employees already know will help fast-track the overall change management process. The ultimate goal of a fluid employee experience should be to improve their ability to discover information, connect with teams for sharing insights and, ultimately, to innovate by acting as a catalyst to further the enterprise’s purpose.

Organizations have started to recognize the relevance of employee experience and have adopted enterprise collaboration platforms like Workplace by Facebook, Slack, Office 365 or Zoom, all of which have found an immediate niche in today’s work environment. By enabling employees to quickly meet with teammates and share information, these platforms offer a myriad of opportunities for teams to collaborate. Whether at the office or on a mobile device, peer-to-peer instant messaging, group chats and video conferencing are accessible at the touch of a button allowing employees to connect regardless of geography. They also provide a centralized hub to amplify internal content, share industry information and engage in pertinent conversations that drive positive business outcomes.

Where these tools have been most successful is in simplifying how employees approach their work on a day-to-day basis. No longer bound by office locations or hierarchical structures, the employee experience has become much more fluid and frictionless. Cross-pollination of teams and work streams has made it easier for them to meet spontaneously, share content and brainstorm in real-time. Additionally, integrated platforms like Workplace by Facebook and Office 365 provide access to a curated flow of information, which enhances productivity and greatly reduces the technology overload that can come with information residing in a number of different places. This “minimization” approach to technology has dramatically shifted how employees access business-critical information, enabling them to stay on task, minimize distractions and continue to work at optimal levels.

Beyond technology, many opportunities exist within the scope of employee experience. Organizations are looking at redesigning workspaces to facilitate agility and collaboration, while also enhancing sustainability. Culturally, organizations are evolving to provide more flexibility to employees allowing them to decide how they work best. This includes introducing wellness programs, work when you want options, sabbaticals and unique new pathways for career progression. New innovative approaches to rewards and recognition are also enabling higher levels of engagement and better instilling a sense of achievement in employees. Additionally, organizations are able to differentiate themselves by demonstrating a strong commitment to diversity and inclusion and sustainability initiatives.

Employees are at the heart of every organization’s strategy and mission. The journey towards an engaging employee experience starts with employees at the center, and with experiences designed to reflect those that businesses would design for their clients. Successful organizations have a strong purpose and culture, with people at the core. If one truly wants to connect with clients, then the journey starts with your employees. Design experiences to delight your employees, but most importantly, listen to them and involve them in the design – great employee experiences will absolutely lead to delightful client experiences.

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