Every successful company has realized that its people are its greatest asset for decades – if not centuries. Now, more than ever before in the history of work, employers have to understand in great detail what their employees want and need because of the seismic shifts happening.
With most organizations figuring out flexible and hybrid working models, their employees are the most critical stakeholders. For this reason, to gauge their sentiments, companies are turning to employee experience (EX) platforms.
What exactly are EX platforms, and when did they become a thing?
“EX platforms roll all the resources and support staff need into one online platform,” said Ally Fekaiki, founder of Juno, a global employee benefits platform, based in Barcelona, Spain. “They’re not new. But in the age of hybrid work, centralized and accessible support for remote employees has made EX platforms all the more important.”
Essentially, EX platforms bring together a massive range of resources, from onboarding and training materials to annual leave management and employee benefits. Thanks to an easily navigable online portal, you should be able to find out anything from maternity policies, company values and strategy, and upcoming social events in a couple of clicks.
With a welter of documents and information in one place, will important things be lost?
There is a risk that employees will become overwhelmed and overloaded with information, with individual resources buried. “For EX platforms to serve their intended purpose — of making support accessible — employers should consult staff on what resources are most useful to them before streamlining and clearly signposting offerings accordingly,” said Fekaiki. “Simplicity and user-friendliness are the watchwords.”
EX is not human relations, not employee engagement, stresses Conrad Rasmussen, head of experience at marketing agency Wunderman Thompson U.K. “Since every organization is different, the experience needs to be specifically designed for their unique purpose, for that unique set of people, for that unique moment,” he said. Instead, an EX platform is the framing or perspective of those crucial matters and transcends departments, he added.
Is an EX platform vital in the age of hybrid working?
Yes, it seems so. How else can managers manage their team members, with the office Hokey Cokey all knowledge workers now have to dance? And what about measuring the progress and happiness of staff who never come into the office, perhaps because they don’t live on the same continent?
“As businesses open their talent pools to the best people around the globe, cross-border teams are becoming more and more common,” said Mark Ward, co-founder of THRIVE, a company which provides personalized learning and skills platforms, based in Nottingham, England. “But ultimately, as employees still crave connection and interaction, a digital solution is the only way we can maintain that close-knit network when employees are thousands of miles apart.”
He argues that EX platforms are now “the cornerstone of modern workplaces” and continued: “They act as a company’s internal social media channel, creating one, easily accessible digital space where people can view internal comms, work collaboratively, and connect with others from across the business.” Additionally, they nurture learning and development opportunities, make policies easy to find, and alert employees to events, well-being initiatives and other important updates.
The advantages of EX platforms go beyond the community. “By allowing greater flexibility and autonomy, businesses are using these platforms to complement high-performance cultures, with diverse, engaged talent improving their customer experience and outcomes drastically,” Ward added.
Nick Hedderman, senior director of the modern work business group at Microsoft U.K., agrees and points out that the Great Resignation or Great Reshuffle is far from over. Hence, there is an urgent need for businesses to invest in EX platforms. “With employees and managers in lockstep on the need for flexible working with 57% of remote workers considering a shift to hybrid, it’s clear that work and collaboration will continue to take place in a complex, hybrid workplace,” he said.
To account for what is lost when spending less time in person, organizations require what he calls “a digital fabric to bind them together,” thereby allowing the hybrid business to collaborate, communicate and create securely.
But what about the deskless workers?
It does appear that the 2.7 billion people who are so-called deskless — that’s a whopping 80% of the global workforce — are forgotten in the hybrid working headache. But given that many industries offer greater flexibility and support, those without desks are thinking about switching jobs to gain more satisfaction. So perhaps businesses with deskless workers should invest in EX platforms more than in white-collar industries.
“Deskless and frontline workers have been left behind by recent technological advances in the office, leaving them unhappy and leaving in droves,” said Steve Tonks, senior vp EMEA at WorkForce Software. “At a time when the war for talent is fiercer than ever, investing in the digital tools that enable great day-to-day experiences is a business imperative.”
Recent WorkForce Software research illustrates the problem. Some 87% of employers state they help hourly workers deal with personal circumstances that affect work schedules, but only 60% of employees agree. “To retain and satisfy this vital section of the workforce, employers need to pay attention to this gap and make genuine efforts to close it,” added Tonks.
He advises that this process starts with investing in mobile digital tools that empower deskless workers to communicate and collaborate with the broader business. “A company’s culture, flexible work options and overall employee experience are becoming top priorities for talent, rather than salary alone,” said Tonks. “EX platforms lay the core foundations for achieving this.”