Research has proven that employees want hybrid working – but in a world of scarce talent and fast evolving employee expectations, the successful Future of Work demands far more than flexible employment contracts. Every employee has a unique experience of the digital workplace, so how can Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) understand each employee’s digital experience and the impact on engagement, morale, well-being, inclusion and productivity?
According to recent research from LACE Partners, talent attraction / retention; flexible and hybrid working; and the Employee Value Proposition (EVP) emphatically dominate HR leaders’ 2023 agendas. CHROs recognise that financial incentives alone are no longer enough to attract good people – but what are the non-monetary benefits that would boost employee retention and engagement? Despite some remnants of outdated thinking, hybrid working has become non-negotiable for employees – but businesses are still wrestling with the challenges of creating the great employee digital experience upon which hybrid working success (whether that is in the office or at home) relies.
From productivity to innovation, collaboration to isolation, companies are painfully aware that while employees want more flexibility, hybrid working is not an automatic panacea to workplace stress. Are companies able to identify specific individuals struggling with home working environments relying on an internet connection designed for ecommerce? Do they know if employees are experiencing well-being issues as a result of isolation from colleagues due to sound or video problems on calls? Are people are having to work significantly longer hours than colleagues just to keep up, as a result of digital inequality?
Companies know that the transition to the Future of Work is not smooth, but with zero insight into the employee digital experience they are resorting to tinkering with corporate policy. How much difference will it make to reduce the number of ‘two plus’ meetings in the diary, as proposed by Spotify recently? How relevant are strategies to tackle intergenerational workplace conflict if problems are due not to divergence in attitudes and beliefs but to differences in technology usage and adoption? Right now, it is a high-risk guessing game.
Clearly it is vital to rethink culture but companies need real information to achieve a human-centric model that delivers the best employee digital experience.
In an increasingly digital Future of Work, it is vital that businesses can understand and measure the human experience, the subjective satisfaction employees experience in their workplace. The office- based surveys of the past, however, are no longer representative of the employee experience. When every individual has a different home/ office technology set up, experiences of productivity, satisfaction and well-being are fundamentally different. CHROs cannot create the next generation of Employee Value Proposition or define new digital working practices without a detailed understanding of what it means to each digital employee today.
Companies need to know exactly how employees are feeling about their workplace experience continuously, application-by-application, at home, in the office or on the road. Armed with this human experience insight, CHROs can rapidly identify those individuals who need immediate intervention. Would an investment in a dedicated, business quality Wi-Fi hub at home be a simple step to overcome disconnection from colleagues? Could a new broadband provider transform an individual’s experience, boost their productivity and minimise the risk of losing a great employee?
This insight requires a new C-suite partnership between CHROs and CIOs to achieve a deep and mutual understanding of the interplay of technology and human factors. Better understanding of the employee experience will provide a CIO with a clear framework for investment to create digital equity. For HR, the knowledge that every individual is digitally equal will enable the focus away from concerns about delivering hybrid working towards training, education and support. Identifying generational differences in the way employees use technology, for example, would support specific education programmes to build confidence and understanding to enable better collaboration.
For CHROs, the quality of digital experience is set to be one of the biggest areas of differentiation when it comes to attracting talent in 2023. Employees are not going back to the office full time; they want hybrid working and they need it to provide a great experience. Those organisations that embrace and institutionalise the Future of Work and create an Employee Value Proposition that truly resonates with a digital workforce will enjoy a significant and sustainable competitive advantage as a result.