Employee experience is a big focus for HCM leaders and this year's Oracle CloudWorld announcements continue to build out Oracle's offering in this space, lining up a new employee recognition app called Celebrate to supplement the existing Oracle ME platform. There's also news of tighter integration between workforce management and business systems, initially focused on healthcare but also becoming available to other industries such as retail and manufacturing. We spoke to Yvette Cameron, SVP of Product Strategy for Oracle Cloud HCM, to find out more.
Oracle ME is the AI-enhanced employee experience platform built into Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM. Existing capabilities include personalized journeys that provide guided workflows through common HCM tasks, 'touchpoints' that encourage more frequent check-ins on employee sentiment and manager feedback than the traditional quarterly or annual review, and earlier this year saw the launch of Oracle Grow, which brings together learning, skills development and career mobility to give individuals more agency in their own career path.
The new capabilities set to be unveiled tomorrow in Celebrate include:
- Peer recognition of co-workers as part of an employee's daily routine, for example built into instant messaging, emails or regular pulse surveys, optionally drafted with help from generative AI.
- Recognition can also be linked to milestone events, such as work anniversaries and promotions, or through nominations for titles such as employee of the month.
- Employees can earn points when they are recognized, which an organization can use to operate a reward scheme.
- A social feed provides a dedicated channel to improve the visibility of employee recognition across the organization.
- Organizations can track recognition and engagement in real-time through a dashboard and other analytics tools to monitor outcomes and measure effectiveness.
Recognition 'in the moment'
Cameron says that Oracle has decided to offer a built-in recognition capability because organizations are not always getting the full benefit of third-party apps. She explains:
[There's] lots of integration, it creates shadow talent profiles. Interactions and feedback are isolated — they could come back into the HR system, [but] they don't always. Oftentimes, analytics and sentiment, if it's offered, is again kept in a data silo. And of course, the experience is limited to, 'Go to the box, give [the employee] recognition.'
Bringing recognition within the employee experience platform means that it can take place "in the moment." She elaborates:
The act of giving recognition is essentially widgetized. You can embed it in journeys and communications and the flow of work, provide nudges to employees and managers and remind them, 'Hey, it's been a while since you've given one.'
At the same time, having all the data in one place enables analytics that provide insight into performance, outcomes, and employee sentiment. She goes on:
Managers have a comprehensive dashboard that doesn't just show who's giving and who's receiving, but when you set up these programs, [you have] the ability to set them up around the values that you want to drive. If you want to drive collaboration, communication and teamwork, the manager can see how those recognitions are aligning with the various cultural values that they're trying to drive ...
We can analyze the feedback in these recognitions. We can ultimately do sentiment analysis, for example, on it. We can do all the cluster analysis and various things to see what's trending or what are some potential emerging challenges. It just becomes part and parcel of your people data, and all the different strategies that that drives. It's another input into listening and the signals from the workforce — what's happening, what's working, what's not.
Supporting employee growth
Organizations are increasingly paying attention to employee experience because of the need to retain talent in a competitive hiring marketplace and to enhance agility by supporting employees as they grow into new roles. This is one of the key goals of the recently introduced Oracle Grow, as Cameron explains:
Between the need for businesses to be agile, as well as the demand employees have to feel valued and have transparency into opportunities ... it's meeting both the business need to grow and make your workforce more agile, while you're really improving the engagement and connection and development of the workforce.
Takeup of the Oracle Me offering has been strong since it was first introduced last year. She goes on:
We have about 75% of our customer base who are using one or more aspects of Oracle Me. The majority of course is journeys, that personalized guidance driving them through processes, through introductions, orientations, what have you. Also a huge adoption of things like, help desk and digital assistant, communications is taking off. From a technology perspective, the adoption is really high.
For some organizations, the transparency required to be successful with functionality like the ongoing dialog in touchpoints has taken some cultural adjustment on the part of managers. But on the whole the capabilities that Oracle Me offers are meeting an established demand from enterprises to build engagement with employees. She adds:
Organizations are looking for ways to have more authentic conversations with their employees, to help them feel seen and heard and understood — all the things that are possible throughout these various process flows ...
Because surveys and journeys and all of these are on the same platform, we know you [the employee]. So not only are we making sure that the experience in any of these areas leverages your data, but it's also a consistent experience. Because we know the activities you're having, we're able to bring forward suggestions and nudges in the flow of work that are relevant to what you're doing or what you've done in the past. That level of personalization just gets deeper and deeper with continued use. So, culturally, for the most part, companies have been waiting for this.
Effective scheduling for healthcare
The new workforce management capabilities introduced for the healthcare sector bring a new level of tight integration between workforce scheduling and labor optimization on the one hand with business and electronic health record (EHR) data on the other. The aim is to help hard-pressed healthcare organizations stay on top of often complex staffing needs while optimizing costs as well as employee experience. It brings together data on patient demand, including acuity levels, with workforce data such as credentials, availability and also preferences that may be important to help avoid burnout of individuals, and applies AI to support effective scheduling. Cameron says:
This ability to take the demand from a demand system, in this case, Cerner or Epic, and automatically generate the schedules with all of the intelligence that we know about the workers, then to allow managers or even the individual workers themselves to fill in any gaps in that schedule, if there's holes, et cetera ...
The system will not just tell the manager, 'Here's your workforce, pick!,' it's going to look at who has the skills to meet that, where's the availability, where are the conflicts, if multiple people have asked for the same schedule? And for employees to manage shift swaps, and make sure that their preferences are [taken into account] ...
This isn't just a scheduling solution. It's also an employee experience solution. How are we empowering the individuals to get the schedules that they want, to get the experience they want, to help them grow into the next level of positions in their organization?
Bringing all this data together will also help healthcare organizations examine how they operate and explore new ways of deploying resources to achieve different results. She elaborates:
It's a big initiative in healthcare to move from just cost-effective care to value-based care. How do we shift our resources more to preventative capabilities? At the same time keeping our eye on the cost, but always meeting those high markers of quality patient care.
We're very excited about the partnership we've had with our customers in this space, optimizing those schedules, getting it fine-tuned for cost, for outcomes, for employee satisfaction. It's a complex thing that we're super excited to be able to offer.
Extending into other industries
Having developed the solution for healthcare, work is now progressing to offer similar capabilities in other industries. She adds:
While this was developed with our healthcare customers specifically in mind, we've designed it to be applicable to all industries. So for retail, we can bring in demand from those demand-based systems, or for manufacturing. In fact, we're working with retail customers now will also be early adopters alongside some of our healthcare customers.
The new workforce management capabilities include:
- Self-service scheduling which allows individual employees to specify shift preferences, request shift swaps or claim shift opportunities.
- AI-augmented scheduling based on real-time business and patient data, which takes into account factors such as clinical patient needs, union rules, and emerging delivery models such as value based care.
- Continuously updated and integrated data from across HCM, ERP, SCM and EHR systems that feeds into workforce planning and scheduling so that managers can assign the best available staff resources to meet clinical and patient needs.
We hear a lot about scheduling in industries such as professional services and field service management, where getting the right people in the right place at the right time is crucial both to margins and to customer outcomes. It's equally crucial in healthcare, but with the added element that this can sometimes become a matter of life-and-death. Bringing this data together to ensure those decisions can be made effectively and in the best interests of patients and staff seems like a no-brainer.
Meanwhile, in the realm of employee experience, bringing together data across many different touchpoints and processes is equally crucial, and at a time when people are looking for more agency in the development of their own individual talent and career progression, organizations need systems that can support those aspirations and keep employees engaged.