Employees want a great customer experience too

Profile picture for user acampbell By Andy Campbell March 23, 2015
It's not just your customers that want a good experience, your employees do as well and your HR systems need to reflect this.

Andy Campbell, Senior Director, HCM Strategy Oracle UK
Andy Campbell

According to Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor:

 The only unique assets that a business has for gaining competitive advantage over its rivals are the skills and dedication of its employees. There is no other sustainable advantage in the modern, high-tech, global economy.

The post-recession labour market faces a paradox: worldwide, there are nearly 200 million people unemployed and to sustain economic growth by 2030, Western Europe will need to add 45 million workers while the US will need to add more than 25 million workers.

The issue of talent scarcity isn’t just a problem for recruiters. When companies can’t pursue market opportunities or have to delay strategic initiatives because they don’t have the talented people they need to execute, executives see its impact on their businesses’ ability to compete and grow.

The changing workforce

By 2025, millennials (born between the mid-1970s and the early 2000s) will make up approximately 75 per cent of the labour force. To meet the demands of the labour market and the expectations of the C-suite, understanding the perceptions and influences of millennials is vital.

They’ve grown up with instant access to Facebook, Google and Amazon.com. When they start new jobs, their expectations of the systems and tools they will use are already hardwired by their experiences as members of a digitally native generation.

Candidates and employees want a compelling work environment that provides a great experience, which includes the HR experience. HR has commonly delivered employee services based on standard processes that are accessible only in person or by phone during office hours. HR services weren’t designed to make employees enthusiastic about HR or reward them with an engaging experience.

Instead of a model based on scale and efficiency, modern HR must be designed for effectiveness and convenience so that employees can choose when and how to engage. Employees want to choose the time, place, and channel to interact with HR.

Being able to do this makes them enthusiastic about their next HR interaction. They know they work for an organisation that understands how they want to get things done. Modern HR leaders can differentiate their companies in the competition for talent by providing a consumer-grade experience for their candidates and employees.

Influencers of great employee experiences

High-value, talented individuals are savvy and have high work-life expectations. They want to know that they are situated for success. When the workplace is driven by social interaction and optimised for connectivity on the go, employees will have the peace of mind of knowing they work on the cutting edge of operations for a company that has their best interests in mind.

Those that do not feel this way will explore their options. The demand for talented individuals has resulted in a highly competitive hiring environment and even the hardest working employees will start to look for their next job very quickly if their current employer doesn’t deliver the experience they are looking for.

There really is no point recruiting and investing in top talent if businesses can’t hold on to the great people it already has.

Hiring and retaining a high-performing workforce over the next ten years will require focus on the quality of employees’ experiences and the tools they use every day at work.

But while most CEOs are quick to say their employees are the company’s most valuable asset, many are failing to provide HR teams with the tools they need to ensure the best workers are able to perform to their full potential. HR systems need to be:

  • Usable: Instead of sending multiple e-mails back and forth, employees want applications that are as intuitive as Facebook.
  • Desirable: Employees want clean and easy-to-use interfaces, along with the ability to gain instant feedback from the application and find exactly the information they need when they need it.
  • Accessible: Employees want access 24 by 7, from the office, the coffee shop, or the shop floor.
  • Valuable: Employees feel rewarded when they make smart decisions that impact their livelihoods. For example, just as retail websites use purchase histories to suggest other products, modern HR systems track employee activities to suggest training that encourages them to aspire and engage with the organisation.

The number one reason HR leaders choose a new HR system is to improve the user experience. Modern HR enables stakeholders and clients to help themselves and connect as part of a community. HR functions that are part of easy-to-use, complete HCM systems are regarded as twice as effective and efficient as systems that don’t offer this advantage.

Introducing systems like this into the business allows executives to transform HR from a system of record to a system of engagement and deliver consumer-level experiences that treat employees the way savvy brands treat their customers.