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In the DWG Institute Q3 Technology Lab held in September 2020, Brett Caldon, CEO, Workgrid, and Frank Pathyil, Director of Strategy and Partnerships, Workgrid, explored digital employee experience (DEX) and change management over two separate sessions. This post explores some of the main takeaways and insights. Recordings are also included.

Workgrid’s perspectives on digital employee experience

DWG Technology and Research Institute Technology Labs bring technology providers and practitioners together so they can learn from each other. Our latest quarterly Technology Lab, held over two days in September 2020, focused on the topic of “Digital Employee Experience (DEX) in transition” and included some excellent contributions from Workgrid, an innovative tech provider in the employee experience platform space.

Over two separate sessions, we heard from Frank Pathyil, Director of Strategy and Partnerships, about Workgrid’s perspectives on digital employee experience, and from Brett Caldon, CEO, about change management and new ways of working, again in relation to DEX.

Here are six takeaways from Frank and Brett’s sessions.

1. Employee-centric means delivering an individual experience for every employee

A must-have for digital employee experience is to take an employee-centric approach and craft experiences that are wrapped around the needs of every single employee. This is a challenge because everybody has their own individual needs and workforces are highly diverse, so a one-size-fits-all is not a possibility. The need to drive highly personalized and contextualized experiences has been brought further to the fore with more people working from home during the pandemic and needing to balance their working and non-working time.

Frank’s session explored what organizations need to do to make this happen. One essential approach is to think in a far more holistic way about employee experience, taking in a widescreen view of:

  • the wide variety of transactional systems that are in operation
  • working patterns – both remote and at physical locations
  • the diversity of the workforce – age groups, cultures, roles, and more.

DWG Institute Technology Lab Sep 2020, Day 1: Workgrid’s perspective on DEX

2. We need to remove the barriers to usage

Frank also talked pragmatically about how organizations can actually create a digital employee experience layer that all employees can reach. One particular issue is that the various roles spend a lot of time in different systems; for example, salespeople might be in Salesforce; marketing people in HubSpot; and IT teams in JIRA. One way to reach these employees is to design a system that employees can easily reach in those times when they step out of those systems and where they can then get things done. To remove any barriers to use, this needs to be a central point that is easy to access, where users don’t have to think once they get there, because they have a simple and unified experience, and what they access is already filtered to their individual needs.

Frank explained that this is the kind of principle on which the Workgrid product is designed and that this sort of capability is readily available now for organizations to deploy.

3. We need to move from integrations to contextualized experiences

In Frank’s session, he suggested that in creating an employee experience layer, we need to move on from the idea of integrating applications to one where we’re thinking more of contextualized experiences, where users do not necessarily transact with another system. The experience layer reduces the need to actually visit different systems altogether, because the interaction happens within the experience layer. Frank expanded by saying that transactional capabilities and workflow when “integrated” into an intranet platform sometimes get deprioritized to make way for communications and branding capabilities; what we need is an experience where employees can fully access these features to get things done. Here, the Workgrid platform is designed to be able to provide full access to these features and employees can perform transactions without having to go into other systems.

My take on this is that the term “integration” can have different meanings and nuances for IT professionals, digital workplace teams and users, so it can be a word that leads to misunderstandings. Focusing on the idea of contextualized experience and ensuring there is clarity about how we get there is key.

4. The pandemic means we need to better manage digital employee experience

On day two of the Technology Lab, Brett’s session started off by looking at managing change through the lens of the current pandemic. COVID-19 has been a catalyst for creating personalized digital employee experiences for a number of reasons:

  • we are doing far more digitally now than ever before, with more digital touchpoints and transactions
  • working from home means there is a greater need to balance individuals’ personal needs with the working day
  • it has been a time of great change for all of us and organizations need to manage this

In the session, Brett showed us a number of solid use cases where a product like Workgrid can help, including:

  • using targeted surveys to check in on employees and see how they are doing, such as managing ergonomics at home
  • driving communications that support health and wellbeing programmes
  • supporting employee onboarding as a remote or virtual process
  • supporting virtual “water cooler” moments through an informal “Meet Me” app, where users can organize impromptu Zoom sessions, for example.

DWG Institute Technology Lab Sep 2020, Day 2: Managing Change & New Way of Work (with Workgrid)

5. Employee experience starts with understanding employees

To create personalized and contextualized experiences, it is critical to get a detailed understanding of the needs of employees, how they use information and their interactions with systems. Brett cited the example of a simple use case such as the canteen menu, a popular “staple” of intranets. Here, many employees just want to be able to view the canteen menu at the point of need because that may influence their decision whether to either visit the canteen or go outside the building for food. Understanding this level of detail can then dictate how you design your employee experience relating to this area and the kind of information that needs to be displayed.

6. Employee experience platforms can help manage software releases

A key change management issue for IT functions and digital workplace teams is how to manage the roll-out of new software and software releases, particularly in supporting users. With a remote workforce, this is arguably more of a challenge. It’s also a common occurrence – within any organization, applications and systems tend to be in a state of flux.

Brett explained how Workgrid customers have the potential to manage this change through having a unified experience across different systems. Because the employee experience layer is a “plug and play” system with a standard library of connectors for many enterprise systems, as well as an API framework to create your own, it means you can easily switch from one system to another without changing the front-end experience for users. For example, you might have two HR systems in operation, such as Workday and SuccessFactors, but users can have the same experience. At some point you may move to just one system, however you can provide continuity in the front-end experience without users even realizing that the back-end system has been changed. This reduces the associated change management effort and makes it less overwhelming for employees; the platform’s extensibility also means you are future-proofed for further change.

Our thanks to Frank, Brett and the Workgrid team for two great sessions!

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About the author

Steve-BynghallSteve Bynghall is a freelance consultant, researcher and writer specializing in the digital workplace, intranets, knowledge management, collaboration and other digital themes. He is DWG’s Research and Knowledge Lead, a benchmark evaluator and research analyst for DWG. Steve previously worked at accountancy firm BDO in a variety of knowledge roles, including managing its global extranet programme.

Connect with Steve on Twitter: @bynghall or on Google +.

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