Boost Productivity Gains Through Better Employee Experience

Boost Productivity Gains Through Better Employee Experience

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By Craig Powers, HCM and GRC Analyst, SAPinsider

What motivates companies to invest in improved employee experience?

In our recent research on The State of Human Experience in the Workplace, the most significant driver was the rise of remote workforces due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the most common objective of employee experience management for our respondents’ organizations was increasing productivity. The top actions respondents’ companies are taking to reach that objective include optimizing self-services and investing in technology to improve worker productivity.

So, while companies are concerned about creating better cultures and better work environments that help attract and retain employees through employee experience management, ultimately, they are expecting any investment in experience to be paid back in part through more efficient and productive workers.

That takes some of the sentimentality out of employee experience, but organizations are still facing investment roadblocks in the form of budget and prioritization. For example, in our general State of the Market survey earlier this year, investment in human resources technology was the lowest priority among all areas. That’s an issue for employee experience because it often falls on HR departments to lead experience initiatives.

However, while HR is often leading employee experience management, it’s hardly something that HR can do alone, especially when directly impacting worker production. The role that HR plays in experience more often includes planning and measurement rather than execution. HR functions such as performance reviews, pulse surveys, and exit interviews can give insight into employee experience and determine what works and what is needed for improvement. It falls on other areas of the business to create positive experiences.

Cloud Brings New Experiences and New Challenges

Many companies have gradually adopted cloud technologies to fit specific areas of need, such as talent management. This cloud adoption has led to hybrid technology stacks — both on-premise and in the cloud tools used concurrently — with a potentially greater number of applications for employees to access. Hybrid and heterogeneous application landscapes can also mean different experiences depending on the tool organizations are using.

Take, for example, the areas of governance, risk, and compliance (GRC), and security. Our latest GRC research examined how companies are approaching user access and identity management while migrating to SAP S/4HANA. We found that, like with employee experience strategies, employee productivity was among the top objectives for user access and identity management efforts. However, in the case of user access and identity management, productivity is tied to getting employees into the applications they need to do their jobs. In user access and identity management, increasing productivity is about balancing security measures and employee experience. Technologies such as passwordless authorization are enabled to keep secure access while also allowing the workers to get into their applications efficiently. With the advent of cloud technologies, users have more touchpoints and more passwords to remember.

There are many more examples depending on your business where improving employee experience has little to do with HR. For example, employee experience could be how your workers in the field enter the data they collect each day or the ability for warehouse employees to locate inventory. Still, as our research shows, HR leads employee experience strategy because it is HR that measures the effectiveness of employee experience changes. In essence, while other departments should take an active role in checking the pulse and sentiment of employees and learning about their experiences, they are willing to leave this responsibility to HR instead.

HR leaders will need to make it clear that experience touches every department. When HR leaders get backing from other groups for experience transformation, they help overcome the budget and prioritization roadblocks that can hamper a company’s ability to improve employee experiences through processes and technology.

What Does This Mean for SAPinsiders

  1. Unifying experiences across applications — not just HR tools — is important. To use the GRC example again, our survey data showed that companies which consider themselves above their peers in user access and identity management were more likely to integrate user and access and identity management as part of digital transformation and across their heterogeneous application landscapes. This integration helps companies create holistic user access and identity management strategies and provides a consistent access experience for employees.
  2. Think of employee experience as something broader than HR — but HR can lead experience improvements. Your HR team has data on employee experience — likely through annual surveys, exit interviews, and performance reviews. To get a complete picture of experience, tap into other resources — such as application usage trends. Find out exactly what your employees do each day from qualitative and quantitative perspectives. In the end, you can look to HR to bring this information together and recommend experience improvements based on their people-centric expertise.
  3. Identify your experience gaps that impact productivity. HR teams are often focused on improving the experience of accessing HR data, as this was usually something only HR teams could reach in the past. This gated access to information meant employees had to go through HR to access PTO requests, salary data, or other information, which can be a productivity bottleneck for HR and the employee. Many organizations have been successful in rectifying this issue through manager and employee self-service access to data. To emphasize the previous bullet point, ask where else do these experience challenges exist in the organization. What issues do employees encounter every day while working that impact productivity? Then you can start to figure out how to fix them and work towards achieving the goal of higher employee productivity.

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