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How people technology can improve the employee experience

Author: ICAEW Insights

Published: 02 Dec 2022

Technology can support your organisation’s mission to create a great employee experience, but it’s not as simple as just installing software to solve productivity and cultural problems, says Cathryn Newbery.

The turbulent UK labour market is causing big headaches for organisations. Unemployment is at its lowest level for 30 years, and job openings are reaching record highs. Yet employees are leaving in their droves: Ciphr’s own research found that 73% of employers have experienced an increase in employees voluntarily resigning, while 71% have found it more challenging to recruit new employees. Offering remote and flexible working, while attractive to new hires, hasn’t made existing talent stick around. 

Many employers are turning to people technology to stem the tide. But organisations should be wary of investing in software that claims to solve all their productivity and cultural problems; these solutions will only be a sticking plaster if digital transformation isn’t accompanied by more fundamental change in how an organisation operates and supports its people – in other words, a revolution in your ‘employee experience’. 

What is the ‘employee experience’?

‘Employee experience’ has been neatly defined by HR analyst Josh Bersin as “a company-wide initiative that helps employees to stay productive, healthy, engaged and on track”. It involves considering every aspect of your employees’ tenure at your organisation and their working day and how those ‘moments’ can be improved. 

How can the onboarding process be more engaging and more tailored to a new starter’s role? Are the digital tools used in your company intuitive, reliable and fit for purpose? Are employees offered opportunities to learn and develop or do they have to seek these chances elsewhere? The answers to all these questions – and many more – will help you build a picture of what it’s like to work in your organisation. 

What is technology’s role in creating a great employee experience? 

Technology can support your organisation’s mission to create a great employee experience – and therefore hire, retain and engage your people – in two ways. 

Firstly, it can help you better understand your people, their wants and their needs. A comprehensive employee feedback ecosystem could include, for example, annual reviews, pulse surveys, onboarding and exit surveys, as well as crucial data from your HR software such as sickness absence rates, how much overtime is worked, and if people are using their full holiday allowance. Integrating the systems that collect and record this data will help you get a holistic view of your people and their performance. 

Secondly, the right technology can help you create a better employee experience by alleviating some of those pain points that your data has picked up. Struggling to engage new hires while they serve notice periods, or to make them productive members of your team quickly enough? 

Onboarding software that engages them before they join your team could help to cut attrition rates and speed up time to productivity. Unable to offer the right training and development opportunities? An intelligent learning management system (LMS) that offers appropriate learning journeys, and suggests relevant activities based on an individual’s goals and current skill level, will help engage and develop them, encouraging them to stay with your organisation for longer. 

Getting the most out of your tech investment 

No single piece of software is going to solve your organisation’s people management challenges. But the right HR tech stack – well chosen, tightly integrated, sensibly implemented and used to its full potential – will give your organisation the insight and tools it needs to tackle those tricky issues of hiring and retention. 

Getting the most out of your tech investment starts with the procurement project. Make sure all relevant stakeholders are involved, from senior leaders to frontline staff. An HR system isn’t just used by the HR team, after all. Meet with relevant vendors, and ensure the software can meet your precise requirements. 

Choose someone to lead the project through procurement to implementation and launch. Communicate often and get everyone on board with using the new software. And, once it’s launched, regularly review its usage, and tweak the system’s setup to ensure it’s working as hard as possible for your organisation.

When it comes to software that you’ve already purchased, be honest: are you making the most of it? The vendor will probably be able to offer ideas for how to make greater use of it and help you extract more business value from it. If the software ultimately can’t do what your organisation needs it to, or if it’s not useful, then it may be time to terminate the contract and seek an alternative. After all, there’s no point paying for software and not using it. 

Technology is a fantastic enabler for organisations who are committed to transforming their employee experience to attract new talent and retain their best people. It can help to deliver insights into your people’s wants and needs, and engage them more deeply with their work and career. 

But remember, too, that software is only ever an enabler; successfully choosing, implementing and adopting any solution rests on an organisation-wide commitment to using it and regularly assessing if it is used appropriately. 

Cathryn Newbery is Head of Content at UK HR software provider Ciphr

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