The Employee Experience in 2019
Every last Friday of the month, we curate the top news and trends. Here’s the latest in digital transformation and how it affects the employee experience.
(In case you missed it, here are some recent posts: Your Employee Experience Roundup: Virtual Assistants, the Rise of Gen Z Workers, and Automation for HR and Top 10 Employee Experience Strategy Trends in December)
This month we’re hearing about the following trends:
- What the new gig economy IPOs mean for the future model of employment
- How the GigTech worker may be the solution for enterprises
- Why HR chatbots are here to stay
- Three trends in supply chain digital transformation
Deloitte Insights dives into the evolution of workforce dimensions, addressing three key questions:
- Who can do the work?
- What work can be automated?
- Where is the work done?
The article explores the “talent spectrum,” which encompasses a variety of worker types and arrangements, including full-time employees, contractors, freelancers, gig workers, and others. It evaluates how work can be automated with smart machines, such as robotics and AI technologies, and explores how shifts in physical workspaces might impact company culture and employee engagement.
Currently, Lyft has 1.4 million drivers who earn, on average, $17.50 per hour with no benefits or organizing power. They’re also not considered full-time employees by Lyft. This is also the case at rapidly growing companies like Uber and Postmates. What does this mean for the U.S. workforce? In the latest edition of Marketplace’s “Make Me Smart with Kay and Molly,” hosts Molly Wood and Kai Ryssdal speak with Kristin Sharp, executive director of the Shift Commission at New America, a nonpartisan think tank. They discuss how the gig economy app will affect workers. Will this new model of work replace jobs as we know it?
The emergence of technologies, such as automation and artificial intelligence (AI) have reshaped the workforce space. CMSWire describes five trends that will shape the future of work:
- Automation in service work
- Work location becoming neutral as a result of aggravated skill shortages
- Symbiotic man and machines
- Right data, right systems
- Contextual and conversational tools
According to The Wall Street Journal, the gig economy is the perfect solution for finding and retaining tech workers with specialized skills—GigTech workers—especially considering there’s currently a big gap between demand and supply in the U.S. when it comes to finding workers who can handle jobs related to cloud, data science, AI, deep learning, and more. Although GigTech work is still in its early stages, some key structural factors will advance this model to the next phase.
Employees expect easy and quick access to helpful technology tools that will help them collaborate effectively with their colleagues, according to a recent CMSWire article. Businesses are embracing trends old and new, including bring your own device (BYOD), the internet of things (IoT) and indoor location-based services (LBS), as well as optimizing existing business applications, all in an effort to improve workforce engagement and the employee experience.
According to a new HR Dive article, in order to retain skilled talents, HR must embrace emerging technologies like AI, machine learning, and HR chatbots. These solutions are flourishing, and new automation is being used to improve operational efficiency and employee experience. Also, many organizations are slowly adopting SaaS (software as a service) solutions, which can improve employee engagement, provide access to best practices and innovation, reduce HR administration costs, and improve the employee experience.
CMSWire writes about the new trends in designing the employee experience, which are:
- learning by doing, and
- holistic thinking.
It also provides an element in designing employee experience programs such as “overall set of employee perceptions, a collection of environmental factors (cultural, technical, and physical) and a broadening of traditional HR functions.”
Daniel Newman writes in Forbes about how technology trends are driving the digital transformation of supply chain, specifically in the food supply. He argues we must deconstruct the concept of the food chain the same way we’ve deconstructed the concept of the customer experience. The trends affecting food chain and supply include digital twinning, blockchain, and data and microbiology. Newman also gives insight into trends in the digital transformation of the supply chain in other industries.
Organizations must foster innovation to drive digital transformation rather than buying and building digital talent, according to Gartner. Organizations are innovating to remain competitive in two ways: improving existing products and services and creating new products and services. “When HR can improve the innovative effectiveness of the organization, annual revenue can increase by as much as $8,800 per employee,” states Gartner. AI, smart workspaces, and talent markets “will boost employee digital dexterity in future digital workplaces.” Emerging technologies, such as AI, IoT, and augmented analytics will be the greatest source of competitive advantage for 30% of organizations.
According to Forbes, the makeup of company workforces has shifted. Many companies no longer just have full-time employees; now, they employ a mix of employees who work onsite, a virtual pool of freelancers, and robots. The requisite job skills have also changed; companies now require that employees to be well-versed in “deep business and digital literacy” as well as have the “five C’s” soft skills (critical thinking, cultural fluency, collaboration, communications, and change management). Also, there’s a demand for employees to be creative and innovative.
Automation will become a mainstay of the future workplace; however, it will augment the responsibilities of employees rather than replace them. Furthermore, trends such as continuous learning and new skills development will become very important to employability. In time, four generations will be in the workplace, and this is bound to have an effect on organizations. The rise in demand from employees to work from home will require organizations to develop policies that specifically deal with working from home.
The changing workplace is affecting HR departments. A new Harvard Business Review article offers a few examples of workplace trends driving this change, which include work digitization and a focus on “enterprise creation and inclusive workforce.” HR leaders need to be alert and proactive to assess and understand the impact of digitization on work, especially the way employees will interact and work with digital tools. The article also notes that HR leaders should ensure their organizations are creating an agile work culture, in which employees have a myriad of skills and talents.
Jack Kelly writes in Forbes that the future workplace will be shaped by a few key factors, such as AI, an aging population, and globalization. He predicts that Universal Basic Income (UBI) will become mainstream due to millions of people being displaced by digital tools such as robots, especially older employees. Also, the article concludes that the rapid growth of “global connectedness, “digitization and automation, and other factors will make the future workforce almost unrecognizable.”
Digital transformation has changed how organizations recruit, train, pay, and retain employees, and that change is also reflected in the HR department. An example of this change is how companies now headhunt prospective top talents from social media sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. Companies are also not restricted to face-to-face interviews and are now more predisposed to holding video-based interviews, which, among other benefits, saves time. The article also notes that companies looking for digital savvy employees should look to hire more millennials as they are members of the most digitally-savvy generation. Also, existing employees can be upskilled and trained to learn new tools, so they can also adapt to technological changes.
According to Brent Gleeson in Forbes, technology is transforming company culture through three factors: 1) access to actionable data, 2) transparency and accountability, and 3) personal value. New Cloud-based technologies will inspire employees to ask the right questions and solve problems using accurate data. He also stresses that technology encourages engagement, ownership, and contribution among employees.
One of the features driving digital transformation in the workplace includes the “adoption of Cloud-based software and services with embedded artificial intelligence,” according to Harvard Business Review. By design, these tools make it possible for non-experts to use AI tools, which increases the adoption rate in the workplace because the need for training and retraining is minimal. Two ways in which Cloud services are bringing AI into the mainstream include Cloud-based AI services and embedded AI.
Paul Hagen of CMSWire writes that companies that have happy employees see about 81% happier customers. He offers three ways to focus on employee experience, which will improve the customer experience. The first is to define a higher-level purpose (or “north star”) for your employees. A good example is Patagonia. Not only are they producing warm jackets customers love, but they are also helping the planet. The second is to map the employee journey (much like marketers map the customer journey), and third is to emphasize human-centered change rather than just buying into new technology.
Technology is often the missing puzzle piece to the employee experience. How does your tech stack up? A new Inc. article outlines key ways to implement new technology effectively. Start with recruitment and onboarding. Next, offer flexibility to your employees (like with Bring Your Own Devices (BYOD) policies so they can use their own smartphones). Help your employees with financial wellness tools. Finally, technology must connect your employees to each other in order to improve their overall experience.
A new report by Research and Markets says the “convergence of technologies is reshaping the future of the workplace, workforce and work processes.” As such, different technologies with their individual strengths are integrating so as to provide maximum value and benefits to users. The report also notes that digital transformation will be a key competitive advantage in the future.
Top 10 Employee Engagement Trends in the Digital Workplace
What are Human Resources and internal communications professionals talking about early in 2019? So far, we’re seeing articles and blog posts about the following topics.
- Managing digital transformations
- Improving the employee experience
- Digital initiatives (machine learning and automation)
- Engaging with employees the same way we engage with customers
As companies adopt more advanced technology tools, teams, organizations, and working systems will have to change substantially. The HR Trend Institute explains that employee experience will be a big part of that change. In order to improve employee experience, employers must “flip” their mindset and think from the perspective of workers. They will have to look for technology solutions that align with the way employees prefer to work.
The best way to increase productivity in the workplace is to address basic human needs—and that includes our emotional needs. How well do you understand the feelings, beliefs, thoughts, and perceptions that impact both employees and consumers? According to Gallup, the three ways to improve employee experience include: emphasize on the strength of every individual, empower workers by creating an exceptional workplace culture, and create a customer-centric business model.
Every employer undertaking a digital transformation must figure out ways to implement intelligent workflows, adopt platform approaches, and master data that apply to both consumers and employees. Deloitte writes that firms need to understand the “full employee” not only at the professional level but also at the personal. This would help address work-related factors that may lead to decreased engagement levels, undesirable attrition, and lower productivity.
Which factors affect the way we approach employment practices? IE Insights Magazine provides us the following list: new technologies, major shifts in cultural assumptions and attitudes, millennial workers, mobile devices, and globalization. In fact, these factors are having such a strong influence that companies are now having to adapt to how talented employees prefer to work (or decide how work should be done). This is the opposite of the traditional paradigm of companies commanding or expecting workers to work in a particular way, according to a particular set of terms. Both HR and IC professionals will need to adapt to or address these factors in order to remain relevant in a competitive employment environment.
According to Mina Morris of Entrepreneur, some key trends will irreversibly shape the workforce in the coming decades. These trends include how work is delivered include: the workforce has become more “fluid” (with more focus on problem-solving skills rather than transactional skills), increased productivity and efficiency thanks to automation, a higher demand for data, and increased expectations among employees for companies to deliver a well-rounded employee experience (in addition to a paycheck).
Lauren Horwitz of Cisco acknowledges the future workplace will change drastically due to technological innovations. Artificial Intelligence (AI) will disrupt everything from visual presentations, to meeting scheduling, to the co-creation of new ideas. Some of the future trends that would influence the workplace in 2025 include modernization by intelligence, virtual assistant employment marketplaces, and AI displacing human resources.
Employment experts from Columbia Business School Pan Euro Reunion noted that there are three key developments that will impact the future of work. First, AI capabilities will be leveraged to make predictions and suggestions, but this will be aligned with the human capabilities of moral and ethical decision-making and creativity. Recruitment will also likely involve searching for people to fill new job titles, including roles to address change management and international growth. Finally, your company culture (rather than salary or scope of duties) may be the deciding factor when candidates decide whether or not to accept your job offer.
Due to the high priority leaders are placing on digital transformation, the high-tech industry is experiencing rapid growth. Such companies are dealing with a variety of new realities, including increased penetration of AI (related to both machine learning and deep-reinforcement learning), rising adoption of cloud computing, a move towards data-driven decision making, introduction of blockchain, AR, VR, and MR, and increased connection due to Internet of Things (IoT).
Today, digital technology is affordable and ubiquitous, which means many organizations have adopted it without using any business models or adapting to any learning curves, according to Deloitte. To ensure successful integration of tech tools, consider several crucial drivers: connectivity, experience innovation, risks, cybersecurity, real-time data intelligence, and automation.
According to Harvard Business Review, some organizations find it difficult to adapt to the rapid technology changes associated with digital transformation. Such difficulties have has become common due to organizational inertia, failed attempts to find a common focus, technical complexities, and moving beyond operational upgrades incrementally. Leaders who consider the long-term view while spending a low percentage of future R&D spending will be best able to maximize digital transformations.
If you missed last month’s roundup of the latest in employee experience and the digital workplace, read Your Employee Experience Roundup: Virtual Assistants, the Rise of Gen Z Workers, and Automation for HR.