The ‘Great Resignation’ wave was an eye-opener for the corporate world. Employees went in pursuit of workplaces that offered flexibility and better working conditions. Needless to say, the emergence of new working models is a consequence of the sudden shift in employee expectations, coupled with the growing need for companies to operate with a distributed workforce.
The initial days of the pandemic challenged the ability of companies to thrive amidst crisis. Business organizations found themselves grappling with solutions to facilitate seamless business communication and high workplace productivity. Within no time, virtual communication and collaboration technologies became vital to foster a seamless remote working experience.
Major corporate enterprises have pointed out that flexibility and technological agility are key determinants that drive employee engagement and workplace productivity.
Employee experience redefined in the era of digital transformation
The intrinsic motivation for an employee to actively engage and contribute to team goals is derived from his relationship with the organization. This is where Employee Experience (EX) comes into play.
An article in TechTarget describes employee experience (EX) in a traditional workplace as ‘a worker’s perceptions about their journey through all of the touchpoints of an organization, from their job candidate days to their exit from the organization and even beyond.’
With the changing employee mindset, it is clear that EX is a defining factor for employee retention and productivity in companies now more than ever.
A well-formulated EX strategy promotes good company work culture and an inclusive work environment. In today’s workplaces, employee experience has been redefined with Digital Employee Experience (DEX) being an integral component of the overall EX strategy today.
During the lockdown period, technology became a significant connecting force for a distributed workforce. The overnight shift from physical offices to remote workplaces was promptly mediated with the help of several communication and collaboration technologies.
However, technology in the workplace has still not been fully tapped to its potential. If used rightly, technology has abundant capabilities. Technology can transform business communication, and foster a better digital employee experience that translates to high employee engagement and positive outcomes.
Technologies that maximize employee engagement and workplace productivity
As workplaces move away from the traditional office setup, a company-wide digital transformation is inevitable. Here are some successful ways to use technology to drive meaningful employee engagement and improve productivity regardless of the working model of the organization.
1. Anti-distraction tools to stay focused during work hours and unplug
In the digital world, it is very easy to get distracted by a myriad of social media and video streaming platforms vying for viewers’ attention. Distractions at work reduce the quality of work and increase incidents of errors. Distractions also make employees feel dissatisfied with their jobs. Moreover, research has revealed that it takes a significant amount of time to get employees to focus after they have deviated. Some researchers have begun labelling “cell phone checking” as the new yawn because of its contagious nature.
For employees to be engaged and work productively, it is essential to curb diversions. A survey by Udemy revealed the benefits of a distraction-free workplace. The study shows that when workplace distractions are reduced- whether, through training or policies, 75% of employees are more productive, 57% have increased motivation, and 49% are overall happier at work.
Unplugging after working hours is a prevalent challenge for remote employees. Blocking off distractions and notifications after work hours is vital to sustaining a work-life balance. This helps employees relieve themselves from a pressurized environment and prevent employee burnout.
Several applications such as Serene, Freedom and Self Control are ideal distraction-blockers that enable employees to cut off from other websites or online distractions. These apps are not only website blockers, they are also effective time management tools. For instance, Serene has a timer reminding employees of the time they have left to complete their daily tasks. So, when an employee attempts to open a blocked site, the timer beams back a reminder. Serene also allows employees to plan their work for the day by dividing their time to complete their daily tasks.
2. Chatbots for mundane tasks and employee queries
Making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in workplaces is a major productivity booster. Chatbots are being used for business communication and customer service management across many industries.
- Beyond its basic functionality, Chatbots can be utilized to improve internal business communication in many ways:
- Information retrieval: It is important to use the right type of chatbot that fits employee needs. For example, Chatbots with Keyword Recognition can help employees search and retrieve any information, documents or data within the company’s intranet easily.
- Answer employee queries: Chatbots can also be used to answer queries that employees may have regarding the organization and its policies. With the help of AI, chatbots decode the intent behind employee queries and display meaningful results.
- Virtual Personal Assistant for employees: The AI technology can also perform mundane or repetitive tasks so that employees can focus on using their skills for other innovative or creative tasks. In this way, workplace productivity is at its peak.
- E-learning and skill development– Employee onboarding, training and skill development are important aspects that enhance employee work performances. Many business organizations guide employees with interactive training programs driven by chatbots. This helps employees align themselves to the organizational goals and understand workflow structures. Such online learning resources also relieve managers of the responsibility of training new hires.
3.Time Tracking tools to improve employee focus
Workplace procrastination is a common phenomenon. A procrastination study by Darius Foroux has revealed that nearly 88 per cent of employees procrastinate at least for 1 hour daily. However, too much idle time could delay projects and be detrimental to the business.
The Pomodoro technique is an effective personal time management technique helpful for employees to stay focused and get work done without feeling mentally fatigued. The fundamental concept behind the Pomodoro technique is to divide working times into 25 session intervals followed by a 5-minute break. Employers can use this technique to set realistic deadlines so that employees will use their time effectively to complete the task assigned.
Time management tools in the workplace promote employee focus that produces qualitative outcomes. Time tracking tools like Toggle can be used to track how much time is taken by an employee to complete a task. Toggle also comes with a Pomodoro timer. Similarly, Forest is an effective mobile-based anti-distraction tool with a timer.
4. Consistent IT support to improve the digital employee experience
- In the modern workplace, Digital Employee Experience (DEX) is now an inevitable component of the overall EX. DEX focuses on providing employees with holistic support to thrive in a digital workspace.
- Provide the right technologies: Companies must ensure that the employees are equipped with the right tools and support to work efficiently. Communication and collaboration technologies are a must in a digital workplace. Other new technologies must be explored for better employee engagement and workplace productivity. Additionally, task management tools, cloud storage and other work-related software must be provided to employees.
- Digital training for employees: Along with the tools, companies must provide sufficient training and guidance on how to use the tools to their full capacity. However, information and technological overload must be avoided as it could lead to resistance and low employee engagement.
- Some of the main aspects of a good Digital Employee Experience include:
- Software upgrades and reconfigurations: Companies must ensure that they have a strong IT team that can keep reviewing and implementing befitting digital solutions to suit the needs of the remote or hybrid workforce. Enhancing the Digital Employee Experience is a journey of implementation, continuous review and maintenance.
- One of the many workplace aspects that suffered during the pandemic is the natural encounters during coffee breaks or by the water cooler. The significance of checking in on co-workers and prompting spontaneous conversations was understood in its absence.
5. Virtual watercooler technologies to promote human connections
Remote working is here to stay, which means networking and virtual team building are challenging. Research has also revealed that the lack of human connection within a team affects employee engagement and teamwork. This eventually leads to high attrition rates.
Virtual watercoolers are technologies that can make deliberate virtual conversations to fuel connections in the workplace. For example, Donut is an ideal virtual watercooler that can be integrated with Slack. Donut replicates serendipitous group interactions with fun prompts. These prompts encourage people to express themselves and bond over common interests. These interactions are helpful especially when employees need to work together on a team. It saves managers and leaders the effort of team building in the workplace.
Employee experience: The secret to employee engagement and workplace productivity
In a true sense, high employee engagement is the end result of a successful employee experience strategy. As the world moves towards a massive digital transformation, companies need to display prolific technological agility to manage a distributed workforce. Managers must execute a well-structured digital employee experience plan to ensure that it caters to the requirements of all kinds of employees.