The advent of digital technologies is changing the way we work every year, and while digital working systems can have your workplace running more smoothly and efficiently than ever before, they are not always conducive to a good employee experience. The more we rely on digital tools at work, the more attention we have to pay to the humans behind these tools.
The importance of keeping your employees happy at work cannot be underestimated. Happier employees are proven to be more productive in the workplace and higher employee retention rates are not only good for employee morale, but they mean less time and money is wasted on hiring and training new employees, too.
A fine balance
Utilising technology effectively in the workplace is all about balance: today’s employees are used to smartphones, iPads and Kindles, which means they are already accustomed to using digital technologies both in and out of work. As such, they expect to have modern tech and software at their disposal in the office. However, it’s important not to let technology take up too much space; face-to-face interactions are crucial, too.
Using software to aid in project management, task distribution and office maintenance is an efficient way to streamline work bureaucracy and to centralise communication into one system, making errors and crossed wires less likely. That said, making time for regular meetings and informal chats is important, both to give colleagues a chance to ‘hash out’ problems in person, and to maintain healthy relationships between staff.
HR departments should be well aware of the need to maintain good employee morale in the digital workplace. Allowing employees to work from home on occasion can be a boon to spirits, but equally it’s important to limit time out of the office in the name of staff solidarity. Simple but regular efforts to organise staff drinks, team-building exercises and other social events can go a long way towards building physical bridges even in offices which work almost exclusively in cyberspace.
Invest in the physical workplace
Unless your employees are all working remotely, they’re still coming into work each day and sitting at a desk, using a computer, and making tea in the kitchen. Don’t underestimate the importance of furnishing their workspace with good quality desks, ergonomic chairs, and plenty of office supplies. Keep the kitchen well-stocked with coffee and treats, and put some thought into making the office a light, spacious, pleasant place to work in.
When most of your work is done digitally, ensuring your technology – computers, printers, storage, and network connections – is fit for purpose should be the number one priority. The last thing conducive to a happy workforce is inadequate tools which impede the completion of tasks. If your employees are working with state-of-the-art software, you’ll likely need to regularly repurchase new hardware to keep up and avoid laggy loading times and incompatibilities.
User experience is key
If you’ve ever felt the Sisyphean frustration of going round and round in circles on a poorly designed website or repeatedly trying and failing to work a piece of broken software, then you’ll understand the importance of investing in improving user experience. Likewise, if your employees are spending a good deal of their time at work navigating intranet software and working online, it’s logical to assume that the quality of their user experience will have a significant effect on employee satisfaction, and thus on productivity and morale at work.
Improving user experience isn’t a small task, and needs to be approached from the ground up. Whether we’re talking about content management systems or collaborative intranets, making sure your employees can log in, locate, consume, produce, and save content on your software with ease and confidence is a matter of good design and development from the first.
Respect the expertise of your employees, and remember that they are the people best placed to tell you what is and isn’t working for them. Consider what your employees want from the software they work with, and take on board any feedback you’re given by staff should you choose to update or change software providers at the next evaluation. If some of the features that your staff feel are necessary are missing or difficult to use, it will both slow down working processes and make for a negative employee experience – both things which you want to avoid.
Put employee experience first
Your business’s brand begins with your employees: they are your most valuable asset. The work your employees produce is the making of your company, and ensuring that those employees are happy is step one in ensuring that your brand is a positive one. By putting employees at the centre of your digital workplace strategy, creativity, collaboration and communication in the workplace can flourish, and unique and productive working methods will follow.