What is digital employee experience (DEX), and why should businesses care?
How does it differ from employee experience in general?
The antiquated line of thinking is that employee experience doesn’t matter and that as long as they’re achieving their Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), then employees can effectively be “left to it.”
That approach is old hat. New workplace technology allows employers to get more out of employees and ask for less by focusing on quality over quantity. DEX is a part of that. Digital adoption in business is being driven by the need to be competitive in a world that has become digital-first.
True digital transformations can only occur if people’s needs and experiences are considered. Digital employee experience (DEX) is a way to measure how employees interact with technology during digital transformation.
DEX is different from the traditional employee experience because it considers how well employees use the technology they are given to achieve their objectives.
This is crucial for accurately measuring digital adoption rates and creating comprehensive digital adoption solutions. As such, organizations must measure the impact of new technologies on their employees’ ability to get things done.
Organizations that have embraced DEX have seen improved employee productivity, reduced costs associated with training and onboarding new employees, better customer service, and unified communication between teams.
DEX helps you retain talent and leads to more satisfied employees. It’s a relatively new way of thinking, but it needs to become a mainstay in your business goals.
In this article, we’ll explore digital employee experience (DEX) in detail and aim to answer the following questions:
- Why is the digital employee experience important?
- How are organizations doing DEX wrong?
- What are the benefits of great DEX?
- How can you design and manage DEX?
What is Digital Employee Experience?
Digital Employee Experience is one part of the overall employee experience.
DEX is a holistic view. It involves marrying quantitative data like:
- Number of desktop computer errors and crashes
- Network speeds
- Local processing speeds
- Network uptime
With qualitative data like:
- Do users find their tech easy to use?
- What parts of the digital infrastructure are pain points?
- Which processes feel pointless to users?
- Do users think they have the right hardware they need to do their jobs?
The result of this marriage between qualitative and quantitative data is a way of tangibly measuring employee satisfaction in the digital workplace. It helps a business stay updated with how employees feel about the digital workplace.
It’s a crucial measure in determining the best action when considering business functions or enterprise systems changes. DEX should be considered before any internal communications about digital transformation.
Weck reported, “on the speed and value side, we’re seeing improvements of at least 20 percent, and our customer satisfaction scores have been even more substantial.”
Improving DEX has always been an impactful way to drive business growth. We’re only now developing workplace technology and strategies to measure and understand it correctly.
The Biggest Problems with Digital Employee Experience Today
Many organizations have asked why DEX is important at all. The importance of customer experience, everyone understands. Customers give you money, so it’s in your interest to ensure they’re happy.
Here are the common challenges businesses face when trying to improve their organization’s dex:
- Digital Workplaces Grow More Complex Every Day
Digital transformation is happening faster and more often. And each tool comes with its own learning curve. Furthermore, software often has overlapping capabilities. For example, many larger businesses have several applications that can be used for video conferencing.
Teams, Zoom, Slack. Employees must have each application open to ensure they don’t miss messages.
- Poor Digital Experiences Hinder Digital Growth
Many businesses rush digital innovation, believing more and faster is better. But if employees’ digital experiences aren’t managed well, they can hinder digital acceleration.
Employees generally resist change. Without accepting this fact, a business stands to fight against its own employees as it races to adopt new digital technology.
Robust experience management can help a business build a more change-friendly culture and help employees embrace new digital tools.
- Inability to Fully Utilize Tools
“Deploying” software is not the same as fully utilizing it. Fragmented digital experiences, poor onboarding, and inadequate training, for instance, prevent organizations from fully utilizing their software investments.
- Inability to maintain a productive workforce
Employees are under constant pressure to learn new tools and processes. However, it is easy to forget new techniques and processes in an ever-changing work environment. This, in turn, keeps workers from achieving full productivity.
- Failure to achieve organizational objectives
Inefficient DEX hinders organizational productivity and growth. Ultimately, this can fail to achieve business aims and objectives.
In short, the DEX is critical for businesses to function effectively in the digital economy.
Benefits of Improving the Digital Workplace Experience
Higher Satisfaction and Happiness for More Employees
Employees who enjoy their digital workplace experience will be more satisfied. This leads to higher employee retention rates and makes it less likely employees will go through “quiet quitting.”
- Greater Employee Productivity
Better digital employee experiences empower employees to be more productive, engaged, and passionate.
Having a positive impact on digital experience enables employees to do more with less.
- Greater Effectiveness with Digital Tools
Users who know how to use their digital tools effectively have a better experience at work. But that’s putting the cart before the horse.
Most companies will find that improving employees’ digital experience includes better, more effective training.
This helps with productivity and benefits when it comes to onboarding or cross-training.
- A More Effective Hybrid Workforce
Remote work is the new normal. However, one of the challenges this poses is that it’s even more difficult to measure experience and change culture when a team works asynchronously.
That said, it’s equally more important.
Remote workers have a digital-only relationship with a business. They probably don’t enjoy their work if they don’t have good digital workplace experience.
- More bottom-line profits
Good digital employee experiences will ultimately impact an organization’s bottom line. All the reasons covered so far – from heightened employee productivity to increased retention – help an organization save and make more money.
Key Factors that Impact the Digital Employee Experience: A Deeper Dive
Connected, digital employee experiences significantly impact worker productivity, business process outcomes, and an organization’s bottom-line results.
In other words, a good digital experience is essential to helping employees do their jobs.
Here are a few key factors that directly affect the employee digital experience:
- Digital Tools and Technology
Digital tools themselves are among the most critical elements of the digital work experience. They’re the part of the digital experience that the end user directly interacts with.
Any new tool introduced into your tech stack should make employees’ lives easier, but that often isn’t the case.
After all, if employees can’t use a tool, they will become more frustrated, less motivated, and less productive.
- Employee Skills and Proficiency
Employee onboarding and training should remain a top priority.
Efficient training helps increase user productivity and software ROI and enhances the overall worker experience.
More productive workers will be more satisfied and engaged with their day-to-day jobs.
- Workflows and Business Processes
How tools are used is another important element of the digital experience.
Digital workflows, for example, can be connected to core processes.
The more integrated the tools, the workers, and the processes, the more streamlined the end-user experience.
- Organizational Culture and Climate
An organization’s culture also plays a vital role in the digital experience.
Culture determines how employees behave, respond, and react to changes.
This, in turn, affects their experience and their contributions to the workplace.
Providing Great Digital Employee Experience: Where to Begin?
Better digital employee experience significantly impacts productivity, business outcomes, and an organization’s bottom line.
But if the idea is new to you, where should you begin?
These are the first steps to consider if you want to provide an excellent digital employee experience:
- Establish a DEX Team
A DEX team is responsible for measuring, monitoring, and improving DEX.
Many skills required in a successful DEX team are found in IT teams— like data analysis, IT networking, and automation.
But you can’t make an effective DEX team out of nothing but spare talent from IT teams.
A DEX team is a cross-functional team. You’ll also need the soft skills typically found in human resources. As well as senior leadership backing.
DEX is a relatively new function that won’t be taken seriously unless it comes from the top.
- Leverage Digital Innovation
DEX management is a data-driven process. You will need digital tools to measure and improve the employee experience.
Innovative solutions don’t just collect data, though. Many DEX management SaaS solutions now offer AI and machine learning services for better analysis. Others offer network management tools that let you proactively push solutions to problems without users knowing.
Your DEX team should own tools like this.
- Develop a DEX Strategy
Before kicking off any DEX initiative, it’s important to have a DEX strategy.
Your strategy should answer the following questions, at least:
- What problem are you going to solve?
- How are you going to solve it?
- How are you going to measure your impact?
- What is the value of the impact you’ll have?
One of the most challenging parts of improving DEX is proving its value in the long run.
Have a plan on how you’ll demonstrate value in place before you even begin.
- Be Patient
Changing how people feel takes time. Even if your digital experience goes from zero to hero overnight, you won’t see that change reflected in employees’ feelings.
Employees would meet such a drastic change with skepticism. “These kinds of changes never stick,” they’ll think to themselves. You must give changes in experience time to percolate.
That’s why it’s important to pace yourself and set long-term goals.
- Target the Low-Hanging Fruit
We have just said to be patient, and you should, but business is not always easy. Sometimes (especially when an initiative is new), you need results quickly. You must demonstrate value to prove that an initiative is worth business resources.
In this situation, it can be handy to target the low-hanging fruit. These are DEX initiatives that are easy to do and highly impactful.
For example, if you have a business application that everyone has to use and thinks is particularly terrible, explore whether you can fix that first. The change is likely to be highly impactful, and if the solution isn’t unreasonable, it could be a low-hanging fruit.
Another approach when starting with DEX management is to target experience at the top.
That is, target the experience of leadership and VIPs as a priority. Demonstrate what’s possible with good DEX management, and they’ll support wider DEX initiatives in the future.
The Digital Employee Experience and Preparing for the Future of Work
The nature of work is changing, and some claim we are undergoing another industrial revolution.
Deloitte calls this “Industry 4.0,”.
Understanding the digital transformation revolution will help us grasp the following:
- The future benefits of crafting excellent, consistent employee experiences.
- How these digital experiences will prepare employees and organizations for the future economy.
- What are “good” employee experiences?
In other words, unless we know what’s in store in the coming years, organizations won’t be able to align their experiences with the demands of tomorrow’s economy.
Different research firms each have their views on what the future of work will look like.
Common themes include:
- Continued disruption from new technologies
- Data-driven design
- Real-time insights
- New business models, revenue models, and value models
- Increased integration between humans and workers
Trends such as these will define the future of work, business, and the individual worker’s experience. This picture of the future business world should act as a guide when creating the digital work experience.
After all, understanding these trends will help a business create a workforce that is more suited to operate in that future ecosystem.
But practically speaking, what should an organization do to prepare its workforce for the future? One of the best ways is to design digital employee experiences that help to shape and guide workers towards that future.
The Future of Work Revolves Around the Digital Employee Experience
The nature of work is changing. To successfully prepare for the future, organizations must focus extensively on the changing nature of the workforce.
If a business wants to design a digital employee experience (DEX) that improves organizational outcomes, it should: Understand the true business value of the digital employee experience.
The first step is understanding that the DEX is a business investment that can generate real returns when approached properly.
Change the way they view the workplace. Organizations must reinvent their approach to employee engagement and the workplace itself. Today, digitalization is natural, normal, and required. To stay competitive, businesses must be able to adapt and shift the way that their workplace operates.
Build a workforce—and a workplace—that is prepared for the future. Organizational cultures, training methods, processes, and other factors all impact the workforce. Building an adaptable, digitally literate workforce and pro-learning will help them stay agile in an era of change.
Invest in their employees today, not tomorrow Change takes time. It could be too late if businesses wait too long to invest in the DEX. Organizations should invest in their employees today rather than waiting until the ecosystem has already shifted under their feet.
With the right strategy, execution, and tools, organizations can design DEX that helps them reap real, tangible rewards for their organization and individual employees.