We often hear it said that “employees don’t leave companies, they leave managers”. Ultimately, they also leave the technology. Especially when this technology causes frustration and hinders the achievement of goals.
Digital Employee Experience (DEX) is the combined experience of employees interacting with technology in the workplace. In short, this is what employees think of their intranet, CRM, learning tools, HR tools and various other business applications.
When this experience is good, things happen quickly. Employees feel productive, fulfilled and satisfied with their work. When the experience is bad, employees waste time trying to understand the latest technology, their tasks pile up, they get frustrated, feel unproductive, and start to hate their jobs.
In 2020, 32% of workers who left their jobs believed technology “was a barrier to their ability to do a good job.” This is an increase from 22% before the pandemic, according to The Workfront 2021 State of Work Report.
With that in mind and with more and more companies moving to remote or hybrid working, you would expect DEX to be a top priority for business executives.
Our data shows the opposite.
This summer, my company Origami Software conducted a survey of 200 companies that are either improving their DEX or preparing the business case to do so. Responses came from organizations in North America, Europe and Oceania ranging in size from 100 to 100,000 employees. Here’s what we found: 80% of those surveyed believe that leaders at the highest level in their organization don’t see improving DEX as a strategic priority. Why is it?
We looked at the data for answers.
DEX business cases lack critical data
One of the key characteristics of any business case is providing the value and benefits of completing a project. And what gives a better picture than measurable and actionable data?
Our survey found that only 18% of companies surveyed consistently measure the ease of use of technology in the workplace. And that can have a huge impact on the potential success of your new business case.
Let’s say you come up with a new intranet project and your key measure of success is improved ease of use and search. How can you convey the improvement in these metrics if you haven’t measured the current usability?
Ultimately, business cases that lack solid evidence can raise doubts and concerns about risk in the minds of executives. Busy leaders juggle multiple priorities and often choose to allocate a budget to less risky projects.
Associated article: The invisible components of Digital Workplace success
Building the Business Case for DEX Improvements: Executives Want Data
We wanted to know more about leadership attitudes towards projects that collect solid metrics. It turns out that companies that regularly measure the usability of technology are twice as likely to build leadership support for their DEX initiatives. More importantly, companies that don’t collect solid metrics are twice as likely to have leaders who are uninterested or even reluctant to the project.
The evidence for the digital employee experience is overwhelming, so what are the best ways to measure it?
What are you measuring?
If you are replacing a software application to achieve specific benefits, you need to measure how those benefits will be quantified.
For example, take a project in which you are setting up a new corporate intranet. In our experience, the IT teams in these cases primarily focus on staying on budget and providing a pleasant intranet experience to their users. Sales teams care about ease of use, accurate research, and adoption.
This means that we need to measure four KPIs:
- Ease of use (often includes search performance)
- Look and feel
Some of these metrics are pretty easy to measure, like budget and even appearance. But how do you measure something as nebulous as ease of use? Intranet pages may seem quite user-friendly at first glance, but when you can’t find a document or template, the ease of use goes out the window.
DEX takes it to the next level when it comes to measuring such measurements.
Associated article: A strategic framework for the digital employee experience
How do you measure?
A good way to start this process is to host a design workshop with the main stakeholders to help everyone understand what and how we are aiming to measure. This is also where you can get a first opinion on usability from key stakeholders.
It’s hard to accommodate more than 15 participants in a single workshop, so you can’t ask the whole company how easy something is for them to use. At the same time, how do you know the rest of the company’s employees will agree with the 15 you interviewed?
There is a relatively simple solution to measuring ease of use:
- Time spent on task
- Task precision
If you were asked to find an employee handbook on your new intranet and it took 30 seconds to find it, it might show how easy it is to navigate or search design. If you didn’t find it or if you discovered the wrong link, this measures accuracy.
Of course, you can use a survey to automate this large-scale data collection.
How do you choose which tasks to measure?
Determining which tasks to measure is the next big decision. Naturally, you’ll want to go for the most popular tasks, rather than asking your users dozens of questions.
You might already know which tasks are the most popular. For example, over time we have collected a list of the 16 most popular things that users should find on their intranet. An alternative is to use add-ons on your intranet that reveal the most popular links and buttons employees click as well as the most frequently visited pages.
You can’t measure, what now?
You might think, “Our intranet is so old that it doesn’t have any of these fancy analyzes to add to our business case.”
It’s a business case in itself!
The digital employee experience makes its own case
DEX doesn’t have to start as a massive project. Maybe you need a smaller project to justify a larger upgrade. Leaders are much more supportive of a project that aims to measure, so your first step might be to implement a proof of concept project that measures usability. Then you can use the results to create a solid business case.
Ultimately, the digital employee experience justifies itself. Every business wants productive, engaged and satisfied employees who can successfully use the right technology. If your organization is looking to boost employee experience and productivity by making DEX a strategic priority, take the next step to create a solid business case.
Yaroslav is the founder of OrigamiConnect, a growing intranet-in-a-box product.
He is also an eight-time Microsoft MVP, speaker at global technology events such as Microsoft Ignite, and author of several SharePoint books.