Digital employee experience: What is it and why does it matter?
Your digital employee experience impacts every aspect of your users' digital workflow. How can you make it as productive and inclusive as possible?
Amidst today’s hyper-competitive labor market and constricted global economy, the ability to retain and attract skilled talent makes the quality of your digital employee experience (DEX) more important than ever. DEX encompasses everything your users need to thrive, including:
- The productivity of their hardware and software
- The quality of their onboarding
- The equity of their hybrid meetings
- The efficacy of their IT support
- And so much more
It’s no wonder, then, why so many organizations want to create a meaningful DEX strategy but struggle to put the right pieces in place. Digital employee experience involves so many aspects of how your organization operates – how could anyone possibly know how to start?
We’ve enlisted the help of some of SHI’s modern workplace experts to break down the value of DEX and how you can meaningfully improve your employee experiences without overwhelming your leadership or IT staff.
DEX encompasses the entire employee experience
Your average hybrid or remote employee’s day likely starts at home, where they securely access your organization’s network via a VPN on their laptop. They then clock in via a time management app. They may spend the first few minutes of their day reviewing messages on Microsoft Teams or Slack as well as their inbox in Microsoft Outlook. Then they join a virtual meeting via Zoom or Cisco Webex, during which they share a PowerPoint presentation showing data pulled from Power BI.
Just in the first hour of the day, that employee engaged with eight components of your organization’s digital experience. That’s what SHI’s modern workplace experts mean when they say the digital employee experience encompasses everything.
“DEX is about everything your users need to be successful. The entire experience needs to ensure your employees feel engaged and productive while they’re at work,” says Mike McCracken, SHI’s Senior Director of End User Solutions.
David Johnson, SHI’s Director of Systems and Peripherals, adds it’s important to remember the context in which your users are working. “A large portion of employees are remote or hybrid,” David says. “You need to enable them to be as equally outfitted and productive as those in your office. That’s what the digital experience means – being effective wherever a user may be.”
Anthony Cozzi agrees. As SHI’s Director of Portfolio for Managed Workplace Services, Anthony knows the challenge organizations face equitably supporting hybrid workers.
“Hybrid workers should have equitable services and experiences to those in the office,” Anthony says. “They need to feel like they’re truly part of the process and part of your organization. They need to sense they’re being taken care of no matter if they’re working at home, at a coffee shop, or wherever else. That’s what focusing on DEX allows you to do – create great hybrid experiences that will keep and attract great employees.”
Proactively solve pesky disruptions
To foster the best possible experience for your hybrid workers, you need to proactively resolve disruptions to their workflow. If you can’t, you risk leaving users behind. Working remotely adds extra layers to the service desk process; when issues can’t quickly be resolved, hybrid workers are often left fending for themselves.
As David puts it, “Without proactive support from your organization, remote workers are stranded on an island.”
But being able to proactively resolve issues requires tangible insights and intelligence. That’s where DEX tools can help.
“A DEX tool is an agent living on your device,” explains Kevin English, SHI’s Senior Director of Strategy and Product Management for Managed Workplace Services. “It provides telemetry that enables you to proactively remediate issues before users even feel the impact.”
“DEX tools change the whole dynamic of an IT interaction,” Anthony adds. “Instead of waiting for users to call your service desk with a problem, your support teams have the visibility and intelligence to proactively identify and fix it.”
Sample use case: a remote worker can’t connect to a critical app
Anthony provides an example all too common for hybrid organizations: a user is having trouble connecting to Microsoft Teams. Instead of troubleshooting over the phone, a DEX tool can preemptively notify your IT staff that this user has tried and failed to connect to Teams three times within the past hour.
Right away, your DEX tool provides a diagnostic look at that user’s environment. Your team quickly spots the problem – the user’s application is outdated. Now your team can contact the impacted user and let them know a software update is on the way. With the push of a button, the user’s version of Teams is updated and connectivity is restored – all without having to undergo a lengthy troubleshooting process.
“DEX tools provide a whole different level of experience, one that’s faster, more informed, and, perhaps most importantly, proactive.” – Anthony Cozzi
DEX improves accessibility and bridges communication gaps
Your digital employee experience isn’t just about building an engaging ecosystem for your users – it’s also about fostering an inclusive and accessible one. A modern workplace emphasizing collaboration can’t succeed if users feel unrepresented, unheard, or unsupported. And if employees are forced to work with tools and methods that aren’t accessible to them, you can guarantee a loss of morale and productivity.
Mallory Santucci, SHI’s Presales Solutions Specialist for Collaboration, points out a seemingly innocuous fact about our interview – our team has been recording the audio transcript, which any participant can access on demand.
“Features like audio transcripts and video recordings help improve the accessibility of our meetings,” Mallory says. “It’s imperative for users with disabilities to feel equitably engaged. If employees have loss of sight or hearing, difficulty reading or writing, or are uncomfortable speaking in public, inclusive tools can enable them to participate in ways they couldn’t have in the past.”
“It’s important to remember everyone absorbs information their own way,” Mike adds. “Some people respond better to audio, some to visuals, others to hands-on engagement. Years ago, remote workers were stuck listening to meetings via their phone, with very few accessibility tools at their disposal. But now, remote workers can respond visually. They can see visual cues when someone’s joking or when they’re serious. They can even receive real-time audio translations of languages they can’t understand.”
Sample use case: helping a non-native English speaker participate in virtual meetings
It’s not uncommon for workers struggling to adapt to their workplace’s “norm” to suffer in silence. When users can’t participate in meetings, fulfill certain deadlines, or learn how to use a tool or program on their own, they can feel helpless and inadequate – plummeting their productivity and workplace satisfaction.
DEX tools can provide the insight you need to identify silent sufferers and help them engage in ways that meet their needs.
“Let’s say you notice an employee struggling to participate in meetings,” Mallory says. “You look at your DEX tool, and you see this user spent 92% of the meeting with Google Translate open in their browser. Now you have the opportunity to teach this user how to enable real-time translation during the meeting, so they can spend less time trying to manually translate what everyone is saying and spend more time engaging with their team.”
DEX encompasses everything. Inclusivity encompasses everyone.
Fostering an inclusive workplace empowers your employees to advocate for the betterment of your organization. Your digital experience’s quality and accessibility directly impact how users across different subsets of your organization engage with each other.
“Think about an employee resource group (ERG),” Kevin says. “ERGs are incredibly important for employee advocacy and representation. Its members could span the office, frontline, warehouse, and field. It could include salaried employees, hourly employees, and contractors, as well as users across multiple time zones. In a hybrid setting, what if your contractors or warehouse workers don’t have access to an app like Teams? You could inadvertently create huge disparities dictating who can or can’t communicate with the rest of your organization.”
“That’s big,” Mike says. “How easily can factory or frontline workers meet with HR to learn about their benefits or report their concerns, for example? It’s so important to be cognizant of the have’s and have not’s within your organization, even if the creation of which is completely unintentional.”
How can you start your digital employee experience journey?
Your digital employee experience impacts productivity, accessibility, inclusivity, and so much more. Ideally, the process of scoping and deploying your right-sized DEX solution should be frictionless. With patience, holistic insight into your environment, and help from trusted experts, you can easily determine which DEX tool is best for your organization and which processes and solutions are right for your needs.
“When starting your DEX journey, you need to truly understand your digital personas,” Mike says. “Knowing each of your groups’ differing requirements will help you identify gaps in your experience and prioritize what your first steps should be.”
Anthony agrees, adding that it’s important to recognize your organization’s use cases and acknowledge your existing issues. “Assess your business, your personas, and your use cases, because each DEX tool is different. If you can assess your business on your own, that’s great! But if not, resources like SHI – like my and Kevin’s team – are here to help. We’ll help you perform proofs of concept (POCs) and bake-offs to assess which DEX tool best fits your needs.”
For Kevin, understanding your current processes is just as important as knowing your end goal. “The more you understand what you’re currently doing for your digital employee experience, the more you can understand how these new technologies can help you. But without any sort of analysis, it’s easy to buy and install a solution without ever seeing true value from it. You can start by looking at Forrester and Gartner. They’ve performed extensive research and have defined DEX as a category for years now.”
Deliver stellar digital employee experiences with SHI
DEX impacts every aspect of your organization. As such, this discussion with our experts has only scraped the surface of the DEX iceberg.
SHI’s modern workplace experts are here to help build the best-possible digital employee experience for your organization. With unrivaled experience and insights backed by industry best practices, our experts are uniquely positioned to help solve what’s next for your modern workplace. Request a complimentary modern workplace consultation today to get started.