What HR Teams Can Learn from ‘The Experience of Work’ Report

The rise of technology has introduced a lot of workplace issues that many of us couldn’t have imagined when we began our careers in HR. If you were learning the ins and outs of recruiting 20 years ago, did you ever consider whether an algorithm might introduce more bias into your process? Did you even know what an algorithm is?

These days, everyone in HR has to be a tech expert. But making sure the amazing technological tools at our fingertips are used to the best of their capabilities is a challenge. Complicating this is the need for a phenomenal employee and candidate experience. We’re fortunate to live in a booming economy, but this means that HR has a responsibility to make sure that work is everything it can be.

That means it’s time for HR to turn to a new ally: IT. Thankfully, the team at The Economist Intelligence Unit offers some new advice in their study on the work experience. Here are my three big takeaways on how HR can take a leading role in ensuring that technology paves the way for an amazing employee experience.

Make Sure Your First Impressions Have a Wow Factor

When we think about first impressions for new employees, we think about their first day at the office. We think about creating engaging presentations and making sure a new hire speaks to all the right people.

But how often are we thinking about the period between when someone accepts an offer and comes to work? The report relates how Merck & Co. has gone out of its way to optimize this process. Over the course of two years, the company started an initiative called “From Now to WOW.” The company designed an online welcome center where new employees are able to download all the HR documents they need and also all information on their new jobs and relevant coworkers. The company also moved to digitize new-hire agreements. Previously it had taken an average of seven days to complete those agreements; now it takes half a day.

It’s an interesting story that shows how the candidate and employee experiences have changed and even blurred together. When onboarding is optimized, employees are able to see how the company’s digital office works and get familiar with it. By contrast, imagine if your next hire isn’t wowed. It might cause skepticism right out of the gate.

Get HR and IT on the Same Page

Our comfort with technology in the workplace is hugely important to the way we work. But with so much of the employee experience tied to the tech tools that employees use, HR can’t be solely responsible for the employee experience. For the future of work to be everything it can be, HR and IT will have to join hands to create an Avengers-like superteam that can make the employee experience unparalleled.

But creating that superteam is going to be tough. The report’s section on the toughest barriers preventing HR and IT from collaborating effectively says that 34% of survey participants cited “lack of mutual understanding,” 32% blamed a “lack of common objectives/key performance indicators” and 19% said the other party is not interested in collaboration. In other words, more effort needs to be made to create clear, open lines of communication between departments. The survey also found that in companies with higher productivity and engagement, IT and HR are sharing goals, hiring with expertise in both IT and HR, and are sharing KPIs. Overcoming these barriers seems to be yielding positive results.

I know HR and IT don’t seem like natural partners, but neither were Iron Man and Captain America. An organization should have one goal: to empower its employees to do their most effective work. For that to happen, HR and IT need to work together. Look for ways to build connections between the two functions. Perhaps consider that your next HR hire should have a background in tech or even IT; speaking that common language will certainly help.

Technology Helps Your Employees Find Meaning

Many of us want to make sure our employees are personally fulfilled by their work, an especially important consideration for millennials and members of Generation Z.

But finding fulfillment isn’t just about organizational values. As part of the study, San Diego State faculty member Aveh Abhari examined how technology can help employees find meaning in their work. “Employees are looking for a working style in which they are empowered and encouraged to make decisions, participate in dynamic work environments, take on challenging projects, experiment with various self-development opportunities and learn new ways to contribute,” he writes. “… [T]echnology can help by monitoring employees’ experiential needs, designing more engaging work routines, enhancing productivity and visibility, and supporting internal experiments to personalise work processes.”

So if you’re finding that your investments in technology or the employee experience aren’t what they could be, remember that you could be holding your employees back — personally as well as professionally. As Abhari writes, “it is the personal meaning of work that inspires an employee to go above and beyond expectations, not the rewards or praise they receive.”

Read the full report for more insights.

This post is sponsored by Citrix.