Transforming the employee experience in the modern era
As competition for a skilled workforce increases and as the workplace becomes more complex, HR professionals seek to create a compelling employee experience – one that focuses less on what employees do and more on what motivates them.
For example, Deloitte has created an Employee Experience Framework (see table below) that defines how the company can meet the key aspirations of their employees (now and in the future): meaningful work, supportive management, positive work environment, growth opportunity, trust in leadership.
Turning this framework into a real employee-centric experience is not easy. As such, more companies are ready to invest in different approaches, such as healthier, people-centric and flexible workspaces, sophisticated collaborative tools, and HR self-service platforms (including learning and induction platforms, corporate learning weeks, etc.)
The coming of AI
The personalization of the employee and the learner experience is key to make it compelling and simple. This is a particular strength of AI and chatbots.
So, how is today’s technology being used to transform the employee experience and what can HR professionals do to take the competitive advantage?
Jeanne Meister – who will give a keynote at this year’s Business Transformation Summit – is an expert on the future of work and predicts that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will soon play a central role in the employee experience. Chatbots, she believes, are already changing the face of employee engagement. In a recent article for Forbes magazine, she says:
“Chatbots digitise HR processes and employees to access HR solutions from anywhere. Using artificial intelligence in HR will create a more seamless employee experience, one that is nimbler and more user driven.”
In a similar way to the customer experience, the purpose of all this technology is to better engage the employee in a way that makes things simpler and more interesting, especially within a world of information overload and reduced attention spans.
AI is enhancing most of the HR responsibilities. In the context of recruiting, for example, AI offers better selection, less bias and more productivity. The candidate benefits, too, as it helps make the application process smoother and ensures a better fit because candidates have access to more substantial insights about the job and the company.
Fraud and compliance processes are enhanced by AI, all to the benefit of the employee and the company. By identifying patterns of stress and bad behaviour, AI alerts management so that they can take evasive action.
AI can even be used to improve well-being and employee engagement. Apps exist that help an employee maintain a healthier work-life balance and encourage a culture of risk prevention.
Professionals today are getting used to the idea of having AI ‘co-workers’, so chatbots and other digital tools will inevitably become a regular feature of working life.
Learning & development: a major component of the employee experience.
Today, the modern workforce demands an agile approach to their professional and personal development, with an opportunity to take responsibility for the direction of their own learning.
Instead of relying heavily on one-size-fits-all courses pushed by the company, individuals are now developing their skills using a greater variety of tools, such as e-learning, MOOCs, Youtube, Chatbots, Virtual & Augmented Reality, e-coaching apps...
Technologies enable learning to be personalised and delivered just in time at the point of need. As such, learning requires less effort from the learner and has a more tangible impact on their performance and employability.
Taking advantage of the growing digitalization of learning, AI is now used to make the learner’s experience even more attractive while saving time for L&D departments.
- By pushing relevant learning opportunities that fit with the learners’ preferences, on-going activities, skills gaps or their personal development plan
- Curating these learning opportunities automatically from numerous libraries such as Ted Talks, MOOCs, etc.
A new generation of learning AI companions is now able to analyse in real time a learner's voice, email or video, to spot areas for improvement and to “coach” them from time to time on their communication or leadership skills.
From the L&D department’s point of view, AI can now automate many training administration tasks that contribute to their workload.
The downsides and limits of automated employee and learner experiences
Trust is the number one condition of a successful user experience – either as a customer, employee or learner. As a user, I can accept to be guided and even influenced by a brand, by my employer, or by a learning provider, only if I trust them. This is especially true with AI, which demands lots of personal data.
Employee engagement and effective learning transfer often come together and require not only a well marketed and automated user experience, but also live interactions with people, initiatives, surprises, time and effort. A fully-automated employee or learner experience will not meet these conditions.
For AI to provide a relevant employee or learner experience, the data used to make it work should be accurate and based on large populations, which might not be accessible to many employers (as opposed to large training providers).
Life-long learner experience the way forward
We may wonder if the promise of a powerful AI enabled learner experience can really be kept in the context of the employee experience, because:
- More individuals are becoming increasingly autonomous in taking control of their learning, for both their professional and personal goals.
- In-demand soft or digital skills are not employer specific nor restricted to professional life
- Training providers – including Cegos – are starting to address the needs of individuals and are certainly seen as trustworthy long-life learning partners
Several trends confirm this vision of a shift from employer-led learning to lifelong learning:
- In France, for example, the new CPF (Personal Training Account) allows individuals throughout their work-life to access any certifying training of their choice, funded through a mix of public funds, employer contributions and personal financing.
- In addition, human capital management CM 3.0 delivers upon the idea that the employee experience can—and should—become the life experience through solutions that can be used at work and at home. This means seamlessly blending work, community, family and material aspects of what employees are seeking in their day-to-day lives.
That said, employers - and specifically the L&D function - still have a vital role to play in taking care of the development of their people. This is especially critical at key moments of the employee experience, such as when they are starting a new position, adopting new workplace structures, processes or tools, and for supporting the learning transfer through on-the-job practicing and feedback.
Cegos' 2018 Business Transformation Summit explored the theme of ‘experience’ in the professional training industry. Check out our highlights page for reflections on the day, in-depth articles and more