As financial services goes digital, HR needs to be a collaborative partner in creating an agile workforce. This means understanding the layers of the employee experience.

In my last post , I spoke about the strategic imperative for financial services organizations to invest in the employee experience (EX) through digital. Today, I want to explore the layers of the employee experience and HR’s role as a collaborative partner in the digital workplace.

For most people, the employee experience has two layers: the day-to-day and the moments that matter. Companies need to realize that it isn’t one layer or the other that affects a current or potential employee, it’s both. And as technology continues to fast-track, it’s more important than ever to get EX right.

Employee experience layer #1: the day-to-day

The first and most obvious layer, the day-to-day is the familiar aspects for an employee:
• Work environment
• Tools
• Oversight

These are the basis of an employee’s day, but it’s time to go further. Almost nine out of 10 high performers in financial services (FS) see rewiring their culture, organizational structure and workplace tools as “highly important” to business success. More and more employees want work that’s meaningful, varied, challenging—and even fun.

Three out of four (76 percent) of new graduates believe their education has prepared them to become part of a digital workforce. And while there’s concern about the impact of new digital technologies (such as artificial intelligence (AI), robotics and automation) on FS jobs, this concern is balanced out by excitement about the potential that innovative technology provides. For example, Accenture research found that 61 percent of FS workers expect AI to make their jobs more interesting and 59 percent believe technology will expand their career prospects.

Employee experience layer #2: the moments that matter

While the moments that matter aren’t the foundation of the employee experience, they contribute to the employee view of the day-to-day. How leaders manage them can either strengthen or put a crack in the employee experience—they are key components of engagement. Moments that matter include:

1. Onboarding and transfers into new departments – particularly cross-border
2. Life events – new baby, bereavement
3. Promotions
4. Exercising benefits
5. Learning options
6. Restructuring
7. How employee concerns are addressed

We all have moments that matter. Have a think on a time when any of the above have occurred in your career. We’ve all possibly had an instance or two where standardized HR services haven’t quite hit the mark, or have lacked in the personal touch.

Many FS companies use customer-centered design to improve the customer experience. That is, viewing the experience, start to finish, through the eyes of the customer to identify any pain points and highlight areas for improvement and deeper engagement. EX needs to have the same approach. As I touched on in my last post , employees want their experience at work to be as tailored and streamlined as their consumer experience—they are often also your consumers.

Getting the moments that matter right for employees not only gives the psychological benefits of inclusion and individual significance, it builds a rapport of respect, mutual trust and fairness. A combination of face-to-face interaction with managers, supplemented by data-driven personalization from HR will go a long way.

Walking the EX talk: HR as a collaborative partner

Digital tools can greatly enhance productivity and engagement, but they’re most effective when incorporated into operating models and championed by leaders throughout the organization. Specifically, by HR.

When my colleagues at Accenture ANZ (Australia/New Zealand) were reinventing their employee experience, the regional HR lead at the time, Randy Wandmacher, knew that a tailored, curated experience was needed. It would require a more digitally enabled workplace, with buy-in and resources from the entire firm. Focused on cross-functional cooperation, HR worked with leaders and implemented several strategies fueled by employee needs.

“We involved our people in the design,” said Wandmacher, “so it was a real process of co-creation with real people.”

Benefits of this approach have included improved culture and talent attraction, as well as better understanding and focus on performance achievement. The changes at Accenture ANZ show that strategically embracing digitalization can unlock human potential and deliver strong return on investment.

Fortunately, HR departments are starting to play a larger role in shaping EX, which I would say makes them a key third layer. After all, the biggest and most immediate impact of any change is on the workforce, the workplace and the nature of work. Engaged employees create engaging experiences. In today’s business world, that’s a serious competitive advantage.

For more insights on employee experience transformation in FS, register to download “The Employee Experience as a Competitive Advantage” or connect with me here.

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