Over the past two years, IT service providers and industry analysts have been explaining why it is important to move towards experience-level agreements (XLAs). Besides the popular watermelon-effect argument, where green SLAs may not reflect how employees experience the service, the measurement of employee experience is a fundamental shift in mindset in the way companies should consider their IT services delivered to their employees. It is even more important that such companies usually take the same approach for their own customers. Every digital consumer project puts client experience (CX) at the heart of solution design. Why then should it be different for employees working for these companies?
First of all, what do we mean by employee experience?
Employee experience is the application of user experience for your employees. Experience is highly subjective because it’s related to employees’ perception. You will not be able to compute a magic number which reflects how employees feel. In the best case, you will be able to create balanced scorecards compiling a set of technical metrics – such as speed of answer or computer performance – but this will not tell you how your employees feel about the IT services you provide.
We do know that employee experience can be affected in many ways: work interruptions, network slowness, system or application crashes, complex support procedures, the inability to find required information, or unexpected automations can adversely impact employee experience. Conversely, simple, rapid, and straightforward services can positively influence employee happiness.
And this is what employee experience comprises a series of positive and negative events that generate satisfaction or frustration, which will be different for each individual in the organization.
How can we measure employee experience?
There are not many ways to measure experience. Since it is unique to each employee – based on their role in the company, their background, their age, their personal evolution – there is no automated KPI available. The only way is to ask employees. Since it is a subjective perception, raising surveys with relevant targeted questions can help us understand how employees feel within the context of IT services.
If we measure it several times across various roles or personas within the organization, we start getting trends, and seeing different trend lines for different personas, because their needs are different. Once we have several measures and data points in place, and understand the dynamics of employee experience, we can start evaluating how to influence it.
How can we influence employee experience?
You can’t control how employees feel. However, you can control the elements that influence their experience. In an enterprise context, there are two main sets of activities IT organizations can apply to find the right balance:
- Decreasing negative influencers: this is about identifying and eliminating sources of employee frustration. In a service desk context, long resolution times, hops between support teams, ticket reopens all create frustration and adversely impact employee experience. In a digital workplace context, slow or inefficient computers, network latency, application crashes, long computer boot times all adversely impact employee experience, and hinder productivity. In a collaboration context, negative influencers can relate to mail disturbance, ineffective use of collaboration tools, and loss of focus.
- Increasing positive influencers: this is probably the most complex set of activities. We aren’t speaking about eliminating pain points here, but about putting simple and effective elements in place. An end-to-end, instant, and automated solution to request a service can be positively perceived if it is simple to use. Self-service tools or chatbots are not natively positive influencers but can become positive if user journeys are as simple and quick as possible. This requires special skillsets, which IT departments need to scale up. UX designers will become more and more important in this space. In a service desk context, speed and ease of getting the necessary support are key influencers. The ability of a support organization to understand the user’s context and adapt its support to the user role or business processes is also a positive influencer, as we can put an individual issue or request in the right context and behave accordingly. In a workplace context, the ability of the employee to do his/her work without being limited or constrained by IT is a key influencer. In a collaboration context, the ability of the employee to retain focus and get maximum benefit from teamwork is a key influencer.