In recent years, companies have recognized that improving the employee experience is key to retaining valued staff, increasing productivity and enhancing overall business performance. Employee experience software can help businesses create a better environment for every facet of an employee’s experience, allowing the company to realize these benefits that help them excel.

What Is Employee Experience?

The employee experience encompasses all of an employee’s interactions while working for a company and the moments that stand out to them, from the time they become a job candidate to their departure from the company and even after that. Human resources thought leader Josh Bersin has defined employee experience as “the sum total of all the touchpoints an employee has with his or her employer.”

How do you build a positive employee experience? A company’s culture, processes, physical environments, leadership and other factors come together to shape whether an employee feels valued, respects how the organization operates and chooses to stay.

Technology also plays an important role in the employee experience. Just as consumers make purchasing decisions based on the quality of the customer experience, so too do employees judge their employer in part based on the simplicity, convenience and clarity of employee-facing systems. This includes recruitment and onboarding tools, payroll time tracking solutions, benefits management systems and more. Organizations can also use software to gather information, including regular employee feedback, about the overall employee experience.

What Is Employee Experience Software?

Employee experience software generally seeks to improve employee engagement and workers’ enjoyment of their day-to-day jobs. For example, these solutions may help leadership understand how employees feel about their organizations and experiences by streamlining the development, delivery and analysis of employee pulse surveys. Some employee experience software may also give employees a unified, easy-to-use interface that leverages the capabilities of core human resource management systems (HRMS) and other business applications on the back end.

Why Is Employee Experience Software Important for Businesses?

The technology can lead to a better employee experience, which can deliver concrete business benefits. MIT researchers found that businesses that scored highest on employee experience measurements achieved twice the level of effective innovation, which is defined by the percentage of revenue generated by new products and services. They also earned roughly 25% higher profits than competitors. Better employee experience has also been linked to increased retention, greater engagement at work, and higher net promoter scores from customers.

Employee experience software that simplifies HR-related tasks can also increase productivity by freeing up employees’ time, which they can then redirect to tasks that are directly related to their primary responsibilities. One company sold its employee experience initiative internally as “Giving 1 million hours back to employees and managers each year.” In that way, a better individual employee experience can not only boost engagement and strengthen workplace culture; by giving workers more time to focus on a better customer experience it can improve that metric as well.

Finally, employees now expect the same convenience and efficiency from their workplace applications that they get from consumer applications. Companies that make basic tasks difficult or complicated may struggle to keep high performers who can find plenty of opportunities elsewhere.

Who Uses Employee Experience Software?

By definition, in a company with employee experience software, virtually every employee uses it during their employment. Workers might use it to update personal information, select new benefits during an open enrollment period or order a computer monitor through procurement. They can also take surveys throughout their time with the company, offering feedback on recruiting, onboarding, quarterly pulse surveys and various trainings.

The data from all of these initiatives then flows back to the HR team, which can share key trends with managers and perhaps executives while also addressing any pressing issues with specific employees. Employee experience platforms help HR teams become more data-driven because they provide tools and dashboards for talent management leaders to optimize the employee experience and measure the impact of their actions.

As was the case with HRMS, employee experience platforms initially targeted very large companies but now serve emerging and midsized businesses too.

What Are the Goals of Employee Experience Software?

Companies deploy employee experience software solutions for several interrelated reasons. They invest in these systems to improve employee engagement, which can translate into more innovation, greater productivity and a stronger commitment to customer satisfaction. They recognize the value this software plays in retaining valued employees in a competitive talent marketplace—reducing turnover and, again, improving productivity.

Leaders also want to strengthen culture, align it more closely with their organization’s values, and strengthen their reputation as a great place to work. This will allow them to not only hold onto their best employees, but attract top talent.

Types of Employee Experience Software

Today, the products marketed as employee experience solutions include many different types of software. They include specialized tools focused on one or more aspects of the employee experience, such as gathering employee input via surveys. Some HR software providers have extended existing products in order to increase their focus on optimizing aspects of the employee experience. Accordingly, employee experience solutions may include functionality that allows organizations to:

  • Build, conduct and analyze employee surveys to discover how employees feel about their experiences.
  • Optimize internal HR intranets and employee portals so they’re easier and more rewarding for employees to use.
  • Improve the employee journey by encouraging managers to check in with members of their team regularly and record key takeaways to direct their future efforts.
  • Ensure employees get the acknowledgments and rewards they deserve, and the encouragement they need during challenging times.

What Is an Employee Experience Platform?

An employee experience platform is an emerging category of software that builds on the core features of employee experience software to support a wide range of HR-related services and tools. It provides employees with a single place to manage HR requirements, job transitions and other work-related tasks, such as training. This platform can coordinate processes across IT, finance and HR so the complexities that go into getting a new staffer on payroll, giving them the right equipment and systems access, and completing mandatory compliance training happens smoothly. And an employee experience platform does this all without excessive employee involvement nor the need to work through these processes on their own.

Combining all this functionality in a single platform can simplify things for employees and allow them to avoid the headaches that come with using multiple HR tools. A platform should also make it easier for HR to coordinate, measure and monitor all interactions with employees.

Features and Functionalities of Employee Experience Software

Employee experience software can provide a wide variety of features, depending on the exact product used. Employee experience software may include features that:

  • Give employees one simple interface for finding answers and solving problems, even if it pulls from several systems behind the scenes.
  • Offer virtual agents, chat and voice interactions, so any employee can get answers anywhere, from any device, in whatever way is most convenient for them.
  • Help HR map each employee’s journey to build smoother processes for giving them what they need, starting with better onboarding to simplify tasks like collecting W-9s and issuing equipment and continuing all the way through improved offboarding.
  • Use predictive technologies to remind employees to complete required or recommended tasks. For example, it can tell employees about learning and development opportunities or facilitate collaboration with their manager as part of a performance review.
  • Track performance analytics to identify urgent needs and inadequate processes, and help HR deepen insights into engagement.
  • Provide more relevant and timely rewards and acknowledgments for exceptional work.
  • Help HR track, automate and simplify employee requests for benefits, time off, extended leave or specific services.

Benefits of Employee Experience Software

Employee experience software should simplify HR management while making it easier to gather employee feedback and dynamically respond to employee needs. It should automate many processes and make it easier for employees to capitalize on the intended value of core business systems, improving engagement and productivity.

Additionally, such a system allows companies to better understand the employee experience at each step of the life cycle, so HR departments can make that journey smoother, more efficient and more enjoyable. Platforms that provide a single interface for HR functions should also make it easier to upgrade individual HR systems in the background without affecting the user experience.

Using Employee Experience Software for Employee Journey Mapping

An employee experience roadmap visually breaks down the “moments that matter” in an employee’s experience with the company from recruitment through hiring, onboarding, major work events and milestones, and eventually departure. Different employee categories and roles may each have their own journey maps based on “personas”—fictional employees created by companies to represent each role. Analyzing the journey for each employee persona can help businesses put themselves in the employee’s shoes and assess how smooth each part of the employee experience is, how it feels to the employee, and how it shapes their view of the company.

By pairing employee engagement platforms and journey maps, businesses can optimize each key employee milestone, from recruiting to development and retention to offboarding. For example, you might discover that your onboarding processes don’t currently ensure that computers and related equipment are ready for new employees on the first day. Knowing this, you can work with IT to ensure you have the required devices for day one so the staffer can hit the ground running.

If your platform includes employee engagement survey and analytics tools, you can later measure the impact of your onboarding changes on retention, engagement and productivity. With the ability to constantly collect feedback and adjust accordingly, this software institutes a culture of continuous improvement.

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Employee Experience Software Trends

Like many other types of technology, employee experience software is increasingly leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) like machine learning, bots and natural language processing. Machine learning can help analyze large amounts of data a business collects from employee surveys to quickly identify key trends. If an employee is looking to move internally, AI could also identify roles that are a potential fit given that person’s experience and skills. Chatbots within an employee experience solution can answer many common questions from employees without requiring the assistance of HR. Finally, natural language processing can help recruiters screen resumes by ranking candidates based on how well the information on their resumes match the job responsibilities.

More employee experience software is taking advantage of robotic process automation (RPA) as well. RPA can automate mundane but time-consuming tasks, like the steps that go into employee onboarding. For example, a system equipped with this technology can pull employee information from emails or an applicating tracking system, upload it to the HRMS, and trigger requests for a security badge and computer and phone setup.

All of these technologies help make this software as appealing and easy to use as consumer applications so businesses gain a better understanding of employee’s day-to-day experiences, create more intuitive employee interactions, and automate processes to make employees’ lives easier and reduce their required manual effort.

Employee experience software is a valuable tool for helping maximize staff retention, increase productivity and improve business performance. It’s likely to become an even more powerful strategic tool as a greater number of employee work remotely most or all of the time. As employees spend less time at the company’s facilities, businesses will increasingly rely on technology to understand—and improve—the employee experience.