How Employee Experience Can Make or Break Your Competitiveness

We have been talking about the impact of employee experience on the bottom line. For many, the message seems to fall on deaf ears or seen as a nice-to-have option. But a new study by VMware gives a direct link to business competitiveness, offering new ammunition for CHROs. We asked Duncan Hewett, VMware's senior vice president, and general manager, Asia Pacific and Japan why it is time for the C-suite to pay attention.

What are the unique trends for Asia?

Hewett: VMware's global Digital Employee Experience study, has some interesting findings, which include:

  • The digital experience is directly linked to a company's market competitiveness, growth trajectory, and customer net promoter score (NPS). As companies implement digital transformation programs, the employee experience needs to take center stage as it is foundational to an organization's success.
  • There is a clear difference between employees' and employers' perception of digital experience. Ninety-five percent of the employees surveyed agreed that digital tools are integral to success, compared with 46% of the employers. This is especially true for the Asia-Pacific region, where the average age of the population is younger. So, you have a new and emerging generation of digitally native employees who have different expectations of how a company should work, how they want to engage, and how they want to access data. Clearly, organizations need to do a lot more introspection if they want long term success.
  • The vast majority (almost 90%) of survey respondents from the Asia-Pacific region believes that their organization struggles with delivering the optimum digital employee experience, with the biggest issue being a lack of understanding of what employees want. Eighty-six percent of employees agree that HR should have more responsibility for the digital employee experience within their organization. 

At VMware, we believe that the employee experience is an intersection of technology, culture, and physical spaces. The survey findings highlight the need for IT and HR departments across the region to collaborate more closely to ensure that employees are empowered by the application of digital technologies to the highest degree.

Companies understand the value of good employee experience. Yet many initiatives fail. What are they overlooking or not looking for based on the survey? 

Hewett: We see organizations focused on providing a larger volume of applications. Recently a customer told me that he got in early to the office every Friday to sign into eight different systems, each using different passwords. This is undoubtedly really frustrating.

Our study revealed that 95% of IT decision-makers in the Asia-Pacific region say that they provide employees with the digital tools they need to be successful in their jobs. However, 46% of employees feel that they don’t have the tools that they require.

Challenges come up when companies don't look at all aspects of employee experience and workplace productivity. As an example, if employees spend 60% of their days away from their desks—traveling to and from meetings, to lunch, and to client offices—but you provide devices and tools that are not mobile-friendly, you significantly limit an employee's ability to impact your business goals.

We can integrate security into a digital customer experience. While security remains a top concern for IT when it comes to device experience, there are dependable tools like WorkspaceONE in the market which provide a consumer-simple and enterprise-secure solution to an employee's digital needs.

How can CHROs help to create a flexible and adaptable workplace for future requirements/jobs that have yet to be decided?

Hewett: Today, most people experience life through a digital interface on their phone, tablet, or laptop. These digital experiences augment pretty much every facet of a person's life, including their work, personal growth, and interactions with employers.

In the Asia-Pacific region, you have some markets that have leapfrogged ahead where people own smartphones before they own laptops. If the technology you're providing employees facilitates a more productive, efficient work environment that leads to greater work-life harmony, you are on the right path. But if the technology is not user-friendly, chances are you're dealing with lower company morale that's pushing people out the door while keeping prospective employees at arm's length.

As we spend time with customers and conduct surveys, we’ve identified the three projects that are most critical to the employee experience today, regardless of region or role requirements:

  • The ability to easily find and install the right apps for a new task or role at work
  • Outside of email, having access to apps on your phone or tablet for the three most important tasks in a given workweek
  • New employee access to the apps and data they need to be productive on their first day

HR and Talent Acquisition teams have traditionally been held accountable for the number of people joining a company. IT, on the other hand, is responsible for an organization's ability to operate at top speed, with minimal disruption. What HR and IT have in common is a stake in digital employee experience. As employee experience is key to ongoing digital transformation, CHROs must work with IT to continuously redefine these experiences—from recruiting to onboarding and from day two all the way to offboarding. Disrupting siloed IT and HR processes is critical for better employee experiences.

How important is it for the CHRO to work with the CIO in driving talent management across their companies?

Hewett: Experience is becoming the defining factor in an organization's bottom line due to the impact on productivity, engagement, collaboration, and workplace flexibility.

As companies compete for the best talent, HR must pay attention to how they digitally show up to potential employees. To put their best foot forward to candidates, companies need to reevaluate their candidates' digital experience. Can candidates quickly apply for a job on their phone? Could the log-in process be easier for video interviews? How might real-time chatbots speed up the process for candidates? Are companies engaging with the candidates during the time before they start on the job?

Employee onboarding is another crucial opportunity for IT and HR alignment. Just like the rest of the business, it's digital, but unlike other areas of the business, it's often painfully slow. By integrating multiple digital tools with HR applications, you can make the whole experience far more seamless. As an example, one of our applications for managers, called vApprove, allows a manager to approve requests from their direct reports with one click. Such applications substantially increase workplace productivity.

Companies might think that the technology they provide their employees is only a small factor of work-life balance and happiness, but the reality of the situation is anything but. A primary cause of employee burnout is insufficient technology, according to research from Kronos and Future Workplace. That’s because legacy or overly complex technology stifles employee productivity, causing them to go through extra hurdles that waste their time and make their jobs unnecessarily difficult in the process.

The CIO is often a significant stakeholder of the digital workspace technologies that simplify management for IT, remove complexity from IT environments, and enable IT to provide a better security posture. These same technologies empower employees to work anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

It is therefore crucial that the CHRO works together with the CIO to help their companies more effectively grow and rapidly transform by putting their employees first.

Duncan Hewitt
Duncan Hewett, senior vice president, and general manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware: It is time for CHROs and CIOs to work together on employee experience.