The Digital Employee Experience Guide: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself

How employees experience technology on the job could make the difference between digital success and failure.

Future of Work

Ask any recruiter or hiring manager what their biggest headache is these days, and they'll tell you: top talent is restless. A McKinsey study found that 40% of workers are considering leaving their jobs in the next 3-6 months.

In tech, it's even worse: 80% of tech workers are considering a new job, and only 29% of IT employees plan to stay with their current employer. In short, it's never been harder to find good people and hang onto them.

Maybe that's why employee experience (EX) design is suddenly taking businesses and industries by storm. EX design is essentially bringing the design process to every part of the experience of work, with the employee at the center. It's started to transform work the way the customer experience design revolution of the early 2000s changed the digital experience in so much of the rest of our lives.

Zooming in on the digital dimension

Of course, the EX design boom is also a response to one of the biggest trends driving the future of work: the shift toward remote working. Digital experiences have been part of work since those old green-and-black monitor screens were first wheeled into the office. But now that technology has to perform functions that physical spaces and tools used to, the digital aspect of that experience has come to the fore.

Maybe you're leading one virtual team or maybe you're implementing a digital transformation strategy across your entire business. Either way, what employees experience when using their digital tools and environments will drive their job satisfaction, not to mention their productivity.

And that's where digital employee experience (DEX) comes in. (Last abbrevation we'll throw at you, we promise.)

DEX looks at how technology supports the three pillars of employee experience: relationships, setting, and work. (Or, unfortunately too often, fails to support those pillars.)

Each one presents technology-specific challenges for IT, HR, Ops, and other change management leaders involved in DEX strategy. An honest reckoning with these ten questions will help clarify your current state of affairs - and point the way to a better digital employee experience.

Why is digital employee experience important for employee engagement?

Relationships includes all of the social aspects of work, from individual connections to the wider office culture. Setting covers "where" work takes place, even if that "where" is in virtual space. And work takes in the tasks performed on the job, the way those tasks get organized and done, and how an employee feels about the work: engaged or alienated, fulfilled or bored.

Now more than ever, good digital employee experiences go a long way toward creating a good employee experience, period. So much of the employee experience is mediated through workplace technology now that every digital touchpoint is a crucial factor in how engaged employees are. And as we all know, companies with highly engaged staff have higher employee retention rates, while companies with low engagement levels have 30-50% more turnover.

How are you measuring employee productivity?

If you can answer this question with clear, outcome-focused metrics, great. If you can't, you can bet your employees can't either. Fortunately, the best of today's digital tools are building in productivity data and analysis alongside the workflow management, to help keep work aligned with business goals, identify areas where where your team needs help, and support employees in feeling a sense of purpose in their work.

We know now that purpose is an increasingly important driver of employees' digital experience. Vague or arbitrary KPIs can seriously dampen that sense of satisfaction: nobody like feeling like they've wasted their time for no reason. Oh, and if your answer has anything to do with keystroke tracking or mouse monitoring? You're measuring the wrong thing, and doing it in an intrusive way that's certain to damage trust. That's the kind of digital employee experience that sends employees running for the door.

Do the pieces of your tech stack integrate seamlessly?

No surprise that the pandemic-driven scramble toward remote work saw a sharp increase in adoption of third-party digital tools: one study found that large companies now use an average of 173 different apps. Now that you've had a minute to catch your breath, it's well past time to figure out if these tools work together for a good employee experience, or if they're full of frustrating snags and time sinks.

Whenever an employee has to jump from one tool to another to execute a task, or ask for help working with an unfamiliar platform, that's a point of friction that robs you of productivity, and erodes employee satisfaction. The smoother your tech integration is, the smoother the digital employee experience.


How easy is it to build relationships in your digital workplace?

The social aspect of the employee experience doesn't go away just because people aren't in the same physical space. Indeed, it requires more mindful attention when people can't just run into each other at the vending machines or gather around a desk for birthday cake. Consider how your technology allows for, encourages, or perhaps discourages the building of social connections between remote employees. Even a little awkwardness or tension can be a big obstacle for making those connections. Conversely, a comfortable virtual atmosphere can help bring everyone out of their shells, even if there's no cake involved.

Do your collaboration tools empower employees to collaborate in whatever ways work for them?

Collaboration can take many forms, from a two-minute one-on-one check-in to a three-day team offsite. And it doesn't always color inside the lines: some of the most rewarding conversations can morph from a presentation to a group brainstorm to multiple breakout sessions. A great digital employee experience would be flexible and intuitive enough to allow employees to follow wherever their ideas take them, with whoever wants to come along. If a particular platform is more of an obstacle than a support to free-flowing collaboration, it's time to fix that.

Do employees have the data they need - and know where to find it?

Imagine if you spent 2.5 hours every day looking for your laptop. Or your car keys. Or your desk chair. You would understand that something was very wrong and try to solve the problem. Yet the average employee spends 2.5 hours a day looking for information - and they fail to find it 44 percent of the time. Consolidating your analytics data isn't just fundamental to a good digital employee experience. It's essential to business success, and getting more essential every day.

Can your business processes be automated?

Every manager knows how much of their day is wasted on routine administrative drudgery. Help is on the way. From scheduling to approvals to generating reports, artificial intelligence is increasingly reshaping management. Process automation is coming to lots of other areas, too.

But it's not just about efficiency. Removing repetitive manual steps will free employees to concentrate on the human side of their work, the kind of creative, collaborative, and decision-making tasks that only human beings can do. In short, automation will make the digital employee experience better, more stimulating, more satisfying.

Are you using data to prevent burnout?

There's no getting around it. Folks are tired. Nerves are frayed. 69% of work-from-home employees report feeling burnout. The pressure to be "always on", whether real or perceived, feels real to many employees: 53% feel pressure to work longer hours, according to a Microsoft/YouGov survey.

While it's always a good idea to talk to people, some people don't show burnout as obviously as others until it's too late. Data to the rescue. Digital productivity tools can show how often people work late and answer messages outside of work hours. They can measure workload and meeting load. People analytics make it possible to identify who on your team is most at risk of burnout, and do something about it.

What happens if (insert X here) goes down?

Is there an absolutely essential piece in your process? A tool, a vendor, a platform, even a person that you simply cannot imagine functioning without? Then it's time to imagine harder. If we've learned anything from the last few years, it's that we can't take anything for granted.

Build in redundant capacity for crucial dependencies now, before the pressure builds. When circumstances throw you a curve, process resilience will see you through.

Need a hand building a great digital employee experience?

WNDYR was remote when remote wasn't cool. We've been at the intersection of humanity and technology for years. We've partnered with organizations with hundreds of thousands of employees to make digital transformation a success. Contact WNDYR to bring the future of work to your organization today.

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