Employee Experience Approach For The Post Pandemic World V1

The ever-changing store: Taking the employee experience approach for the post-pandemic world

Over the past year, no area has undergone more rapid transformation than the way we work. Employee expectations are changing, and we will need to define productivity much more broadly – inclusive of collaboration, learning, and well-being to drive career advancement for every worker, including frontline and knowledge workers, as well as for new graduates and those who are in the workforce today. All this needs to be done with flexibility in when, where, and how people work.

~ Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

Indeed, the coronavirus pandemic led to a massive public health crisis. However, it also caused significant social, cultural, and technological disruption as people worldwide experienced a shift in their existing work practices.

Some continued to commute to a workplace as essential workers, others were unable to continue as working restrictions were put into place to manage the pandemic, and over a third transitioned to some form of remote work. Much of this last category comprises information workers, and the significant shift that these workers experienced resulted in many changes to their individual work practices, their collaborative practices, the way their organizations functioned, and society at large.”

As the pandemic subsides, remote work may become a permanent reality for many, while others may head back to the office shortly or juggle between the office and work from home (WFH). For long-term engagement and retention, leaders may have to rethink the employee experience approach.

As per a survey conducted by Microsoft, 73% of employees want flexible remote work options to stay, while 67% of employees want more in-person work or collaboration post-pandemic. In any case, two things are certain. For starters, hybrid work is inevitable. Secondly, organizations must take employee-first measures that fulfill individual needs while also adapting to the rapidly evolving circumstances.

Let’s explore.

Taking the employee experience approach for the post-pandemic world

Employee experience is defined as “the sum of all experiences an employee has with their employer over the duration of their relationship – from recruitment, to onboarding and career development, to exiting the organization.”

But why is it critical? A positive employee experience breeds a strong work culture, increases individual and team productivity, and delivers higher customer satisfaction and better bottom-line results.

In-office perks, like gyms, standing desks, free meals, “bring your kid to work,” etc., have dominated the pre-pandemic era for the longest time. However, such experiences were relevant to the physical space. The changing workplace dynamics have shifted the focus to creating personalized and more meaningful engagement between the employee and the organization in a virtual setup.

While digital workplace tools like modern intranets have set the ball rolling for seamless collaboration and enhanced workforce productivity, what will be the employee experience approach for the post-pandemic world? Let’s find out.

4 major employee experience trends in the post-COVID era

1. The role of leadership takes “center stage.”

Research by Mckinsey revealed, “More than 80% of respondents said the COVID-19 crisis is materially affecting their daily lives.” As employees operate remotely, 9-5 workdays are a thing of the past. Employees are working more than usual, with 37% of the global workforce claiming companies are asking too much of them at a time like this.

As social isolation increases, coupled with a plummeting work-life balance and the grief of losing loved ones to the virus, stress and fatigue take over, burnout sets in, and employees navigate a highly emotional landscape, both at work and home.

Consequently, there is a pressing need for more adaptable and resilient leaders, empathetic towards the employees’ mental and emotional well-being.

As Jared Spataro, CVP at Microsoft 365, said, “Those impromptu encounters at the office help keep leaders honest. With remote work, there are fewer chances to ask employees, “Hey, how are you?” and then pick up on important cues as they respond. But the data is clear: our people are struggling. And we need to find ways to help them.”

Take the example of Verizon Media Partners, a leader in innovation, content, and commerce. Recently, the company announced its latest initiative, Mind Together, a coalition of popular brands like Kellogg Company, Snap, and Spotify, to “develop plans for leaders to support mental health from the top down.” The campaign aims to destigmatize the subject through education, awareness, expert-led sessions, shared resources, and better support for employees.

2. Creating a culture that promotes individuality, inclusion, and employee empowerment

As the business world transitions to new processes and ways of working, building a foundation of fairness, respect, and equality can help promote cross-functional collaboration and transparency. Such collaboration fuels innovation, strengthens the organization’s network for effective team building, and enables employees to experiment without the fear of consequences.

Moreover, it’s crucial to engage employees in a two-way dialogue that accounts for their specific needs, delivers personalized mentorship, and allows them to pave their own paths within the organization.

Additionally, in times like these, allowing the workforce to feel recognized and rewarded, no matter where they work, will empower them to reach their full potential while battling emotional and mental stress.

3. Expanded data collection and workplace analytics to monitor productivity and engagement

Organizations can leverage analytics technologies to track employee productivity and engagement and better understand employee experience.

Gartner’s analysis shows, “employers are using technologies more frequently to monitor their employees through methods, such as virtual clocking in and out, tracking work computer usage, and monitoring emails or internal communications/chat.

Employee and workplace productivity tools, such as Microsoft’s Workplace Analytics and My Analytics, can analyze data from everyday work tools like Office 365, SAP, Workday, etc., to monitor workplace collaboration, productivity, and how employees are spending their time.

Such insights help identify the following –

  • Inefficient workflows
  • Activities that cause errors
  • Underutilized apps
  • Tasks that require temporary fixes due to buggy software

Moreover, collecting employee health and safety data to monitor and manage their physical well-being will continue to be a significant post-pandemic trend.

4. Planning a safe return to the workplace

As a part of the workforce plans to rejoin office, the post-COVID world will require new policies and best practices to ensure a safe return to the workplace. It’s crucial to reconfigure seat allocation and floor plans to manage the inflow and outflow of people and prevent close contact between employees. At the same time, regular health screening is essential to identify employees with plausible symptoms.

Voice-enabled virtual assistants like Microsoft Cortana, Alexa for Business, and Google Assistant can be utilized in elevators, meeting rooms, and shared office devices to ensure minimal contact at the workplace.

A case in point is Goldman Sachs. As the company plans to summon employees back to the office by mid-June, the company’s COO and CFO jointly commented, “While each community is at a different stage of managing through the pandemic, we continue to be encouraged by the rollout of vaccines in a number of jurisdictions, as well as by the effectiveness of the health and safety protocols we have put in place across Goldman Sachs campuses to protect our people.”

To help organizations plan a safe return to the workplace, we have developed the Return to Workplace app that assists with the following –

  • Office slot booking;
  • Seat allocation;
  • Employee health-checks;
  • Tracking employee attendance;
  • Visitor Management

Take a look at the employee experience platforms for a post-pandemic world.

1. Microsoft VIVA

Microsoft VIVA is an employee experience platform that brings together knowledge, communication, learning, insights, and employee resources under a single roof.

Built on the Microsoft 365 foundation, VIVA creates a conducive culture that fuels employee productivity and empowers teams to deliver their best from anywhere.

Primarily experienced through Microsoft Teams, the platform boasts several capabilities, which include –

  • Viva Topics – By automatically organizing the knowledge and expertise across your internal network and using AI to surface personalized content results, VIVA Topics ensures seamless access to relevant content at all times.
  • Viva Connections – VIVA Connections acts as a one-stop-shop for news, conversations, top management communication, events, and tools and ensures each voice within the organization is heard.
  • Viva Learning – A centralized hub where people can explore, discover, assign, and share learning resources from content libraries across the organization, making learning an everyday habit.
  • Viva Insights – Viva Insights helps improve individual and team efficiency with data-driven, privacy-protected recommendations and insights.

As a Microsoft Gold Partner, Acuvate helps clients deploy and implement Microsoft VIVA for better collaboration, improved efficiency, and enhanced workforce engagement.

2. Mesh 3.0

Mesh 3.0 is Acuvate’s employee experience platform intranet solution for enterprises. We have built Mesh with some of the best Microsoft technologies, including LUIS, Office Graph, Azure Search Services, and MS Natural Language Stack, to deliver the ultimate employee experience.

In today’s hybrid working landscape, Mesh 3.0 keeps the entire organization connected and engaged and enables employees to access “the right information at the right time,” with the following features –

  • Internal communication tools and Collaboration tools – Access everyday applications like Office 365, SAP, Workday, ServiceNow, etc., on a single user interface. Mesh facilitates top-down and bottom-up communications. Core collaboration and social capabilities like blogs, video conferencing, project management tools, document sharing tools are available in an intuitive, user-friendly interface.
  • Azure cognitive enterprise search – AI-enabled solution that connects all your internal and external apps to deliver a unified search experience. Embedded chatbots help retrieve information quickly – anytime, anywhere.
  • Content management system – Smart content repository with auto-tagging, taxonomy, and uncluttered information.
  • AI-driven content personalizers – Personalized content recommendations based on the users’ profile, interactions, teams, interests, etc.
  • Intelligent idea management – The idea management module called “Wave” empowers employees to collaborate and develop solutions to everyday challenges. Gamification-based idea capturing adds to the fun quotient.
  • Knowledge mining with Azure – Beat information siloes, uncover hidden insights, and maximize value from structured and unstructured data.
  • Intranet chatbot – Simplify processes, automates routine tasks, and delivers personalized news and announcements with MeshBot.
  • Multilingual capabilities – Engage a global workforce in the language of their choice.

To know more about Mesh 3.0, please feel free to schedule a personalized consultation with our experts.