5 Big Employee Experience Challenges to Overcome in 2019

by Elizabeth Dukes on January 7, 2019

It’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. But business leaders like you don’t just have the pleasure of deciding how you’ll commit to exercising more or eating better. You have the added bonus of determining how to improve your company in 2018.

Hopefully one of your professional endeavors is to elevate the employee experience at your organization. It’s certainly an admirable undertaking, but be aware there will likely be some obstacles in your way.

To improve your chances of success, we want to give you a heads-up about some of the biggest challenges you’ll have to overcome first.

Challenge 1: Choosing the Right Workplace Solutions

Without a doubt, the quality of the tools and technology you offer your workforce impacts the employee experience. Outdated, clunky technology is not only frustrating for your employees; it also shows a lack of commitment to employee satisfaction. Plus it can negatively affect retention.

But how do you know which workplace solutions to invest in?

The landscape is certainly crowded. The average smartphone owner spends over two hours a day using apps. They also have around 60-90 apps installed, 30 of which they use each month. And users launch nine different apps a day. So what does that have to do with technology at your business? It’s high unlikely any of these apps are difficult to use or have an unaesthetic user interface (UI) – otherwise no one would keep them installed. Consumer technology is designed to be user-centric, which is exactly what the workplace technology you choose must be.

Whichever workplace technology solution you implement should be powerful, easily integrated into your existing IT infrastructure and built to make the lives of your workforce easier. It shouldn’t be a burden to utilize; it should be something your employees enjoy using. The solution (or suite of solutions) should solve problems and be something employees can’t live without.

Challenge 2: Creating a Truly Employee-Centric Organization

Employees are the heart of your business. But there are some companies that are still process-focused, not people-focused. And having a really efficient, effective set of processes is moot if you don’t have anyone to execute them.

To establish an employee-centric environment, you have to start with one experience that occurs before an individual is even a full-fledged employee: the candidate experience. Let’s be frank: applying and interviewing for jobs is hardly enjoyable as it is. And if you as the employee makes it even less pleasant, you can hinder your own recruitment efforts.

For instance, requiring jobseekers to complete an unnecessarily lengthy online application and going MIA for days at a time after each step in the process shows a lack of empathy and is a quick way to lose the interest of top talent. Ask for enough information that you can determine whether it’s worth your time to bring someone in for an interview but not so much that they’ll be discouraged from applying. And be sure to stay in contact as much as possible.

This constant contact should continue through onboarding. Each new employee should receive all new hire documentation a week or so in advance of her start date. Her soon-to-be-manager should give her a call or shoot her an email asking her if she has any questions and letting her know what to expect during her first few days. This shows your company is dedicated to ensuring the new hire’s success.

Challenge 3: Focusing on the Right Motivators

Taco Tuesdays and Beer Fridays are all well and good, but in the grand scheme of the employee experience, they’re a bit trivial. Offering a positive employee experience means understanding what actually matters to your workforce.

If you want to create an environment where your workforce feels engaged and motivated, you must be able to check off most (if not every) item on this list:

  • Encourage autonomy. No one likes to be micromanaged. Your managers hired their team members for a reason – they need to prove they trust their employees to get the job done.
  • Include employees in decision-making. You can’t expect an employee to be invested in the success of the company if they have zero say in where the business is going. Give them chances to voice their opinions.
  • Present a clear career path and opportunities for advancement. At the most basic level, your employees work for your company because they need money. But they still need to know their work matters and that they have a future at the organization.
  • Be flexible. Your employees have lives outside the office. Make sure they can live them. If you don’t, they’ll go to a company that does support a work-life balance.
  • Show your appreciation. It’s remarkable how much of a difference a simple thank you can make on someone’s mood. Your employees work hard; be confident they know you’re grateful for their dedication.
  • Offer well-designed workspaces. The workplace is a physical representation of the business itself. What story does your company’s workplace tell about your organization? Your workspaces should be comfortable, inspiring and promote connection between employees (both on-site and remote)

Challenge 4: Building a Smart, Digital Workplace

You’ve probably heard the terms smart workplace or digital workplace tossed around. But what exactly do they mean?

All smart, digital workplaces have a few things in common, and each of these features is enabled by smart technology. More specifically, the way to build a smart workplace is to take advantage of the Internet of Things (IoT) and sensor technology. IoT sensors collect information about the workplace and the workforce, which businesses can use to better understand how their employees engage with the office.

A smart workplace is one where employees have the tools and technology they need to stay connected and be mobile at the same time. This means not only having access to databases but also being able to communicate with their colleagues, regardless of where they’re located. Most importantly, a smart workplace is also one where employees feel safe – be it from unwanted visitors (preventable with smart ID badge systems) or data breaches.

Challenge 5: Collecting Data and Making It Actionable

This challenge is twofold. First, how can an organization gather valuable data about its workforce and workplace? Second, how can it transform this data into something useful?

We’ll start with the first. There are two great ways to collect information:

  1. Install IoT sensors to passively gather data about space utilization and how employees move from one workspace to another.
  2. Ask employees for information directly via surveys sent on an ongoing basis.

Connecting IoT sensors to workplace management software allows you to organize and analyze the data, identify patterns and trends and then make data-driven decisions —about how best to improve the employee experience. Most employee survey tools also have analytics capabilities that enable you to identify what elements of the employee experience are most in need of a refresh.

Unfortunately, we don’t have any advice for improving your diet and increasing the frequency of your gym visits. But we can at least offer these tips for improving the employee experience and increasing employee engagement. And positive employee experience leads to higher retention and lower turnover—both of which can be good for your health.


Elizabeth Dukes

Elizabeth Dukes' pieces highlight the valuable role of the real estate and facility managers play in their organizations. Prior to iOFFICE, Elizabeth was in sales for large facility and office service outsourcing firm.

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