Three New Employee Experience Requirements For The Digital Age

Carmen O'Shea

Digitization—all the technologies, processes, tools, and practices that allow a business to adapt its business model and provide a seamless user experience to customers—is the current business buzzword. What’s often neglected when pundits discuss the digitization of customer experiences is the fact that the employee experience must also be considered in order to ensure that employees deliver the best possible experience to their customers. Customer and employee are simply different roles people have, often simultaneously, and so the employee experience should mirror and complement the customer experience. HR plays an important role in creating and guiding this employee experience throughout the life-cycle of an employee’s career.

In looking at the employee experience that HR influences, we see an emerging need to leverage a broader set of skills than typically used to reach employees in a meaningful way. Creative interaction, effective employee engagement, and targeted change management are some of the unique areas contributing to the employee experience.

  1. Creative interaction is essential. Employees are inundated with information and data at each step of their career, so cutting through the noise means that crucial information must be presented in engaging, culturally sensitive, and impactful ways. The channels used to convey the information are also important, since employees tend to respond better to certain packaging and channel selection. People don’t normally think about HR and creative marketing or communications in the same breath, but these skills are instrumental in helping HR present and communicate all facets of a more powerful employee experience.
  1. Engagement is another important skill set—looking at what kinds of motivators will incite employees to take action, to bring their best to the job, and to stay in the job or company. Often, the engagement must be personal, since people react differently to different incentives. HR plays a key role in maintaining levers of employee engagement—from helping employees understand their purpose, to creating career paths and development programs for workers at each stage of their career, to coaching managers on how to interact and dialogue most effectively, among others. The ability to see how all these levers fit together is one of the hallmarks of successful employee engagement.
  1. Change management is also an important factor in helping employees navigate the movements that so often accompany major business shifts like digitization. Organizations need to be transformed, processes re-imagined, and the role of HR professionals sometimes evolved. Often these shifts occur quickly to keep pace with market and customer requirements. Change management practice looks at how employees experience these transitions, professionally and emotionally, and strives to minimize disruption while maximizing the employee journey from one state to the next.

New kind of team needed for optimal employee engagement

When HR focuses on these three areas, employee experience improves. Oftentimes a new type of team is needed to address these skills because most HR experts don’t typically have this profile. For instance, our creative engagement and change team, a new team within SAP HR’s COO function, manages or supports employee transformation initiatives by combining and applying change management, innovative engagement, and creative interaction techniques. We sit at the intersection of HR, creative, and operations functions, and as result our team brings a unique background and perspective to the table.

For more on this topic, see Can We Measure The Employee Experience?


Carmen O'Shea

About Carmen O'Shea

Carmen O'Shea is the Senior Vice President of HR Change & Engagement at SAP. She leads a global team supporting major transformation initiatives across the company, focused on change management, employee engagement, and creative marketing and interaction. You can follow Carmen on Twitter.