Three questions you need to answer to ensure engaged, productive and safe employees
If the harsh reality of a global pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that the notion of a gentle transition to the ‘future of work’ no longer exists.
Carefully constructed strategies were thrown out overnight and replaced with hurried workarounds to ensure teams could work from anywhere.
As ServiceNow’s Innovation Evangelist, Paul Hardy, says: "Gone are the days of ‘Big Bang’ approach projects that take years to define, plan and deploy. Business has fundamentally changed."
The impact of COVID-19 has forced companies to rethink their ways of working, with the rapidly changing circumstances pushing the workplace deeper into a state of flux — and it’s arriving too early for many businesses out there.
To truly understand how the pandemic has affected the way people work, ServiceNow recently partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 9,000 workers. One common thread to both employees and executives was that a flexible working environment, with staff allowed to choose what suits them best, is now considered a non-negotiable.
The very same executives, however, fear this flexibility may have a cost: slowing down productivity and efficiency, and losing business.
In the aftermath of COVID, leaders are also anxious that flexible working could exacerbate pre-existing barriers to cross-department collaboration and are worried employees may be unable to access the information they need to resolve everyday issues, or the training they require.
It’s a dilemma, but a very solvable one. And as your company prepares for ‘a new way of working’, I believe there are three questions you need to answer to find a solution:
Question 1: Do we have the right digital workflows?
Leaders across all business functions, especially in HR, are now tasked with keeping employees engaged and productive, wherever they are: those caught short risk compromising their staff’s wellbeing and motivation — potentially, losing customers and revenue.
The winners will be those with a technology platform that's agile enough to help them maintain workforce productivity, no matter what the pandemic — or any other big social disruption — throws at them.
That’s where workflows come in.
The new way of working will require digital workflows touching multiple departments, as tasks are passed to different individuals based on their job function or area of expertise.
Connecting cross-team, these can streamline your service delivery requirements, while eliminating inefficiencies and reducing possible employee workload burnout — which is critical, now that preserving staff productivity and wellbeing is more important than ever.
But to ensure success, you need to create connected, engaging experiences for your employees, or they won’t be motivated to use them.
Take Nico Orie, VP People & Culture Function Strategy and Service at Coca-Cola European Partners, for example. Speaking in a recent webinar with ServiceNow and Deloitte, he talked about how the aftermath of the pandemic gave his team an opportunity to take stock: "We started to define for ourselves what the ‘employee experience’ is. What do we mean by that expression? What are the HR touchpoints that align with what people expect? We needed smart applications to look for insights in employee engagement data, so that we could create an experience for how we want people to feel when they work for our company."
"Of course, employee experience is not just about technology, it’s also about people", Nico continues. "Technology is a key enabler, and ServiceNow plays an important role in bringing our employee experience strategy to life."
Question 2: Can we deliver the right employee experience from anywhere?
"Just like a business has customers, HR business functions have customers, too: the employees." said Declan Watson, Principal of HR Transformation at Deloitte, in our recent webinar. "So, any initiative that improves and elevates the employee experience has a direct, positive impact on customer service. Organisations that already embraced this mindset pre-pandemic adapted incredibly well and, for many of them, ServiceNow played a huge part in making that happen."
One of our banking industry customers, Head of HR recently shared: "Our aim was to empower and enable our colleagues with self-service capabilities — eliminating their reliance on email correspondence across HR transactions and case management. And we’ve a tiered support model in place to make the most of our skilled HR resources when help is needed."
With ServiceNow, employees can find answers, get help, and request the services they need through a unified service experience, using intelligent workflows across any device, whether they’re in an office or working from home.
To explore the potential return on investment (ROI) enterprises could get by deploying ServiceNow HR Service Delivery, we recently commissioned Forrester Consulting to conduct a study.
Amongst its findings:
HR professionals improved productivity for employee onboarding and departures by 25%.
Employees can self-service up to 80% of their repeat inquiries.
Time savings on IT assisting employees total millions in value.
More engaged employees deliver stronger business outcomes.
Business continuity with organisational transitions to remote work during the pandemic went smoothly, thanks to guaranteed mobile and remote access to critical employee services.
In times of change like these, you need an HR service that’s always on and that follows your teams around, no matter where they choose to work from.
Question 3: How do we ensure the safety of our employees — when they do step back into the office?
The simple fact is companies can’t rely on business being conducted from kitchen tables forever.
As we learned in our recent webinar with Coca-Cola European Partners and Deloitte, organisations with a flexible and human-centric approach are the most profitable: for them, making the workplace work for people makes people better at work, and in many cases that means preparing to welcome teams back to the office environment.
But to encourage employees back means your workplace needs to be deemed ‘safe’ - meeting government requirements – so companies will need digital platforms that help them quickly build "workflow applications" to solve problems – both expected & unexpected - and keep them compliant.
For example, using our Now Platform, we have developed a Safe Workplace suite of applications to make going back to the workplace work for everyone with a safe, employee-ready environment. Enabling organisations to:
Get a complete view of readiness to reopen with a dashboard display of Safe Workplace data.
Identify and respond to employee exposure risk with data-driven contact tracing.
Create a safe return process with distancing floorplans, automated cleaning tasks, and self-service reservations.
Track employee vaccinations to help with workforce planning and workplace readiness assessments
Increasingly, organisations will have to embrace the concept of the hybrid digital workplace and building a working environment that prioritises the employee experience, flexibility, and productivity.
Final thoughts and further inspiration
2020 brought many new challenges, but also significant opportunities for organisations and employees to rethink how they work. With many employees now citing an improvement to ways of working, business leaders have the chance to consider work’s purpose and how & where it gets done. But what is best to keep an increasingly distributed workforce engaged, supported and productive?
Watch our on-demand webinar, featuring Angela Salmeron, Research Director at IDC and Steve O’Donnell, CIO at Coventry Building Society, for further insight to why employee engagement means business and how technology is shaping a new way of working.