People over process

How COVID-19 taught us to focus on the employee experience

As we near the end of 2020, organisations continue to face many challenges either caused or exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In response, we see more businesses launching or accelerating their digital transformation efforts. It makes sense: Agile businesses that were already on the path to more digitised workflows in 2020 have navigated the unknowns of this year better than most.

Yet in putting the focus solely on technology, many organisations risk bypassing the most essential and valuable aspect of their business: people.

People power

Employee experience (EX) has been a business buzzword for many years. However, most of these conversations focused on technology and processes rather than incorporating EX within a wider business strategy.

Pre-COVID, most businesses saw EX as a “nice to have” — the added bonus that too often came after customer experience, commercial success, and business continuity in the pecking order.

The pandemic has taught us that people must come first. As a result, the EX conversation has intensified. Increasingly, organisations realise business success comes from keeping employees engaged, supported, and productive.

That imperative drove ServiceNow as we moved to a distributed, work-from-anywhere model in response to the pandemic. Through the creation of our new workplace services and safe workplace apps, we have supported both our own employees and those of our customers, helping keep people safe and informed while ensuring business continuity.

Moving up the C-suite agenda

In my conversations with business leaders across EMEA, I’ve found that many recognise EX simply must be a key part of the overall business strategy. The definition of EX has expanded well beyond job satisfaction or personal development. Organisations are looking at EX in a more strategic and visionary way.

They realise that EX isn’t a set of processes to be owned by human resources, but a strategic approach that must be high on the agenda of every function across the business.

  • CHROs prioritise talent: Finding and attracting the best people, nurturing them and giving them the best experience, so they remain happy, productive, and loyal to the business.
  • Heads of facilities and workplace services approach EX from the angle of floor plans, desk reservations, meeting rooms, space allocation, and social distancing.
  • Meanwhile, CFOs have a vested interest in the productivity and growth that can be achieved by keeping staff safe, supported, and motivated.
  • Underpinning all these various business functions, CIOs have the opportunity to integrate every process and touchpoint of an employee’s world — from payroll to requesting time off to booking a meeting room — through integrated digital workflows that create great, intuitive experiences.

Employees sit at the centre of all these functions. Organisations need to put people at the core of the organisation and build digital workflows that create seamless employee experiences.

Back to basics

Organisations need to master getting the basics done in a distributed “work from anywhere” world. Established processes like onboarding new staff become more complex when you can’t meet them in person. As a result, many businesses are finding ways to streamline and digitise processes across the board.

What started as firefighting at the beginning of the crisis is now becoming a conversation about long-term planning. Organisations realise they need digital transformation. Yet this transformation must focus on the employee experience, not the technology.

This year, ServiceNow has demonstrated the power of this approach, both for our own business and for our customers. It all starts by recognising people as the most important asset and putting them at the centre of your business strategy.

Our job is to help organisations create seamless digital workflows that deliver amazing experiences. It’s the only way.