Function over Fashion: Make Employee Experience User Friendly

May 16, 2017 | Holly Pennebaker | HCI
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Kiosks now let you order your own meal, bus station concourses offer automatic doors for passengers, and full body fitness classes call themselves “user friendly” - a term that suggests a system is simple to understand and easy to use.

Placing a “user friendly” label on a concept boosts confidence of its audience by putting people at ease, relieving anxiety or hesitation caused by possible difficulty and failure.

Just maybe, a few buttons on a kiosk eliminate the risk of a cashier mishandling your order…automatic doors at a refurbished bus station mean improved boarding access for passengers…and group fitness fans can take part in class, free of fear that they might not be “in good enough” shape to keep up with the exercises.

Do we expect to have a good experience when something is coined user friendly?

Quite possibly so…and maybe that’s why human resources professionals use the term to describe the experience their employees have at work, and they’re adopting new technology to help foster a seamless, worry-free office culture where workers find delight.

“Multitudes of studies and research from Gallup, Wills Towers Watson and others have shown how a rewarding employee experience can influence employee engagement, external customer experiences and bottom-line results,” according to a Talent Economy report from February, 2017.

A user-friendly employee experience is one that includes clearly-defined objectives and goals, designs and creates desirable workdays, and can strategically help businesses thrive in the global marketplace, the report says.

And we have workplace technology to thank.

When employees have awesome experiences at work, they’re more engaged long –term and stay with the company, and they directly contribute to positive business results through high levels of safety, quality and productivity.

Innovation, when used to simplify processes and make work better, can be the one small thing capable of keeping employees around for the long haul.

When’s the last time you gathered in a conference room to teach employees how to use new technology, only to see a room of doubtful, confused faces? If the new tool is complicated, unsupportive of employee productivity, and throws any kind of wrench in the system, you’re at risk of turnover.

As Elizabeth Dukes writes in, retention rests in employee satisfaction, which means tiny technology troubles can pair with minor frustrations, and then they become a bigger deal that sinks employee satisfaction.

“The technology your workforce uses every day can have a bigger effect on employee happiness and retention that you might expect,” Dukes said.

Leaders might like the idea of the latest, trendiest technology, and prefer it in its most edgy state, but it’s likely their best bet to get back to basics.

A user-friendly employee experience is only made possible by technology that generates better business outcomes through simple processes, promotes employee agility and efficiency, and comes with data and analyses that are easy to comprehend.

Six tips that make technology a handy tool:

  • Dashboards and interfaces that are easy to navigate
  • Feels and works like consumer technology
  • Programs that can be integrated with existing technologies
  • Implementations that are enjoyable
  • Equipped with education to foster fast learning
  • Use practice of new tech to empower employees

Want to learn more about human-centered approaches to tackle your talent challenges? Sign up now for HCI’s 2017 Innovation@Work Conference.