HR Tech 2023, a virtual event hosted by HR Grapevine, took place on the 27th of June and the 4th of July 2023. In one of the sessions on the 4th, employees from Zendesk, a leader in software and services, discussed what employees are looking for in 2023. This session featured:
- Owen McConnell, RVP Commercial UK&I
- April Thomaschaske, Global Director, People Partnering
- Dani Doroff, Senior Manager, Global Employee Services Operations
Employee Experience Needs to Change
Zendesk’s recent Employee Experience Trends 2023, reveals that businesses are now recognising and prioritizing employee experience (EX). This virtual session was entirely about the trends in EX, what the new standards are, and how new strategies can be implemented.
According to the report, 79% of EX professionals believe that employee experience will need even more attention in the coming year. This is why it is crucial to talk about how employees are really feeling in their workplaces and what can be done to change it, especially regarding functions like IT, HR and Operations.
According to April, Covid has shifted the spotlight on employee experience much sooner. Now, internal functions have a big role in ensuring companies are running, especially with remote working. However, around 52% of employees do not feel comfortable using company software as it is difficult to use.
Thankfully, businesses are recognising what the needs of the employees are. Around 61% of businesses have committed to spending more on EX software in the coming year.
Companies Need to Take on a Digital Transformation
Understanding what an employee needs is different from making sure those employee needs are met. And so, Owen talks about how businesses will have to either change their tech stack or have a complete digital transformation to ensure employee experience improves. This is especially in a time like this where remote or hybrid working is the norm.
April mentions that tech is a pain point for employees, and this is highlighted in the report as well. Around 59% of employees feel that their software related to the employee experience is scattered, hence it is not easily accessible. Easy accessibility and a large volume of information in one place are what businesses need, to improve employee experience.
Owen also talks about immersive EX such as conversational experience, which is essentially either voice or chats that mimic human interaction. He says how this has worked in CX, which is what he has a background in, and that it can really change employee experience in companies because of how close CX and EX are.
He further adds that “this [immersive EX] will require more investment, but it can become part of the employee experience since business leaders know that conversational experiences will become the norm”. Bad interactions are the leading cause of disengaged employees or phenomena like “quiet quitting”, which is why things need to change.
“AI is a Learning Journey”
The panel discusses how AI is getting more and more capable, and it is bound to become a core component of employee experience. This trend of companies implementing AI to cut costs is understandable, especially during this time of inflation.
Companies want AI as an aid as it not only produces fast results but can help free up human time. Owen says, “This human time can be spent being more productive and proactive.” Around 60% of businesses have said that AI has helped save costs and 71% employees says it offers more support.
However, the important aspect to remember is that people also want more personalisation of AI and the interactions they have with it. The issue employees have nowadays is that their interaction with internal teams feels inauthentic, and this is mainly because it is all virtual.
The Zendesk panel believes that AI and bots should be a facilitator to improve employee experience and give employees that more personalised interaction. However, none of this can be implemented without asking employees what they are looking for and making sure their problems are heard, should any arise.