Employee experience can influence customer experience which in turn impacts the bottom line. Employee engagement and experience is critical to the long-term success and growth of a business, with disengaged employees costing businesses some $70 billion annually.
It is well-known amongst successful business leaders that organisations that provide a great employee experience see this trickle down to their customers. As Richard Branson says; “if you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” As such several businesses have implemented new employee experience optimisation strategies to ensure their staff can deliver customers and clients the best possible experience.
The strategy making the most noise however is flexible working, which encourages a greater work-life balance, allows employees to fit daily life activities around work commitments, and creates more diverse and inclusive talent pools – allowing your business to hire the brightest and the best.
With a recent study by UK based Hydrogen Recruitment indicating 81% of employees look for flexible working options before joining a company, 65% of employers finding that people are more loyal if allowed to work flexibly and 58% of parents choosing flexible working in place of a 5% pay rise, the way forward is clear.
Supporting and underpinning that flexibility however is a robust workplace technology piece that ensures seamlessness in working from any location. Before embarking on a flexible working journey, businesses first need to ensure their digital capabilities and workplace culture support this transition.
The Vodafone Australia Journey
In support of flexible working, talent attraction and better employee experiences telecommunication’s provider, Vodafone Australia, has begun a two year workplace transformation that looks to normalise and encourage flexibility through strategic technology upgrades and a cultural shift.
“I’ve worked in an environment before where employees would have to ask, with some trepidation, whether a Skype dial-in could be added to a meeting because they were working remotely. We don’t want that to be the norm. We want to continue to shift the culture and foster a workplace that supports flexibility,” says Tim Olorenshaw, Head of Workplace Technology at Vodafone.
If technology has transformed how companies interact with customers, can it do more to revolutionise the relationships companies have with their workforce? After all, workers share the same basic marketing-funnel journey: we consider opportunities, evaluate potential companies, commit to working for an organisation, and the company then either earns our trust and loyalty, or we seek a better opportunity.
“We spend so much time making sure our customers have a really seamless digital experience and need to ensure we extend that commitment to our employees.” says Tim. “In our personal lives, our home lives and as customers ourselves we’re increasingly exposed to simple experiences. More and more people are bringing these expectations into the workplace. It’s not enough anymore for IT teams or property teams to say; ‘well sorry, that’s as good as it gets.’”
Currently 49% of Vodafone employees are millennials. These digital natives are an essential part of the workforce with unique expectations and ways of working. In order to evolve and adapt to changing working styles, Vodafone started its transformative journey in mid to late 2018 to align their digital capabilities and workspace to suit flexible ways of working and prioritise inclusivity across a diverse workforce.
“In a market where competition for talent is high, it’s crucial that we invest in space, place, tech and flexibility to create a point of distinction and a seamless employee experience. A focus on flexibility means we are increasingly seeing a crossover between technology teams, property teams, and HR teams as the intersection of interests between those three teams become more intertwined
This intersection allows a broadening of talent pools to include part-time workers, candidates with low mobility or even those in different geographic zones,” says Tim.
Technology and Experience
Short-term technology ‘fixes’ to employee engagement, no matter how novel, are likely to have limited results in organisations, which is why Vodafone has worked hard to simultaneously transform culture while integrating enhanced technological capabilities to enable the transition to new ways of working.
While Vodafone is only six months into their strategic workplace technology change roadmap, the culture piece is already starting to fall into place; encouraging roll out of additional technologies.
Looking to change this Vodafone began with a laptop upgrade. “Late last year we did a big laptop refresh. While giving someone a new laptop doesn’t seem particularly exciting; the way the transition was designed – completely from the employee’s point of view – was.
You know your employees need their laptops to do their work; this is how they’re productive, this is how they contribute to the company. If we take these laptops away and hinder that productivity, it will be both the business and the employee that are at a detriment. By designing a process from the employee’s point of view we limited downtime to under an hour and we also received some really great feedback on the process with over 85% of staff highly satisfied with the outcome,” explains Tim.
Following the success and seamlessness of the laptop refresh Vodafone has gained some positive momentum with employee’s keen for more technology. Since that feedback was received, the Workplace Technology Team at Vodafone has undertaken a mobile app rollout, built chatbots for a more seamless IT Service Desk experience and invested in the enterprise social tool ‘Workplace by Facebook’.
“The Workplace by Facebook tool has been great, especially for our younger demographic. It looks and behaves very similarly to the Facebook app which most of our employees are used to. Here we’ve brought it into the professional space as a natural extension of their everyday lives. It required basically no training and employees appreciate the ease with which they can interact and connect with others across the company. Use of the platform has evolved and employees are embracing Workplace over traditional collaboration platforms and discovering new ways of working.
While it’s only early days Vodafone is confident in the ROI of investing in employee experience. As Tim notes; “a focus on a positive employee experience means the customer experience will take care of itself.”
If you’re interested in hearing more from Tim about Vodafone’s workplace transformation, and exploring in more detail how this transformation is broadening talent pools and driving superior employee experiences, then join us at the Future Offices Summit 2019.
To learn more about the event download the full event guide now