It is more than just work – creating employee experience matters

The continuous digital transforma­ tion of workplaces and the accel­ eration of mobility spurred by the Covid­19 pandemic bring about hybrid work models and new values that shape work environments.

New routines are emerging

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a dramatic impact on global work environments. The way people communicate and collaborate practically changed overnight. Corporations are launching a number of new digital tools and electronic processes to meet the requirements of remote work, thus creating entirely new forms of collaboration for their employees, but also their business partners. However, work environments require more than digital tools and electronic processes. In an ever-accelerating digital change process, learning and development have become an integral part of our daily work.
As people are adapting to new routines and acquiring digital skills, they are becoming more confident with new forms of collaboration. The utilisation of virtual communication tools and the collaboration that is increasingly moving into the cloud, brings people together across geographical boundaries and departments. Thus, work forces are part of a transformation process that has an impact on work environments as well as the communication and interaction within teams. This development entails a change of mindset and leads to a complete redesign of the way people work.
Increased work mobility has given impetus to various hybrid work models which many corporations are currently designing for their employees. Hybrid work models offer the flexibility of working remotely from home, enabling people to find a healthy balance between the requirements of their job and their private lives. While corporations have equipped their employees with modern IT infrastructure to ensure uninterrupted work at home, they are also designing new office spaces that include recreational zones and open space areas for people to interact and collaborate on projects. Employees begin to integrate the new office space and modern office furniture into their work routines, in projects and their day-to-day activities.

Buzzword diversity

The diversity of work forces is increasing, and more and more teams have a heterogenous set-up. One dimension of diversity is its different generations, as on the one hand people tend to work longer and on the other hand new gener- ations, like the Millennials and the Generation Z, are pushing into the job market. New values are merged with traditional views thus realigning work cultures. Innovative ideas and ways to approach tasks and problems sometimes clash with traditional routines based on job experience.

A structured team integration and employee onboarding helps companies overcome these differences and create a common understanding of goals and responsibilities within teams. This is what heterogenous teams are all about. Team members define common values and make room for diverse and innovative ideas. That is why heterogenous teams tend to be more creative and efficient.

However, team diversity is not only based on generations, it has numerous facets: gender, culture, educational background, and company affiliation, to name but a few. Corporations are beginning to recognise the benefits and opportunities of team heterogeneity.

The human factor

New forms of collaboration are based on trust, in more than one way.

  • Firstly, trust needs to be established within the team, including the trust managers have in their employees.
  • Secondly, as decisions are increasingly data-driven, teams also need to build trust in digital tools.

In data-driven work environments activities focus on data protection and new cyber threats, creating new fields of expertise that employees have to deal with. While some employees fear that the use of Artificial Intelligence will take over their jobs and that chatbots will be the end of personal client service, others consider the use of these tools as an opportunity to devote their energy to more meaningful work. Most managers however agree, that more complex work processes will continue to rely on the human workforce.

From an HR point of view the evaluation of personnel data with the help of digital tools like People Analytics
requires HR staff to acquire new skills. The challenge will be to find a good balance between the assessment
on the basis of digitally generated HR data and conveying a sense of security to employees that continues
to focus on the human being. Employee evaluation solely based on data from analytics remains a grey area that still needs some research work within corporations. As HR tools are gaining relevance, the spotlight
is on Human Resources to establish a strong position as HR Business Partners to support managers and management decisions.

Digital leadership

In the midst of these changing work environments managers are experiencing a new approach to their leadership role, with the focus shifting from controller to coach. Managers realise that while mobile work provides employees with flexibility, they need to follow a different strategy to ensure communication and team spirit among their employees. As people no longer get together for face-to-face meetings on a regular basis, informal communication takes place less frequently.
The more employees solely focus on work processes and not on being part of a team, the less they feel a sense of belonging to or being part of a corporation. This creates the risk of employees moving from one job to the next more easily, if managers do not succeed in building relationships within hybrid work environments.

Managers are challenged to provide open communication and a trans- parent flow of information that brings people on board in this transition process. Virtual communication reduces social contacts that need
to be compensated in another way, for example by informal meetings that might even take place outside office hours, walk-and-talk outdoor meetings or team get-togethers to support team-building and give managers the opportunity to assess the team spirit.

Lifelong learning

Another crucial factor is the development of a new learning culture that integrates learning into the workplace. In the War for Talents the opportunity for further education and personal development ranks high in the list of requirements the new generation of workforce is looking for in their employer. Attractive employers offer a range of training programmes, other than mere onboarding schedules, that open up career paths for talented (and potentially future) employees that do not limit them to jobs that they trained for. Employee development thus also means the opportunity to develop into a different direction and taking over other responsibilities within the corporation. Flexibility and a broader range of tasks enable employees
to design their work more freely to create the work-life balance they are looking for.
Work has to give employees more than just the security for their livelihoods, it also has to create experiences and moments that matter.

Creating Employee Experience means to recognise talent, encourage active participation and build emotional relationships with people. In other words, it is about building a work culture that puts people first and focusses on individual needs in teams, in projects, and when it comes to corporate goals and visions.
In this dynamic environment, corporations are rearranging their DNA to create sustainable and secure work- places as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility. As work forces are adapting to digital change and new work routines, new values are becoming part of the work culture that promotes employee engagement and builds sound relationships between the people and the corporation.

Gabriele Andratschke

Head of Group Human Resources

T +43 664 962 39 18

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