How is consumer tech changing our expectations of workplace tech?

We’ve all never had it so good when it comes to the dazzling array of consumer technology we use each day. When we arrive home from work, we can choose from thousands of high definition films and have restaurant quality food delivered to our door – all at the touch of a button. In fact, nearly every interaction we have with consumer tech is now so seamless, we barely pay attention to it.

That makes the user experience with workplace technology particularly jarring in comparison. There are functional reasons why workplace tech will never be as engaging or customised as consumer applications, but that doesn’t mean they need to forego any attempt at intuitive UX design. Unfortunately, many of the workplace apps and software we use seems designed merely to test our patience.

And we know that when employees’ expectations of user experience aren’t met, this can lead to higher levels of disengagement with the business. Recent research from Oxford Economics reveals that 39% of employees are frustrated with the software and tech in their workplace. Another survey by HRDive found that employees are four times more likely to leave an organisation that is a technology laggard.

Not only is poor user experience causing lower engagement and higher staff turnover, it also creates hundreds of hours of additional work for IT and HR teams to troubleshoot. And eventually, people simply stop using the tools altogether, which means:

  • Stifled productivity through manual processes

  • Increased risk through the use of unverified software and shadow IT

  • Lack of visibility and transparency into your business

Considering the level of focus and investment we place on delivering seamless and intuitive digital interfaces for our customers, why are we failing to provide anywhere near the same level of experience to our internal customers? Because the problem will only compound as a new generation of employees begins entering the workforce.

50% of millennials now rate technology as a key factor when searching for a new role

I’ve spoken previously about millennials and Gen Z being the first generations to enter the workforce with a better understanding of technology than their older and more experienced colleagues. According to research from PwC, 50% of millennials now rate technology as a key factor when searching for a new role, and they believe technology is essential for interfacing with both their employer and their daily work.

So, where are the areas for improvement within HR systems and processes? The general idea of good user experience is to remove unnecessary steps from a process – consider consumer apps that remember your credit card and address as an example. Another important factor is the ability to access systems from any device, in any location.

Self-service functions are also incredibly valuable. Not only does this empower and engage your employees through the ability to autonomously complete their own admin, it also frees up your HR teams to focus on more innovative and strategic HR activities.

Ideally, your employees should be able to easily perform tasks without the assistance of HR, including:

  • Onboarding checklists for new employees

  • Receive and view wages, salary and tax forms

  • Send, request, and approve leave

  • Review rosters and work schedules

  • View accrued leave entitlements

And this is only the beginning of user experience improvements HR teams can now deliver. By first offering multi-device, intuitive self-service functions, HR teams can then work with their technology partners to uncover other avenues for engaging and empowering their workforce. Because technology user experience is no longer about creating the workplace of the future – it’s about creating the workplace of today.

This article was written by Presence of IT’s Pranav Birla and was published on LinkedIn.