Human experience needs to be the driving force behind employee experience: Sneha Arora

Human experience needs to be the driving force behind employee experience: Sneha Arora

"Any technology that fundamentally does not keep ‘people’ at its centre and is not simple, convenient and flexible will not be sustainable," says Sneha Arora, VP, Human Capital, Myntra. 

Events like the so-called “Great Resignation” indicate that the pandemic has led employees to reconsider what they value and seek at work. What do you believe employees now expect in terms of employee experience (EX) that differs from what they endured prior to the pandemic? What is technology’s role in building today’s EX?


Employee expectations have certainly changed, led by shifts in mindset during the pandemic. A great EX builds a sense of belongingness and continues to be critical. Powerful experiences that evoke emotions and bind people to organisations can change the Great Resignation into the Great Retention.


Let me briefly mention the experiences that have been prominent:


• Anxiety for safety and wellness of loved ones – This was a dominant sentiment through the pandemic. Physical and emotional wellbeing took centre stage.


• Life beyond work – From pursuing hobbies and spending time with families to learning something new, most people learnt the difference between ‘living to work’ vs ‘working to live.’


• Work anywhere, anytime – All of us experienced remote working at an enormous scale for the first time.


With these fundamental changes, employees’ expectations of organisations have evolved, too.


• The expectation of employer’s increased role in wellbeing – We saw many organisations step up to the challenge by rolling out various benefits, like family assistance, vaccination plans, wellbeing support, and so on. Wellbeing took centre stage while the pandemic raged on, and this is likely to continue.


• In-the-moment experiences – Pre-pandemic experiences were designed thoughtfully for specific lifecycle moments. While these continue to be relevant, agility has gained importance in delivering experiences when it matters most. What took precedence over ‘my organisation welcomed me on day one’ was the statement ‘I trust my organisation to support me in medical emergencies’.


The expectation of increased flexibility – Employees today expect organisations to come up with ideas, policies, and a culture that supports work-life integration.


Technology can be a great enabler in driving these transitions at the workplace – from offering real-time listening tools to understanding mindsets to developing personalised experiences. These technologies are already transforming our experiences as consumers – by enabling simplicity, flexibility, convenience, personalisation, and connection. This is relevant in the organisational context, too.


Just about everyone is used to a world of ubiquitous consumer-grade technology. Employees now expect HR technology to keep abreast of powerful technologies they enjoy as consumers and have little tolerance for clunky, complex, unintuitive, and confusing tech experiences. How can organisations create consumerised EX?


There are a few principles that can help on this front:


• Simplicity and convenience – Consumer tech is simple and intuitive. You do not have to go through hours of training to use a cab-hailing app or shop online. Similarly, HR systems need to be intuitive, with a simple interface for making everyday tasks single-click enabled.


• Employee support – Most businesses enable sophisticated customer support. Similarly, for employees at Myntra, simple transactions for employees are self-service, and queries are addressed through our employee support system, YODA.


• Agility – Systems need to support business realities. For example, a goal-setting system that allows for goals to be frozen once a year does not work anymore in an agile business context.


• Personalisation – From offering learning recommendations to helping choose relevant benefits, personalisation can cater to the needs of a diverse workforce.


• Connectivity – Tools that keep employees connected help to build a sense of cohesion. At Myntra, our teams use Slack to debate and discuss. We have also enabled a peerto-peer recognition platform.


The human touch is important for certain interactions — not replacing them with technology is absolutely critical, e.g. feedback needs to have a human touch. Human experience (HX) needs to be the driving force behind EX.


While some EX initiatives directly produce tangible benefits, others are more difficult to quantify. Many organisations struggle to provide practical justifications for how their EX tech investments are paying off. What are some ways to measure EX success?


According to research by Qualtrics, organisations that invest in EX are found five times as often in Glassdoor’s “Best Places to Work” and four times as often in LinkedIn’s “Most In-Demand Employers.” Many studies have found a correlation of EX with engagement and retention.


There are tangible benefits of technologies that help automate, reduce errors, or contribute to productivity, such as biometric attendance systems, payroll and basic HR administrative functions. However, for many applications, correlations are difficult to establish, and oftentimes, rewards are intangible.


A few indicators which can provide directional data are:


• Utilisation metrics – coverage and repeat usage, coupled with employee feedback on experience (for collaboration-oriented technology, usage and engagement metrics are relevant)


• Employee pulse surveys – scores on overall employee engagement and eNPS (employee net promoter score) can help quantify the success


• Long-term impact – employee retention rates and referral rates are good indicators of overall engagement


• Anecdotes – data combined with anecdotes can be extremely powerful in making sense of the impact of any initiative.


There are three things to bear in mind. First, consider the intent behind using tech and whether it meets those objectives. Second, we need to look past short-term metrics towards long-term benefits. Even if it doesn’t impact the bottom line, it does not mean it is not useful. Finally, data alone is not enough; qualitative feedback is important.


Which technologies are you most excited to see on the EX front, and which do you think will prove duds?


I am excited to see the following:


• Unified employee experience – Organisations use multiple systems for various purposes, which is a cause for frustration. Seamlessly integrating all these systems into one can improve both productivity and experience.


• Personalisation – Our people are unique, and they have different needs. Today, at best, we are able to meet these needs through segmentation. While newer technologies are in development, I am excited to see technology that can better enable personalisation – whether it is about learning or benefits.


It is not about employee experience alone anymore; it is about the human experience. Any technology that fundamentally does not keep ‘people’ at its centre and is not simple, convenient and flexible will not be sustainable.


Given that there are so many HR tech products on the market, the process of choosing the right technologies can feel daunting, overwhelming and frustrating. What are some important considerations to keep in mind when selecting tech tools to drive EX?


A few things to consider when investing in EX technology are:


• Clear objectives – This is first and foremost. Have clear objectives and evaluate whether the proposed tech allows you to meet your goals. Technology is meant to enable processes; it should not be defining them.


• Simple, convenient, and easy to use – This is a must for driving adoption. Interfaces should be intuitive. Rule of thumb — if it requires a manual or training, you should rethink.


• Adaptable to your business and culture – For any technology to work, it needs to connect with people and fit well within the business context. Best practice at another organisation may not work in yours.




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