As businesses across Asia continue to grow and thrive, employers are focusing on improving employee experience. For many, it is a differentiator to attract and retain top talent, whilst enhancing the overall productivity of the workforce.
Businesses that have led the way in improving the employee experience are already seeing the fruits of their labour. According to a study by McKinsey, great employee experiences improved customer satisfaction by 20 percent, delivered up to 30 percent more engaged staff, and boosted topline revenue growth by 10 to 15 percent.
Evidently, there is a strong correlation between business performance and positive employee experience. But how do we go about creating this experience?
What is a great employee experience?
You would be forgiven for thinking that a great employee experience involves entertainment, free meals, or a bar and gym in the office. We regularly see and read about the world’s biggest businesses, with plenty of revenue to play with, building campuses with a whole host of company perks. But what about the rest of us? And, is providing these perks the best way to improve the employee experience?
There is an increasing need to be seen as a ‘cool’ employer by offering amazing experiences at work. This has caused a large swathe of organisations trying to match the big businesses, cherry-picking the ‘perks’ they think their staff will like.
To implement such perks takes a significant investment, and questions remain around whether these really move the needle. For instance, if you had access to an office swimming pool, but often got paid incorrectly and not on time, would you still have a great employee experience?
Are we focusing too much on pizza and ping pong, whilst failing to get the basics right?
For most employees, the foundation of good employee experience is, first of all, getting paid the right amount, on time and accurately. We also value a good work-life balance, which also means finding the work you do exciting and enjoyable, and being given the opportunity to grow and progress.
What it is not, is a funky office with tequila Thursdays and football Fridays. Yes, these can form part of your strategy to provide a better work-life balance and improve overall engagement. But, without the key ingredients in place, it offers staff little in terms of improving their employee experience.
First and foremost then, HR and payroll departments need to ensure all the foundational processes, such as pay, are in place and are being conducted accurately, on-time and without any errors. By getting your house in order first, you have a better platform to take your employee experience to the next level.
An unlikely friend
Within many jobs today, there are a significant amount of tasks that are mundane or require a lot of manual entry. This can significantly impact the employee experience.
Research suggests mundane daily tasks, from cold calls to data entry, make employees feel creatively stifled. Worse still, bored employees are twice as likely to quit, and employee morale and productivity takes a hit when boredom sets in.
Artificial Intelligence, machine learning and robotic process automation have all been touted as the silver bullet that will remove the need to work on these tasks. Thus, our human workforce becomes free to focus on being more strategic and creative for the business, reassured that their former mundane work tasks are being taken care of.
Yet, many people are still fearful of these technologies due to the assumption that it will make their roles redundant.
This is where HR leaders and practitioners need to step in. They need to help employees and employers understand the strategic benefit of bringing in machines and how this frees up time spent on manual mundane tasks. They then need to make sure employees are upskilled in their new strategic and creative position.
However, the panacea of machines taking away all the mundane tasks is still some way off. Fear, security, regulation and understanding how it will transform the labour market all play some role in slowing down its progress.
In the meantime, outsourcing these tasks may be just the ticket to start laying the tracks to steam ahead of the competition. By transferring these mundane tasks to a trusted partner, businesses can start reaping the benefits now and future-proof against the technological shift towards automation.
There is no better way to understand and fully showcase the benefits to the organisation than by being first. As it happens, HR and payroll are ripe for automation and outsourcing.
Identify the tasks within your department that are sapping time, effort and resources. Understand how long they typically take you to complete. Then look for a way to automate them, either through technology or outsourcing.
From this point, begin to track what new activities you are completing now that you no longer have to do that task. For instance, are you spending more time with your people, looking for creative ways to further enhance the employee experience, implementing growth and training strategies? It will not take long to witness the benefits.
Once you have seen the results in your own team, take the business case to your executives and begin a change management program to bring all employees up to speed with the new program – tackling it one department at a time.
This will create a more engaged workforce and unlock their full potential, enabling businesses to improve talent acquisition and retention, as well as see an uplift in the customer experience, which will ultimately positively impact topline revenue.
For any HR or payroll leader looking to increase employee engagement within their teams, forget the shiny perks, pizza and ping pong and take these steps:
Get the foundations right – check to make sure contracts, pay, remuneration, etc. is in order, accurate and perfect.
Identify the mundane and farm it out – no one likes to be bored at work. Identify those mundane, tedious and time-consuming tasks and either outsource them or bring in the bots.
Get creative – with all your newfound time, start to play a more strategic and creative role for the business. Look to find further enhancements, focus on the tasks that were always nice to do but never ‘critical’ data entry. Find and work on your true ROI.
In doing so, your business can begin to make strong strides forwards in improving the employee experience on a long-term basis, whilst improving overall employee engagement and performance.
Inna Wahlberg is the general manager of Asia Services for Ascender. In her role, she heads Ascender’s payroll and HR solutions teams in all go-to-market activities and key account relationships. She has extensive regional experience in senior strategic and commercial technical roles, including managing SAP applications for multinationals such as BHP.
She has led many highly complex cross-regional implementations of robust process optimisation and compliance within the enterprise space. She holds a master’s of science (economics) from the Hanken Swedish School of Economics in Helsinki.