8 Ways to Upgrade Employee Experience

This may be the year of greatest HR transformation yet. As businesses face unprecedented challenges, human resources teams are adapting to find what works now and for the future. We hosted a virtual event with Chief People Officers from top technology companies to ask how they are handling hiring, remote work and wellness.

We’ve summarized best practices to improve employee experience from HR leaders at Workday, Zoom and Docusign below.

Take care of your employees

If you support your employees well, they will support your customers. In the first weeks of shelter-in-place, the primary focus of HR was the health and safety of employees. Workday and Zoom distributed an extra half-month’s pay to their workforce to support employees through the transition. Docusign offered employees reimbursement for a wide array of expenses they might have incurred suddenly including home office equipment, eldercare expenses and grocery delivery.

The panel also discussed the emotional well-being of employees. This is something that Zoom, Workday, and Docusign have all invested extra attention towards, whether that be allotting time for team celebrations, themed work days or creating space for virtual "hallway" chats.

Meet employees where they are

Today, work roles of employees are secondary to their other roles in life, such as spouse and parent. “The employee experience is first a human experience,” said Ashley Goldsmith, Chief People Officer at Workday. HR teams are embracing an expanded view of employee experience to focus on things that would have traditionally fallen outside of the workplace experience. Workday offers a menu of modified schedules for employees who are caregivers and an option for a caregiver leave of absence for up to 12 weeks.

Understand the expectations of employees

The current situation has set a precedent for flexible work arrangements and remote work. Employees who can do their jobs from home may prefer to continue to work remotely even once offices open. Flexibility and autonomy in how and when they get work done is something that employees may expect going forward. Zoom has leaned into this shift to asynchronous work and is experimenting with a no-meeting day in which employees are encouraged to not have Zoom calls, and instead do focused independent work. 

Joan Burke, Chief People Officer at Docusign, shared that they have shifted from a focus on mostly physical wellness with their health benefits to include mental health resources. This came after learning from employees that they were really struggling to hold it all together this year. “We weren’t sure we were doing the right thing, but we took an employee-first mentality.” Docusign now offers a virtual health network for telehealth visits, and a mental health benefit that extends what is offered through the Employee Assistance Program. 

Listen first, then act

Lynne Oldham, Chief People Officer at Zoom, offered advice on how to begin the process of changing the employee experience. At Zoom, they sent out pulse surveys in the early days of the pandemic to understand immediate needs, and another more comprehensive survey recently to gauge how challenges have been met and what still needs to be addressed. They’ve also coordinated virtual listening sessions, providing employees with an opportunity to voice how they’re feeling. Workday sends a short survey out every Friday to keep a gauge on how employees are feeling. 

Candidate care should be top of mind

When looking at the hiring process specifically, the panel agreed that candidate care has to be a top priority. Lynn Oldham advised it’s critical to give candidates as much latitude in interviews as possible. She was on a Zoom interview recently where the child of the candidate joined the interview call because he was in the middle of school lessons. “You can’t hold old ideals of how a professional interview should be conducted,” she summarized.

Once candidates are hired, it’s important to understand that people consume information in different ways and thus learn in different ways, and that ramp up time is potentially going to take longer for new hires.

Find ways to emphasize culture

Docusign has invested in people manager training and resources to support the transition to remote onboarding. “People managers are part of the hiring process, they are onboarding employees and, in many ways, they are holding up the culture,” says Burke. Zoom has also invested in rethinking onboarding. It’s fully virtual now, and it’s even more of a deep immersion in the culture than it was before. “We take care of all the IT and benefits beforehand so we can go deep on values, culture and brand,” said Oldham.

Invest in remote core business processes

This is a given eight months into what has been a fully remote work experience for most information workers. But if your HR department hasn’t already adopted tools to support virtual hiring, onboarding and ongoing operations, all three HR leaders agree that it’s critical. Remote work is here to stay. 

Related: HR Technology Trends: Embracing Digital Transformation

Experiment and continue to learn

The HR leaders acknowledged that in-person collaboration can not be replaced. It will be important to find the right blend of at-work and remote work for your company’s culture. For now though, everyone is still experimenting to see what works. Be open to innovative ways to keep employees connected and engaged, whether that be through employee collaboration tools, having a central repository for employee documents, digitizing the onboarding process or getting employee agreements signed faster. Now is the time to invest in the right tools to support a digital, remote and mobile workforce.

For more insights from the panel, be sure to watch the full, on-demand event Keep the World Hiring.

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