Benefex- How technology is driving the employee experience2018-11-05T07:56:30+00:00

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Rewatch our CIPHR Connect partner Benefex on CIPHR’s stand at the CIPD HR Software Show (filmed on 13 June 2018)

Employees’ expectations of technology are now sky high, thanks to the standards set by online retailers, social media platforms, and app-based services. Gethin explored how employers can ensure the experience at work is cutting edge, personalised, and effortless.

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Thank you. Oh, it’s a bit weird. I’ll resist the urge to do a Brittany Spears’ impression with this attached. So I don’t know what side I should stand on. So my name is Gethin Nadin. I’m director of global partnerships for benefits, one of the CIPHR’s partners. I’ve been working in employee benefits, pensions, employee engagement, employee experience, and HR tech for 15 years or so.

That’s why I’ve got gray hair at 37, probably. I’m also the employee experience bestseller, “A World Of Good”. There’s a couple of stands here giving that book away this week, these next couple of days. So if you want to go and find it out, but after we’ve gone through some examples of how a great employee experience can be delivered and we’ll give some examples of how consumers do that, you can then go straight onto Amazon and just order the book yourself. Really easily, two clicks and it will be delivered tomorrow.

So this is a gentleman called Jacob Morgan. He is a three times bestselling New York Times author. He is the guy that pretty much coined the employee experience. He’s worked with organisations right across the world from people like Cisco, IBM, Facebook, Linkedin, and Google. And he started to identify that the employee experience was going to be one of the most significant advances that we’d have and one of the biggest trends we’d see over the next couple of years to help us recruit and retain and keep employees right the way through to retirement.

And we’ll come back to Jacob Morgan in a little while, but from the employee experience perspective, so this year’s Deloitte’s global HR survey put employee experience again as the second biggest trend in HR trend for the second year running. The Deloitte survey also showed that 80% of executives think that employee experience is going to be critical or very important to overall organisational success in 2018, yet less than 50% of those same executives said that they were prepared for it.

So when we look at the employee experience, what are we actually talking about? So employee experience is not employee engagement. Employee engagement is a trend that grew in the UK and the U.S., and all over the world, and this is about giving these short, sharp bursts of adrenaline to employees that would lift them temporarily but the employees would get used to over a very short period of time.

So the whole employee experience is about how do we create a whole experience from the moment somebody has an interview with you or even before that point, right the way through to their retirement and how does everything that they do with you and everything they experience with you be absolutely positive? So the whole experience is about we’re putting the employee at the center of the organisation and making sure that we’re doing everything we can to remove any points of frustration, any annoyances, and make the whole aspect of working with us as smooth as possible.

Now we know when you look at your own organisations and you identify areas of frustrations for employees, it can feel like there’s a lot of things that need changing. It could feel like there’s a lot of things that are wrong and a lot of things that need some repairing. Every employee that works for you has an experience. The difference is whether you’ve designed that experience or not. So where we think one of the best things to look at the employee experience is to look at loops.

So rather than trying to solve every problem at once, we think people should start to focus on small little loops. How could you remove some small annoyances that can make life easier for your employees? A great example I’ve seen from a client recently was in their offices, every employee had to go through a security barrier. It wasn’t monitored. You didn’t have to scan a badge, you didn’t have to press a bell. You just had to wait, the barrier would lift, you’d drive in. Then it would close, the next person would drive in, it would lift, and it would cause a queue of employees waiting to get to work for no reason at all.

It wasn’t related to security, it wasn’t related to making sure the right people got through the door. It was all just the fact that we have a barrier in our car park and we just let it happen. No one ever changed that. So a small example of how those small things can just start to frustrate employees, even before they’ve got into your office to start the working day. And the research that’s coming out from people like JP Morgan and others is showing that those companies that invest in the employee experience are seeing quite significant improvements.

So those employees with an employee experience index scores that are more than twice as likely to say they want to leave, compared to those companies with highest scores. Workers with the employee experience index scores, the top core tile are more likely to report higher levels of work performance. So those employees that feel like they’ve got a better experience at work, work for organisations that are actually proving they’ve got better business results.

Some of the most competitive data lies within the financial data. So those employers that invest in the employee experience show more than four times the average profit, more than two times the average revenue of those that don’t. And when you look at this study, and this is research by Deloitte’s IBM Global Force and Jacob Morgan himself, you also see that those organisations tend to be 25% smaller. So actually what you started to see is that there’s probably more innovation and at higher levels of productivity in those organisations.

So back to Jacob Morgan. Jacob Morgan, a couple of years ago did a huge amount of research for his book, “The Employee Experience Advantage”. And what he looked at was 150 economists, business leaders, psychologists, HR directors, right across the globe for more than 100 companies. And what he started to see is that there are a number of different things that organisations do that really annoy employees yet we continue to do them.

And he categorised these into three different pillars. One of the pillars was cultural. So that was how employees feel about working for you, how they feel when they come to work. The other one was the physical work location, whether you allow remote working, whether you allow people to work from home, what your office looks like, and we’ve obviously seen some great examples of people like Google and if you get a chance to Google PKF Cooper Parry, they’ve probably got the best offices in the world and they’re an accountancy firm.

You would never expect an accountant’s firm to have the kind of offices they have. But that kind of stuff has proven itself to be important to employees. And the third pillar that Jacob Morgan found frustrated or annoyed employees was the technology that they used at work. So at Benefex, we did some global research a few years ago and we found that people access about 28 different systems to be able to do their job on a daily basis. And half of those systems are in HR. So you have a separate system for shares, pensions, benefits, might have a separate payroll system, online payslips, holiday absence management. You know, everybody that’s here in this room today trying to sell you something are all different systems.

And if you think about on a consumer point of view, the number of passwords you have to remember for your Amazon Account, your Netflix, your Apple logins, and the pain you go through when you forget any of those details and have to reset it, your employees are doing that every day. Your employees are doing that every day, every week, every month. And if you take something like share schemes and share technologies, it’s a great example of how people lost those systems once every 12 months, so they’re not gonna remember their passwords, they’re not gonna remember to go in. So bringing all of that stuff together in one place is really vital to the employee experience.

So when we look at technology, we need to start looking at technology in probably a slightly different way to what we currently are. So does anyone remember this? Remember what this looks like? So if you think about how fast technology is moving, there’ll be employees working for you today who won’t know why the save icon is a floppy disk. They will have no idea what that actually means. There’s a great video online of a guy showing a floppy disk to his son and his son thinks he 3D printed the save icon. So if you’re looking at it on Youtube, it’s quite a funny video.

But that’s how fast the pace of technology is changing. In technology terms, one technology year is about three human months. So technology that you’re offering your employees today, it’s going to be out of date very, very soon. So it’s really, really important for us to keep up with technology, and as technology is dominating our lives, what we’re starting to see is people are getting extremely frustrated with poor technology or technology that doesn’t work in the way they expect it to.

There’s a guy called Ray Kurzweil. I think I pronounced that right. So this guy’s a technology pioneer and thought leader. In 1990, Ray suggested that by 1998, a computer would be able to beat a chess champion. And by 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat Garry Kasparov in chess. And he started to look at how the pace of technology is evolving and he thinks that we will achieve 20,000 years worth of technology development in the hundred years of the 21st century. So that rapid change, and I guess if you think about things like the iPhone and how they dominate our lives now and they’ve only been around for 10 years, I know almost every stand here today seems to be giving out an Amazon Echo. So, you know, they’re gonna start to become much more commonplace and start to dominate our lives.

We often get told quite a lot by people that my staff are offline, they work in retail, they work in factories, we don’t have access to them, we can’t sell them things, we can’t give them an online portal. I would quite confidently say it’s rubbish. You know, there were 37 million people who have a smartphone with internet access. So there’s no such thing as an offline audience anymore. If you look at advertising spend online, something like 85% of all advertising spend is now spent online and on mobile.

Nobody is spending money on offline advertising because they know that consumers are using technology to access the products and that’s where they’re going to be able to reach them. So we need to take that same consumer-oriented thinking and bring that into the workplace. We now see that 51% of all shopping happens online. In America, 51% of online shopping is done on Amazon. So 51% of all online shopping in America is done on Amazon alone.

90% of all data that currently exists was created in the last two years. Just let that sink in, 90% of all the data that currently exists was created just in the last two years alone. Data people analytics, how we use that data, how we use that data to tell a story, it’s going to be massively, massively important going forwards. And we’ve started to see with Facebook and Cambridge Analytica that people are starting to become quite conscious of their data being a commodity. People’s individual data has started to become much more important to them and they should become more important to us as HR professionals as well.

And we check our phones an average of 80 times a day, which is kind of no surprise. I think we all get that phantom buzz in our pockets and then you get your phone out and it didn’t actually buzz at all. We’re are connected by technology. We are connected by our telephones, it’s part of everyday life. Clearly, we see that might cause issues. We know that there’s going to be mental health issues associated with social media use, etc., and we know that big companies like Apple are now starting to do something about that.

But it goes to show you just how dominant technology is in your employees’ lives outside of work, that obviously, technology companies are now starting to do something about the effect that it has on those individuals. You’ve probably heard this kind of a talk before, but people always talk about the Amazon effect. So when we spoke about how people interact with technology, how your employees are using technology outside of work, Amazon is a great example of how people use that.

So how many people have ordered something from Amazon in the last month? How many people have got Amazon Prime? See, that’s quite a lot of you. If I asked about any other retailer, I probably wouldn’t get the same response. Fifty-five percent of all online shopping begins on Amazon, 55% of people go to Amazon first before they move somewhere else. If Amazon was a country, it would be the 27th largest country in the world and it would have 8 million more people living in it than Spain.

So Amazon is a great example of a company that has used technology to completely dominate the market. And Amazon spends huge amounts of money, millions of money in retail development every year to look at what frustrates somebody within our online shopping process. Because they know that if you get frustrated whilst trying to buy something from them, you’re very quickly just going to go somewhere else.

So one of the great examples of one of the things Amazon does is when you look things up on Amazon, so if you look for something like a Batman DVD, they have people who look at the term Batman or DVD and they will purposely misspell and mistype that, so that when you searched for a Batman DVD, even if you search for a Fatman DVD, you would still find the Batman DVD, because it started to learn we know we need to get people to the point of finding what they want, going through that checkout process as quickly as possible.

And Amazon also spends a lot of money on things like load speeds and actually how the technology is delivered, so much so that if Amazon’s load speeds slow down by one second, they would lose $1.6 billion every year. That’s how much patience people would lose just to be able to go and find something elsewhere. And you can look at other online retailers who do the same thing, so someone like ASOS. ASOS started to realise that cart abandonment was quite a big thing for them. This is where somebody puts something in that basket and you just never go through the checkout process. What they started to realise is one of the biggest frustrations people had was you get them to sign up to form an account. So if you’re a new customer, I have to create an account, but people didn’t want to do that.

So when they added the functionality for people to create a guest account, just so they could check straight through without passing over any of their information, they saw their dropout rates decrease by 30%, just by allowing that transaction to be easier. So the way that people are using technology outside of work, they’re bringing that same thing into work. And so even though you might have a piece of technology that you don’t think is very old or isn’t massively convoluted, if your employees think that it’s frustrating, they won’t use it.

And I think that frustration is enough that if it will stop us going into a shop or buying something from Amazon, whoever it might be, it’s going to stop them working for you. Because if you do everything else right, but they can’t use the systems at work and they get really frustrated by using those, they’re gonna start to look elsewhere. And if you look at some of the research that’s coming out, I don’t like to generalise terms with generations, but millennials, their frustration is generally around if I don’t get to use leading technology at work, I don’t want to work there because he will…

If anyone remembers what dial-up used to be like, imagine if somebody tried to get you to use dial-up at work now, you’d leave that company pretty quickly because that would just be far too frustrating. People’s patience with technology is wearing incredibly thin. So when it doesn’t work in the way that they expect it to, they lose patience really, really quickly. So 87% of online shoppers won’t wait longer than 10 seconds for a page to load before they go elsewhere.

Fifty-seven percent won’t wait longer than just three seconds. Three seconds, can you imagine on a consumer point of view, three seconds is all you’ve got to be able to grab their attention, and that when they come into work and you’re getting them to log into an internal system and then you don’t facilitate single sign-on into other systems, and they have to remember multiple passwords, they’re just not gonna use your technology at all.

Almost 70% of people won’t return to a web page if they think it takes too long to load. And 92% of people say the way a platform looks is the top factor. So people are really spending time now focusing on how does something look, how do I engage with it? Anyone who uses an Apple product, whatever you think of Apple, their products are very simple. Complexity is the enemy whenever we deliver any technology to our employees. It’s got to be as simple as possible and sometimes less is a little bit more.

A great example of how technologies are used to improve the employee experience is Disneyland. Anyone been to Disneyland recently? I’m trying to suss out what’s the cutoff age to go to Disneyland if you haven’t got kids? 80? I’m fine then. Brilliant. Okay, cool. So one of the things that Disneyland found with their employees is every time they finished the shift at Disneyland, they have to pass their uniforms and their character clothes back into a kind of reception desk where they get dry-cleaned overnight and then they pick them up again in the morning.

Sounds like a simple process, but what was happening is employees are waiting up to 45 minutes in the sun, in Florida, in a queue waiting to pick up the costumes and people had to kind of get the employee tickets, go and find their costume, bring it back. What they invested in is a completely automated process, very similar to what you see in dry cleaners where all your clothes are on rails, etc., and what that means is employees can turn up at pre-allocated time, scan their card, and almost like a vending machine will deliver their costumes to them completely cleaned.

At the end of the day, they just put it back in the machine on a hanger and it goes off to be cleaned. So what that meant is people turned up and just got straight on with their work. They didn’t have to spend 45 minutes of their own time waiting in a queue, and it meant they did not get frustrated and they didn’t get hot and sweaty whilst they’re waiting to start work. I did a talk on using this example a couple of weeks ago, and “People” magazine used the quote from me that I’m gonna change slightly. You can Google what the quote was, but it had some bad language in it.

But when you think about how we deliver customer service, if an employee’s frustrated from waiting in a line for 45 minutes before they come to serve you, they’re going to be annoyed. If that person is dressed as Mickey Mouse and they’re trying to give your kids the dream holiday of a lifetime, nobody wants that kind of service. Disney is a great example of people who are onstage, who have to deliver a personality and that personality is stifled because of frustrations they’ve gone through at work, then that’s going to come out in the service that they deliver.

Something we see quite a lot of at Benefex is people still, an amazing amount of people still use paper and ask people to fill out forms online. I’ve been a judge at the UK employee experience awards for the last two years. And for the last two years, there have been universities who have submitted reward and recognition schemes, which basically say, you’ve got to print off this form from the internet, then you’ve got to sub-fill it out and nominate an individual, then you’ve got to pass it to HR, HR will type this information up into the internet sites, 12 months later, the management team will vote on which one deserves an award.

Employees were getting awards from 12 months ago and they couldn’t remember the good thing that they did in order to get that award. This is a great example of a, you know, Adobe has got a vested interest in getting us to move away from paper, but that kind of process is so, so frustrating. That employees just won’t use it. And so it’s kind of why you’re investing in those types of processes.

And I guess the one thing we should also be realising is that if you have a shit process at work and you digitalise that, it will still be a shit process. So you still need to think whole, kind of holistically about what are we trying to achieve, what is the end goal, and thinking about those loops to try and solve some of those smaller problems. What we do at Benefex is we’re an employee experience technology business. We run employee benefits, pensions, and one of the newest products that we’ve started to release is a recognition tool.

So we felt that people deserve these great experiences every day. We thought that people wanted to be closer to their employees. The research is showing that people want to get closer and build personal relationships with their colleagues. Remember these two? Oh, it seemed like a long time ago now, doesn’t it? And so when we start to look at some of the research in this area, we started to see that employee recognition is one of the things that employees really, really want and it’s something that technology can help us to deliver really, really easily.

So the number one reason most people leave their jobs is that they don’t feel appreciated. Peer to peer recognition is almost 50% more likely to have a positive impact to the manager only recognition. Almost half of all companies that use peer to peer recognition have seen an increase in customer satisfaction. Again, as we have explained, you know, people are going to deliver great customer service if they feel confident in themselves and their personalities are allowed to shine through as they deliver that service. When asked what more could employers be doing, 60% said give recognition.

I’ll leave it up there for a second so you get that picture. I had to pick out two of the biggest bits of research that we found. Eighty-three percent of employees say recognition is more fulfilling than any rewards or gifts. Some new recognition research that’s come out of the U.S. in the last couple of months shows that employees would rather get a thank you from their manager or peer than receive a $50 gift card. And 76% of employees find peer praise very or extremely motivating.

So when Benefex looked at how do we create a recognition tool, that was largely driven by the fact that our clients told us that what they wanted wasn’t available in the market. Things were heavily aligned to reward rather than recognition. And so we started to look at how people will use technology. So using some of the stats I’ve covered today, we started looking at so how do employees use Facebook, how do they use Instagram, how do they use Snapchat? These are the things that they’re using every single day.

And what we started to realise is that people are very visual. Nobody likes reading anymore. People have given up on reading. 50% of Facebook users would rather see a video than read a blog post. Obviously, Snapchat’s really visual. If any of you’ve got teenagers who use Snapchat and you’ve ever watched them use Snapchat, it’s quite an insane thing to watch them do.

They’ll take a picture of anything just to write text over the front. So the image they take really isn’t relevant to the message they’re sending, it’s just a way of conveying a message. And when you think about some of the research 10 years ago suggested Facetime was going to be the lead piece of technology for young people and it’s just been completely surpassed by things like Snapchat.

And does anyone know what the most popular websites for people under the age of 40 is? Youtube. Again, if you’ve got any kids or you’ve got any nieces or nephews that use Youtube, my nephew Freddy named his new dog recently, Chase. When I asked him why he named it Chase, he said it was named after one of his friends. When I was talking to my brother about this guy Chase, he was like, “Oh, he’s just a friend.” “It’s not a friend. He’s on Youtube.” There’s an American family where the kid is called Chase, where they film everything they do and they put it on Youtube.

So if they have a barbecue or they go for a day out, they’ll film it. And if you watch kids again, just living their life through that, you know, we grew up asking our dads how to fix a car. Now you just go on Youtube and if you needed to check your oil, you’d find a “how to” video. You have people that are millionaires in America who do unboxing videos, which is they’re opening kinder eggs on videos, showing the toys and they’re millionaires because they’re opening kinder eggs online. The way people use technology now is just so much more advanced than it’s ever been.

And we’re now seeing with something like Snapchat, 77% of those under 30 use Snapchat on a daily basis and 50% of those 40 to 50 are using Snapchat, which is quite surprising. So we took all of that research in and we started to create our own recognition product. So you can get a demo of this through CIPHR, but effectively it’s mobile, it’s very visual. It allows employees to go in and send videos to each other so they can create…yeah, teams can get together and send a video out to the rest of their teams.

They can create memes. Does everybody knows what a meme is? So everybody can create memes and you can even do some gifs as well. Everyone knows what gifs are? If you don’t know what gifs are, I’ve got one for you at the end. But effectively it’s all heavily visual. It means somebody gets a buzz in their pocket, they get that good feeling immediately, which is what they’re used to. It’s very easy to use. They don’t have to filter through loads of text, and it’s become one of our, probably one of the fastest selling products to date.

But the one thing I want you to take away from this talk is this quote, “More positive employee experiences are linked to better performance, extra effort at work, and lower turnover intentions.” If you remove those small, no matter how insignificant they seem, if you remove those small points of frustration away from your employees using the technology at work, even if it’s as simple as just integrating the few technologies that you’ve got to make that process as enjoyable as possible, your employees will have a much, much better experience working with you. And this is a gif. Thank you. Thank you very much.

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