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What HR can contribute to the digital employee experience

The technology and tools an organization works with are pillars of the employee experience. Digitization therefore plays a major role in employee experience. And it is precisely HR which ensures that technology strengthens the bond between employees and the organization. Many organizations are accelerating the digitization process, yet, according to recent forecasts for 2022 by Gartner, an IT research company, very little about the employee experience has improved or served to ensure employees that they can further develop their digital skills.

And those truly are missed opportunities, because such companies ignore at their peril the fact that the employee experience is not only about tech, but also about touch. That is to say that digitization must not only offer convenience and good workflows, but also ensure that touch – how employees experience the organization and how it feels to work there – is paramount to the employee experience.

One must understand that the organizational culture is also woven into the digital systems; they are not separate worlds. Consequently, it’s about touch as well as tech. Just look at certain apps, like Tikkie or Erik Scherder’s Ommetje, which use positive influencing techniques and appreciation. They make using apps enjoyable. As an organization, you can make much better use of such techniques.

More than increasing productivity

In delivering a seamless digital experience, many organisations are thus focused on using digitization to ‘give time back to employees’, and to do so by linking systems across departments to enhance productivity. That is of course very important, and demands quite some effort to achieve, but often the focus is solely on speed and working more efficiently, yet you can only really boost the employee experience if digitization also aligns with the organizational foundations: purpose, vision and core values. That is, if the technical solution enhances the organisation’s uniqueness.

Additionally, employees like intuitive systems that keep things as simple as possible and, crucially, also offer a bit of fun. Digitization can therefore safely go beyond solely supporting collaboration, communication and productivity. The employee experience will improve if the organization also focuses on personalization, personal growth and enjoyable learning methods, and if they support leadership and increase the sense of community, provided of course that the organization securely handles all the information retrieved from the systems.


Opportunities arise when you engage with the digital employee experience in this way. For employees, and young employees in particular, their choice of an employer partly depends on the extent to which the organization works digitally, as this is an indication of the type of employership one can expect to encounter. Is it an innovative club or an organization barely keeping up with the times? Failing to pay attention to the digital employee experience results in employees being less engaged, less well trained and less productive, which in turn results in lower functionality, higher turnover rates, a poorer customer experience and less successful business. High growth organizations are twice as digitally minded as low growth ones. The crux of matter is ‘mobile first’, the number of business apps, bring-your-own-device and bring-your-own-apps policies, and an ‘attractive application landscape’. One can therefore confidently say that for employees, digitization is a good indicator of success.

More room for humanity

Conversely, digitization is sometimes seen as impersonal or even threatening. Technology meanwhile can do an average of 50% of our work, often even better than we can, and, according to experts, that figure is expected to rise to 80% in future. Nonetheless, it’s striking how organizations with good digital employee experiences focus on their employees’ added value. And the reason for this is because we can never get from our laptops what makes us unique as humans: our creativity, emotion, critical thinking, ethics, complex decision-making, and the personal appreciation we show for one another. And precisely because of digitization, there’s more room for this in such organizations. To achieve this though the employee must be placed at the very center of the digital employee experience; moreover, organizations must make the switch from adaptation to innovation. This means that you do not only respond to changing employee needs, but that together with the employees you look for new solutions for new needs.

Put yourself in your (potential) employees’ shoes and ensure that while at work they can be the best versions of themselves. Design and develop in co-creation with the user. Let’s use technology to adapt the workflow and way we work to the users, not vice versa, even if this occasionally means offering the same HR product in varying forms, because there’s no one size fits all.

Role of HR

Digitization has traditionally been part of IT, and the employee experience part of HR, and hence for many people HR’s role in the digital employee experience is unclear. One must remember however that employee experience is an attitude, not a department, and the user won’t benefit if you continue to work alone on your own island. Instead, tackle the digital employee experience together.

HR can ensure that the ‘touch’ is well developed, also outside of the HR systems. And HR can set the right priorities: for applicants, the connection they feel with the organization is decisive, not your advanced recruitment systems. My advice therefore is to take another look at your organization’s digitization plans for 2022. Do they bolster the connection between employees and the organization? Will they deliver a better employee experience?  Is it trustworthy? Do they increase your eNPS? Is personal privacy guaranteed? If not, there is still time to make adjustments.


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Author: Heleen Mes