Five ways digital services can engage remote workers

Achieving employee retention by providing the best digital experience By Ido Dubovi, VP Product ControlUp

Previously companies won employee loyalty with trendy architecture, healthy food choices in the dining hall, and leisure areas stocked with pool tables and video games. However, today it's possible that employees will spend weeks or months without stepping into the office.

Instead, companies are building a corporate culture based on a series of digital interactions. New digital apps and services are designed to onboard, train, and provide essential services to their employees. Many companies are reporting that they will continue to have employees work from home even if they are fully vaccinated, for their convenience and to keep costs down. Some of these personalized digital services will continue even if employees return to the office.

Here are five examples of digital services that support remote workers.

1. Employee Surveys - During the current crisis, several companies sent out digital surveys to build employee trust and to discover creative ways to meet the unknown challenges. The employees' responses revealed requirements for new services, requests for new communications channels and suggestions for ways to integrate remote work teams. For example, Southwest airlines implemented an employee engagement app to receive employee input following the outbreak of the pandemic. In addition, many companies have started a practice of using digital surveys to receive feedback on new online services.

2. Online Classrooms – Most likely corporate training will not return to in-person classrooms even if the pandemic resides and business returns to usual. Digital training is faster and cheaper, but it also has several other advantages. It can accessed using mobile devices, be designed to be more engaging, scale quickly to accommodate a large number of students, be highly personalized, and measure individual learning outcomes in a way that isn't possible with classroom training. To prevent a sense of isolation while employees are studying alone, a larger video group session can include discussion boards and smaller more intimate break out rooms where students can learn in smaller groups.

3. Digital Onboarding – Today virtual tours of facilities take the place of walking down corridors and meeting co-workers face to face. Where previously new employees were paraded through different departments, now they need to receive the most basic items by ordering online including parking passes, computers, e-mail addresses and security badges. Following the outbreak of the pandemic, many companies have upgraded to slick professional produced onboarding videos, and content which is specific to certain professional positions. Some companies also make a point of providing ways for employees to meet with management. At Marriott, for example, new employees are invited to webinars to interact with executives. Some companies invite new employees to virtual meetings with other team members for informal information sharing.

4. Benefits Portals – One of human resources' most time-consuming responsibilities is benefits enrollment for new hires and existing employees. An online portal can streamline the process by enabling employees to access their own data and develop strategies based on their priorities, such as planning for college tuition costs or retirement. In addition, providing benefit information online is also more secure than relying on email communications. With cyberattacks on the rise, after the pandemic outbreak, employers can't afford to be using unsecure means to send employees' personal health information. Benefit portals are designed to be compliant with the latest personal privacy regulations and are regularly monitored for data protection.

5. Beefing up the infrastructure to the home – To support the hybrid approach, where employees work at home and in the office, organizations will need to invest in a more reliable remote infrastructure that supports advanced services such as augmented reality and virtual reality. Edge computing will come to the home and augment the compute capacity of the devices. Work-from-anywhere is the new mantra and employee will need to have the computing power necessary to provide a digital experience as close as possible as the real thing to ensure a high level of productivity.

Even if employees return to the office, a new realm of online digital services may live on. The ability of new companies to attract and keep the most qualified workforce will no longer be limited to their facilities, but will also be defined by how successfully they can provide a positive online experience. However, in many cases, the stress on computer networks can threaten the performance of these services. The ability to monitor and optimize the employee digital experience will be considered an important aspect of the services employees receive.

Today, the quality of the employee experience is largely determined by system availability, and how long it takes to logon to a work area, load a web page, or save an electronic form. Having the ability to provide a positive employee digital experience with the right tools can be just as important as the services themselves.

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