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  • Anna Izraylevich

Want the Best Digital Workplace? Listen to Your Employees

When was the last time you truly listened to what your employees are asking for in a holistic and ongoing manner? I mean really listened to their needs, challenges, and concerns and consistently used it as input into your overall digital workplace strategy? If you have asked for employee feedback, was it a one-time pulse or a well-organized feedback loop to track changes in sentiment and the results of your investments?

Consider the below:

90% of C-Suite executives say their company pays attention to people’s needs when introducing new technology, but 50% of employees disagree​ (PwC)
The majority of executives (66%) report designing post-pandemic workforce policies with little to no direct input from employees (Future Forum by Slack).

Why should this matter? We are in the middle of an unprecedented time with preferences, challenges, and workplace needs continuously evolving. A pulse survey you conducted a year ago cannot be enough to shape the investment or roadmap you are planning today. Yet quite often, teams ignore this critical step and launch solutions, only to be surprised by the lack of adoption. The damage of a costly and poorly utilized solution goes beyond just initial engagement; employees can feel frustrated and ignored that their voice was not given weight in decision-making. A Gallup post showed disengaged employees cost the U.S. $550 billion in lost productivity per year.

Even worse? Given the lack of a defined baseline, it is virtually impossible to truly define and track success post-launch. This inability to quantify ROI ultimately results in a negative innovation cycle, which further hampers productivity for the organization.

Maybe instead of a glitzy interface, your employees just want to decrease the number of clicks to get to what they need. Or, instead of a new chat platform, they need guidance on utilizing existing tools to better manage projects or share files. Perhaps, a multi-million-dollar office revamp neglects a simple element that would provide employees with a seamless way to join and facilitate a hybrid meeting. You see the point.

So how do you save time, money, and resources, while meeting your employees’ needs and boosting their productivity (while simultaneously meeting leadership goals)? Build products and experiences based on what your employees are telling you by developing feedback mechanisms and a user-centric approach to inform the process.

Start a Feedback Program
  1. Stand up an employee experience forum. This could be a company-wide or function-specific initiative focused on specific topics (e.g., Hybrid Experience, Collaboration Tools, Return to Office) or a general Digital Workplace forum. To stay organized and prevent employee confusion, make sure it does not become a catch-all for any group wanting to pulse employees on a topic of their choice. Even if you have limited capacity and resources, it is still a worthwhile exercise to engage the population using simple questionnaires.

  2. Collect feedback as early as possible. Gather ideas, feedback, and insights at the ideation stage before you create your roadmap and allocate funding to a project. The insights should shape the roadmap to ensure the ultimate product adds value.

  3. Test often. Just because you gathered insights at the ideation stage does not mean you are done. Share early prototypes, get feedback on product training, and ask for ideas on marketing channels.

  4. Get creative. There are a plethora of ways to gather feedback. Explore questionnaires, 1:1 interviews, focus groups, pilots, prototype previews, and more.

  5. Share the results. You want your employees to know they made a difference. Close the feedback loop with updates on how their feedback shaped your next steps.

  6. Do not limit feedback. Even if someone is not a part of the program, they should be able to contribute their thoughts. For example, add an eye-catching feedback button to your interface or include a QR code. Most importantly, ensure these channels are monitored, feedback is documented, and employees receive a response.

Want to take it to the next level? The ideas below can help elevate your efforts:
  • Come up with a catchy name and stand up a dedicated mailbox

  • Create branded templates with illustrations for your emails and session invites

  • Use a fun and approachable tone

  • Reward your employees and explore reward tiers based on levels of participation – this could be a gamified digital badge, branded water bottle, an iPad raffle, or even an extra day off

Finally, remember that the team behind the feedback program can be lean (just one or two employees dedicating a portion of their day to this initiative, ideally with a product or change management skillset). You can start simple and leverage countless tools that make surveys a breeze. Try it out – your employees and leaders will thank you. Anna is a Digital Workplace and product strategist passionate about disrupting and questioning the status quo. As a product and program lead at a $50B revenue professional services firm, she spends her day tackling topics like employee experience, product strategy, and digital transformation. All opinions are her own.


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