Pauliina Jamsa: Why digital employee experience should be in focus in 2020

Pauliina Jamsa is Global Senior Online Marketing Manager at Siemens. She was picked as one of B2B Marketing Magazine’s Top 10 list of women making the biggest impact in tech in 2019 and is NDA’s new monthly columnist.

She is responsible at Siemens for global enablement across 90 countries and after developing a method to overcome her social anxiety and fear of public speaking, she is now a standup comedian and global industry keynote speaker.

I can’t believe this!

I got up from my chair frustrated and took out my phone. It was the third time our conference call system crashed. Whether it was because of the latest software update or my laptop, I didn’t know. And didn’t care. All I knew was that it was embarrassing. I was already 10 minutes late.

Oh how I hated being late.

I typed in the password and finally got into the call. The atmosphere was icy when I explained I had had trouble with my computer…

It sounded like an excuse.

Why digital employee experience should be in focus in 2020

It is almost impossible to predict which trends to focus on in the next 10 years. But if you dig a bit deeper, there are three that stand out. One of them is the digital employee experience, which is sadly often ignored. 

Let me explain why.

With all the technology out there, why are employees still forced to use old legacy systems that reduce productivity, decrease collaboration and tie them to the office? My conference call experience from few years back is sadly far too common. Have a look at the software, sites and devices that you’re currently using in your office and compare them with things you’re using in your daily life.

Most likely you’d never spend your own money in any of that stuff.

The gap between what we use at home and at work is huge, which is one of the contributing factors why digital transformation initiatives fail. The biggest reasons of course are employee resistance, communication and leadership, but technology does play a part in all three.

How seriously is the workforce going to take your leadership team pushing digital transformation when what they’re working with is complex and old? 

We know that companies need to become digital to survive. Therefore, top management pushes digital transformation and agile, asking employees to focus on creating and selling innovative, digital solutions for customers … while being slow and old inside. I like to call this #digitalwashing

If the tools you’re giving your employees are inflexible, complex and sometimes even full of bugs, how credible is your message? You need to give employees – not just customers – solutions that help them to work faster, increase their efficiency and collaborate better.

When they feel like you don’t just talk the talk, but walk the walk – that’s when they’ll get on board and you’ll start seeing real results.

How do you think the experience is for your existing employees if you only install the tech and do not help them to use it in practice?

It’s not enough to simply update your technology and systems, of course. A crucial part of the digital employee experience is enablement – have you ever been on a course where half of the people are demotivated or tuned out, checking their emails instead of listening to the teacher?

Most probably it happened because no one was explained why it was crucial to learn the system and how it was going to make their life easier. 

What also happens AFTER the course is essential – theory is nice, but it’s the hands-on practice that makes all the difference.

Here’s often where the resistance starts: if you “abandon” your existing employees after the course, they’ll keep sneakily using the old systems they’re used to. No one likes change, so make learning AND using new processes and systems as easy and user friendly as possible.

How frustrated is your transformation team with IT if every cool, useful software or application they find is not compatible with the old legacy systems? 

Yes, investment in the old legacy system was huge back in the days, but how much is it costing you right now to use it?

I’m not talking about only maintenance cost or yearly fees. I’m talking about the cost of customisation, lost opportunities and motivated, talented employees.

If you want to transform digitally, you need better tools. Fact. However, most likely it’s the old legacy systems that stop you and your transformation team from doing that.

Either you’ll need to customise the APIs or they’re simply not compatible. Make a list of all the systems you wanted to integrate in the past year and see how many of them was abandoned, because of that. How many of your transformation team left? Maybe it’s worth scrapping the old and starting from a new infrastructure.

How well can employees adapt to the concept of virtual working if they need to play conference call bingo every time they do it? 

With globalization and emerging markets becoming more fluent in digital, we’re looking at even more virtual work force. Leading a virtual team is not that obvious and I’ve definitely made mistakes myself in the past. 

It is not easy for teams, management and clients to adapt to the change from office-based meetings to virtual meetings. You need to make it as smooth as possible to collaborate virtually or you won’t only decrease productivity, but also create bad impressions. For example, if your sales person has a bad connection or is late from a call with a client, because their system crashed, how likely is the client going to trust your company leading their digital transformation project?

(by the way, highly recommend the conference call bingo to see how good your collaboration systems are – it’s fun. Google it).

 How much more likely is your digital talent going to leave you for a company that – instead of building road blocks and #digitalwashing – empowers them to make a difference?

For real digital transformation you need to be fast, flexible and filled with top talent. But don’t forget that top talent doesn’t have to work for you – they can work for whoever from wherever, whenever. 

They know that companies need them more than they need them. 

If you want to work with the best: Be flexible, give great productivity and collaboration tools AND show how their work is making a difference in the world. They appreciate flexibility and freedom much more than status and salary. For them making a legacy and having a purpose is far more important than making a quick buck.

Do these sound obvious to you? Possibly. But how many companies do you actually know which are excellent in all of these areas?

Have a second look at the list and write down three small actions you could do in the next 24-48 hours to improve one of the areas. 

For example, set up a meeting with IT to walk through the list of all the systems we have, ask one of my team members to create a satisfaction survey for employees, sign up for a course to see how the experience is from start to finish to my colleagues….

Nothing complex, something small.

If you take an action every week to focus on digital employee experience, in a year you’ll be far more productive, you’ll have a better culture and more top talent would like to work for you.

Believe me, every step adds up.

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