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Power Forward #1: Talent Shortage and the Employee Experience (EX)

With the talent shortage expected to persist in 2023, how businesses engage current staff and attract new hires is critical. This article discusses how IT and HR teams can collaborate and explore digital solutions to improve the employee experience, reduce everyday friction, and ultimately help staff retention.

UX, CX and… EX

With the talent shortage expected to persist in 2023, how businesses engage current staff and attract new hires is more critical now than ever. Whilst platforms like staff intranet are nothing new; it is often left as an afterthought with a lack of continued innovation and user-centric thinking. As staff retention become a top priority for many organisations, IT and HR teams will need to collaborate and explore how digital solutions can improve the employee experience and reduce everyday friction.

Employee Experience (EX) = the entire end-to-end engagement a staff member has with your company, from employee onboarding to staff departure.

What are companies investing in to improve the Digital Employee Experience (DEX)?

According to a survey* of 300 enterprises (5,000+ employees) IT decision-makers (ITDMs) in the US and UK, the following are the top priorities for improving DEX:

  • 49% more efficiency in resolving issues
  • 46% more or better self-service options within IT
  • 45% Improved automation capabilities
  • 41% Improved IT analytics
  • 40% More or better proactivity from IT
  • 36% Reducing digital friction
  • 33% Greater focus on digital empathy (the impact digital solutions have on employee wellbeing)

As for the causes of employee dissatisfaction, the survey indicates that the most common causes of digital friction at workplaces are software-based, connectivity-based, access-based, and device-based.



It’s a different game.

To create exceptional EX, we must first acknowledge that the working environment has changed since the pandemic. Options to work-from-home are now a commonly advertised perk, staff burnout and evolving attitudes to career have led to ‘quiet quitting’, and top talents are now actively approached by competing firms. As a result, EX platforms will need not only to be a place of information and resource but also to communicate company culture, be empathetic, gather feedback, and make opportunities for growth and development easily accessible.

How do you approach designing modern digital tools that meet the needs of 2023? We outline five core principles:

  1. Redefine what success looks like

When embarking on an EX platform project, jumping straight into the tools and widgets is tempting. However, before you do so, consider the overall role of the site and what business objectives it seeks to achieve. Common objectives are employee enablement, risk mitigation, productivity, employer brand, and learning and development. Think big picture, then be specific about your goals.

Once your wish list of requirements is created, prioritise and identify which ones will be most frequently used and which are nice-to-haves but might only create an impact for a small subset of your business.

2. User-centric approach

Your organisation will have a mix of roles and working styles. The “build it and they will come” mentality to staff intranet or other engagement tools are out-of-style, and a user-centric approach to design will be essential to success.

Factors to consider when designing an EX platform include;

  • Digital maturity and user habits: the interface design and information architecture will need to lower the friction of adoption and make the most frequently used functions easily accessible.
  • Desk-based or frequently on the go: considering the locations, devices, and internet availability will help determine if you need a mobile-optimised staff intranet or a dedicated application that supports advanced features like offline mode.

3. Digital environment designed for hybrid work

Hybrid work challenges People and Culture teams, particularly in employee engagement and care. One of the most significant benefits of working in the office is the interpersonal relationship between colleagues, their managers, and between teams. With video conferencing fatigue, most staff prefers virtual meetings to be kept to a minimum, whilst company-wide group chats might turn off shy, stressed or time-poor individuals.

To keep staff engaged, the EX platform should foster a community whilst keeping it functional and task-oriented. In the design phase, workshop with the team on their cognitive and emotive needs and create an environment that promotes your employer brand through meaningful design considerations.

4. MVP your way to success

EX platform developments should be iterative, and Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) are vital to validate propositions, demonstrate quick wins, and optimise learning. Whilst there is value in creating user personas, mapping out processes, and understanding pain points, it’s when the rubber meets the road that you learn about user behaviour, roadblocks to adoptions, and areas for improvements. Most importantly, a phased approach to development allows staff to be taken along the journey, co-creating a solution that gets buy-in.


5. Insights and analytics

Analytic tools aren’t just for your customers; they can also generate insights into how your staff works whilst respecting their privacy. For example, understanding when most users are active on the EX platform will allow your communications team to schedule announcements that increase reach. If users are not interacting with specific tools, you can analyse the user journey to identify navigation issues or whether the tools deliver value.
Setting up analytics within your staff intranet or app will help with continuous innovation and improvement to your employee experience and ultimately help lower the friction of everyday work.

Our final two cents:
With a DEX strategy and roadmap in place, businesses are resolving immediate labour shortage issues through improved retention and providing the workforce with a competitive edge. As organisations embrace 2023, it faces a deepening myriad of challenges, from inflationary pressures, talent shortages and economic headwinds; the year ahead will be a test of resilience and agility.

To propel forward boldly, we’ve created an e-book outlining the five digital priorities every business leader should consider. By taking a proactive approach and continuing the collaboration between cross-functional teams, the new year is ripe for the brave to turn obstacles into opportunities.


*Bourne, Vanson. Digital Employee Experience (DEX) in the Enterprise: Progress, Patterns, and Gaps. Digital Employee Experience (DEX) in the Enterprise: Progress, Patterns, and Gaps. New York,  New York: 1E, 2022. 

Photo credits: Jason Strull, Agencia INNN, Priscilla Du Preez