When an organization rushes to implement new digital tools, it often risks creating more problems than it solves.
Over the past few years, many businesses have learned this the hard way. When COVID-19 began, they hurried to introduce new platforms for collaboration, communication and decision-making, among other things, only to find that although they solved some problems, they introduced more. Many of the issues introduced revolved around the employee experience. Employees frequently ended up frustrated by the tools or slowed down by them and sometimes they decided to use workarounds instead.
Yet, positive technology choices have never had a bigger impact on how employees work and feel.
A 2021 Qualtrics survey found that employees are 230% more engaged and 85% more likely to stay beyond three years if they feel they have technology that supports them. In today’s hybrid world, the digital experience can’t be separated from the overall employee experience, and a streamlined, connected Digital Workplace has never been a more important priority than it is today.
You can get all the technical details right, and it can still fail if you don’t address the people side of it. Organizations often implement tools employees loathe, that don't meet their needs, that aren't intuitive, that don't integrate properly with other tools or that are duplicative in nature and force employees to move from system to system – switching context over and over again.
And right now, the employee experience with enterprise technology is suffering. 43 percent of employees report they’ve failed to notice important information because of too many applications or the volume of information (Gartner, 2021). In addition, 76% of U.S. respondents say information overload contributes to daily stress, and 35% stated it has a detrimental effect on performance and 30% reveal it impacts their overall job satisfaction (Datanami, 2022).
When you’re seeking to build a productive, connected Digital Workplace, the approach you take matters. The work has to start from a deep understanding of your existing digital landscape. What current tools might need to be depreciated before you implement a new platform? What existent policies, governance and leadership behaviors need to change for the new solution to work? Are there any rooted cultural beliefs that might prove barriers to adoption?
The more you can meet employees’ needs in intuitive ways, with clear purpose for each tool and a coherent, united digital experience between them all, the better your technology will work.
Benefits of a mature Digital Workplace
The way that we define it, Digital Workplace maturity refers to how ready and capable an organization is of leveraging Digital Workplace technologies, processes and strategy. Maturity is not just about adopting technology; it’s about holistic transformation, with digital initiatives that align to the overall business strategy and amplify an organization’s culture, brand and employee experience. In our model, an organization with a mature Digital Workplace — one that exists at the highest rungs of the ladder — has integrated technology seamlessly into its operations. It is using digital tools to enhance employee experiences, drive innovation and achieve sustainable growth. A Digital Workplace is successful when it:
- Greatly reduces the number of repetitive, rote tasks employees must undertake
- Increases productivity through integrated workflows, smart tools and centralized access Creates high levels of employee engagement and retention
- Connects and informs all employees — remote, deskless, frontline and those in offices
- Optimizes the organization’s workplace technology stack
- Activates corporate strategy
- Catalyzes and reinforces the values of the culture
Assessing where your Digital Workplace stands today
Digital workplace maturity is a journey. Not all organizations are in the same place along the journey, and it is important to both understand where you are and where you would like to be. Equally important is understanding the why and the how — why are you taking the next step in advancing your maturity (i.e., what are you trying to achieve and why are you doing it now)? How will you measure success?
A Digital Workplace maturity model can help you understand where your company is along this journey. When you have a sense of where you are on the map, it’s much easier to choose the best steps forward.
Here at Gagen, we have identified five levels of Digital Workplace maturity, with eight dimensions that determine where an organization stands. When working with clients to reimagine their Digital Workplaces, our model helps build alignment across stakeholders — such as IT, HR, Finance and Comms — on where they are as an organization, where they want to go and why. Most organizations don’t fit perfectly into one level or another, but the questions prompted by the model’s dimensions provide a useful gauge and conversation starter.
In this stage, you are just getting started on your journey. Various people across the organization are handling tools, managing systems, creating content and responding to issues as needs arise. There is little collaboration or integration across silos, platforms, strategy or policies and procedures.
- Decision-making & collaboration: reactionary, decentralized, heavily siloed, not data-driven
- Policies, processes and procedures: ad hoc
- Content strategy: top-down, static, outdated
- Access: desktop/laptop only
- Adoption: low, mostly tech savvy desk workers
- Technical platforms: Mostly email and newsletters
- Platform owner: Decentralized, none
- Integrations: none to very rudimentary
Making progress. You’ve begun to coordinate across the organization with a centralized strategy and more advanced technical solutions that can support the modern workforce’s diverse needs. Long-term strategy and roadmap are still in their infancy.
- Decision-making & collaboration: Cross-functional coordination but without a clear, cohesive strategy. Limited data insights.
- Policies, processes and procedures: foundational, mostly shared verbally and ad hoc
- Content strategy: top-down, updated often, two-way interaction has begun to emerge
- Access: laptop/desktop, mobile browser
- Adoption: improving, some deskless workers
- Technical platform: Foundational intranet mainly functioning as a link farm, emails and newsletters still relied on heavily
- Platform owner: IT with Comms as a subject matter expert (SME)
- Integrations: foundational integrations pulling in basic HR data
You are seeing consistent, streamlined performance. You have made significant investment in systems, established processes and polices that are both adhered to and are driving user-centric design and communications. People know what to expect.
- Decision-making & collaboration: Organizational strategy drives decision-making to be in alignment with business goals; Communications are led with data-driven decisions but don’t always include other stakeholders
- Policies, processes and procedures: defined, documented and adhered to within Comms and IT
- Content strategy: Employee experience begins to take center stage, two-way interaction exists, amplify employee brand
- Access: laptop/desktop, mobile app
- Adoption: medium, desk workers and field workers like sales teams
- Technical platform: Out-of-the-box intranet platform with automation and data analytics
- Platform owner: Comms with IT guidance and support; HR SME
- Integrations: Push & pull with HR systems, push to Yammer, Salesforce, SharePoint, etc.
You’ve integrated a dynamic, effective solution across the enterprise. Your organization understands that the employee experience has a major impact on the customer experience – and your culture, systems, digital tools and processes reflect that. You’re reaching almost all employees and even creating delightful digital experiences.
- Decision-making & collaboration: Digital strategy starts to become an integral part of the organization’s overall strategy; advanced analytics and reporting; steering committee
- Policies, processes and procedures: defined, documented and adhered to across all stakeholders; new focus on continuous improvement and operational efficiencies
- Content strategy: Amplify organizational culture, strategy, brand and employee experience with storytelling; two-way interaction
- Access: laptop/desktop, mobile app, digital signage
- Adoption: high, all workers, including frontline workers
- Technical platform: Consumer-grade intranet platform with automation and data analytics; advanced search; new focus on innovation
- Platform owner: Comms with IT guidance and support; HR Subject Matter Expert (SME); business function SMEs
- Integrations: Push & pull with HR systems, push and pull with other SaaS platforms and custom systems
You’re a step ahead of your competitors. With advanced tools, analytics and strategy connecting and supporting a diverse set of employees anywhere, anytime and on any device, you’re able to flex quickly with shifting needs and lean into the future.
- Decision-making & collaboration: Digital strategy is an integral part of the organization’s overall strategy with a clear North Star; automated analytics and reporting; high-performing steering committee; and time to focus on future needs and priorities.
- Policies, processes and procedures: defined, documented and adhered to across all stakeholders; focus on continuous improvement and optimization
- Content strategy: Amplify organizational culture, strategy, brand and employee experience with storytelling; two-way interaction; social; targeted to individuals with AI
- Access: Anywhere, anytime, any device
- Adoption: embedded in daily operations and integrated into the culture
- Technical platform: Single pane of glass, consumer-grade intranet platform with automation and data analytics; advanced search; innovations operationalized; interoperable with internal and external systems; able to be updated quickly and easily to meet new needs
- Platform owner: Successfully collaborative ownership. Comms with IT guidance and support; HR SME; business function SMEs; Leadership team input
- Integrations: Fully integrated. Push & pull with HR systems, push and pull with other SaaS platforms and custom systems; LMS systems
Always keep in mind, Digital Workplace maturity is about evolution and a culture-driven journey, requiring a strategic mindset, organizational commitment and a user-centric approach.
In our next blog in this series, we'll touch on the investment benefits and cost rationale associated with considering a Digital Workplace upgrade.