Article

Employee Experience in Europe 2021: Reshaping your employees’ experience for a post-pandemic world

By Michael Schweidler, EMEA Marketing Manager

Published June 23, 2021
Last updated June 24, 2021

2020 has forced companies to keep a laser focus on serving the end customer better and improving the experience across their brand to maintain relevance and financially viability. In the particular circumstances of a pandemic it’s sometimes easy to forget that your employees are customers too. Keeping employees happy by powering them with the right tools to excel at their job is one of the easiest ways to improve your wider CX capabilities, because if your customer-facing employees are satisfied and digitally empowered, they will naturally provide an excellent service to your customers.

As customer expectations for the best digital and in-store experience have evolved, employees now expect the same standard for their working lives. Employees want to be able to raise a ticket for their software issue as easily as customers hit the ‘help’ button on their smartphone and are speedily provided with a solution to their query.

What’s the point in delivering the best technology to enable customers to shop easier, faster and smarter with you, if employees have to deal with archaic software solutions in the back end? Your employees use the same smartphones and applications as your customers, which means businesses need to focus on making their internal systems just as seamless and user friendly as the iPhone.

A changing workplace

Ensuring an excellent employee experience (EX) is just as important as customer experience (CX) should be a business-critical endeavour, now more than ever. Last year has seen a lot of change in the workplace and humans are craving stability where they can. Not forgetting, customer service agents have seen their workload greatly increase over the last year. In eCommerce alone, average tickets across European businesses increased by 26% compared to the start of the pandemic, and at its height, France saw tickets increase 35%. And this intense pressure was put on employees as they were forced to get used to a new way of working in the middle of a global health crisis.

Overnight, the pandemic demonstrated many businesses could continue as normal with a remote workforce, other industries furloughed staff in their millions to keep afloat, and there were also headlines full of tragic job losses. Redundancies are likely to continue as we head into an uncertain economic period as we take time to process the devastation Covid-19 has brought upon the world.

Previous hits to the global economy have eventually led to a technology innovation boom – and our research already suggests that Covid has accelerated digital transformation by years for 67% of companies, with 46% saying it’s accelerated by 1-3 years, and 21% saying it’s accelerated by 4-7 years.

Skills shortage

In order to survive the short-term uncertainty and thrive in the medium-term opportunity, companies need the very best skills, and while the market may look buoyant in terms of supplying your hiring needs, seeking out the right talent will be difficult with so many people applying for single job roles.

This is where retaining your staff and attracting skilled workers to your business by offering the very best EX is crucial. But at the same time, we must reimagine the workplace of the future and change what it means to be “in the office”.

Working from home is now standard practice in many organisations. Even those who didn’t offer the ability to work from home prior to 2020, will need to offer some form of remote working as we return to the office. Some businesses are even taking a more extreme approach, with Dropbox announcing its plan to be a “Virtual First” company where “remote work (outside an office) will be the primary experience for all employees and the day-to-day default for individual work”. But this approach also needs to be taken with caution as not every employee has the luxury of a spare bedroom to convert into a quiet home office space.

According to McKinsey & Co, post-pandemic working will most likely take a hybrid approach and organisations will need to be flexible to satisfy employees going forward. The consultancy said, for roles that weren’t essential to being “at the office”, the majority of businesses expect that employees will be on-site between 21-80% of the time, or one to four days per week. But most companies do not yet have a vision for this impending future workplace – 68% have no plan detailed in place – leading to anxious employees unsure what their day-to-day lives may look like when the world returns to some form of normal when it is safe to do so.

Internal help desk (IHD)

This return to the office needs a thoughtful plan, with flexibility to develop into the reimagined office of the future, bolstered by the best supporting technology. And a centralised hub for all employee queries related to IT and HR can really bolster efficiency as we move into this new way of working.

Think about creating an internal help desk, a centralised hub for employees to access information around process, products and services offered internally. The most common definition of a help desk is a centralised team within a company that serves employees or customers en masse using a software product to organise conversations.

We all know how painful it is to come across an IT or HR problem at work, and for it to suddenly swallow your whole afternoon trying to fix. These problems should be resolved quickly and painlessly – and the easiest way to achieve this is by treating your employees the same way you want to treat your external customers. Think about how 52% of businesses now offer their customers online help centres or community forums to self serve, so why not offer this service to internal employees?

Today, 82% of EMEA companies are using apps internally, and with an IHD from Zendesk, employees can also access all their required apps, systems and integrations for change management, asset management, team collaboration and more—all from one central place. An IHD will become the powerhouse for your reimagined future workplace, putting you in a much better position to retain and attract talent and compete in an uncertain global economy.

Top tips to help your employees work productively and flexibly:

  1. Provide employees with choice

    Whether that’s working from the office, at home, or somewhere in between, and where possible flexible start and finish times are welcomed by staff, as it shows you trust them to do their job on their schedule.

  2. Ensure your team remains connected

    The workplace of the future means the workplace is anywhere we work. From hotdesking in the office to working from your guest room, you are less likely to be sitting next to the same person every day, so you need to utilise technology to keep colleagues connected beyond email, think video calls and instant messaging.

  3. Regular catch ups

    Make sure you keep speaking to your team and ask them what they need to be more productive in order to sustain this period of change. Conduct regular anonymous surveys and cross-reference your conversations with your satisfaction scores so you can make good decisions with good data to create more efficient processes. And remember if you offer employees the ability to work from where they want to work, don’t leave them out of in-person meetings, the new hybrid office environment will mean needing to incorporate video conferencing technology into meeting rooms so you can easily dial in remote colleagues.

  4. The office environment

    Your office will need to change physically as well, consider hotdesking if you haven’t already, and make sure your meeting rooms are hooked up with video conferencing so you can dial in off-site employees. Ensure hygiene and safety as at an all-time high, and lastly, consider improving things like your catering offer or office design and furniture, to encourage people back to a relaxed and happy office environment.

Zendesk for Internal Teams

Customer expectations for service have evolved—and employees now expect the same standard at their own workplace.