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Digital tool overload damages the employee experience

Digital tool overload damages the employee experience

person juggling many tools

Consider this scenario: 

You’re about to plan your first vacation since you joined your company, but you’re not sure how to go about it. So, you log into the employee service portal and find the paid-time off policy after clicking around for five minutes. 

You then learn you must use an absence tracking tool that you don’t have access to yet. So, you go on to request an account from IT via a clunky ticketing system. After a long wait, you can finally request your holiday. 

A few weeks later, refreshed from your vacation, you’re apartment hunting. Since most landlords ask for your last 2 pay stubs, you try to log into the HRIS to download them. But the login keeps failing so you raise yet another IT ticket. Aaarrrggghhh!

If you’ve ever been an employee, you’ve probably had some type of similar experience.

Employees are often overwhelmed by the number of channels and systems used by “back office” teams such as HR, IT, and Finance. Each piece of software requires a separate login (unless single sign-on is supported) and has a different user interface, making it hard for employees to navigate all these tools.

The count keeps ticking up, too. The shift toward remote and hybrid work led to the introduction of even more tools at many companies.

What makes it even trickier is that most of these tools are not used on a daily basis. Each one may only be needed every few weeks or months, so employees never really get used to them. 

As an HR person, your HRIS might seem intuitive to use, but keep in mind that you’re using it on a daily or weekly basis – employees aren’t.

Are all-in-one suites the solution?

If using many different tools is a problem, isn’t the perfect solution to buy one solution that does everything? 

Short answer: No.

Every company has different needs and priorities. An arsenal of best-of-breed tools ensures you have the best solution for each internal workflow or stage of the employee lifecycle. You’re working with real specialists that can offer dedicated support. For an all-in-one suite provider, it’s not feasible to have the same depth on each individual topic.

Using best-of-breed tools also keeps you more flexible. Imagine having to replace your entire wardrobe whenever that one pair of jeans doesn’t fit perfectly anymore. 

As your company grows and evolves, you can just replace individual services rather than replacing everything at once. That would be a huge, time-consuming, expensive project – both from a technical and a change management point of view.

It’s good to have a robust foundation – e.g., with an HRIS that ticks many boxes – but you’ll want to combine it with specialized solutions that fit into your company’s goals and challenges.

The way forward: Intentional tool use

Using best-of-breed tools and having a streamlined employee experience are not mutually exclusive. 

With today’s technology, it’s possible to reduce the number of tools employees have to interact with while having an abundance of great tools running in the background. Many solutions have public APIs which allow developers to integrate with them and connect different tools.

The goal is to decouple employee touchpoints from the systems that run in the background. Sometimes these can (or should) be the same, but more often it shouldn’t. For some tools, it’s best if employees still log into them, but it shouldn’t be considered the default.

Keep in mind that there’s also a difference between heavy users and light users. Heavy users will often benefit from using a standalone app with tons of admin options and a purpose-built user interface. Light users should be able to perform simple tasks directly from the tools they use every day.

One way to connect an arsenal of best-of-breed tools with your employees’ most used apps is to use Back. Back helps companies deliver a personalized, unified experience for their people. It’s essentially a one-stop shop for all work-related matters right in Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Google Chat. Employees can easily find the right resource, get connected to the right team, or solve common workplace tasks through one simple, conversational interface.

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