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Interview

‘The Office Isn’t Dead Yet!’ The Workplace Experience is Still Critical

Removing ‘administrivia’ so HR can focus on people and workplaces that matter.

Strategist

Photo by @alinabuzunova via Twenty20

Unleash Your Workplace Experience UNLEASH spoke to ServiceNow’s Synco Jonkeren about the company’s recent ‘2021 Employee Experience Imperative’ report.

  • With new logistical, ethical, and emotional challenges, how can HR leaders prepare and manage the workplace experience to ensure employee confidence and safety?
  • ServiceNow’s recent report states that 60% of respondents indicated a preference for some remote work, and 33% would prefer a permanent hybrid approach.
  • Findings also demonstrated the need for people leaders to find and implement innovative ways to connect with and support employees.

UNLEASH caught up with Synco Jonkeren, Senior Director, Employee Experience Product Success EMEA at ServiceNow to discuss some of the poignant findings from their latest study.

The company’s 2021 Employee Experience Imperative report disclosed ongoing concerns and employee expectations about the “return to work,” what the workplace experience looks like, and what it entails from an organizational and individual perspective.

In conversation with UNLEASH, Jonkeren said now was the time for HR and Workplace leaders to provide an experience and a workplace model focused on meaningful projects that will have the most impact on an individual.

He believes that, as we evolve out of the crisis-mode mindset that came about during the pandemic, employees are seeing some promise in the new world of work, but limitations at their current organization are becoming more apparent and thus impacting retention.

Focus on The “Hr Moments”

Leaders and teams, Jonkeren said, need to prioritize the projects that will make the most impact.

Identifying the weak links in the chain where HR is relied upon should be one of the top priorities.

So, in his eyes, events or “HR-moments” like transfers and onboarding need to be thought about not just as processes, but in a cross-functional capacity where technology addresses inter-departmental needs about how employees and managers can be better served. These solutions then need to be incorporated into employees’ workflows and journeys within the organization.

Digital transformation is key for a better employee experience and engagement, and will pave the way for quick and simple experiences that lead to a sense of belonging through seamless and comfortable interactions, Jonkeren suggested.

Workplace Experiences: Employee confidence and safety

“Before we look at our workplace, let’s look at our people” Jonkeren suggested.

Aside from outlining the practical steps employers can take to embed confidence and safety, Jonkeren argued that leaders should match the workplace with the workforce.

It’s crucial that organizations engage in two-way communication with employees. Carrying out surveys and actually asking individuals what they want (and expect) will be the key to a good return to the workplace experience, he added.

Once employees come to work in the office they need to be able to rely that it is a safe environment. So, employers should ensure that co-workers are checked and healthy, desks are cleaned and protective material is available.

Jonkeren also considered that it’s not just about the workers that want to return to the workplace, leaders must also make sure that remote workers are still provided with a high-level of support and aren’t left by the wayside.

‘The office isn’t dead, yet’

According to ServiceNow’s 2021 Employee Experience Imperative Report, 60% of respondents indicated a preference for some remote work while 33% said they would prefer a permanent hybrid approach.

So we asked Jonkeren: “How can employers offer this successfully, especially when it adds certain layers of complexity and fluidity to traditional ways of working and thus, HR practices?”

He responded by telling us that there are three clear categories of employees — those that prefer working from home; those that are eager to go back to the office; and those that are new to the workforce and keen to experience company culture in person.

In his words, “the office is not dead, yet.” And so, he feels workers will still come together in the future within a workplace, but with a different purpose — using a central space as a tool for collaboration and embodying the company culture.

Trust, Reassurance, and Productivity

Jonkeren believes people have become more productive working remotely. Employees, he noted, are experiencing more intense and purpose-focused work and the ‘administrivia’ has been removed from many of our day-to-day. Many studies have proven that workers are actually working more, and harder in the new settings.

Technology and automation are helping productivity through automating menial tasks, but it can also hinder it, he added. For example, are people over-communicating through tech and burning out as a result?

It’s up to the employer to work with employees to help create boundaries and routines to enable a work-life balance that works on an individual level, Jonkeren said.

This can start with setting expectations as to whether people should be expected to have their cameras always turned on for video calls — something very simple, that can have a huge impact.

what should the roadmap look like?

The employee experience has become more complex, more important, and more digital than ever before. So, we asked Jonkeren about what he would recommend.

He sees this as an opportunity to redress our processes and understand what’s still valid and what needs to be done now.

One important ‘moment’ for HR to get right, he noted, is the onboarding process, particularly when entirely done remotely. At ServiceNow they hired 3,000 colleagues in the past twelve months, he added. The purpose should be to make sure that employees are “Day 1 ready” — meaning that HR leaders need to ensure a smooth onboarding process for new employees and organize everything they might need ahead of their first day.

Another vital step that HR leaders need to take, Jonkeren noted, was to support processes that are “in the moment” and embedding this into company cultures.

For example, learning ‘in the moment’ by providing educational opportunities and mentoring through feedback are critical to help employees blossom within their roles — whether they are remote or not.

Read more From ServiceNow and UNLEASH:

Get a copy of the ServiceNow 2021 Employee Experience Imperative Report.

ServiceNow run half day Employee Experience Workshops for organizations wanting to design and journey map their employee experiences. Find out more here.

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