Four ways to improve employee experience with a virtual assistant
Most organizations ponder which is more important: customers or employees? Without employees organizations don’t have customers and without customers there are no jobs for employees. I see them as equally important and excellent care should be taken of both groups. We’ve all heard of customer experience, but still in today’s work life – where staff turnover gives organizations a tormenting headache – employee experience is only vaguely familiar to most. Even though studies show that companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those that do not (1).
What is employee experience?
Employee experience is an employee’s journey through the employment life cycle, starting from candidacy for the job all the way to the end of exiting the organization. For some the journey might be months, but for many it lasts for years or even decades. Regardless of the duration, employee experience is each employee’s perception of this journey including organization culture, digital and physical environment(1).
One way to dig into the theme is to understand what qualities people are looking for in work life. According to Mercer’s study (2) – regardless of job or industry – people crave for an experience that is enriching, embracing, efficient and empathetic. To develop all these four qualities organizations can turn to an intelligent virtual assistant. A virtual assistant is a conversational artificial intelligence (AI) based helper, an intelligent chatbot, designed to help organizations to give their personnel always available and easy to use service.
Virtual assistants can help organizations improve employee experience in four significant ways:
1. Sustain focus with the help of an intelligent virtual assistant
People seek meaning and fulfillment in their jobs as well as possibilities to learn, develop themselves and have an impact on the work that they are doing (2). Yet research reveals, that on average, 95 % of a company’s employees are unaware of or do not understand its strategy (3). With a virtual assistant an organization can enhance communication of strategy, targets, and direction to all individuals – to ensure that everyone knows their role and responsibilities in the whole. A virtual assistant greets employees in the mornings and lets them know the most important news of the organization and helps employees to keep up to date in the information flood. Virtual assistant enhances target setting guiding both employees and managers through the process and ensures that time is spent on discussing important issues e.g., targets, expectations, and feedback.
2. More efficiency and less stress with a virtual assistant
People want efficient work conditions, which means tools and resources that help them do their jobs better and faster (2). Employees also expect to have the same type of consumer-grade technology they are used to (2). An organization-wide used virtual assistant is the centralized hub for information. It is everyone’s best friend, who is always available and wants to help regardless of the time, workload, or feelings. Since employees ask for help from virtual assistant instead of co-workers and managers, there are far less interruptions at work. Due to this efficiency is higher. Time spent on interruptions varies in studies but takes an average of 10-25 minutes for the individual to get back into the workflow where one was before the interruption. If that isn’t enough people in interrupted conditions experience higher stress, frustration, workload, effort, and time pressure (4).
3. More meaningful work for humans
As a virtual assistant does routine work for managers and professionals in internal service e.g., HR, IT, finance, procurement, their time is freed up for more meaningful work. As Mercer’s study (2) shows people crave for being accepted, heard, and belonging to a group. In the workplace it means managers must have time for their team members to show direction and to show that they care. Due to hybrid work time is needed even more since there is a shift from leading teams to leading individuals.
In a work community its everyone’s responsibility to be empathetic towards others and act according to the organization’s values. Also, a virtual assistant can be trained to act according to the organization’s values. An avatar and character are created for a virtual assistant, and it can show feelings in communication and encourage employees to act according to certain ways e.g., encourage employees to analyze their motivation and discuss this with their manager.
4. Virtual assistant as a source of information
Employee experience is an ever-changing issue, which can’t be solved with one project. Work needs to be done every day and organizations need to understand their employees’ needs. A virtual assistant helps by gathering data on employees’ questions, trends, and silent signals. Employee surveys can also be done with virtual assistant.
We at Front AI are passionate about helping our clients focus on things that matter. We reimage employee experience with conversational AI by automating employee touchpoints. If you want to discuss more about intelligent virtual assistant, you can book a free consultation time with me, and we’ll discuss how your organization can benefit from a virtual assistant.
Nina Koskela, Head of Internal VA
1) The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan
2) Building a better employee experience | Mercer
3) The Office of Strategy Management, Robert s. Kaplan and David P. Norton
4) The Cost of Interrupted Work: More Speed and Stress, Gloria Mark, Daniela Gudith and Ulrich Klocke