บทความ

How we work: the employee experience reimagined

Every organization is working out the next new normal, whether that’s a return to modified office life or a long-term version of work from home. As employee needs and expectations rise, HR leaders must reimagine the employee experience of the future—today.

By Mechele Neeley-Scholis, VP, Head of Global HR Business Partnering

เผยแพร่เมื่อ 1 ตุลาคม, 2020
ปรับปรุงล่าสุดเมื่อ 8 ตุลาคม, 2020

At Zendesk, my team and I are going beyond adjusting for the new normal. We are taking this difficult time as an opportunity to completely reimagine how we work.

Covid-19 forced us on a journey to reenvision and realign our practices, tools, and services. This is no small task, either in terms of logistics or impact: As Gartner predicts, “the habits employees and managers are forming now will have a long tail and influence the way organizations operate for years to come.” Reimagining how we work is a massive undertaking. Where do you even start?

A guiding principle: digital first, virtual everyday

We are grounding our efforts firmly in the idea that digital and virtual are now key drivers for our workforce, our workplace, and how we work. To be digital first and virtual, we have to evolve our mindsets and our services. Automation, tools, and technology are allowing us to create a level and transparent access point for all employees globally—24/7.

How infrastructure and our people practices line up

Our focus on the new human interactions between leaders, their teams, and the business is an outcome of amazing tools: The work of Human Resources Business Partners has shifted. We are in the midst of aligning our infrastructure and our people practices to reimagine and define how to go from synchronous to asynchronous. When we think about asynchronous, we’re considering the big picture:

  • Everyone may be remote, working in all different places and time zones, alone
  • Yet communication and collaboration are the lifeblood of any successful company
  • How do we make sure it all comes together?

The types of tools employees need

We are looking at our Workplace—collaboration centers, our work evolving from process drivers to allowing tools and automation to work so we can focus on innovation and being creative. Collaborating employees must be able to use tools, systems and automation—to be able to do analysis or whiteboarding or big brainstorming. Tools that are needed are always on, creating ease of use and acting as a record to listen to our employees and customers. To create that environment, digitizing our work is essential.

Onboarding, reborn

As new employees have joined, we’ve had to shift from a process based in face-to-face interaction to digital first—these days we are no longer handing someone a laptop and sending them to two days of orientation in a conference room.

We’ve further strengthened the partnership between our Workplace and IT teams to ensure a smooth workflow, straightforward processes, and a seamless experience for new employees. That means:

  • We start the provisioning process with details that are automatically populated from the human resources tool Workday
  • New-hire training is now done virtually through an online learning platform, augmented by institutional knowledge captured in the employee knowledge base, built with Zendesk Guide

With these shifts, the onboarding process has taken on a new uniformity, and employees are better equipped to get the help they need on their own.

Zendesk products support Zendesk employees

We also use our own products to provide ongoing support.

  • Employees can use our AI-enabled chat bot to find answers in the knowledge base
  • They can file a ticket in Zendesk Support to get assistance from 24-hour shared services teams across the company
  • Built-in workflow automation and tracking tools let everyone involved see who’s responsible, who’s a stakeholder, and what the status of the ticket is

Collaboration and learning: transparent and democratized

Teamwork no longer hinges on contact with the person you sit next to. Formal learning and institutional knowledge are getting shared mainly over informal Slack and Zoom calls. As we develop this concept of digital first and virtual everyday with remote as a core, one of our requirements is having systems and tools that allow everyone around the world to have the same experience.

“We have to democratize access to institutional knowledge—this will be a critical driver of productivity.”
-Mechele Neeley-Scholis, VP, Head of Global HR Business Partnering

In the Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends Survey, 2020, 75 percent of surveyed organizations say creating and preserving knowledge across evolving workforces is important or very important for their success over the next 12 to 18 months.

Peer-to-peer knowledge sharing: centralized

Employees simply need a single, central place where they can go to get answers. We can’t have random Google docs going out over email that will inevitably get lost, especially if those emails contain important information like back-to-work policies and new employee benefits.

Core to what we do across our People and Places teams: We lead teams that engage with our global employees to advance our culture and to create amazing experiences for our employees.

“HRBP roles are evolving to a place where we are intimate in understanding our employees' needs and career aspirations so they can grow with the shifts of the teams and the growth of Zendesk.”
-Mechele Neeley-Scholis, VP, Head of Global HR Business Partnering

A laser focus on what matters

We have time to work with our leaders to advance their approaches to align with the new way of working by focusing their engagements on:

  • outcomes
  • employee wellness
  • flexibility

We are not looking at how much time you are at your desk to assess growth and value. This in itself is a shift: We are learning to move away from using meetings to communicate information and rather use meetings to have the necessary discussions that drive collaboration, time to innovate and create. We are no longer meeting to review slides.

“We are not looking at how much time you are at your desk to assess growth and value.”
-Mechele Neeley-Scholis, VP, Head of Global HR Business Partnering

This also means reducing meetings. When we come together as a company or team, the purpose must be superclear. With the new distribution of our workforce in the office and home, flexibility is a must. It is a requirement to help in the new way to work.

Slack and Zoom: the new office

In support of these aims, we are using Slack more, to inform and to make engagement more meaningful. Slack is the new office and has become the new cool place to hang out. It is that living space where we now catch up with colleagues to have those watercooler chats, only virtually, of course. Zoom, like Slack, has long been a part of our work lives at Zendesk, but we have upped the bells and whistles available to us.

For instance, more reactions. We’re learning how to create emotion through Zoom. More and more, we’re exploring ways to use tools in a way that’s deeper and multidimensional. Engagement in the big, company-wide or department-wide meetings of the past was minimal. There’s more awareness now. Many more of us now have played the role of the presenter—and through the positive and also uncomfortable experiences in that, we’ve learned how to interact better virtually. When we meet in these virtual rooms, we need to be mindful and enable individuals to be heard, and seek out voices of differing opinions. This helps build psychological safety and trust, which is especially critical in being remote and distributed.

The power of self-service

Here we also use our own software for housing answers to employee questions—including a one-stop shop built on top of Zendesk Guide, our help center software, for all the employee resources available to support them through these times, such as:

  • wellbeing allowances
  • mental health resources
  • links to learning opportunities

The actual humans on the Employee Shared Services team are still resources, but we want to give employees the ability to self-serve, especially on the kinds of questions that many employees tend to have about:

  • time off
  • benefits
  • paycheck withholding

One benefit of enabling our employees to self-serve is that all roles across our People & Places organization are better able to evolve. The business partners can better focus on our leaders’ strategies, the needs of our teams, and the wellness of our global employees.

How AI helps employees

Answer Bot, Zendesk’s AI-enabled chat bot, uses machine learning to answer employee questions with content from our knowledge base.

  • Currently Answer Bot solves 3 percent of all employee questions
  • Putting Answer Bot to work also helps us understand what content we are currently lacking—and thus what content we need to develop
  • In adding to the knowledge base, we further enrich our resources for employees

At home and at work

Our strategy around digital first and virtual everyday will help us move our engagement with leaders and employees alike into a more creative and collaborative space. This evolution is critical for employee satisfaction. It’s also critical for the scale of our business and the needs of our customers.

Now people’s lives aren't demarcated by home and by work, separately—they're at home and at work. They're in another country from each other, they're in another time zone. If you don't create this consistent employee experience, you've got chaos.

But in pulling it off—and we are making that happen—we are setting the standard for a new way of working that keeps our employees and our customers top of mind.