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HR Managers: Don't Overlook This Area of Employee Experience

By Rob Harrison, MD UKI, SAP Concur

July 17 2020 - As an HR manager, what does employee experience mean to you? Most professionals would associate the term with practices such as offering competitive salaries, an attractive benefits package, work/life balance, and perks such as paid birthdays off or allowing dogs in the office. But employee experience encompasses more than just these things, especially in today's changing work environment with more people working outside of the office and managing day-to-day tasks in a remote setting.

Now more than ever, making seemingly small improvements outside the traditional norms of HR and employee experience can mean the difference between keeping a workforce on track, engaged and productive. With many business facing periods of budget cuts and hiring freezes, helping support employee retention and job satisfaction is crucial during this uncertain time.

The tools and technology employees use every day can have an impact on their work. Outdated systems and tedious processes can wear on employees and contribute to an overall negative employee experience. A recently commissioned study conducted by Forrester Consulting on behalf of SAP Concur found that a focus on tools employees use on a regular basis is critical to enable good employee experiences. More than 60 percent of those surveyed named travel and expense (T&E) management software (63%), and accounts payable (AP) automation tools (68%), as two of the most important tools when it comes to good employee experience.

As borders begin to open and travel starts to pick up again, businesses should prepare now and adopt new process and practices that support employees - while at the same time, gaining visibility across cost lines and spend management across the business during this time.

While it might sound trivial, improving everyday processes like T&E and AP can make a big impact on employees' day-to-day satisfaction. This may not fall directly in your purview as an HR manager so collaborating with your finance, IT, and your company's travel manager is vital. Below are four actions you can champion as you work with other departments to affect positive changes to your employee's experience in your organisation:

1. Eliminate menial tasks. Employees cannot afford to waste valuable time manually filling out expense reports or scanning paper receipts when they could be focusing on more meaningful, high priority work. These menial tasks also can be more challenging when working remotely. According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research on behalf of SAP Concur, 24 percent of business travellers would rather have a cavity filled than must fill out expense reports. The pain is real. While finance and IT may be hesitant to bring in new tools that automate the T&E process, as an HR leader, you can help them understand the benefits such technology can bring not only to employees but also to productivity, efficiency, and ultimately the company's bottom line.

2. Give them tools they love to use. As employees rely on their mobile devices more, they expect access to many of the tools they use for work on their phones. What's more, they want their interaction with work apps to look and feel like the consumer apps they use on a daily basis. For example, as travel begins again, booking flights and accommodation should be a simple and seamless process for employees. You can work with your company's travel manager to help ensure employees who need to travel have a hassle-free experience from the start, which includes offering apps that allow them to book through their corporate tool or directly with their preferred airline or hotel.

3. Go digital. Paper is out, pixels are in. These days, no one wants to deal with the hassle of accumulating paper receipts. Even worse, with many employees working from home, requesting employees go into the office to collect invoices that have come in through the mail can become a logistics and liability issue. There are advantages to going digital that you can bring to light with your finance and IT counterparts, including a decrease in expense and invoice errors, timely employee reimbursements and vendor payments, and less paperwork for employees. All of these can lead to a better employee experience.

4. Renewed emphasis on duty of care. Ensuring the safety and security of employees when they are out of the office and traveling on behalf of the company has always been important. But as businesses begin to consider essential travel for employees, the importance of duty of care from the beginning of the travel process to the end is even greater. Connect with your travel manager to assess your company's duty of care process to help determine if small updates or significant changes are needed. Is the booking technology you currently use capable of tracking where traveling employees are and does it allow you to communicate with them during an emergency? Does your company have the tools needed to monitor threats throughout the world and help you bring employees home safely? If the answer to these questions is no, it's time to work with your travel manager to identify options that will help your employees feel safer on the road.

When it comes to employee experience, what may seem like small actions can make as much of an impact as offering more benefits and extra time off. While it might not seem like a natural fit, HR can and should play an important role in championing tools and technology that positively benefit the employee experience. Make no mistake, you can't do it alone. Collaboration with stakeholders in finance, IT, and travel is critical to success. With these actions, you can trim tedious and otherwise unnecessary steps from employees' day-to-day routines, which results in what any HR leader would want: engaged, productive employees.



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