News4 min read

How We’ve Turned Employee Experience into a Team Sport

Susan Insley

[caption id="attachment_20916" align="alignright" width="200"] by Susan Insley, vice president of human resources, VMware[/caption]

Employees have high expectations for their workplace experiences. When they can simply order a meal for delivery or a personal rideshare, why shouldn’t they expect to complete a customer loan application or check inventory from a mobile device at work?

The answer is they should.

Why Employee Experience Matters

In today’s competitive talent market, delivering an exceptional employee experience can be a deal maker or a deal breaker for top performers considering whether to stay or move on from our companies. And it influences whether or not candidates even consider your company to be a place they want to work.

There’s a strong link between giving employees a positive digital experience and an organization’s competitive position, revenue growth and employee sentiment, according to a recent global survey. This trend underscores the importance of what our Human Resources (HR) and Information Technology (IT) organizations have doing for a while: collaborating cross-functionally on boosting our digital employee experience.

73 percent of employees and HR decision-makers agree:

'The flexibility of tools I might need to use for work would influence my decision to apply or accept a company’s position.'

What Is Employee Experience?

My IT counterparts define employee experience as a combination of people, process and technology. In HR, we refer to it as a combination of employee technology, workstyle and culture. In both cases, employee experience is influenced by digital employee experience. And our collective job is to give employees the best digital tools for success.

Here are some of the innovative ways our HR and IT organizations team up to improve digital experience:

Data-Driven Decision Making

We’ve expanded our employee surveys, so we have more valuable data around specific areas, such as recruiting, onboarding, learning development and diversity and inclusion. By paying closer attention to employee experience data, HR and IT don’t have to guess what employees are thinking. We know what they want and can make meaningful data-driven decisions about what digital experiences to add or change, in what priority order.

At VMware, we use employee engagement data to guide us toward digital experiences that will make the biggest difference for our employees.

Susan Insley, vice president of human resources, VMware

Talent Management

We introduced a candidate experience team with full responsibility for bringing together opportunities and talent. Under this umbrella, HR and IT pros are working to imagine how success with customer relationship management (CRM) systems might translate into wins for employee recruitment programs.

For example, recruiters might benefit from knowing who to contact when they want to find a certain discipline. In this case, IT expertise is invaluable to simplifying key tasks, like how candidates apply, how interview invitations are generated and more.

Investigation and experimentation with CRM, as well as artificial intelligence and machine learning technology, can help us better adapt as we seek to reach today’s multi-generational workforce.


Our goal of continuous improvement in being able to serve employees from their first introduction to our company through their last day is increasingly becoming a reality.

We’ve significantly improved our onboarding experience by taking feedback to heart and leveraging our digital workspace technologies. And we were able to do it quickly because HR and IT together understands what information, contacts, content, processes, systems and more should be served up.

In partnership with IT, we’ve also improved onboarding HR and hiring manager efficiencies. We introduced chat and a knowledge base that supports real-time, on-demand Q&A without human intervention for the most common HR questions. It personalizes the employee experience while speeding answers.

Digital Employee Experience

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Learning Development

We’ve increasingly seen demand for professional development rise, but we’ve been challenged to deliver it in a way that’s easily accessible. This is an area where IT and HR collaboration has been most meaningful.

We’ve identified how we can quickly add learning platforms that automate content by individual interest and skill development need. Now, we’re also looking at new micro-learning platforms and smartphone apps that use gamification and online collaboration. What we’re finding is fairly regularly and personally relevant content updates keep employee participation rates high.

Individual growth and development is an important factor in overall employee experience.

Susan Insley, vice president of human resources, VMware

Diversity and Inclusion

We know now that diverse talent fuels innovation. Employees don’t have to attend a certain school or earn the same degrees to be excellent developers or domain managers. There’s phenomenal talent all over the world, but accessing it isn’t always as easy as it should be. We’re working to improve our outreach and connections.

Our new diversity and inclusion leader, Shanis Windland, is a real role model. She is bringing HR and IT even closer as we work to get better at finding the critical and unique talent that will help us innovate for the future.

Our charter, our life blood, comes from solving very hard problems for customers. True diversity brings variety into the workforce and that drives innovation.

Susan Insley, vice president of human resources, VMware

Building a Place Where We All Want to Work

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Remote Work

One area that’s growing as a focus is remote work. We are committed to replacing accidental with purpose-filled remote work opportunities through HR and IT partnership. Again our digital workspace tools will enable us to lead in this area by simplifying access, application and device management. This will help employees do their work as easily from anywhere as they can from an office.

Unlocking Potential: HR-IT Employee Experience Partnership

In the same way individuals on a sports team work together for the win, our HR team works collaboratively with our IT organization to advance and accelerate our digital employee experience milestones.

While we continue to be a work in progress, I offer these three thoughts to teams just getting started:

  1. Establish a core employee experience team. HR and IT are the stewards of culture, values, systems and physical workspaces. In more successful companies, according to the survey, employees trust in HR and IT around digital employee experience is high. Leverage that trust to build more in the form of better digital employee experiences.
  2. Benchmark and continuously measure progress. Connect systems and processes that track employee sentiment and engagement. Then, benchmark where you are now using all the data coming in from those areas. From there, have your core team architect one or two digital experiences that will have an immediate impact on your employees. Then, measure again. Communicate your progress.
  3. Customize experiences. Among the best outcomes we’ve had from deeper HR-IT collaboration is greater personalization. When ideas and technologies merge, there’s greater potential for boosting digital employee experience.

Employee experience is a critical talent acquisition and retention differentiator, according to the research. I know it is for our business. Make sure it is for yours, too.

Employee Experience Infographic

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