In the last year, HR has experienced patches of uncertainty and intense scrutiny. It is difficult to pinpoint the future of HR, especially when considering your own companies’ direction against those in a similar industry. It’s hard to know what’s going to happen, so the best thing you can do is to listen to what others in similar businesses are doing and really pay attention to what thought leaders are anticipating.

Based on what we heard from the experts at the recent HR tech conference, here are three employee experience best practices that you should make a priority in 2021.


Designing human-focused employee experiences

In his opening keynote, Josh Bersin reassures us that the world of work has already adapted to, and recovered from, the pandemic. The jury might still be out on that one, but we do agree that companies are realizing that the future of work calls for massive HR tech investment. As Bersin says, organizations are ready to commit to this idea for the next two years.

Bersin also explained that while the Employee Experience Platform (EXP) category has direction and magnitude, the meaning of the term has become loose. What companies need to do is focus on the heart of EXP.Gartner diagram showing the work influences on employee experience

His prediction for the future of HR is a shift in focus to investing in “systems of design”. These systems allow you to take control and tailor the employee experience to meet your organization’s unique and specific needs.

At its core, designing for the employee experience requires an understanding of the human aspect of work. This chart from Gartner shows the factors that contribute to the employee experience. With this model, we can see that there is a complex mix of influences and touchpoints that contribute to an employee’s experience. Using this as reference we can begin to understand how we can use HR tech to enhance and remove friction from the key parts of an employee’s experience.

Onboarding and offboarding are both incredibly personal and human moments of employment that have lasting impacts on your employees and your brand. For Marriot, the pandemic meant having to furlough many employees very quickly. Jessica Lee, VP of Performance and Brand Talent Advisory for Marriot, referenced the situation by saying that not only is “[navigating unemployment] an awful transaction to have to go through, but it was made even worse by the fact that we had overburdened systems”. Unlike software, people are complex and have real emotions. When talking about human interaction with software we need to include employee feelings towards their work as a key indicator of long-term success.


“The fact that people were having to complete a transaction that was gut wrenching, frustrating, awful in and of itself yet made worse by things that had so much friction in them”

– Jessica Lee, VP of Performance and Brand Talent Advisory for Marriot


This is where designing for human-focused employee experiences is key. Going forward, employee experience platforms need to look at self-service functions as more than simple transactions and instead as an employee touchpoint. By making the user experience as frictionless as possible, organizations can help make employee life experiences like offboarding, personal information changes due to things like divorce or loss of a loved one and taking time off for health reasons a little more human. Everyone deserves intuitive workspaces that put them first.



Looking toward the permanent shift to hybrid work

It’s no secret that remote work is here to stay. As organizations begin to accept that hybrid work will become the norm, they also need to focus on expanding, redesigning, and improving their digital workplace experiences to support remote, office, and hybrid employees.

Melanie Lougee, Head of Employee Workflow Strategy at ServiceNow, argued that the digital workplace is the new workplace and that it needs to be invested in accordingly to drive more productivity and engagement.


“As organizations were forced to rely on their technologies, in a lot of cases, they found out they maybe underinvested in these technologies over time”

– Melanie Lougee, Head of Employee Workflow Strategy at ServiceNow


We can think of 2020 and 2021 as dress rehearsals for the future of work, and for many employees, the experience has been lackluster. According to Microsoft, 41% of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer this year. Between digital overload, poor employee well-being policies, and difficult tools, there is room for improvement.

Since February 2020, weekly meeting time, for Teams users, has more than doubled resulting in a 148% increase. Microsoft also reported an additional 40.6 billion emails delivered over the last year. Weekly teams chat per-person are up 45% and rising alongside the 66% yearly increase in use of Office documents. The trends are clear, a hybrid workplace means a higher dependency on software – and employees who feel overwhelmed by the complexity.

Organizations need to support digital journeys and simplify them so users can spend less time on transactional tasks. Adopting a hybrid-first mentality and designing thoughtful approaches to digital work will be critical for attracting and retaining diverse talent not only today, but in the future as younger digital-focused generations join the labor market. The priority should be on making work, work seamlessly across the enterprise and simplifying complex employee journeys.


Adding value to the software employees use most often

During his keynote, Josh Bersin referenced Okta’s study of their customers and the number of employee systems each has. The result? An astounding 120 systems, on average. A mindboggling and ever-growing number. Bersin stresses that there is no feasible way employees in these companies can use all these tools well (or even understand what each of them do). How can these companies address this software overload? Well, the need is to simplify or bring them together to make them accessible. Employees need one place to go that provides a personalized, intuitive enterprise journey with personalized workflows and notifications.


“So we need to either simplify [the software] or put something in the middle that makes them all easier to use – and that’s really the theme for HR technology”

– Josh Bersin


Many years ago, these one-stop shops were intranet portals built on SharePoint, Drupal, or Liferay. More recently we see customers using ServiceNow or Salesforce as the basis for their destination sites. The future points towards team communication and collaboration tools (think Slack or Teams) housing content, tools, and services to become a hub for employees.

Out of the box, these platforms such as ServiceNow and Viva are “jumping off” points. Merely a collection of links that force employees to jump through hoops as they leave the main site and log into other applications. A true destination site needs to be more. It needs to eliminate the hoops and provide a cohesive interface capable of providing direct content from applications, in one location.

Simple integration creates meaningful connections between employee facing systems so they can display content from deep within applications and show personalized views of vital information. Things such as, remaining PTO, leave requests, time sheets, and pay should all be easily accessible from one location. Having the power to bring modernized transactions from applications INSIDE the destination site ensures a one-stop shop.

The employee experience best practice going forwards needs to be focused on helping employees to fully interact, transact, and write data back into the systems of record in real-time, without having to leave the destination site.


InFlight presented on how you can add value to your existing HR tech stack and add value to your employee destination sites. Watch our HR Tech Session on demand to hear the full story for yourself!


Key takeaways

This year, organizations need to focus on designing employee experience solutions that focus on customized human experiences to ensure employees are put first. These systems need to prioritize the employee experiences best practices outlined above, like removing friction and delivering streamlined, modern, and connected digital workplaces. Strong hybrid work strategies and providing tools that work for all employees, anywhere, will be key for attracting and retaining talent in the coming years.


About InFlight

InFlight believes in bridging the gap between existing software and human needs by removing unnecessary friction and providing customized employee experience solutions. Contact us to learn more about how you can integrate these employee experiences best practices into your software today,

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