Years ago, few organisations thought too much about their employees’ experiences of the IT systems they worked with every day. It was just part of the job. People were expected to get on with their day-to-day jobs. Fast forward to today, with a constantly evolving workforce and a global pandemic, it’s a very different story. In the human+machine age, how people interact with IT has become an increasingly vital concern.

In private sector organisations, the shift from human capital management (HCM) to human experience management, or HXM, started a number of years ago. Winning the war for talent made monitoring employee satisfaction a high priority. Now HXM has to be a key priority for public service organisations too.

The introduction of shared-service centres – centralised hubs handling core functions like HR, procurement and payroll across multiple public service agencies – is now a major trend. And it’s one that has vastly increased the need for employers to listen to how their people feel about their work environment (including the systems they interact with), understand what they want and importantly act on those insights.

Listen, understand, act

So, what do they want? To answer that question, Accenture carried out an in-depth x-industry global survey to hear the views of executives and employees. Top line: by meeting people’s fundamental needs through work, organisations don’t just keep their best people onboard, they unlock their full potential too. We call it making people “Net Better Off”, and we’ve identified five practices to make it happen.

One of these is “listen to what your people need at the frontlines”. We found that agencies that do well here use technology to anticipate, predict, and rapidly respond to their people’s needs. They use two-way applications to flag trends while giving individuals a voice. This helps them build trust by applying insights in a way that benefits their people.

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Public service employees who experience this approach adapt much more effectively to change (97%) than those who don’t (31%). And while, overall, public service employees agree that their agency communicated with them effectively during the pandemic in 2020, they’re looking for more. Almost half of them want their agencies to adopt new methods and processes for creativity and innovation.

Furthermore, in an SAP report, developed in conjunction with Oxford Economics, The Public Sector Transformation Imperative: Serving Citizens through Connections, Transparency and Purpose-led Leadership, more than half (54%) of public sector respondents said improving employee experience would advance their reputation as an industry leader.

Taking advantage of technology

With people and technology working closer together, and digital transformations being rolled out in many areas of public service, it’s no longer enough to rely on lagging indicators like yearly employee surveys. With the pace of change accelerating all the time, continuous monitoring of the employee experience is essential.

Nowadays, public service agencies are competing for the best talent, just like any other organisation. If they can’t offer an experience – from hire to retire – that matches the digital experiences people receive in other areas of their lives, they’ll lose out. That’s not all. To deliver a high-quality citizen experience, public service employees have to be engaged. If people aren’t happy in their work, it shows. Employees need to be engaged and productive from day one, supported by consistent processes and tools, as well as the required training to get up to speed fast.

There’s growing demand for solutions that can make all this happen. The good news? These solutions are here today and can be installed rapidly (within a few weeks), without the need for any resource-intensive implementation programmes. And they’re getting results. One example is the QLD Public Service Commission (PSC) COVID-19 means all governments are being pushed to deliver more and better front-line services to their communities. PSC understood that a superior employee experience meant better services for the people of Queensland, especially during fast change, so needed to uncover critical insights to support this journey.

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End-to-end insight

PSC designed and delivered a comprehensive survey for its 180,000 public sectors employees – using Qualtrics’ platform – which preserved anonymity of respondents, encouraging full and frank disclosure – and analytical tools to gain a better picture into what their employees were feeling.

The surveys asked employees to provide opinion on factors including organisational leadership, innovation, empowerment, learning & development and workload & health. The rich insights provided agencies with the intel on where there is room for improvement, allowing PSC to develop the strategies and tools that enable agencies to facilitate conversations with their employees and identify opportunities to drive positive workplace improvements.

Using the survey data, the PSC can quickly develop its own data visualisations to address specific requirements. This allows the PSC to deliver tailored programs, aligning results with strategic frameworks, whole-of-government initiatives and their leadership competencies.

Individual departments and agencies are now empowered to run their own highly targeted surveys or employee pulse checks. Queensland Fire and Emergency Services has already used the platform to run a volunteer survey, gaining previously unavailable insights and identifying opportunities for improvement.

The message is clear: at a time of great change and strain, focusing on the progression from HCM to HXM is key. The PCS is just one example that demonstrates the importance of gaining data and insights to help make informed decisions.  To find out how we can help you do the same, please get in touch.

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Lisa Peters

Managing Director – Accenture Health and Public Service, Australia and New Zealand

Chris Peck

Executive General Manager – Public Services, SAP Australia

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