We sat down and chatted with The CXApp CEO Leon Papkoff and discovered sometimes the best way to connect with people is by sharing barbecue and beer at the company picnic... but also deep experiences fueled by innovation matter too!
Many companies are emphasizing employee experience initiatives that focus on the workforce and how happy people are. What are these businesses hoping to gain?
I think companies have to focus on employee experience in order to compete, because the best talent is possibly getting pulled in to other companies or becoming less engaged.
You know, when you look at the Googles and the Facebooks of the world, especially here in Silicon Valley, they dominate a lot of the physical space. But then, when you have other very exciting companies that are out there but maybe aren't as well-known as a Facebook or Google, they have to compete heavily to be able to pull the top talent over to their organization.
This includes things around what kind of equipment employees get, general accessibility and amenities like motorized desks, good cafeteria options, on-site have fitness centers, and other employee perks that tip the scales for them.
Employees that are highly marketable and highly in demand take these things into account before they [decide to] work for a company. In addition to their potential career trajectory, these amenities are heavily factored into decisions when making job-related decisions.
What do you associate with employee engagement programs?
Not too long ago, employee engagement didn’t go much beyond summer picnics and holiday parties. Then it became much more than that, like town halls, offsite events, volunteer days, or even on-campus dry-cleaning options. Well, these things are coming back again.
Some companies have returned to this more casual form of engagement, where you're introducing that social aspect back into the workplace, because in some ways things have gotten a bit ‘disconnected’ for employees.
That used to be really big deal when I was a kid and my dad was in the workforce. I think that kind of died for a little while, but it's coming back now as a key element.
It's interesting that you mentioned that in the context of the digital age. It seems like a part of making the workplace experience current is actually making it more human and connected.
Yeah, you can't go too much in the technology space without having a nice balance of the social and human interaction aspect of the world. A lot of people feel that sometimes doing too much digital is going to remove the human interaction.
If you're using digital in the right ways, like socially, to get feedback, to see how the competition is doing, to be more insightful if employees are having a good time, you can evangelize that information using applications.
That can be very valuable, but you don't want to do it at the point where you're taking away from social interactivity amongst employees and inhibiting relationship building. Those types of things will keep people at companies much longer than anything digital will. It's a fine balance.
Some companies are taking a new approach to transforming the employee experience by building a “digital workplace”. I want you to describe what that means.
The digital workplace essentially activates and brings multiple elements of the workplace together with more advanced technology to create a seamless and immersive experience across your entire workforce.
Think about something like booking a conference room. In the old days, that was pretty much done through Outlook and your calendar system. In today’s world, that's all moving to mobile applications. Reading the latest news and information about the company started off on websites and Intranets. Now that's all moving towards mobile applications too. You're also seeing sensors inside of offices, things like if I need a parking place and the parking lot is full, what parking spaces are available. How can you readily make this information available and accessible?
A lot of corporate work environments can be considered small cities (of multiple buildings), that are in need of connecting their workforce from building to building in human and digital ways. I just came from a meeting earlier today where they have over 65 buildings. So, having those connection points across different workplace tools and ‘needs’ makes it a much more convenient, easy-to-use-experience for employees and the best place to make that happen is all from a mobile device.
It sounds like what you're describing is kind of a unifying trend: [employees] used to do all these different things in different tabs on the desktop. Now, they’re walking around and it's all in one place. Would you say that that's what companies are moving toward?
You're seeing a culmination of multiple different technologies coming together underneath the umbrella of what we would call a “Campus” app.
You're seeing things like booking a reservation in a cafeteria, scheduling a conference room, scheduling a virtual desk for a few days while you're in the office physically, reading the latest news and even scheduling an aerobics class the morning before work.
All types of different tasks that were done on the Intranet in the past have been moving toward a mobile app format. It’s a new wave of employee engagement that takes into account traditional activities, like summer BBQs and happy hours, and combines them with more advanced workflows that make coming to work and doing your job just a bit more engaging.
Let’s talk about how a Campus app plays into balancing the human and the digital.
Yes, so you're not trying to remove the human aspect of [the workplace]. You're trying to make the employees’ life easier because they have access to all these amenities through one mobile application.
So, a good example of that is if you have a trip planned to Disneyland and there's a Disneyland mobile app. Well, you don't need to have the mobile app, but it enhances your experience while you're in the park. The reason it's a better experience is because you can use a digital ticket to enter the park, guide yourself around to different rides, exhibits, and restaurants.
The other thing that the app doesn't do is it doesn't replace the amazing customer service that Disney has under its brand. When you go and interact with an [employee] in the park, they’re going to give you that Disney first-class experience as a human touch point.
[The app] is an enhancement, it's not a replacement; that's the important thing we need to think about. When you look at how employees are interacting with a campus app, it's an enhancement that makes their life a little bit easier, but you shouldn't be using it as a complete replacement for the way you’re caring for your people.
If you have an amazing corporate culture, then why not enhance it with a campus app? That’s how you can truly differentiate yourself. But if you don’t have a good corporate culture or workplace environment in place, you probably need to start there first...