Thought Leadership AI

7 ways leaders can use AI to improve the digital employee experience

In an age of automation, see how leaders are incorporating AI tools to improve and personalize the digital employee experience.
6 min read

Updated on July 12, 2023

Published on June 07, 2023

7 Ways Leaders Can Use AI To Improve The Digital Employee Experience

The best companies are laser-focused on providing exceptional experiences for their customers to differentiate themselves in competitive markets. But to provide that experience externally, they need to look inward first. To attract and retain the best talent, organizations need to be able to tout a strong culture, and digital employee experiences are becoming essential to keeping employees happy, engaged, and productive.

Many organizations, including Zoom, are creating AI tools as a way to serve employees and help them to do their jobs better. For example, when I couldn’t attend a recent meeting, one of our new AI features helped me stay on top of what I needed to do. Zoom’s meeting summary feature sent me a quick recap of the topics covered and an action item I was able to complete within minutes, saving me time while helping my team take their next steps.

On the other hand, employees are understandably nervous that using AI to automate tasks may make their roles redundant. Navigating this tension and figuring out how to incorporate AI in the workplace effectively is on a lot of employers’ minds lately. 

I sat down with Zoom customers Casey Santos, chief information officer at Asurion; David Strickland, VP of telehealth and care at home technology at Kaiser Permanente; and Jason Averbook, senior partner and global leader of digital HR strategy at Mercer, during our most recent Work Transformation Summit to talk about how they’re using AI to improve the digital employee experience. Here are some key takeaways.

1. AI won’t replace the human touch, but it will enhance it

“We’ve been using AI to help prompt contact center employees to get to the answer more quickly, so they can serve customers with a more personal touch." - Casey Santos, chief information officer, Asurion

Casey said that at her organization, AI enables employees to respond to customers’ needs more quickly, which makes everyone happier. They also use chatbots internally to help employees with routine IT questions or actions in a self-service model. 

But chatbots aren’t going to be replacing help desk jobs — in fact, they can free up staff to handle more complex interactions that need a human touch, which has a positive effect on employee experience and culture. “It unlocks capabilities to reach people more easily and effectively,” Casey explained. 

2. Personalization is key to deepening digital employee experiences

“Anytime you can tell an employee or customer, ‘I know who you are and I know what matters to you,’ you’re deepening the relationship.” - David Strickland, VP of telehealth and care at home technology, Kaiser Permanente

All those hours your team spends creating content for learning and training could be knocked down to mere minutes using generative AI. Content can be tailored to an employee’s specific role, goals, and career path, making it even more effective. 

“AI can allow me to personalize content like never before based on who you are, what you do, where you’ve been, and where you’re going in an organization,” Jason said. He noted that organizations are prioritizing generative AI to elevate the traditional intranet or employee portal to a truly interactive digital employee experience. By leveraging data and learnings about how employees work and interact, employers can create digital tools that “know” employees and make recommendations to help them be most efficient and effective.


3. AI can meet employees where they are with language they understand

"The technology has to work for employees, managers, and leaders who don’t speak HR or IT. It needs to speak the language of the human." - Jason Averbook, senior partner and global leader of digital HR strategy, Mercer

Older technologies expected employees to know what keywords to use to get the information they needed, and often those phrases weren’t intuitive. Think of how you might have searched for something in the past, speaking in keywords like “add a dependent” or “parental leave.”

Generative AI has opened up the ability for people to have conversations with technology in ways they never have before. Jason pointed out that large language models are capable of understanding how employees speak, not in specialized HR or IT terms. Now people can say, “I’m having a baby,” and get benefit details or guidance on updating their information. That back-and-forth exchange helps build trust and adoption of the technology.

4. Change is hard — so practice changefulness

“We’ve got five generations of people who are working together. Some are digital immigrants and some are digital natives. For some, these tools and skills come naturally — continuous innovation, learning, experimentation, but for others, change is hard.” - Jason Averbook, senior partner and global leader of digital HR strategy, Mercer

AI is evolving at a pace we’ve never seen before. If we’re going to take advantage of what this technology can offer, it requires what Jason refers to as “changefulness,” a mindset open to change.

That means trying new things, innovating, and yes, failing fast — an idea that can be scary for some companies. With AI capabilities increasing exponentially, companies doing pilots and encouraging experimentation will be in a position to keep up with the evolution, while the ones taking a traditional approach by blocking or restricting the use of technologies like ChatGPT will have fallen behind.

5. Don’t know where to focus? Start with impact.

“The way we can really help folks is to focus on the problem we're trying to solve or the opportunities that we can pursue.” - David Strickland, VP of telehealth and care at home technology, Kaiser Permanente

Embracing experimentation doesn’t mean opening your organization up to risk with a free-for-all approach. But it can be difficult to know where to start. Jason encouraged companies to ask themselves, “How are we as an organization going to use these tools based on how we want to work?” in order to focus their efforts on what will be most impactful for employees and the business.

6. Think minimum lovable product, not minimum viable product

“Phase one has to work. It has to be minimum lovable, not minimum viable, because our audience has expectations unlike they’ve ever had before.” - Jason Averbook, senior partner and global leader of digital HR strategy, Mercer

Implementing a new technology too quickly can have its pitfalls, however. If employees have one bad experience with a product that doesn’t have all its kinks worked out, it might discourage them from using it in the future, even when the technology gets better. Jason recommended that employers should aim for a “minimum lovable product” because a minimum viable product might not meet employees’ high expectations.

7. AI leaves time for “hearts’ work”

“We’ll be able to move away from doing the day-to-day work to focus on what’s more creative, unique — what separates us as businesses, as partners, as humans.” - Casey Santos, chief information officer, Asurion

There are three different types of work, as identified by Jason — hands’ work, heads’ work, and hearts’ work. He predicted that AI will replace the research and transactional duties that make up hands’ work — like the time-consuming task of creating content for a learning course, a new HR policy, or a job description. 

That leaves us with more time to focus on heads’ work, like how to grow your business, and hearts’ work, like driving empathy into your actions and decisions.

“We’ll all have an opportunity to pursue vital work for our organization,” David added.

Changing the way work works

These conversations with our customers at the Work Transformation Summit proved one certainty: the way work works is changing. As Jason predicted, generative AI will bring about true work transformation — not just a transfer from one technology to another, but evolving the means and meaning of work.

It's up to us as leaders to mindfully adopt AI while keeping a constant pulse on how new technologies and digital employee experiences are impacting people. It can be overwhelming to know where to start, and we might not always get it right on the first try. But the point is to try. We must be open to change, because change is certainly coming our way.

Visit our Work Transformation Summit on-demand library for the full conversation.

Our customers love us

Western Union
Western Union

Zoom - One Platform to Connect