EXPs: The HR Battleground of the Future
EXPs: The HR Battleground of the Future
Scott Henry | Software Architect
December 6, 2021
An employee experience platform (EXP) is an integrated suite of tools that supports the management, delivery, optimization, and composition of digital employee experiences. EXPs deliver a platform to guide, speak to, and listen to employees. A customer experience platform (CXP) possesses similar functionality but its audience is customers. Finally, a digital experience platform (DXP) refers generally to a suite of technologies used to manage relationships between customers, employees, partners, and prospects.
Corporate intranets (EXPs), the internal version of external customer websites, today are typically aging, underfunded, difficult to use, and poorly designed. Nobody really likes their corporate intranet, and all too often these intranets are designed to put across corporate leadership’s message rather than communicating the information that employees need and want.
But what if the lessons learned in the world of CXPs were applied to EXPs?
Atmos Energy | The Starting Point
Atmos Energy is America’s largest natural gas-only distributor of safe, clean, efficient, and affordable energy. Due to its growing workforce, Atmos Energy needed to update its legacy intranet system (EXP) and replace it with a modern digital platform that was tailored to employees and designed for productivity.
We recently sat down with Phase2 Software Architect Scott Henry to discuss this real-world example of an organization investing in its EXP and the benefits it saw from that move.
What challenges was Atmos Energy experiencing with its existing employee intranet?
When we started the project, the Atmos Energy employee intranet (Atmosphere) was six years old and in desperate need of an update. The search functionality wasn’t user-friendly. Employees were finding it nearly impossible to locate documents. They often had to ask for help getting their hands on what they needed. It wasn’t quick and easy.
Specifically, Phase2 was charged with:
- Creating an intranet that allowed employees to search and share knowledge and information across the company
- Architecting a central hub for key business tools with a standardized, responsive user interface that enabled employees to get their work done
- Organizing all the content to facilitate easy searching and browsing
- Targeting content for employees based on their job role and allowing them to easily keep track of the content they cared about most
Atmos Energy wanted the whole system to have a modern look and feel and be easy to access on whatever devices their employees were using— in the office or out in the field. They really wanted to speed workflows by serving up the most relevant content and features and they wanted the platform to be secure and extensible for future enhancements.
There are a lot of employee experience platforms out there. What was the process for determining how to proceed with Atmos Energy?
The atmosenergy.com public-facing site was built on Drupal 7. They were very familiar with Drupal and wanted to stick with it as they recognized there would be a lot of changes coming to their intranet and they wanted to start with something they knew well.
That said, Atmos Energy doesn’t shy away from cutting edge tech. They rightly understood that with Drupal, they could make exactly the customizations they wanted for their employees.
Describe the solution (and components) that was built.
We built the solution on Drupal Core–it’s a big benefit as you can use Drupal’s basic functionality and tweak it as needed. From an integration standpoint, there were a lot of internal applications. We needed to allow references to these applications so employees could easily navigate to them. The Atmos Energy intranet needed to be a portal to many existing applications that were built in-house by Atmos Energy developers. They wanted a seamless single sign-on process for everyone, even those working behind VPN. Atmos didn’t want their people to have to log in multiple times for access.
We used SAML and an Active Directory. We didn’t have to do a true content migration because Atmos Energy wanted to take this opportunity to weed out old stuff.
What were three (3) things that were must-haves for Atmos Energy?
Search. Productivity. Ease of use. These were the big three. Additionally, accessible, responsive, organized, and reliable were the goals for the new platform.
They had very low traffic on their existing intranet. It was hard to use. They had analytics that showed bounce rates were terrible. They simply were not seeing the numbers they wanted to see in terms of employees being served well.
Atmos Energy’s dream solution was the ability to get to exactly what you needed in two clicks. So UX was hugely important. We built something streamlined–clean and succinct. Now, the minute employees open a browser, Atmosphere pops open. You can now bookmark items directly in Atmosphere.
Find it, favorite it, and you’re done.
What did Drupal bring to the table as part of the solution?
Drupal brings a core set of tools that are highly extensible and a community of thousands of open-source developers behind it.
What does success look like for Atmos Energy?
Meaningful business impact numbers include:
- Adoption: 36% increase in total users
- Engagement: 51% increase in overall sessions
- Efficiency: 16% decrease in pages per session
- Seamless: 15% decrease in bounce rate
- Responsive: 34% increase in usage across mobile and tablet
- Intuitive: 365% increase in file downloads
- Ease of use: 327% increase in internal referral traffic
Do you foresee an increase in requests for EXPs in the post-COVID work world?
I definitely think so. Atmos Energy is on the cutting edge. They knew they had a problem with their employee experience platform before COVID. I think being more productive, enjoying collaboration, and overall better use of time are things that will carry over to post-pandemic work life.
Learnings for the future?
There SHOULD be an increase in the use of EXPs. EXPs are a critical variable in the employee happiness equation and a key to winning hearts and minds. Making employee life easier–regardless of where they work–just might be the HR battleground of the future. Employee satisfaction and retention is huge. If employers can make the employee experience really positive, they can head off this great resignation period we’re seeing now.
Innovate now to be rewarded later is how to think about it. EXPs and this work should really be an eye-opener for organizations that might not have a great employee intranet. Now is the time to make that happen.
For Atmos Energy, the new Atmosphere (version 3) provides a consistent, dependable experience. Employees can be more productive–working smarter not harder is always the goal.