Traditionally, employee experience has meant offering competitive salaries, a solid benefits package, work/life balance, and extra perks like free food and allowing dogs in the office. But with 2020 seeing the mass adoption of home working, what businesses need to do to support employees and make them feel valued has change.

Now more than ever, making seemingly small improvements outside the traditional norms of HR and employee experience can make a big difference in boosting morale and productivity. For example, the tools and technology employees use every day can have an impact on their work. Outdated systems and tedious processes can wear on employees and contribute to an overall negative employee experience.

Another key obstacle to productivity whilst working remotely is online fatigue. This is a phenomenon where workers experience burnout or become mentally exhausted due to overuse of online communication platforms. A well-known manifestation of this is ‘Zoom Fatigue’, which is when that exhaustion is specifically related to having too many video calls. The fatigue is not only due to overuse but also because, unlike with chats carried out face-to-face, humans have difficulty processing the non-verbal cues of others (i.e. body language and tone of voice) through a screen.

Beating online fatigue

The existence of online fatigue doesn’t mean video calls have to stop completely. Research done by SAP Concur found that 57 per cent of employees engaged in team updates and video calls from their employees which helped them to feel supported as they worked from home. It is clear then that online communication platforms and video calls definitely have their benefits for a remote workforce. But businesses need to support employees to use digital technologies to their benefit.

Here are five simple tips that businesses can encourage employees to take to combat this issue:

Give them tools and tech they love to use

Key to making remote working successful is equipping employees with the right tools and technology they need to properly fulfill their roles. For example, if their computers and work phones are operating too slow, this makes completing tasks and even having meetings take much longer than needed. As a result, employees spend more time on their screens, thus increasing the likelihood of online fatigue. In addition to this, the stress that can be caused by inadequate equipment can hinder productivity by affecting an employee’s mood and confidence. Having the right tools and tech at hand as an employee is therefore vital for efficiency and promoting employee wellbeing.

Go digital

Automation is your friend and you wouldn’t be alone in discovering this, with recent research by SAP Concur revealing that 1 in 7 businesses have invested in financial technologies since the first lockdown. Digitising your expense processing can help to reduce online fatigue, particularly for company accountants or finance teams. No longer do they have to spend afternoons endlessly staring at screens scrolling through spreadsheets. Going digital makes the process more seamless for both them and employees in the wider business, who also don’t want to have to waste their valuable time manually filling out expense reports or scanning paper receipts. Having confidence that processes you spend your time doing often will be speedy, makes it easier, as an accountant, to schedule breaks and priorities helping with other projects.

Try email or text first

A recent study has found that British workers spend an average of three hours and 12 minutes each week on video calls. Utilising alternatives to video conferences reduces the frequency of such meetings which can help tackle employee Zoom fatigue. Ask yourself ‘is it necessary to have this meeting’? If the answer is undeniably yes, then try and provide the option of allowing employees to have their video cameras or microphones off unless it is important for them to be seen or heard during a call.

Encourage breaks and regular blocks of quiet time

If meetings are close together in the diary then try and enforce a 5-10-minute break between each call. This allows attendees to stretch and do things like get refreshments or a hot beverage as they mentally prepare for the next occurring meeting. Without the breaks fatigue will set in much faster and provide a reason for employee disengagement during calls. Similarly, making it possible for special periods of time to exist within which employees can put their heads down and get critical tasks done without distractions, is important. With freedom from the usual distractions, employees are free to take the ‘deep work’ approach which allows them to tackle tasks on their to-do list that they may often put off due to them not managing to find enough time to complete them. Not only does this improve their focus but it also improves their efficiency and productivity levels.

Share an agenda

Doing this allows meeting attendees to have a shared idea of the direction of the meeting or its end goal; this should therefore limit any distractions that might derail attention during the call. It also helps to increase efficiency by shifting the focus of any conversation to what is important. This benefits all parties involved because the time saved on each meeting can now be diverted to bigger, more pressing tasks.

Happy employees mean a happy business

Every business wants happy, satisfied employees. However, reaching this particular outcome requires company investment in wider initiatives and strategies. Especially as workforces have become remote and more spread out, more needs to be done to enable employees to feel valued. A different approach needs to be taken to ensure their wellbeing since the obstacles to a positive employee experience whilst remotely working will likely look difference to those in the office.

Overall, investing in employees in this way will always work to the benefit of the wider business; happy and healthy employees are more efficient and productive. This means, not only are they more focused but they can complete more tasks in a working day. Factors like these may seem insignificant but are what help to create a good working culture and thus, boost overall good business performance.





Rob Harrison is Enterprise Managing Director of SAP Concur UK & Ireland. Having returned to the company in January 2020, Rob is responsible for driving customer success and business transformation through expense and invoice automation. Rob previously worked at SAP for a 10 year period, during which time he worked on broadening the company’s footprint in the utilities, distribution and services sectors, before leaving to lead SaaS sales and marketing teams at Tectura, Workday and latterly Oracle.