Interview with Human Capital Online: How UX Boosts EX

04 September, 2020

As HR professionals, we often emphasize how EX (employee experience) is paramount to driving CX (customer experience) and creating effective organisations. And yet, while we continue to invest in technology to elevate EX, little attention is paid to how good UX (user experience) leads to exceptional engagement and productivity levels. In this exclusive interview with Human Capital, Srinivas Konidena, Vice President, Product Development, Asia Pacific, ADP, discusses how investing in UX enhances EX and yields greater returns for businesses. He also shares pertinent insights into why empathy is king in designing compelling UX and how ADP creates intuitive, consumer-grade UX to meet the evolving business needs of clients, enhance tech adoption rates, and create next-generation experiences that employees long to be a part of.

Question: While most HR and business leaders recognise the importance of HR technology, few pay attention to user experience (UX) and how it immensely benefits employees and organisations. Amid the COVID-19 crisis, simply deciding to digitise HR isn’t enough. According to you, why should HR care about UX?

We are in a fast-changing world, and today’s HR leaders are typically those who drive changes across the organisation, be it the culture or the process. Any change in an organisation involves a lot of change management, and it challenges the current thought process among the employees. Successfully communicating the intent of the change to everyone adds to the challenge.

HR technology with well-designed UX can make the communication process to employees about changes much easier. With an intuitive UX, the focus remains on the purpose of the change, which can be defined and understood well. This helps increase the adoption rate among employees and decrease the support they need.

"UX has gained importance in the current COVID-19 crisis when physical connections are largely replaced by virtual communication."


Question: About a decade ago, the end-users of HR technology were mostly HR specialists. However, today everyone in the organisation is a user of HR tech. What are some important considerations to keep in mind around UX when selecting a new enterprise technology?

Yes, it’s a changed world. Earlier, HR specialists used to be the receivers of data and information, and they managed and governed all employee-related information in HR enterprise systems. Today, every associate in an organisation is both a contributor as well as a consumer of this information of HR tech. In this changed context, UX becomes very important when organisations move to a new platform or technology.

From a technology perspective, the following aspects are all important when selecting a new HR enterprise technology solution:

  • Be sure the new technology enables self-service so data can be captured at the first source, and information is available to relevant stakeholders whenever needed to make the right decision
  • The UX needs to be intuitive enough to allow users to understand the data without multiple interpretations.
  • The UX must be designed to enable access via multiple devices, including desktop, mobile, and tablet, allowing employees to log in from anywhere and at any time.
  • Another important consideration is that your technology partner has a track record of continued investments in new products and UX design so that products can evolve with changing business needs


Question: Expectations of technology have changed dramatically. Just about everyone is used to a world of ubiquitous consumer-grade user experience. Employees now expect enterprise software to be on par with powerful consumer technologies and have little tolerance for clunky, complex, and confusing tech experiences. How is ADP bringing consumer-grade UX to its clients?

This is a good question.

"We’re now living in a world where technology is available at our fingertips. Using a mobile app, we can hire a taxi, order food, go shopping from the comfort of our home, and enjoy the convenience of digital payment wherever we are. Consumers today have many choices, and the use of technology is omnipresent. It is natural that employees expect enterprise solutions to provide a similar user experience in the workplace."

When you say “consumer-grade” user experience, it means that an untrained person in the domain can use the digital product seamlessly and frequently, just like anyone that has been trained would use it.

As a global leader in payroll, maintaining a consistent user experience across geographies, and user groups – for both HR practitioners and employees – is important. Wherever you are located, you will enjoy the same intuitive user experience that ADP provides. We have been able to provide this because we are putting together our learnings across multiple countries over multiple years to build this kind of intuitive experience. We’ve built a nomenclature architecture that people can easily relate to when looking at a particular element, whether it’s a component in a payslip or a leave application.

Another important thing to note is that in the Asia Pacific region, we have made a decision to go with full-scale responsive UI so that UX design is responsive on all devices.

In some countries, we even make it compatible with local apps allowing people to view their payslips or apply for a leave. The intention here is to identify trends, and what our users in that particular country are most comfortable with, so we can design our products to match those expectations.


Question: Mobile devices have impacted every facet of our lives. The accelerating shift to mobile platforms means that employees will expect to access more of HR tech through mobile devices. How has mobile technology impacted the expectations for enterprise tools? Also, how can organisations provide employees with a seamless mobile experience?

"Mobile has become the de facto device of choice for everything. Basically, if something can be done on their mobile, people won’t go to their desktop. HR tech is no exception."

At ADP, we’ve made significant progress on this in the past few years. In fact, a “mobile-first” approach is an important focus area of our common design language. What also needs to be considered is the seamless experience between mobile and non-mobile devices. For example, if a person opens a portal on a mobile device and starts entering data, can the data be preserved so that when the person moves to the desktop, he or she can pick up from there? I’m very proud to say that we’ve taken all of those factors into consideration at ADP for the design of our solutions.

The regulatory landscape is very complex in India, and we’ve worked out an intuitive solution to simplify the process for both employees and HR practitioners. Employees can now submit their annual declaration through our mobile-enabled solution, and HR professionals can also view the number of submissions via the dashboard on their mobile. To a certain point, we’ve made complicated things easier through the intuitive mobile-driven user experience.


Question: Design thinking is critical to digital success today. How does ADP apply design-thinking principles to create products that deeply resonate with users and enhance the digital employee experience at every touchpoint?

"One of the key elements of design thinking is building empathy when designing a solution."

When we develop a new feature, we work across the business to get stakeholders, implementation and service teams involved in the design and validation process. In some cases, we also involve clients and their employees to understand the end-users’ experiences and perspectives.

We host business-wide hackathons, during which everyone brainstorms to ideate and build the solution. Business teams usually play a major role in the hackathons to ensure our solution will provide actual value to our clients.

In addition, we have a very methodical way to evaluate the product feedback that we receive on our system. We look at each feedback point and try to figure out why it comes and where it is possible, and we reach out to the user to find out what happened to determine the root cause and address it on our system.

Finally, we conduct generative research among our clients and their employees to understand their pain areas and what they prefer to have against what we have today.


Question: How else is ADP reimagining the user experience within its products to address the wants and needs of clients?

The client user experience is never final. It transcends many layers and changes over time with evolving user preferences.

A primary consideration is about ease of use and personalisation. At ADP, we have an innovation lab that not only works on the next-generation products but also on next-generation experience.

The next thing is about how we develop our products. In the past few years, we have built a platform that delivers mass personalisation. Tagged as “HR your way”, it provides an ecosystem of miniapps, or small applications, that deliver slices of functionality that can be configured at a user level. These connect with each other and seamlessly deliver the value together.

We’re currently working on making machine learning an integral part of our platform. Every data that comes in can be put through machine learning. One of the examples is to understand the common errors and build features in our products to prevent those errors. We also have an HR connector that can help clients to move data seamlessly between the ADP system and their own systems.

Finally, we’re working on making the payroll process more self-serviceable. This enables different levels of users from employees, managers, and HR professionals, to the leadership team and to input data, make approvals and generate reports on their own through self-service.


Question: In closing, here’s a fun question for you. India consumes more videos via mobile devices every day than any other country on the planet. Do you watch videos on your smartphone? If yes, what are you currently following?

Yes, I do watch videos on my smartphones, and here are a few I follow:

Andrew Ng – a leader in Artificial Intelligence; Dr. Yuval Noah Harari – a historian and philosopher (I like his interpretation of our evolution); and Shekhar Gupta – from The Print. Apart from technology, I love watching videos to learn about macro and mini-farming out of personal interest.


Human Capital Online