New Oracle HR tools move employee experience to forefront

Oracle's new employee experience platform includes features that are designed to encourage employees and managers to keep talking and stay engaged.

Oracle has introduced employee experience tools that use some of the techniques found in consumer experience platforms. HR managers can now send targeted emails to employees and get an analysis of who opened them and clicked on a link. That can give HR insight into the effectiveness of their messaging.

This open rate analysis feature is part of a broader employee experience platform called Oracle ME, which was announced this week. It combines new functions and upgrades, such as its pulse survey capability, a longstanding feature of its Fusion Cloud Human Capital Management (HCM) platform.

But the pulse survey tool now fits into a broader mission of employee experience. It is "targeted to foster the employee-manager relationship," said Yvette Cameron, senior vice president of global product strategy at Oracle Cloud HCM.

Analysts said the Oracle Fusion Cloud HCM system is using the vendor's customer experience capabilities. "Oracle has deep functional expertise in customer experience," said Evelyn McMullen, an analyst at Nucleus Research. "And the need to really cater to and engage with candidates and employees in a way similar to customer engagement puts them at an advantage in this space."

But employee experience involves more than tools, a point made by one user at a recent Oracle virtual forum about the program.

"We've tried very hard in the last two years to get purposeful in what we do, as well as how we do it," said Mike Oldham, senior director of HR operations for the Global People team at McDonald's Corp. "It starts with leading with our values."

He cited corporate efforts around COVID-19; diversity, equity and inclusion; and more recently, the firm's decision to shutter its restaurants in Russia in response to the war in Ukraine.

There's no employee experience program or technology that can serve a stronger foundation than what you stand for as a brand.
Mike OldhamSenior director of HR operations, Global People team, McDonald's Corp.

"There's no employee experience program or technology that can serve a stronger foundation than what you stand for as a brand," Oldman said.

The limits of employee experience

Holger Mueller, an analyst at Constellation Research, made a related point. If an employee is upset with a manager, commute, pay or advancement opportunities, a performance management application won't make much difference, he said.

"Software vendors are pitching their software for better employee experience," Mueller said. "But in most cases, people spend so little time in their apps, it doesn't affect them."

Oracle wants its tools to get managers and employees to interact more frequently.

Oracle Touchpoints, for instance, is a new listening tool that uses pulse surveys, schedules employee check-ins, and will nudge managers and employees to have conversations. The system uses machine learning to look at the last time there was an interaction between managers and employees and the topics that need follow-up.

Photo of Oracle ME Touchpoints dashboard view
The manager's dashboard view within Oracle ME Touchpoints.

"If the manager hasn't connected with the employee in a while or the employee hasn't had a conversation with their manager, they're both nudged," Oracle's Cameron said.

The overarching goal of Oracle ME is to "deliver very personalized experiences to every employee based on their characteristics, attributes and situations," Cameron said.

To accomplish this personalization, Cameron said that Oracle uses its core HCM data and what it knows about individual employees and their experience, skills, goals, aspirations, connections, performance information, compensation and other data.

For the open rate analysis in the Oracle HCM Communicate tool, managers have the ability to learn about the effectiveness of email campaigns, and "who's opened this email," Cameron said, and whether they interacted with the content, clicked on a link or taken the survey. The system will also give HR the ability to develop specific audience segments it wants to reach, she said.

One part of the new platform includes Oracle Journeys. The feature, announced last year, also enables HR employees to build applications using low-code/no-code tools. It is a workflow tool designed to help employees manage specific tasks.

Lisa Rowan, an analyst at IDC, described the Oracle ME platform as an "excellent and smart move" on Oracle's part that puts together new and existing capabilities around one platform.

"I think it will be a popular option for both existing and new clients," she said.

Patrick Thibodeau covers HCM and ERP technologies for TechTarget. He's worked for more than two decades as an enterprise IT reporter.

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