What's a "Frictionless Workplace Experience?"

Leapgen recently published a list of 10 Trends and Predictions for 2018.  You can download it here.  Trend #2 introduces a concept called “Frictionless Workforce Experience.”We’ve been hearing the “Employee Experience” for years, but Frictionless Workplace Experience (FWE) is probably not as familiar.   But it's a more practical term, because it's more informative than “Employee Experience.”


FEW tells us what we need to do, to create a positive employee experience.  It tells us to remove the friction from the work experiences.  Once the friction is gone, what remains is a more positive employee experiences.

Simple, right?

Annoyed designer gesturing in front of her laptop in her office

So, what is “Friction” in a customer experience?

Friction is any task in any process or transaction requires effort, induces stress or slows a process.  Sometimes, the easiest way to understand what friction is within a process is think back to your life as a consumer.

Think of a customer experience that you’ve had, and that was so good, you told other people about it.  And as you recall “Wow!” experience, compare it to a similar process or transaction that didn’t give you that sense of “Wow!”

If you can’t think of one, you can use mine:

Examples of Friction in a Customer Experience

Whenever I rent a car at an airport, my objective is to get off the plane and into the car as quickly and as easily as possible.   Everything in between is friction.

  • Waiting in a slow-moving rental line for the next available agent?
  • Listening to sales pitches for liability insurance? Friction.
  • Signing and initialing a contract in multiple places?
  • Being handed a printed copy of the contract that I have to carry?
  • Walking out into the garage searching for Row K, Space 27?

Here’s What Enterprise Rent-A-Car did to make it frictionless:

They had the counter agent (Marcus) just validate my driver’s license and swipe my credit card.  I didn’t have to sign, and Marcus didn’t have to sell insurance or print contracts, so the line moved very quickly.

Reduced waiting is reduced Friction. 

The swipe of my credit card sent a digital alert to a greeter at the bottom of the escalator.  Eliza carried an iPad containing my reservation, including the insurance opt-outs that I selected online.   She walked me directly to my car.   I didn’t have to find Row K, Space 27.

No searching meant no friction.

After I threw my luggage into the trunk, I initialed in three boxes on Eliza’s iPad. She clicked “submit,” and my cell phone vibrated as the rental contract arrived in my email.

No paper contracts to carry meant no friction.

I happily drove off into the sunset.  No friction, no stress, just that satisfied feeling you get after a “Wow!” customer experience.

Creating a Frictionless Workplace Experience

So, your job as an HR leader is to identify and eliminate those points of friction in the workplace.

Thinking of the employee as your customer, answer the following four questions:

  1. What are the more common transactions during the employee’s “customer” lifecycle?
  2. For each transaction type, what are the points of friction that slow the process, keep the customer waiting, or produce paper?
  3. Which of those steps can be eliminated?
  4. How can you automate the steps that remain?
  5. Repeat steps 2 through 4 for each process or transaction.

In Summary:

Reliving your best experiences as a consumer can serve as models for revamping experiences workplace.  what HR can do to create a Frictionless Workplace Experience.  As you recall those customer, think about what made them so easy, effective and emotionally delightful?  What steps were removed, digitized or automated to make them so?

Using your most positive experiences as a consumer can take the friction out of visualizing and creating Frictionless Workplace Experiences.