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employee experience

Employee Experience (EX) the new HR Strategy.

Employee Experience (EX) the new HR Strategy.

This article defines the concept of employee experience, identifies the different phases in the employee experience journey, reviews the role of the employee as the ‘consumer of the workplace’, and looks at employee experience in the post-COVID era. The goal is to clarify the concept of employee experience and justify the importance of putting employee experience at the centre of your customer experience strategy.

What is employee experience (EX)?

Employee Experience, commonly denoted as EX, represents all those interactions an employee has with a company from the time the employee sees the job offer to the time this employee walks out of that company. This entails everything an employee sees, feels, learns and does in an organization before, during and after working with them. Employee experience looks internally into what creates satisfied and productive employees.

In a world where monetary motivation is no longer the primary objective of employees, employers need to prove to their employees that they matter to the organization. Talent acquisition and management have become more sensitive and organizations now leverage their people strategy as a key competitive tool. The customer is king. The employee is the queen. Using this metaphor, the employee is the queen who stands by the king. Taking care of the king’s well-being (customer) as well as that of the kingdom (organization). If the employee is not happy or motivated, what kind of service will the king (customer) receive?.

A motivated, happy and skilled employee is more likely to deliver good service, create a delightful customer experience, thus increasing customer loyalty and creating more value for the organization.

John Plaskoff asserts that the role of employee experience is to design working conditions that foster employee care. Employee experience is “the new human resource management approach”. HR should be more employee-oriented because customer satisfaction starts or depend on the kind of service or attitude an employee portrays to a customer. This is the best approach for the modern workplace as it enables the total devotion and empowerment of employees.

The four phases in the EX journey.

An organization should focus more on understanding the employee life cycle. Knowing the stages of the employee lifecycle makes it easy for management to identify how employee needs evolve. One fundamental mistake organizations make in their employee experience efforts, is using a one-cap-fits-all approach. The priorities and concerns of employees are constantly changing. Not being able to capture this change and effectively address the issues that matter most to employees has a major impact on their engagement, productivity and retention.

With insights from over 144,000,000 employee feedback data points obtained from 1000 plus companies in over 160 countries, Peakon identifies 4 phases in employee experience, then goes further to state and explain how employees react at each stage and what management needs to do. These stages include; onboarding, Initial development, Ongoing Development and Separation.

  1. Onboarding; this stage can last from 0 to 3 months, at this point the employee is not yet familiar with the new environment, so management should create conditions for the employee to feel comfortable because this is the most important stage since first impressions last long.
  2. Initial development; here, an employee starts to master their role, the internal processes of the company, develop relationships with other team members, and tries creating an impact in the company. This stage varies from 3 to 9 months. This is a strategic phase to speak with employees about their career goals and outline a growth plan. At this stage, the investment made in building their skills will set them up for future success.
  3. Ongoing development and retention; after about a year or more, the employee must have gained enough experience and knowledge that they become part of the company’s valuable members. At this stage, an employee will like to take on a new challenging task. Management can retain them by offering a new role or more challenging tasks to prevent them from seeking new opportunities elsewhere.
  4. Separation; this stage is inevitable in a company no matter how good their employee experience is. The most important thing here is for the separation to be done in peace so that management will know the real cause of the employee departure and ameliorate.

The employee is the ‘Consumer of the workplace’.

Gallup Inc defines employee experience as a journey an employee takes with an organization. It includes all the interactions the employee has with an organization before, during and after he/she leaves the company. The employee is the “consumer at the workplace” thus the need for increased interest in having a better employee experience.

Today’s employees are not only motivated by a paycheck. They need a more collaborative and supportive work environment. They want to work for an organization that permits them to enjoy their lifestyle. They need more work-life balance and jobs that give them personal wellbeing. Perceiving the employee as the consumer of the workplace entails paying attention to the moments that matter most to them.

Gallup Inc proposes 3 key phases in the development of a comprehensive employee experience strategy.

Aligning the employee experience to the organizations’ purpose, brand and culture. As such the experiences we design should reflect our purpose, brand and culture. Employees must experience what we preach and become an integral part of the culture we seek to build.

Focusing on the 7 key stages of the employee lifecycle. Attract; recruiting top talent (1). Hire; pick the stars (2). Onboard; affirm the decision (3). Engage; build strengths and purposes (4). Perform; drive expectations (5). Develop; coach career growth (6). Depart; positive exit experience (7).

Remembering the employee’s core needs at every stage. The focus here is to understand certain key aspects at the core of the employee’s interaction with the organization. Questions we must answer include: What is the quality of the relationship employees have with their managers? Is their role in the organization clearly defined? What value do they bring to their team? What is the nature of their space and place of work and how does this affect their work? How is their wellbeing affected by this job?

The idea is to develop a comprehensive employee experience strategy that is capable of improving the employee experience and creating more value for the organization. Employee experience entails making sure that the basic psychological needs of employees are consistently met, so that they are physically, emotionally and mentally fit at the place of work. An engaged employee is creative and innovative, which is excellent for the organization.

Post-COVID Employee experience.

A 2020 McKinsey research examines factors that lead to employee engagement, work effectiveness and wellbeing during and after the crisis. It highlights several observations and sheds light on the post-crisis employee experience. A key observation made is that the introduction of remote work has given employees a stronger sense of wellbeing, leaving them more engaged at work than employees in non-flexible and non-remote roles.

This study further proposes practical steps management can take to support and improve employee experience in the post-crisis era. Some of these strategic orientations include:

Being continually present, empathetic, transparent and action-oriented. The actions and care demonstrated by leaders during the crisis must not end now. Management must build on the trust and affiliation earned through their management of the crisis.

Going beyond the basic employee needs of safety and security to building trusting relationships, social cohesion and individual purpose. While safety and security were a major concern during the crisis period, in the post-crisis era, management must commit to meeting the broader needs of employees by focusing on drivers of work experience, effectiveness and wellbeing.

Understanding that just like external customers, employees are unique. Make use of new technologies and data analytics to better segment employees thus fully understanding their needs and providing more personalized experiences.

5 reasons why you should improve your employee experience.

  1. It creates a working climate that promotes performance.
  2. It improves teamwork and collaboration.
  3. It builds a strong organizational culture and a unique corporate identity.
  4. Your employee satisfaction has a direct effect on customer satisfaction.
  5. It permits you to attract and retain the right talent for your organization.

Conclusion

Irrespective of the number of employees in your team or the industry in which you operate,  you must be conscious of your employee experience strategy. It begins with identifying the purpose of your organization, then the people you need to attain this purpose. Next, it is important to identify the role each person has to play as well as the skills they need to play this role. Once this is clearly defined then we proceed to design and deploy the experiences. It is primordial at this phase to identify the drivers of employee wellbeing and performance, then put in place an environment that permits to create value for the employee and value for the firm.

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Authors

Mbinkar Kpunsa Fomunyuy , Nkouekam Elibere Chancellore

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employee experience

How to improve Employee Experience

Employee experience is neglected and relegated to the background in many organizations. Think of a machine with several parts. For the machine to be fully operational and enable us to have the output we desire, all its parts need to be fully functional. Let us consider the case of a car. The tyres, the engines, the fuel pumps, and all other parts must be in good shape and fully functional for the car to take us around. While our desired output is great products and the delivery of good customer service, the employee is an integral part of the machine that needs to be fully functional for us to achieve this output.

Customer service is divided into two main parts. Internal customer service; which has to do mostly with employees and external customer service which focuses on buyers and users. Though so much emphasis has been put on external customer experience, internal customer experience is as important.

Why the increased concern about employee experience?

The following points explain why there is increased focus on customer experience nowadays:

  • Organizations now realize that ‘people’ are, a resource that needs to be valorized and not cost to be minimized.
  • Talent and people have become an important differentiating factor and a key tool to achieve a long-term competitive advantage.
  • The role of the corporate culture of an organization has never been this evident. Companies now recruit for culture fit, which makes the onboarding of new team members more delicate and priceless.
  • Teamwork and internal harmony are very vital for better collaboration at work and improved productivity.

Employee experience is about creating great working experiences for employees. Enabling employees to have career fulfillment and the needed motivation to get the job done. It is about treating the workers the same way you expect them to treat the customers. Seeing employees as the first customers, whom we need to listen to, give a feeling of importance to, and manage appropriately.

Ways of improving employee experience.

There are many ways of improving the working climate and ensuring that the organization achieves great employee experience. Some of these include:

1. Improving the onboarding experience

Just like our customers, employees also create first impressions about the organization from the way we onboard them. It all starts at the interview. Though you may have dozens of people going through the interviews, one of these people would end up working for you. What impressions do they have at this first contact with the organization? Can they read professionalism and friendliness? Their experience begins here and continues through the selection and recruitment process.

Once the employee is finally recruited, the next stage is to initiate them into the culture of the organization. Every organization needs to have a well-designed onboarding process that permits to create a great impression on the new employee and sets the pace for great working experience with the brand.

2. The employee journey map.

Just like customers have touchpoints (Contact points) with our organization which could become pain points, so too do employees. It is important to evaluate the key activities performed by employees, the ways in which employees have to interact with each other and improve employee journeys. Map out your employee journey and see what areas need your attention. How could you make their job better? In what way can you make them more productive? How can you enable them to enjoy doing the job and getting the desired outcome?

The job design, the organizational structures, the systems, and processes must enable performance, improve employee experience, and customer experience. Constantly review these journeys to minimize errors, and improve learning and efficiency.

3. The organizational behavior or culture

Organizational culture is the group of values, beliefs, expectations, and practices that guide and inform the actions of all members of an organization. Corporate culture is developed through time, organizations need to control these values, shape them, and guide them to the expected behaviors or responses. How do we expect every member of the organization to behave? How do we intend to position ourselves from a behavioral perspective?

This begins with management designing the behavioral positioning they would have to portray to the employees. Then how these employees need to behave towards customers. Management needs to set the pace by creating a culture of trust, support for one another, believe in one’s abilities, recognition of the valuable role each employee plays as a member of the team. This is about designing and implementing great corporate cultures that raise the employees’ confidence levels and motivation to work.

Part of this cultural experience could be communication styles. Does everyone have a voice? Do we listen to our employees? How do we manage their complaints and challenges? Clearly define these focal points in the design of the culture guide.

4. Motivation

At the end of the day, the employee is simply doing a job to earn a remuneration. This remuneration could be in monetary or non-monetary terms. Irrespective of the remuneration models used, the goal must be to keep the employee motivated to work. Employee motivation could take several forms. Learn what drives your workers. While some people are driven by financial gains others are driven by things like; family, recognition, social integration, belonging among others. Learn to appreciate colleagues for the things they do. Do not be the person who complains and criticizes all the times. Keep communication open and hassle-free with team members and respect your contractual agreements.

5. Team building

It is important to organize team-building sessions to remind everyone they are part of a team. To show them the important role they play as a team. To help team members know each other and experience their colleagues out of the work environment. These team-building sessions could range from corporate retreats, outdoor games, outings, and participating in team member’s important events. Teambuilding creates a good social bond and gives employees a second family. We spend more time with our colleagues at work than with our families and loved ones. Giving employees the possibilities to know, learn to trust one another, reduces tensions at work, improves performance, and overall employee experience.

While this is not an exhaustive list of strategies for improving employee experience or better still internal customer experience, these points constitute a good starting point. You cannot replicate people. Creating a strong team, that is motivated and guided by a well designed corporate culture is the ultimate step towards improved employee experience.

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