Over the last several years the term Employee Experience has skyrocketed in popularity. There are hundreds of jobs posted on LinkedIn containing the term, books have been written on the subject and search engine queries for ‘employee experience’ have hit an all time high.
But what does ‘Employee Experience’ really mean, and how can it elevate not only your Human Resources function but your organization as a whole? This is the definition that drives our work consulting clients:
Employee Experience is the personal, emotional, and physical connection gained by working for and interacting with a company.
In February, I gave a live webinar presentation on the topic for Workforce Magazine. What follows is a brief summary and my takeaways on implementing a successful Employee Experience strategy.
Employee Experience Isn’t a Fad
Don’t be fooled by its enormous popularity. Employee Experience shouldn’t be viewed as a trendy tagline or flavor-of-the-month. It’s a framework around which the new HR can be structured. By aligning with other leaders and teams in your organization, HR can get more done while creating meaningful connections.
Resource-limited HR teams can tackle seemingly monumental challenges with Employee Experience. Controlling the skyrocketing costs of healthcare, implementing new technologies, or offering highly relevant initiatives to address employee needs can all be tackled when working together under a wider umbrella. By reimagining HR roles to expand beyond traditional silos, you and your team can make a lasting and relevant impact on your organization, employees and their families.
If You Can Imagine it, You Can Do it
The right Employee Experience strategy is tailored to suit your company’s needs. Organizations of all sizes across industries and geographies have built customized functions. Working with clients, we’ve seen Employee Experience platforms that encompass event planning, customer relationships, workplace environments, volunteering, food services, mobility and more.
If you’re curious about what a few leading companies are doing in the space, watch the recording of my webinar for examples gleaned from Adobe, AirBnB, and LinkedIn.
Technology is Your Friend
Technology plays a vital role in enabling employees to interact with the organization as they do other things in their daily lives. No matter our generation, most of us utilize highly curated, personalized, and well designed tech solutions to find movies on Netflix or DIY instructions on Pinterest. Why would we expect anything less in the workplace?
How might it change your workplace if your employees could book a doctor's appointment from their smartphone? Or quickly check their debt reduction progress prior to ordering a new TV? Or work on ways to better themselves in and out of the workplace with an app?
At Ursa Major, we’ve created a free Innovation Ecosystem tool that maps some of the companies working hard to disrupt the status quo. Check it out and keep in mind that if you need a solution, there’s probably a platform out there for you.
Align the Inward and Outward Face of Your Brand
The reality is that the brand consumers are familiar with is too often not the same one its employees experience working on the inside. But it doesn't have to be that way. Leveraging your employees’ passions and aligning the workplace with your brand can yield big rewards by creating brand ambassadors and helping to retain high performing talent. Identify what attracts employees to your organization, and then incorporate those things into the workplace.
If you’re manufacturing running shoes, for instance, host a weekly employee run or close out each Friday afternoon a little early by hitting the trails as a group. And if you’re selling the latest gluten-free, non-GMO, organic, vegan burger patties, make sure your employees aren’t stuck with traditional snack and soda vending machines. As an added bonus: if the same people responsible for your healthcare spend are also in charge of your cafeteria selection, you can really make an impact on people’s lives and habits as well as the company’s bottom line.
In short, offer your people experiences that correlate to your mission as a company and they will reward you for it with their time and talent. Everything you do- from the way your office space is designed to your wellness initiatives- should reflect your brand consciously.
Don’t Miss the Forest for the Trees
In support services such as HR, employees and their families are our customers. Building relationships allows us to retain and attract top talent, create happy and honest environments, and ultimately conduct a profitable and positive business. As an HR practitioner, I want everyone within an organization to feel they have a stake in what we do and act like owners of their respective areas. And I want customers to see that difference and choose to do business with my company or client because of it.
That’s where thoughtful Employee Experience structures can build both internal and external trust and dialog. But don’t miss the forest for the trees: Employee Experience must be meaningful. I’ve been involved with some of the nation’s most progressive HR teams, but many still think the only way to compete and stay ‘progressive’ is by throwing money at outrageously generous perks. While thoughtful perks can play a productive role, I’ve yet to witness top talent move organizations because a company has nap pods and free drinks. They change ship because they feel they have better opportunities elsewhere. Learn what really matters to your people if you want to make an organizational impact and stay focused on that.
No Money, No Problem
You do not need much (if any) money to start implementing an Employee Experience strategy. In fact, not having money or resources can be an extremely liberating and creativity-inspiring limitation. I’ve seen dozens and dozens of fresh ideas created by listening to employee feedback, finding a motivated sponsor and turning them loose. If you allow your staff to own a project and take the lead, you will not only build trust but you will see productivity and job satisfaction increase. You’d be amazed by what your colleagues can do with just their own determination and passion.
Stick with it and Build Relationships
I’d love to tell you it’ll be smooth sailing, but the reality is that you will likely face many uphill battles and wrong turns when evolving to an Employee Experience mindset. Change isn’t easy, and you’ll find many people happy to ignore or even undermine your attempts to do good. Find strategic partners who can help you weather these storms. Remember that other internal teams may be the best partner to move your initiative forward (think facilities, food service or customer outreach).
By reimagining HR within a meaningful Employee Experience context, you can and will transition past the common roadblocks and create a workplace in which all stakeholders will thrive. As an added bonus, you will gain new skills and feel the joy of creating something impactful.
Founder and President
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