By Mohamed Debouk and Erin Neil
It goes without saying, the workplace of 2019 is vastly different from that of 2009 and even 2018. Giants such as Facebook and Google have reimaged the physical office space – complete with the famous nap-pods, foosball tables, and kitchens stocked with free food – and the workplace culture to emphasize values such as agility, diversity, transparency, knowledge sharing, and social responsibility. The trend of the meaningful, inclusive and engaging workplace is fast becoming the norm, driven by demand from savvy and discerning millennial employees.
Millennials, those born between the early 80s and late 90s, are set to become 75 percent of the workforce by 2025. They come with their own set of expectations, and if these are not met, will simply leave to find greener pastures. If economic conditions make finding jobs difficult, they will stay around but become highly disengaged and frustrated.
CX and EX – different sides of the same coin
Finding, and more importantly, retaining the right employees has become a key challenge for HR professionals today. A viable employee value proposition has become the key differentiator for companies vying for the same talent and the same market. In recent years, the link between Customer Experience (CX) and Employee Experience (EX) has been firmly established, operating on the premise that in order to have great customer experience, a company must first focus on its internal customer – the employee.
EX is described as the sum of all experiences an employee has with an employer. The better the experience that an employee has, the greater the emotional connection to the organization and its goals, resulting in the use of discretionary effort. In other words, the happier an employee is at work, the more willing they will be to perform above and beyond the minimum expectations. The benefits trickle down to all aspects of the business, most notably customer experience which often translates to increased repeat sales and profit.
More than the perks
Great employee experience is more than just the total rewards the company offers. Employees are more concerned with spending every day in a positive environment where they have the right technology and physical space to collaborate, communicate and do their work seamlessly. More importantly, employees want customized and spontaneous experiences. Employers need to understand, and then target the moments that matter to their employees such as their joining day, getting a promotion, caring for a family member or the birth of a new baby. Showing genuine care and consideration during these moments helps to build a great overall employee experience.
EX is all about emotions, but there is no one-size-fits-all model to fulfill this need.
Just as CX professionals are moving away from traditional customer segmentation (geographic, demographic, and purchasing behavior) to micro-segmentations including psychographic and behavioral attributes, the same approach is being applied to employee experience.
Increasingly, companies are creating ‘Personas’, or fictional characters with specific attributes (demographic, ethnographic and behavioral) that typify a share of the employee base. Personas represent the motivations, desires, expectations and needs of employees.
Personas help EX professionals to develop employee journey maps – diagrams that visualize the actions, thoughts and feelings of a person or group over time. Understanding the employee journey helps an organization to design streamlined and positive moments at every touchpoint or interaction. Often it is the small details that create memorable moments and an overall positive experience.
Improving your EX
This month, New Metrics has launched a series of EX design labs based on the latest industry research and insights. The two-day workshop explores the theory and principles of EX combined with interactive group-exercises to help put the theory into practice. Recently, New Metrics delivered a workshop for a group of HR execs from Omantel. Here is what some of the participants thought about the session:
“This was such a beneficial workshop. I realized that the biggest gap we have is how we manage CX and EX. The two concepts go hand in hand and if you don’t focus on EX, you won’t have great CX which is critical for the success of the business.”
“From the journey mapping exercise, I noticed immediately some of the gaps that we have in our journey. Sometimes it’s the simple things and small details that matter the most.”
“This was the first time I had heard of the concept of Personas. It’s a great piece of knowledge to have as now I can better map what we are doing for the employees and discover how to improve it.”
Some snapshots from a recent EX design lab with HR execs from Omantel. Participants are working on an employee journey mapping exercise to help visualize the actions, thoughts and feelings of an employee over time.
To create a truly motivated, passionate and happy workforce, organizations must combine engagement attributes with a positive employee experience and a compelling reason for being. Companies with the best growth track-record have built a culture that fosters mutual reliance and effective relationships among coworkers, values empathy, teamwork, agility, knowledge-sharing, and communication.