The employee experience is about the entire journey – every touchpoint, every interaction of an employee’s time spent within an organisation. For many Baby Boomers and Gen X-ers, this may take place over the course of years, if not decades but for many folks today, it may be a period of months or a few short years. Nevertheless, it is still about the journey.
This begs the question, if we can positively impact the employee experience (EE), if we can create memorable experiences, do these not make a difference in their lives and the work they create? Yes, of course it does.
Crafting a positive employee experience involves the entire journey an employee will go through.
Organisational Structures Need to Change
Perhaps, that is the reason why EE has become such a trend. Jacob Morgan talks about the emergence of roles like “Global Chief Employee Experience Officer” or “Head of Employee Experience”. Denise Lee Yohn, in her Forbes article, talks about 2018 being the year of employee experience. What does all this mean?
It is recognition of the clear correlation between frontline engagement, customer service, productivity, performance as well as revenue growth. This affects all employees – candidates, contingent workers as well as alumni. With this correlation must come the shift in our approach from instructional design to experience design. When it comes to experiences, organisations have long held the view that it is about the employee fitting into the organisational culture. It has long been about how we need to get our people aligned to our organisational objectives.
Employee Experience is Built By Your People
But work has meaning not just for the organisation but for the people within. Work brings meaning to our lives, helping us connect the individual tasks we accomplish with the greater goals we work to achieve. As such, organisations need to come half way, realising that it is incumbent upon them to meet the employee at the middle. We, as organisations, need to not just fit employees into our organisational culture. These employees create the very culture itself. When we talk about learning and development, our goal should no longer be about finding out what’s missing in the employee toolkit but rather, asking them what they would like to learn. Our goal should be as Josh Bersin puts it, “to deliver learning to where people are”.
“Employees create the very culture itself.” Get your people aligned to shared organisational objectives.
The focus is on the employee. It is not about what we want from them on their first day, for example. Rather, it is about asking what we’d want their first day to be like. The difference is subtle yet palpable.
In the Deloitte 2017 Report, Reimagine and Craft the Employee Experience: Design Thinking in Action, there is clear reference to the need for design thinking to come front and centre, with 3 principles being fundamental to effectively engaging the workforce.
Principle One – Empathise
The first principle is empathy – that empathy helps you see things differently, allowing you to create different experiences which can have varying levels of engagement. As you move up in your career, you will notice less focus and importance placed on your technical ability and far more focus on those skills that really matter – the ability to influence, to listen well, to empathise, to connect, to collaborate and to lead. This is why empathy matters.
It is a skill that allows us to understand, to share and connect with others in terms of what they see, hear and feel. In other words, it allows us to step into the shoes of another. How are we to effect change, to solve problems, to think up new solutions if we only ever see things from our own narrow world-view? This is why empathy is the first of five blocks in Ideo’s Design Thinking Framework.
Principle Two – Envision
The second principle is about stepping outside ourselves because to envision, we must generate a variety of options and see how these can become potential solutions. It is about understanding that we need not be limited into thinking that there is only the one way forward or a zero-sum game.
Principle Three – Experiment
The third principle is experimentation. In another word, testing, where you collect both qualitative and quantitative data so that you are data-driven. You get closer and closer to a more meaningful evaluation of your problem. This helps you come up with solutions that are more targeted.
We worry that that AI and increased automation will take away many jobs. Yes, it will but at the same time, it will free us to do more meaningful and valuable work. The kind of work that matters. If we want that to grow, to develop further, to manifest in a variety of ways previously unimagined, then we need to craft the kind of employee experiences that touch us in more ways than one.
SelfDrvn, an all-in-one tech platform to retain, reward and engage talent, has become the first Malaysian company to be featured in the Gartner Hype Cycle! SelfDrvn was listed as a vendor in the Worker Engagement Platform category for the 2018 Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace.
What is the Gartner 2018 Hype Cycle Report?
Gartner’s annual Hype Cycle measures the maturity and adoption rates of various technologies and provides insight into how relevant they are in solving business problems. The Hype Cycle helps you discern the hype from what is commercially viable by providing a graphical representation of the maturity and adoption of technologies and applications. This helps you discover how one technology or application can evolve over time.
Previous Hype Cycle for the Digital Workplace, 2017. Source: Gartner
Each Hype Cycle drills down into 5 key phases of a technology’s life cycle, namely:
- Innovation Trigger;
- Peak of Inflated Expectations;
- Trough of Disillusionment;
- Slope of Enlightenment; and finally,
- Plateau of Productivity.
By mapping out the technology against the different phases of its life-cycle, stakeholders and potential investors can then decide how soon to get on board, how to reduce risk on their tech investment decisions and compare the investment against potential business value.
The Hype Cycle for the Digital Workspace report includes suggestions for potential advancements and suggestions for best-fit solutions and vendors.
SelfDrvn, sample Vendor in the Worker Engagement Platform category
This year, SelfDrvn was listed as a vendor in the Worker Engagement Platform category with the following metrics:
Benefit Rating : High
Market Penetration : 1 – 5 percent of target audience
Maturity : Emerging
Worker Engagement Platforms are designed to boost employee engagement and motivation by providing positive worker experiences. Behavioural economics and positive psychology represent some of the focus areas in order to maximise worker adoption.
Gartner’s VP of research and HR tech Ron Hanscome explains – these platforms are designed to incorporate various disciplines such as gamification, corporate social responsibility, social recognition tools as well as industry-specific workforce management solutions. The aims are simple – increase engagement and performance by looking at elements such as recommendations, mindfulness and connecting through purpose.
Multiple activities are supported such as regular feedback, coaching, competition, team or social activities, personalisation as well as social recognition. Game-style mechanics help to increase adoption in general. Worker engagement with the platform is, therefore, quite high thanks to these activities. Consequently, workers provide more input and feedback on work-related factors. Among other things, they can discuss work schedules, best practices and working conditions, thus providing real-time feedback on their engagement level.
Worker engagement platforms are an emerging aspect of the current digital workplace. As employees are increasingly mobile and on-line, such platforms reach out to the evolving needs of the workforce today.
Strong correlation between engagement and business impact
Employee engagement correlates very strongly with business performance as indicated by numerous studies by Gartner, Gallup, Hay, Willis Towers Watson and more. Worker motivation and engagement are critical in any work environment especially when innovation, creativity and cross-collaboration is called upon. Disciplines such as neuroscience, behavioural economics and positive psychology, when embedded in these platforms, teach us a great deal about motivating individuals.
Organisations today should have a strong focus on employee engagement in the workplace. Ron Hanscome suggests that by investigating and piloting some of the tools and techniques showcased, organisations can come to their own decisions about the strengths and weaknesses of these different tools fitting into their individual organisational culture and context. As these solutions are still emerging, there is no commonly defined feature set. The use of leading design practices such as the use of personas or worker journey mapping will help ensure functionality improvement and better worker experiences.
SelfDrvn was established in 2015 by our CEO, Lam Mun Choong — an entrepreneur with a background in software engineering and a passion for understanding human sciences. Our mission is to enable a world where employee wellbeing is the key to company success. We want to help companies develop a thriving workplace culture that can build great employee engagement, recognition, retention and performance. So we’ve designed a SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) platform that can help organisations improve engagement with their employees and customers through effective communication, gamification and behavioral analytics. Our product is part technology, part psychology, and part process. We believe that positive empowerment and people-centred strategies are the keys to building a successful business.
Gartner does not endorse any vendor, product or service depicted in its research publications, and does not advise technology users to select only those vendors with the highest ratings. Gartner research publications consist of the opinions of Gartner’s research organization and should not be construed as statements of fact. Gartner disclaims all warranties, expressed or implied, with respect to this research, including any warranties of merchantability or fitness for a particular purpose.
The Gartner Peer Insights Logo is a trademark and service mark of Gartner, Inc., and/or its affiliates, and is used herein with permission. All rights reserved.
Gartner – “9 Questions That Should Be in Every Employee Engagement Survey”
Gartner – “Hype Cycle For the Digital Workplace, 2018”
Gallup – “How Employee Engagement Drives Growth”
Willis Towers Watson – “The Power of Three – Taking Engagement to New Heights”
Six aspects to build on every day.
What’s different about workplace culture today? One significant difference is that we’re in the age of the connected stakeholder. Whether it is your employee, partner, customer or community at large, this connectedness can either break or make you, as an organisation, in more ways than one.
When you talk about organisational culture, this used to be something that was very internally driven. The experience, for the longest time, was managed within and to a great extent, what happened inside stayed inside. Word of mouth and referrals, of course, had its place. But today, our always on, always accessible culture and smartphone-driven ways has led to a leaching of this culture outside the organisation. What used to be known just to employees can now spread like wildfire on various platforms – regardless of its veracity. And that can be either a bad or good thing.
Vala Afshar, Chief Digital Evangelist at Salesforce therefore called it right when he said that, “your company culture is your brand’.
Your organisational culture translates into your brand – be it in client meetings, or the way your customers view your organisation.
Aspects of culture
That said, what can we then do about ensuring we build a strong and sustainable workplace culture? You can make sure you tick off the boxes in six aspects of culture.
OC Tanner is a $500 million global company specialising in recognition and culture. They have invested a lot of time and resources in conducting extensive research with more than 10,000 companies where their focus has been on the employee’s view of culture. Their research shows that there are six aspects of culture in particular that people look for in a great place to work, which are purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, well-being and leadership.
This is about connecting your employee to your organisation’s reason for being. This sense of purpose is how your employee makes a difference to your organisation and how your organisation makes a difference in the world. And millennials have long focused on what drives an organisation. These are different values from the days of old where people stayed in one spot for 30 years, waiting on a golden handshake that may or may not come.
As an employee, having a common purpose with the organisation can make all the difference in terms of effort and performance at work.
This is giving it all to your employees – the ability to learn new skills, to develop, to realise their potential and to contribute meaningfully. It seems to make absolute sense except that there are many organisations that are driven by one thing and the employee is their means of getting to it. That narrow-minded approach means they don’t stop to think about their employee and what they may want or need, thus wasting precious time and resources recruiting and retaining people who don’t buy in or remain engaged.
Always think about how your employees can benefit from an opportunity to upskill themselves or for the company to promote cross-functional learning.
Success for the employee, in many ways, is success for the organisation. This necessarily involves a degree of empowerment and letting go in order for employees to fail forward, try new things and not be penalised for exploring and innovating.
“The fastest way to succeed is to double your failure rate.” If every organisation embraced so wholeheartedly this mantra by IBM’s Thomas Watson Sr, things may be very different in our world today.
When employees are empowered to innovate and correct mistakes, the organisation sets up a system that motivates and encourages employees to fail forward to success.
Who doesn’t feel valued when they are appreciated? While it is very important that organisations recognise both outstanding work and unique contributions, I feel it’s just as important to value and recognise effort as well. It would be good to realise that we do not all start at the same starting line in which case, efforts vary and therefore, need to be taken into account as well.
Developing a culture of recognition can significantly boost satisfaction and retention in the workplace.
Particularly relevant in today’s always on, technologically-driven workplace, a focus on employee well-being goes beyond foosball tables, a well-stocked pantry and gym membership. It’s recognition that an employee’s health is many fold – physical, social, emotional and financial. An organisation is made up of people, right to the top, who make decisions for the organisation every day. This means these leaders themselves experience a sense of well-being which they should rightfully ensure is an experience other employees get as well.
Well-being initiatives should be in place, beside any foosball tables, game rooms, or a fancy pantry.
Leadership comes from the top and drives everything, in many ways. Good leadership connects employees to purpose, empowers them to do great work and helps bring people together in teams and as a whole. Or they don’t. Don’t just let your organisational culture exist – build it, refine it often and mould it to get it just right.
Leaders must live and breathe the organisational culture that they put in place. Be the positive change you wish to see in your organisation.
Culture is challenging because your organisational culture exists whether you want to confront it or not. As Jacob Morgan, author and futurist, shared – “A physical environment doesn’t exist unless the organisation creates or designates one. But the corporate culture is like air–it’s around all the employees who work there even if they aren’t always aware of it. That is what it’s so crucial to actually create and design a culture instead of just letting it exist.“
Engaging talents has always been a daunting task.
The top two challenges in engaging employees are: working with multiple different generations under one roof, and employees wanting fast-tracked career progression. Employee engagement leads organizations towards higher productivity, business success and numbers of delighted customers. But how many of us hit this right to the core?
Engaging employees is definitely a topic of concern among talents, which strongly ties to talent retention. Engaged employees have a great sense of ownership towards the organization, are most likely to stay longer than the rest, and contribute immensely to the organization, laying the path to high customer satisfaction as well as repetitive new businesses. Failure to fulfill this dissatisfies talents to certain extents, and leads them to the company exit door. Establishing a stronger brand name, combined with employee engagement initiatives obviously helps in retention.
Engaged employees have the added benefit of becoming your brand ambassadors. Invest in them.
Engagement also determines to what extent employees are willing to go beyond at their work, and what drives them to do so. Being a rationally committed employee to the organization makes one feel connected, and an employee will strongly believe in staying only if this is in their self-interest. I wouldn’t want to rule out emotional commitment in which employees believe in, and loves to be part of the organization for various reasons with a stronger “Sense of Belonging” to the organization. In your organization, is there an emotional attachment or detachment among employees and the organization?
Categorizing the engagement efforts and linking it with organization strategy and vision can be a first step to success of engaging employees. To start off, it is good to consider both long term and quick wins as well as key objectives of engagement initiatives followed by structuring the talent engagement pillars. Do not let the engagement efforts hang separately.
Align your long, and short-term goals for engagement.
Pillar 1: Communication
Bringing employees together by sharing information and being transparent removes communication barriers in the organization. Engagement efforts within this pillar aims to create crystal-clear information flows, be it top-down or bottom-up. I have personally experienced major communication breakdowns that stems with a vacuum at the mid-level management – key information does not reach all employees.
This is also closely linked with the core values of the organization on how communication is being practiced and managed. Combining both the traditional and modern ways of communicating, the core objective is to emphasize on the transparency and openness of the organization with the employees.
As a leader, your ability to instill trust is directly correlated with your willingness to be transparent with your employees.
Putting the right message across to all employees determines the success of this pillar. Information sharing is essential, and it has to be initiated by the superiors in the organization as a culture. Who should be spearheading and championing this, the communication department, management team, or managers?
Pillar 2: Motivation
Highly motivated employees are likely to perform better and stay more engaged than the rest. Whose role is it to motivate employees? Motivation can be fueled intrinsically or extrinsically. This pillar emphasizes on being a role model and creating positive sparks, along with engaging thoughts among employees. Exploring and understanding employees‘ motivating factors, and customizing it to their needs significantly supports the framework of the engagement model. How can we identify what motivates talents as it differs by cultures and countries? I was once asked by the General Manager to reward the best attendee to eliminate tardiness, yet how many of us agree on this? Is there one formula to motivate, or are multiple channels and efforts required? Go beyond monetary.
Having a comprehensive benefits plan serves to motivate employees beyond simple monetary terms.
Pillar 3: Recreation & Bonding
“Bond” is the magic word that brings employees and teams closer. An easy way of getting this done is to organize recreational and bonding activities such as team building, and integrating a simple mobile application that can be engaging and rewarding for them. An engaging activity strengthens relationships among the workforce, and indirectly helps in managing teams and performance. How much emphasis should an organization place on this? Is there a strong belief and awareness to champion this? How do we know that existing recreational and bonding activities are sufficient, or if a more innovative approach is required – especially to cater to the new generation’s needs at the workplace?
Team building – encourage bonding among colleagues in fun and engaging ways!
In a nutshell – identify, classify, and build upon these 3 pillars, and ensure you have success measures on every engagement initiative, alongside ensuring they are being tied up with the team and organizational KPIs.
Click here to view my e-book on “101 Ways to Engage Your Talents.”
About Prakash Santhanam
Prakash Santhanam is an experienced Talent Management practitioner specializing in Learning & Capability Management, Executive Coaching, Talent Engagement and Performance Management. He has remarkableinternational track record, aligning business strategy with talent strategy in reshaping organization leading towards regional and global success. He possesses 15 years of professional experience predominantly in the automotive, information technology and telecommunication industries across Asia Pacific and Africa. He is also the author to the book “101 Ways to Engage Your Talents“.
If you are looking to create a successful and productive team offsite, you may want to explore the following 7 ideas
- Open Communication
Announce to the team how this offsite team-building will actually improve business. Set up live business goals for the meeting – e.g. sales strategy and sales goals for the next year, new delivery of ideas, or product/service lines to roll-out.
2. Allow Time for Networking
There should be scheduled time slots throughout the offsite team-building duration to enable everyone to get to know each other. I recommend that “getting to know each other” activities need not be planned; instead teams should be doing this naturally. It could be a late evening sitting at the pool and chit-chatting, or having a round of “antakshri” or karaoke, whatever the team would like to do post the offsite day work!
Remember to set aside time for networking!
3. Build A Learning Mindset
Build their skills, and self-confidence by providing constant training. Hold weekly, or bi-monthly team workshops to teach systems and procedures for every element in your business. Teach your employees how to get the most out of the time and effort that they are putting in to reap the most rewards. Also, eliminate the need for guessing when it comes to difficult situations – create systems to specifically manage a crisis.
4. Reward the Results
Set clear and realistic targets for your employees, and keep it as transparent as possible. Targets are proven to motivate employees and give them something concrete to focus on. But don’t treat missed targets as an opportunity to punish your team; simply offer a reward (cash / kind) that will drive your team to meet the targets you set in the future. Check out this blog post for ideas on designing an effective employee rewards system.
5. Don’t Miss the Basic Needs
As an employer, the onus to provide a healthy lifestyle to employees is on you. Here are basics listed –
- Comfortable, clean and well-lit rooms and sitting place.
- Break areas.
- A place for quick power-naps.
- Flexible working schedules as the focus is on work, and not thenumber of hours.
- Robust recognition program.
Ensure the working environment is clean and comfortable to maximize employee satisfaction and productivity.
6. Offsite Events
Are overnight events allowing the team to enjoy and relax, having dinner, drinks, music etc, and truly bonding. In my experience, good teams tend to end up staying late, and talk over or brainstorming new, innovative solutions to recurring problems, and work through existing business problems. These sessions are invaluable as team members work together to work out existing problems, setting the scene for new opportunities, and building real relationships in the process.
7. Last But Not Least
Remember it’s important to keep the momentum rolling. If you fail to come out with an action plan, then you will plan to fail eventually. You may have a list of ideas from the offsite meeting, but have no clarity on executing them. Ensure that action planning is clear to all members with identified goals/actions, associated responsibilities, measurement criteria, and timelines of completion. And all of this is documented soon after the event.
This post was guest written by Saloni Kaul, a human resource specialist and corporate trainer.
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
You start first with imagination. Think about what it means to step inside the mind of your employee and see/feel/experience what they are going through, what questions they are asking themselves and what issues they need resolved in order to be happy at work. Then imagine being in a position to address this, without them realising what you’re doing.
How would this improve the employee experience? In what way could you reimagine employee feedback being obtained? How could you provide unified yet automated employee support? The stuff of dreams? Not anymore.
We’re talking about the world of data analytics – quantitative and qualitative techniques and processes that can ultimately enhance productivity and improve the business. It involves extracting data, categorising it and then analysing it for patterns. So if you’re working with data, you need to perform analytics at some point.
The days of sifting through hardcopies of spreadsheets and tables are over.
Big Data, as a term, has been bandied about for some time although the concept is still very new to those in HR. The area it seems to have made most impact is talent acquisition where companies have handled thousands of resumes every year, using machine learning (producing faster and more accurate hiring decisions than humans alone).
What does analytics look like applied to HR?
Like many other areas to which analytics applies, it’s really about figuring out how to solve problems. In HR, this means considering how you could use data and analytics to:
- improve the employee experience;
- develop talent;
- automate employee support;
- move into the Cloud;
- improve how we receive employee feedback;
- take advantage of machine learning.
The more data you have, the more insight you can derive from it, assuming you can extract and process the data well. Done right, it can mean many things to those in HR.
First, it can aid on-boarding and retention by helping to develop a particular company culture and create a great work environment. Faced with high attrition costs and recruitment fees, doing this means you retain your employees longer.
Second, it can mean your ability to predict when employees are likely to resign (like in Facebook’s case), thus enabling you to take proactive steps to mitigate. Why rely on gut feel or wait until the situation implodes? Machine learning involves a “range of statistical techniques that allows companies to layout complex problems, spot patterns and come up with predictions”.
Third, it aids in talent acquisition where your company can go through thousands of resumes and create a shortlist of prospects.
Ease your hiring process with data analytics.
Fourth, data analytics helps with one of the biggest issues in HR – performance and engagement.
How do I get my talent to perform at a higher level?
How do I see what’s preventing that from happening?
How do I begin to understand the issues on the periphery?
What can I do to bring the team closer together?
How can I make them all see one unified vision?
Big asks but that is exactly why it makes sense to use analytics in HR – so you don’t just guess your way through the problem. Instead, you allow yourself to be guided forward with facts and figures.
In this way, SelfDrvn uses data-driven solutions to provide valuable insights through a range of touchpoints including employee pulse surveys, reward and recognition programmes, peer feedback loops, goal-setting, wellness games and leaderboard competitions. It’s easy to think of HR analytics as purely the responsibility of HR but it is not. Application and analysis ultimately benefit the organisation as a whole.