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.
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”.
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.