The modern day focus on ‘the customer’ often does not translate to one of the most important assets in an organisation – its employees.
In a nutshell
- Organisations are increasingly focusing on developing employee experience strategies, with the realisation that happy, engaged and inspired employees result in a better customer experience, a more powerful brand and long-term organisational success.
- There are three main components that should form the basis of the people experience strategy: getting to know your employees; developing your employee value proposition; and design your employee journey framework.
- We’ve done a lot of work applying these practical tools to a number of New Zealand’s leading organisations who are wanting to shift their mindset to one that blends a growth mindset from their business and a self-fulfilment mindset from their staff.
Mark Levy, former head of Employee Experience at AirBnB summarised employee experience as “anything that sets employees up for success and improves our culture”. Employee experience isn’t about a turnaround project, a new staff perk or an annual party. It’s an enduring focus on people and creating an environment where people want to be, rather than need to be.
A recent Accenture study of S&P 500 companies found that 51% of business leaders are planning to create individual employee experiences comparable to consumer experiences in the next two years.
This is because happy, engaged and inspired employees result in a better customer experience, a more powerful brand and long-term organisational success.
Studies link top performing people-focused organisations to business outcomes Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage found that experiential organisations had more than four times the average profit and two times the average revenue of comparative organisations.
The biggest questions we get asked in this space are around how to understand people, develop a framework for experience and create purpose.
There are three main components that should form the basis of the people experience strategy. Getting these elements right will help springboard innovation and future-proof business models in a way that is cohesive with organisational strategy and outcomes.
Step 1: Get to know your employees
It sounds simple doesn’t it, but employees are whole people and value different things. Understanding what truly motivates them will enable more meaningful experiences further down the line, rather than experiences based on overly simplistic demographics.
To get to know employees, we use a simple framework:
Combining these three aspects provides us with a ‘whole person’ view. We typically take a data-driven approach to achieve this, thanks to the quantity of data that most HR departments have on their employees. Combining this with other common datasets provides a rich understanding of people.
This deep understanding helps with aspects such as identifying how an organisation might engineer different experiences, how it might communicate differently or how it could design workplace environments.
Step 2: Develop your employee value proposition (EVP)
We see strong and well thought out customer value propositions (CVP) but the employee value proposition (EVP) is often forgotten. EVP’s should encapsulate your position and purpose as well as how that will be substantiated – this includes the rewards, organisational environment, values and customer delivery.
One of my all-time favourite examples in this space is the Hard Rock Café. Since 1971, the Hard Rock Café has had a corporate mantra “Love All, Serve All”. In 2016, a Manchester customer posted a review to TripAdvisor and branded the company and its staff “a freak show”. The branch manager responded with a powerful statement:
“Love all, serve all. No matter who you are, where you’re from, what you look like, what your background is. You are welcome at the Hard Rock Cafe. We can hardly adopt such a value without treating our staff in the same way, can we?”
When demonstrated like this it is easy to see how the internal culture and values will drive the external expression of the brand. Successful brands will be those who embrace authenticity in the workplace.
Therefore, when developing an EVP, consider the following:
- Have a strong purpose which is reinforced by a clear story or narrative
- Be distinctive from the competition
- Have a sense of inspiration that motivates both the hearts and minds of employees
- Ensure alignment between the promise and reality of what is offered
- The employee proposition is connected to business outcomes
EVPs are becoming critical, especially for those looking for employers who are interesting, have a story to tell, are purposeful and carry social cache. The EVP is what will translate the employee experience through to the customer and brand experience.
Step 3: Design your employee journey framework
Once you understand your employee base and what your employee proposition is going to be, it is time to design the employee experience.
We suggest starting with a framework for understanding the employee journey and the stages you are prioritising. Often referred to as the ‘moments that matter’, these are the stages and phases of the employee experience that are most critical in creating motivation and outcomes in the organisation.
There are some key design principles to consider which will lead to better frameworks and outcomes of experience journeys:
- Your journey should be people focused, not HR focused – avoid language such as “Attract > Onboard” and instead consider the journey from an employee’s perspective: “Consider > Welcome”.
- Map points of delight, memory and pain in the journey – in the mapping process it is important to consider both the emotional state (what you want people to feel) as well as the functional behaviours in each stage to gain an understanding of what to leverage and fix.
- The role of physical, human and digital interactions – consideration needs to be given in how these three elements turn up in the journey and how they interact with each other.
- Consider how communication flows and influences certain stages – for instance, how will we customise communication to certain individuals or change the formality depending on the stage an employee is at. Another consideration here is the balance of digital and real-world communication.
The value in developing a framework like this means there is a consistent approach to how employees are treated in the transition through their journey. It also creates a platform for innovation in experiences. Whether it be developing new incentives, work environments or engagement models – chunking down the experience helps determine where to start.
The new mindset
We’ve seen that as new generations entering the workforce continue to shift expectations about what a good employer looks like and wellbeing in the workplace becomes a priority, many businesses are looking to rethink their approach to their employees.
We’ve done a lot of work in this space, applying the practical tools outlined in this article to a number of New Zealand’s leading organisations who are wanting to shift their mindset to one that blends a growth mindset from their business and a self-fulfilment mindset from their staff. In our mind, the two go hand in hand – happy, fulfilled and motivated staff who feel that their employer understands them results in better outcomes for your customers and your bottom line.