In part one of our series on employee experience (EX), we touched on the benefits of creating an EX strategy, the difference between EX and employee engagement, and the three dimensions of the employee experience. In part two, we’re going to focus on how to take the next step and develop and implement a solid employee experience strategy for your organization.
Understanding that EX encompasses the cultural, physical and technological employee experience, the successful implementation of EX means winning the hearts and minds of employees in a meaningful way. It’s not putting programs into place and ticking a box; it’s nurturing and cultivating these programs to make that employee experience meaningful. Here are some ways to win hearts and minds within the cultural and technological elements of the EX.
The cultural employee experience
Communicate a consistent and compelling mission story and purpose
Let’s face it, talented people want to work for organizations that reflect their values. They want to feel fulfilled in what they do and to know that their work is positively driving good outcomes for employees and clients. Yet, many companies either have a mission that is uninspiring or doesn’t align employees with a compelling raison d’etre. A properly articulated, clear and compelling mission and purpose make it easier for employees to understand their place in the organization and gain a sense of fulfillment. This step is critical, as research by PwC found that 70 percent of workers would consider an offer for a more fulfilling job, and one in three would consider lower pay for it. Superstar employees need a north star to follow, not just a paycheck. Once your vision is set, use specific success measures to determine the necessary skills and behaviors to achieve results. Create a behavior roadmap that outlines new behaviors and how these align to and/or differ from current behaviors.
Engage leaders to be role models – and that includes the C-suite
Actions speak louder than words. That’s why leaders modeling the right behaviors and decision-making is so important. This element is becoming so critical that some organizations have created a Chief Experience Officer (CXO) role. This person is responsible for both customer experience and employee experience, which ensures that neither competes for priority, and there isn’t a disconnect between the two. Whether or not your organization has a CXO, leaders at all levels must understand how customers experience the company’s products and services, and how employees deliver them. What is the experience like for everyone involved in these exchanges, and how can they be improved for both parties? Much of this insight can come from the next point.
Listen to employees more frequently
Listening to employees only once per year or less – which is common – simply isn’t enough. Instead, companies should keep a real-time pulse on employee sentiment. If employees feel like you are listening to them, they will tell you what they need to be engaged and motivated. In fact, according to a report by Salesforce, employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to do their best work. Remember: it’s easier to make a slight course correction than turn an entire ship. To help make these corrections, ensure that leaders and first-line managers understand the desired outcomes and behaviors, and how they can coach and mentor their employees through these changes.
The technological employee experience
Embrace modern ways of working
Many legacy companies are divided into inefficient siloes that discourage collaboration, and it’s clear that when it comes to EX, this stale way of working isn’t cutting it. Whether you call it agile or lean, modern ways of working are ultimately about creating cross-functional, co-located, outcome-oriented teams that leverage more efficient management techniques and processes. This requires the right cloud-based infrastructure and technologies; an intelligent workplace solution could be the start. But providing digital tools alone isn’t enough to fix an engagement problem. Tools must be provided alongside new ways of working that enable teamwork because empowered teams breed employee champions. Instead of communicating only new processes and tools, focus on how new ways of thinking can lead to results, and how processes and tools support these outcomes.
Activate new ways of collaborating
While technology is an enabler for collaboration, it’s only a piece of the puzzle: it might be how collaboration occurs, but it’s also important to focus on the who and the why when it comes to collaboration. Research shows that diverse teams don’t only make better decisions, they financially benefit a company. McKinsey’s latest Delivering Through Diversity report asserts that the relationship between diversity and business performance persists. Using technology to bring diverse teams together for collaboration – this can include gender, culture, age demographic, geographical location, department, role – encourages new ways of thinking, new questions and challenges, and ultimately better understanding.
Encourage and utilize goal-based learning
Introducing new technology into an organization can be stressful for both employees and the employer. Show employees how to get the most of their digital tools by starting with the end in mind. Provide users with a situation and desired outcome and then teach them how to use the new system, reports, and data: give them their purpose and they will follow.
Once employees have a handle on changes, it’s important that the desired behaviors become habitual and interwoven into the culture of an organization. Sometimes this can be achieved through positive reinforcement such as recognition and other times it must be linked to expectations and other incentives like bonuses. In the end, always remember that “what gets measured, gets done”.
Interested in the insights of Microsoft, our customer Finning International and our partner Change Champions Consulting? Read how they think you can evolve the employee experience and shift to a global, digital workplace.