The idea of an ‘employee experience’ might be quite unfamiliar to many organisations. Usually, ‘experience’ is associated with customers and ‘customer experience’, which organisations recognise as an essential offering in today’s market. However, the two are fundamentally similar in that they both represent the ways in which ‘people’ engage with a specific business, brand or ‘culture’. Employee experience lies at the crossroads between broader brand identity and the lived realities of people’s day to day roles and activities.
Why Improve Employee Experience?
Treating your employees as well as you treat your customers can lead to real business results; research has shown that highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share (Gallup, 2017). Employees are the living, breathing representations of your brand – they are your culture. Aligning employees with your organisation’s purpose, brand and values can provide you with a competitive advantage in a market where authenticity and transparency are more important for customers than ever before. People are an organisation’s most valuable asset, and should be treated as such.
Understanding the ‘culture’ of your organisation can seem like an abstract task, but approaching culture as the behaviours, beliefs and practices of your people makes things a little less daunting. An essential first step is understanding your employees. Through in-depth research, organisations can develop a confident knowledge of their employees’ day to day, ensuring that they design an employee experience which resonates with those realities.
How to Improve Employee Experience?
There are many things that we can learn from how organisations approach their customers, from the mind-set to the methods of research. The best way to understand something is to experience it yourself first-hand. For management to truly get to know their people, nothing can beat spending time on the ground, talking to them, and doing what they do. This doesn’t necessarily need to take the form of ethnographic research, it could just be a case of walking the office floor and asking people how their days are going. However, there are tools that organisations can borrow from consumer research to help them find the information needed to inspire change. Surveys, for example, have long been used to measure employee engagement, but they should be used to their full potential to deliver key insights. Innovations in technology have made surveying more exciting and engaging for participants; mobile market researchers, for example, have used mobile technology and co-creation to gather data on-the-go, gaining valuable insights. Another method that organisations can borrow from consumer research is journey mapping. Understanding your employees’ day to day and long-term experiences is essential for identifying the points at which they feel more engaged and supported than others. Whether it be on-boarding, learning and development or performance management, these touchpoints could provide organisations with tangible frameworks for making change happen.
A successful employee experience, therefore, is when a brand’s culture and values are lived and breathed by its people day to day, expressed through behaviours and practices along the employee journey. How, then, can you achieve this?
Understanding the needs and motivations of your employees through effective research can inform these projects, producing engagement experiences that are human-centred and meaningful. By grounding engagement in your employees’ lived realities, they become personalised, convincing and memorable. Furthermore, approaching the employee experience via journey touchpoints, such as on-boarding and performance management, can allow organisations to tap into culture and values in a tangible way. By humanising these experiences, you can bring your brand’s culture and values to life within the workplace, with the impact felt further afield.
NKD worked with one of the UK’s largest television networks to engage their employees through a performance management overhaul. Through our Discovery research we were able to understand what the barriers were to great performance management. We found that when performance management systems were based on processes, rather than people, their impact suffered. The new methodology we created put people at the centre of performance management, and was brought to life in a half-day ‘Talking Performance’ module for the organisation’s leaders. The result was a 9% increase in employee engagement within 6 months. We were able to create an employee experience that was human-centred and tailored to the needs of the organisation – making a real difference for their people.
Factoring employee engagement into business strategy leads to results for organisations. As working environments and the people who inhabit them constantly change, clarity around a brand’s identity can help organisations to create a consistently engaging employee experience, sustained by the feeling that they connect with their brand day to day. Engaged employees who feel connected to the organisation and its values are the best brand ambassadors you could ask for. By creating a humanised and focused employee experience, your brand will come to life not only within the workplace, but beyond it in every customer interaction. As organisations focus so much of their energy on connecting with their customers, they cannot risk missing out on the potential of their most valuable asset – their own people
Loulwa Al Rasheed-Wright