Employee Experience: What is it?
In the business world things are constantly evolving and transforming and Human Resources is no exception. As businesses transform we are seeing a shift in Human Resources. Decades ago, HR was fairly straightforward: employers had jobs that needed to be filled, and individuals had the skills to fill those jobs. Employers focused on the essential tools an employee needed to do their job, such as a desk, computer, phone, pen and paper, etc. Eventually, HR transformed from a utility focus to a productivity focus. While HR continued to focus on essential tools, they also began to focus on improving how their employees worked. How could they improve productivity and production (think of an assembly line)? During these times, HR didn’t focus on creating an environment where employees wanted to be, rather they focused on employee productivity and looked to for ways to continue to increase overall output. Of course, that had to change.
Once again, HR transformed and a new concept came into play. Now employers not only focused on the essential tools and productivity. They also started to explore how employees worked and why they worked that way. Employers began to explore what their employees cared about and valued (think compensation, flexible work arrangements, or casual Fridays), rather than just trying to make them more productive. This became known as employee engagement, and it’s been a considerable focus in HR for the past two or three decades. Recently, HR transformed again to focus on the employee experience. Employee engagement and employee experience are not the same things, but employee experience is not here to replace employee engagement, but rather they work together. Employee engagement focuses on the short-term perks and initiatives, while employee experience focuses on the long-term culture changes and organizational redesign.
Employee experience is looking at your organization and doing a re-design of your organization that puts employees at the center. Instead of trying to make people fit into workplace practices, employee experience looks at transforming workplace practices to fit your people. When looking at a re-design, you are looking at the organization’s structure and culture and how an employee perceives the organization overall and their role within the company. We can boil this down to three things within an organization that influence employee experience.
Culture can mean a different thing to different people. Regardless of the definition, culture is the vibe you get from coming to work. It is the mood and tone that is set in the organization’s workplace. Culture is not created in a physical space, but rather it is the sense of purpose your employees feel, the organizational structure and the people who make up your organization. It is not something that an organization has in writing or in a handbook, but it is important when creating an employee experience. An organization’s culture can be positive or negative; it can motivate us or it can discourage us. We experience the culture of our organization every day, but it is only a third of the equation of employee experience.
Part of a positive employee experience is technology: it must be powerful and user friendly. Every day our profession uses some sort of technology. It allows us to connect with our clients and access and share information instantaneously. Technology refers to the tools your employees use to get their work done. This includes everything from internal social networks, mobile devices, apps, software, e-learning tools and much more. For many organizations, work and future work are not possible without technology. Creating an employee experience requires tools that focus on employee’s needs and not just the business requirements. When we invest in our employees and are dedicated to making their lives easier, your employees invest in you and the overall organization.
Physical workspace is what employees see, touch, taste and smell. It can be the art that on the walls, the physical perks employees may get such as a lounge area. It also includes workplaces flexibility, autonomy and access to multiple workspaces in different environments. This is something to consider when employees are working remotely: do they have to have their own office in their house? Are they able to work from a Starbucks or a coffee shop if they need a change of scenery? This is part of the employee experience that needs to be focused on from an office setting and a remote work setting.
When it comes to the employee experience it is important to remember the “employee” part. You do not make assumptions of what our clients want in your product and services, do you? So why make assumptions in what your employees want or need? It is important to get their input and ask them what types of resources, technology or spaces they believe are important. It is important to listen to your employees and let them know they are being heard, even if you are not able to give them everything they want.
As a Project Manager for Boomer Consulting, Inc., Jacqueline plans, executes and manages the people, resources and scope of many of our firm’s projects, programs and events. Jackie supports multiple phases of our business by providing assistance and constant communication with clients and sponsors, and by serving as an event liaison for programs and consulting engagements. Her primary roles include overseeing Lean Six Sigma Consulting and The Boomer Technology Circles™ Partnering Sponsor Program. Jackie thrives at the opportunities to build new relationships.