Employee experience : who should be in charge ?

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Employee Experience

After a first post on defining employee experience and a second on how to turn it into concrete initiatives, it’s time to wonder about who should be in charge and manage it.

That’s a key matter. As a matter of fact, as long as no one is in charge – what’s often the case for new concepts no one knows if it’s a buzzword or a major trends – nothing happens. But as employee experience is gaining traction, two situations are emerging :

  • no one wants to be in charge either because it may look like a minefield for some old minded managers or execs, or because some want to protect the status quo.
  • everyone wans to be in charge in take ownership since employee experience is the place to be, the new shiny thing in the workplace.

The point is that if employee experience needs ownership it can’t be locked into a silo.

HR seems to be the most legitimate but employee experience goes far beyond their expertise. It requires a kind of tech-savviness at some point, it’s also about improving operations, what is not their usual playground.

IT ? It will play a role, for sure, but solving employees problem and making their work simpler and easier is not something they’ve been good at in the past. So IT will be the partner of employee experience but won’t lead it.

Employer branding, internal or external communication ? Employee experience is about real work life, not about the company’s promise.

Digital transformation ? It may be a good pick in businesses where a digital transformation unit exists and is really driving change in both the customer and employee field. Moreover, most of times, many businesses consider digital transformation as being about customer experience first and the need for employee experience appear when they eventually realize that the limit to a successful customer experience deployment is employee experience. Unfortunately such units are too often more in charge of digital than of transformation and don’t have neither the power nor the assignment of initiating and driving so deep internal changes.

In fact, employee experience is like customer experience. It’s about managing multiple touchpoints between the company and its employees, it’s also about sharing data across silos for a better knowledge and understanding of employees. So, obviously, no matter who’s in charge of employee experience, he’ll have to work with a cross-functional team to be able to manage all the touchpoints.

A bolder approach is to avoid creating one more silo, one more director or chief something officer but to replace an existing function with employee experience.That’s what happened at AirBnb, one of the first company that turned the Chief Human Resources Officer function into a Chief Employee Experience Officer one. The “CEEO” is not only responsible for core HR functions but also for many other things ranging from facilities to internal communications, including food (yes…food !).

It’s, in my point of view, the best way to achieve a consistent employee experience provided it’s more than rebranding the HR function. It implies either that HR collaborates much more with many other functions or acquires the capacity to manage fields that are out of its typical scope. In my perspective I also consider that the CEEO will have to be closer to the CMO. Why ? Because since there is no customer experience without employee experience, employee and customer experience must be consistent in order to leverage the first to better deliver the second.

There’s still a long way to go and organizing for employee experience will be like an internal tsunami for many old-fashioned organizations. But is there any other realistic alternative in the XXIe century ?

Photo Credit : Employee Experience by Manczurov via Shutterstock

This post was first published on the HRN Blog.