The employee experience advantage : a reference work on employee experience

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Employee experience is a new field and if we’re starting to see interesting things happening, there was no real reference book on this topic.  The employee experience advantage by Jacob Morgan is filling this gap.

Who ?

Jacob Morgan, author of bestsellers like The Collaborative Organization and The Future of Work.

What ?

The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces They Want, the Tools They Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate

The main idea.

To win the car for talents, business must become more than a place where people come to trade work against money and offer a true experience to their employees.

Going deeper.

1°) From utility to experience

Jacob Morgan explains very well the way the nature of work changed over times. First it was about utility (some people had a work capacity and needed money, some others had money and needed a workforce), then about productivity (optimizing the workforce utilization), the engagement (because happier employees are more productive) and today we see the dawn of the experience era to make people show up because they want and not because they must.

2°) Employee experience is about work redesign.

So it’s different than engagement that is often a one shot initiative with momentary effects. Employee experience is the reality of work, it’s about what people live when they work in a given business. It’s a more structural approach.

3°) An experiential organization knows its employees.

Employee experience is at the crossroads of enterprise and employee expectations. If we assume that businesses know their own expectations, we also know that they are often wrong when they think they know what their employees need and want. Hence the need to involve employees into the employee experience design. I’d also add that managing the employee journey over time from an HR perspective requires a data based employee understanding.

4°) What’s your reason for being ?

An experiential organization must have a reason for being. Something that transcends business, the will to have an impact on the world and not only to make and sell products. No way to inspire or build and experience worth the name without a reason for being.

5°) The building blocks of employee experience.

Employee experience relies on 3 buildings blocks : culture, technology and physical work environment. I won’t elaborate more since Jacob goes deeper into each, explains all their characteristics, illustrates with cases, what it measures and how to impact it.

6°) A real business value for employee experience

Jacob identifies 9 maturity levels regarding employee experience. Then he puts it perspective with concrete business indicators that speak to business leaders : attractiveness, brand value, average revenue, profit per employee etc. In addition to the research he conducted himself, Jacob aggregated a huge amount of data from various sources to build something solid which is the first serious work backed by numbers I’ve seen on that matter.

He also pays attention to the cost of such a program. He shows that’s its possible to do tangible things with little investment but, obviously, that tackling the entire employee experience can be costly, most of all when it comes to transforming the physical work environment.

The book ends with a methodology, backed with cases, to design and implement employee experiences while avoiding the slow and heavy traditional approached and involving imployees in both design and roll-out.

My opinion.

My first point is that reading Jacob’s vision of the evolution of work and the maturity model he proposes makes us realize that most businesses are really lagging far behind. Not only in terms of delivery but in terms of understanding of the current context.

I really appreciated this book because it’s comprehensive, full of cases and examples and gives anyones the means to understand what employee experience is about, what’s at stake and a very operational checklist of the things to tackle.

Regarding the employee experience building blocks, I compared with interests Jabob’s approach to mine. We use the same elements but I translate them into touchpoints between the employee and the organization : human, technology (split into communication-collaboration / support / business solutions), organizational….the whole in perspective of the employee journey. It results in a more granular approach because we can dive deeper at the level of a tool or a process. But both can work together.

I may go further than Jacob on some points : the addressed challenges and the scope. Jacob’s message is mainly about attractiveness in the context of a war for talent. If you xant to hire the right ones you must give them what they need and expect. He starts from the need for attractiveness while I focus more on efficiency and delivery, highlighting the need for organizational simplification. In my opinion, employee experience is not only the context and environment of work but also (and most of all) about work and day to day activities. I don’t think it’s possible to achieve a great employee experience without involving process owners.

But in the end I’m also convinced that a good employee experience is an essential weapon at the service of employer branding communication.

Anyway, there’s no food or bad model. People need landmarks and approaches and an approach they are comfortable with. Jacob makes employee experience easy to understand without being superficial. There are enough content and examples in the book to use it to take the lead and move forward.

I also advise you to have a look at Jacob Morgan’s l’Employee Experience Index.