There’s no customer experience without employee experience. Even if it sounds obvious, reality is often far from that since customer experience is often at the center of digital business models while employee experience is often the poor parent of digital transformation.
Employee experience suffers for several troubles :
– for lots of businesses customers are a revenue and employees a cost. Any dollar spent on the customer is an investment, any dollar spent on the employee is a loss. A look at the IT spendings predictions or at recent announcements showing a real disproportion between customer and employee facing initiatives is enough to convince anyone.
– for many, experience related to the use of technology, to digital, while it breaks the barriers between digital and physical, as customer related initiatives proved it. In short, employee experience is often a quick technology make-up without alignment with what happens in real life, in real work.
– we’re stuck on a double equation : digital transformation = experience and digital for employee = intranet and collaboration. The scope is much broader and covers many existing fields.
– shown this way, customer experience belongs to both HR, operational managers, IT, process owners. But it’s managed without any link with the customer experience it supports but, it’s itself siloed and shared between departments that don’t act jointly.
Employee experience is making work simpler
To define employee experience I start with this famous quote from Peter Drucker :
“Most of what we call management consists of making it difficult for people to get their work done”
On the customer side, as we saw, experience is a process that aims at making things easier and increasing the perceived value. When accessing something that has value is enjoyable and simple, it’s easier to buy it and be likely to promote it. That’s the same on the employee side. So I’d say that :
“Employee experience consists of making any work act or situation simpler, more enjoyable and increase its value”.
Its importance is double for employees : it empowers them to deliver the customer experience and sets the tone of the latter because what employees deliver to customers is nothing more and nothing more that what their employer delivered to them. If any customer related action must be thought “experience by design” because it’s a matter of margins and repeat business then any management action must be thought “experience by design” too because it’s a matter of productivity and engagement.
On experience design I’ll advise you to read the end of my post on customer experience because the process is quite the same.
Any management action and service to employees must be thought through the lense of experience
Experience is closely related to touch points and the touch points between a business and its employees are varied.
– corporate communication tools in the broad sense
– work and communication tools (experience is not the the interface, it’s cross-applications and follows the flow of work).
– business processes
– support processes (RH, travels, expenses, resource and meeting room reservation…)
– employees (personal relationships, collaboration)
– managers (style, postures, manager’s role)
– connected objects and, soon, wearables (services delivered through connected objects).
For each of the, one should ask “what problem does it solve ?” and come with an answer based on two dimensions : the value (brought to employees and perceived) and values (of the company). The value determines the “what”, the value the “how” and the qualitative side. In an experience driven approach and contrary to what’s been done until now, the “how” is as important as the “what”.
As we can see, employee experience is a matter of management and services to employee that, in the end, bring together many already existing disciplines that were managed in silos, not jointly, which had two consequences. The first is that businesses end with competing initiatives and even internal fights while everything should converge, each department in charge of something having nothing but a part of a broader project and not an isolated and “privately owned” goal. The second is a budget waste because many initiatives related to a “global employee experience” are duplicated in each silo while they should be mutualised and, by soing so, have more funds and resources.
In some ways an employee experience approach brings coherence to scattered initiatives that range from digital workplace to well being, including many processes, by focusing on the value and message delivered to employees. It’s making sense of initiatives that, taken in isolation, used to be their own purpose.
Experience at the hear of the employee life cycle
When I discussed the characteristics of experience, I mentioned the idea of life cycle which, in this case, is about employees development. I found this slide from Ray Wang very meaningful.
As a matter of fact we can find :
– in the lower boxes and going up the employee expectations. A kind of Maslow Pyramid of employee experience.
– in each box goals to meet through employee experience.
– looking at the different fields at stake, we can see that it’s a transverse discipline.
– it also show that if anyone has understood that any brand must be an experience, any business should be an experience too from an internal perspective.
“Workplace experience” to bridge digital and physical
It’s not possible to end with employee experience without mentioning its physical side or, rather, the link between digital and physical. That’s what I call the “workplace experience”. If digital accounts for a growing part of employees time at work, we should not forget that they are in a physical and tangible environment. A good online experience is worth nothing if people have an opposite one once they leave their screens and chairs.
Of course it’s making us think about workplace (re)design, even about rethinking its purpose in businesses relying more and more on remote work.
But the next big step is the physical/digital interaction in terms of experience and service. Mobile, connected objects, wearables will allow to deliver added-value services to employees from both an operational (effectiveness, time saved…) and well-being perspective. In some cases they may also be the starting point of new collaboration experiences.
It may look very ambitious but we must remind what’s at stake : no employee experience = no customer experience = lower margins and less loyal customers. Employee experience is the price to pay to stay competitive in the digital economy and this slide from Ray Wand is a very good inspiration for HR people trying to build the roadmap of their contribution to the digital transformation of their organization.
Image Credit: Employee Experience by Gustavo Frazao via Shutterstock