Why talk about employee experience in 2020?

The notion of employee experience is anything but new, even if there are a lot of concepts associated with it that have little to do with it, at least in my opinion. Then the question we can legitimately ask ourselves is why deal with the subject today and if we are not dealing with yet another fad.

The inevitable symmetry of attentions

At a time when everyone is talking a lot about customer experience, it is logical that employee experience is on the radar of managers.

But nothing new here: the concept of symmetry of attentiveness was introduced by the “Académie du Service” long before the notion of experience was fashionable, and the logic will remain even when the word experience is replaced by something else, or when it is no longer of interest because it has been overused.

Thank you also Stephen Cannon, CEO of Mercedes Benz USA for once saying that “customer experience follows employee experience“.

To remedy the damage of COVID

During the confinement we saw some leaders wondering for the first time how their employees were doing! Generally speaking, and despite the waves of layoffs that are expected in the near future, we can think that, for various reasons, companies will not be able to avoid paying more attention to “those who remain”.

In fact, and no matter to what extent this will be done, the organization will have to be rethought to make remote work less improvised than what we saw last spring. This means paying more attention to the conditions of remote work, but not only that. Being able to carry out all processes and functions of the business remotely is no longer a “nice to have” but an essential dimension of a business continuity plan.

Large-scale remote work has also highlighted two weaknesses of many organisations which are their complication and lack of formalism. Two evils which in my view are among the big black spots of employee experience.

Because it takes a leader to clean up the organization…

Most of the problems related to employee experience are nothing new to say the least. But that doesn’t mean that things have improved over time. The reason for this is quite simple: we are touching on subjects that affect operations, HR, management, IT…except that when one tries to advance on his part and according to his issues he does so to the detriment of others and in the end it is the employee and his performance that suffer. The rule that when a function wants to improve its performance and/or it often does so to the detriment of the others and always to the detriment of the employee is therefore once again true.

This can only be achieved with coherent and coordinated action to put the organization back at the service of the employee in his or her work, and an employee experience department can play this role as long as it is not given a care bear mandate.

Until the next fad?

Then, let’s face it, there is a fashionable side to the notion of employee experience, if only because the word “experience” is a fad. Tomorrow we will surely talk about People Operations, People&Operations or whatever. But if the words change, the problems remain.

When one stumbles on a problem it is common to change the name of the solution to avoid associating with a term too related to failure. Thus we had collaboration, followed by Enterprise 2.0, then social business, then with a broader scope the digital transformation, which digital transformation could nowadays be translated as Customer Experience + Employee Experience.

Today we say employee experience because the word simplification is scary or because Lean has bad press among those who only see cases where it has been misused, but we are on similar logics. If we talk about employee experience today it is because companies have failed to change in the past: old problem, not so new remedy but new wording.

Tomorrow we will still need to build more efficient, resilient, responsive, learning organizations, organizations that serve employees to make them more effective and efficient. I don’t know how it will be called, and in the end it won’t matter, but it will always have to be taken care of.

Photo : Tipping point by PHOTO FUN via Shutterstock

Bertrand DUPERRINhttps://www.duperrin.com/english
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of Employee and Client Experience @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
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