If listing everything that goes wrong in terms of employee experience is useful, it is of little use if we are not able to put initiatives in front of us to solve the problems.
Now we need two things:
- Knowing why we do things and especially in which direction we want to go
- Identify the projects we want to carry out
3 approaches to developing an employee experience program
To identify the work areas there are three approaches that are not at all incompatible with each other.
First of all, trust one’ s intuition. Very useful especially on a subject that many talk about but few have done and structure things. But there are things that are so obvious that we can say to ourselves that we can start with them and then post-rationalise the process by identifying complementary projects or projects in the same vein.
Then one can copy what has been done elsewhere. Again, this can be practical at first, but it has its limits, as every time you copy the best practices of another company. Not everyone has the same problems, the same emergencies, the same corporate culture, the same resources, the same roadmap entrusted to them by their EXCO or even the scope of responsibility. I’m very comfortable sharing what I’ve done in my job but I’m always afraid that people will try to copy remedies that don’t correspond to their company’s ills. It is more interesting to understand why a company has taken this or that initiative and build its own logic than to copy its initiatives. In other words, if I had been elsewhere I might have done something else or not in the same order and otherwise.
Finally, one can have a hyper-structured and analytical approach. It ideally complements the first two which are mostly sources of inspiration but can be more daunting for creative minds even if it is my favourite.
To do this it is necessary to understand and analyze three basic concepts which, fortunately, are very simple.
Everything is part of the employee’s lifecycle.
There is a tendency to break down everything that concerns the employee into small topics that will be addressed by this or that function according to its speciality. This is a double mistake.
First of all because some are more cross-functional than others and the employee pays for the lack of collaboration between HR and manager, manager and IT etc.
Secondly, because if we put ourselves in the employee’s shoes, we are not talking about independent sequences, but about stages in his or her life in the company that must take place and follow each other as smoothly as possible. Once again, one can decide to treat the employee experience not in the service of the employee but to facilitate the life of the support functions, but it is adding to the nonsense that we are trying to remedy.
This lifecycle is generally well known in terms of stages, although they are usually treated individually and not as a sequence.
- Being onboarded
- Contribute (participate in collective intelligence)
- Develop (skills)
- Evolve (position)
- Being offboarded
- Remaining an asset even after leaving the company
Nothing exceptional here and depending on the company, there are various variations. But I would like to make two points, however.
The second is that, precisely, the “work” part is always the most neglected, if not totally ignored. Most often the notion of the employee’s lifecycle when used is used by human resources, for whom the notions of work content, means and organisation are totally foreign notions and, in any case, over which they have no control.
In the end, they are dealt with by an operations department that gives little importance to the human element in relation to execution, managers who do not manage and an IT department that does not know the business or the daily workflow of the employee and, moreover, does not talk to each other, or at least not about it.
In the lifecycle there are journeys
Once one has formalised the employee’s lifecycle, which will serve as the backbone of the process, one will move to a finer level of granularity, which is that of journeys. Life at work is made up of journeys, more or less long, which are taken more or less frequently.
This can be the list of tasks to be done to accomplish an action. The salesperson reporting, the employee taking leave or looking for training.
It can be the daily workflow of a project manager with monitoring, interactions, reporting…
It can be the way one accesses or contributes to the company’s knowledge.
This can be the way in which a service or process is carried out.
If we forget the notion of a journey there is no design possible and without design there is no experience. It’s as simple as that.
It’s all about the points of contact between the employee and the organization.
Once the routes have been identified, the irritants and friction points along the way must be identified. For friction to occur there must be contact. This means listing the innumerable points of contact between the employee and the company in a given journey.
It is not possible to draw up an exhaustive and generic list of them, but the broad categories into which they can be searched and classified can be presented.
- Physical: workplace, office, furniture, machines…
- Human: the manager, colleagues, clients, culture…
- Organisational: organisation (reporting, decision-making, steering and control structures), processes, methodologies, culture, etc.
- IT: software, hardware
Sometimes we have cross-cutting issues, but this allows us to identify the real responsibilities. Software can be good, with a good UX but support an unnecessarily complicated process: in this case it is the design of the process that is in question. On the other hand, sometimes the process and the user path are well designed but have been “twisted” to fit into an inappropriate tool.
Client centricity, design and “job to be done”
At this stage you will have an impressive list of subjects to look at and investigate and therefore you will have to prioritize. There’s no rule here. Everyone will see according to their means, their resources and what they intend to prioritize.
However, there will be a frustrating phase: before doing visible things that will have a direct impact on the employee, it may be necessary to start with less visible, more obscure things. For example, work on the processes of the support functions so that these same support functions free up time and become more at the service of the employees.
The subjects thus identified and prioritized will of course be dealt with according to the guiding principles of the employee experience and with certain methodological principles to guide the reflection.
1°) What is the “job to be done“. The use of a tool, the activation of a process or a service corresponds to a need to do something and are not ends in themselves. You will realize that in many cases things have been complicated to the extreme by control, validation and coordination interfaces, forgetting the primary purpose of what you wanted to do.
2°) Who is the client? The company has customers, who are served by employees, who can be served by colleagues, all served by managers and support functions. In the end, everything is done for someone who does something for a customer. Again, review your processes, methods, services and ask yourself who is the customer who activates them (and why, the famous “job to be done”). You will often find that the “customer employee” has been turned into a contributor to an unreasonable extent, or even that those who are supposed to serve him have reversed the workload. I remember a friend of mine who was supposed to take a training course and ended up in an internal administrative maze, so that at the end he said to me “it’s actually not HR who works for me but me who works for them”. Another example in a company where sales administration was designed to simplify the life of finance and overburdened sales people with tasks that should never have been theirs. Examples like that you will find plenty of them.
3°) Do design! Companies love it when it comes to improving the customer experience and, to put it bluntly, making it easy and enjoyable for the customer to spend their money. Are these same approaches used to design processes and services for employees? No. It’s incredible to find it normal to complicate the lives of people we pay so that, in the end, they use a significant part of their energy to do something other than what we pay them to do. I know that the french word for work comes from tripalium, an instrument of torture, but I promise you that we can make work enjoyable or at least not complicate it unnecessarily. I know I often repeat this, but if e-commerce sites had been designed like many other tools and internal processes, online sales would never have taken off.