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4 aspects of employee experience high-performing organizations get right

By Hamish Deery | December 17, 2019

We found there are four vital pieces of employee experience (EX) in high-performing employers that represent the basics of what employees are looking for in organizations.
Compensation Strategy & Design|Future of Work|Employee Experience|Ukupne nagrade
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Use of the term “employee experience” or EX is relatively new. But companies’ commitment to EX has grown markedly in recent years. Today companies understand the concept of EX. The challenge is fulfilling the commitment to provide a good EX. And more specifically where to start or how to best employ finite resources.

Although there are different views on precisely what EX is and why it is important, there are also important areas of common ground. The majority of views, for example, describe EX as the “touch points”, “moments that matter” or interactions employees have with their organizations, and make the case that a better EX leads to a better customer experience.

Organizations also recognize the need to deliver powerful employee experiences across increasingly diverse work arrangements and organization models. And there is also a common view that employees expect more personalized, always on, in-the-moment-experiences that create human connections, support development and inspire performance.

The challenge: When everything matters

The challenge with the above definition is that when employees spend many hours at work each week, the number of important touch points is potentially huge. They can occur and have different levels of importance throughout the employee life cycle, from recruitment through to exit, and everything in between. They can also range from simple interactions to deeper human and emotional experiences that employees have at work.

For organizations focused on EX and driving performance, the challenge with such a broad, all-encompassing definition is that it suggests the need to spend time, money and resources across a plethora of employee experiences. For example, would you be better placed investing in free meals and ping pong tables, enhancing the on-boarding experience, introducing a new technology, or in career and learning opportunities?

All of these are arguably important to high performing EX, but which is more important, and which will deliver the greater ROI in terms of productivity, customer experience and performance? Moreover, which will sustain the EX and performance over the long term?

Recent data about high-performing employee experience

To answer these questions, it is possible to draw on new insights from organizations that have delivered both a positive EX, and sustained, superior business performance. We recently investigated the characteristics of EX in financially high performing organizations from our annual database of around 500 EX clients per year. The high-performing organizations delivered a return on assets and equity, and three-year revenue growth and profit growth significantly higher than their industry peers.

We found there are four fundamental dimensions of EX in these high-performing organizations. They represent the essentials of what employees are looking for in all organizations. We refer to them as High Performing Employee Experiences (HPEX), and we found that they can be viewed along a developmental path, starting with establishing foundations, then building in emphasis, and finally to a level of excellence in the EX.

  1. Purpose. This starts with the foundation of employees understanding the organization’s purpose, and moves to an experience of inclusion and alignment to its mission, vision and values. At the highest level, employees may experience inspiration from the organization’s purpose, its “why” or reason for existing. Companies that are evolved along this dimension find ways to make personal and human connections to their work. For example, a property development company might take new employees out to sites to see how its work creates communities that can prosper, and where families can live out their dreams.

    A services company might celebrate stories of employees going above and beyond to solve a customer problem, and in so doing create a compelling experience for that customer. Or a manufacturer of heavy equipment might include as part of its induction process linkages to their products being used to feed communities around the world.

  2. The Work. Employees in organizations where the essentials are in place experience a sense of effective, efficient and flexible work, and of continuous improvement in the way work is performed. In more evolved organizations, this extends to an experience of voice or autonomy over how they undertake the work, and ultimately to an experience of the organization being agile and ahead of the market in the way it designs structures, roles and work.

    For example, it is common for quality-focused organizations to build in feedback processes to capture customer and employee ideas for continuous improvement. Or organizations looking to innovate to create space and time (sometimes through specific design of organization functions or teams) for employees to bring their ideas forward, test them and, if successful, commecialize them.

  3. People. The human-centric relationships are a critical HPEX pillar, and start with foundations of an experience of support and connection with an immediate manager, building to a sense of collaboration within and across teams. A highly evolved EX also includes a sense of trust and confidence in senior leaders.

    For example, we see organizations including these types of leadership capabilities in their talent management processes as criteria for selection, development and reward. To ensure they are fostering these connections, some establish formal and informal leadership communities, social learning programs, mentoring, and support people managers with technologies and tools to connect with a diverse and increasingly remote workforce.

  4. Total rewards. At the foundational level, employees experience a sense of fairness and equity in their total rewards. A more developed EX also leads to a sense of growth in personal capabilities. At the highest level, employees feel like they are able to achieve their full potential.

    Organizations are increasingly using digital technologies to personalize communication about total rewards, careers and wellbeing. Based on the profile of each employee, they receive communication relevant to them. Moreover, part of the communication informs and directs behavior through technology such as reminders, nudges or virtual assistants.

EX: the guiding construct for human capital

With its strong links to performance, this research demonstrates that EX should be the guiding construct for human capital and a decisive measure of success. Starting from the four pillars representing the core of the HPEX framework, organizations can generate insight on the current state – through diagnostic approaches like employee listening, pulses, jams, digital focus groups, journey maps, web analytics, etc. – to help understand and evolve their "moments that matter.”

They can inform the strategy and programs that will deliver the greatest ROI for both employees and the organization over the long term. Today’s technologies enable them to take these insights and embed modern digital experience in the EX – highly personalized and curated content to power the moments that matter and shape behavior.

Author

Head of Sales, Employee Experience, International
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