Businesses typically spend much of their time and efforts around the customer experience. After all, it is the consumers that drive our businesses and keep us going, right? However, it is our employees that drive our consumer experience and ensure that they are receiving the best experience possible. Coincidently, HR is now looking to the employee experience as the future of work. There is a direct correlation between employee engagement and success in consumer experience because companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers.
Improving the Employee Experience
Improving the employee experience should be like applying HR practices to the principle of customer experience design that marketing and operations teams already employ. However, a compelling employee experience may mean different things to different employers. Once you know what this means to you then you can focus on creating a captivating employee experience. What are your employees searching for that will allow them to give more back to your organization? The responses to this question typically include professional development programs, investing in additional training, improved workspaces, and providing more rewards. Companies have also chosen to focus on creating a compelling employee experience as the war for talent takes over. The best way to create a persuasive employee experience is to see the world through their eyes and develop a strategy that accounts for their work environment, how they can maintain productivity, and consistently learn how to achieve their best. Most HR leaders believe that the employee experience is crucial to their organization’s success. Making the workplace an experience allows organizations to embed their culture and values in the workplace and use it as a strategy to recruit and hire top talent.
Employing customer experience strategy to employee experience begins with needs-based breakdown, grouping employees into factions based upon their wants and needs. Most businesses organize employees in standard rankings, such as job title, rank, department, geography, and/ or business unit. Customer experience design requires a more nuanced understanding of customers rather than just simple demographics or economic value. Employee design should be based upon employees’ desires and drivers. As we all know, not every employee wants or needs the same development opportunities, schedules, or rewards. We are all driven differently and what motivates us professionally is also not the same. Employees differ in their level of interest in communicating and participating and what they value. Businesses need to provide experiences designed to appeal to different segments.
HR can borrow tools from the customer experience. For example, the journey map, which outlines the steps customers go through in engaging with an organization. This approach can be applied to employees throughout the employment life cycle as well. Below is an example of the employment life cycle:
- Sourcing and recruiting
- Compensation and benefits
- Ongoing learning and development
- Ongoing engagement, communication, community involvement
- Recognition and rewards
- Performance planning, feedback, and review
- Retirement, termination, or resignation
It is important to identify the gaps between the current employee experience and an experience that would address employees’ needs, cultivate the desired culture, and align with the business objectives and requirements. The best customer experiences bring the company’s brand values and attributes to life. The same is true for the employee experiences. Businesses should design them and align them with the priorities and differentiators of their brand to be successful.
How can HR create a compelling employee experience? The following factors examine what could make this future of work successful.
Real Estate Partnerships
How are workspaces designed? Do they accommodate all individuals and capture their talents? No, they don’t. Most workspaces are designed for extroverts and their need for stimulation. We also must consider introverts, whom are highly talented individuals with a diverse set of characteristics. It is wise for organizations to consider how they can accommodate both extroverts and introverts in their workspaces. For example:
- Where do you go to do your best work?
- Where do you go to get the job done?
- Where do you avoid meeting or working?
- Where do you go to recharge?
Workers who have control over where and how they work and are free to choose a workspace to fit their chosen task at hand- either focused work or collaborative work-are more engaged in the workplace. Workspace should not be considered as just a building or a spot to sit but as part of the HR agenda to extend the company’s culture and engage employees.
What About Technology?
Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a huge market and is predicted to continue to surge. It is currently being built into all kinds of products and services. Technology, including AI, can improve the employee experience and enhance HR functions. For example, in 2016 there was an increase in interest in chatbots with the creation of digital co-workers, which means that a piece of software works alongside with you at your job and participates in the day-to-day activities as an active and engaged team member. There are AI powered personal virtual assistants who schedule meetings and chat bots that handle recruiting tasks like suggesting interview questions or finding similar candidates on LinkedIn. There also are workplace automation tools. Predictions have been made that automation will continue to seep into more aspects of our professional lives. It may become increasingly difficult to distinguish what is being done by an individual and what is being done by a machine which will require humans to have to work smarter.
It is unclear if automation will lead to fewer jobs. It is presently more important to consider how our current jobs will evolve and what type of training is necessary to up skill employees who hold jobs in which automation will be hardest hit. This is an opportunity for forward thinkers in HR to fully understand the context how AI and automation will impact the future of work.
A New Kind of Workforce
The workforce of the future will not look the same because it will not be composed of all full-time employees. It will be blended and composed of full-time and part-time employees as well as consultants, contract employees, freelancers, and other contingent workers. The most job growth has been in specialized and technical positions that require creative judgement, flexibility, and long-term relationship building. The blended workforce will likely become a permanent part of the changing composition of the workforce. It is best for forward-thinking HR personnel plan for a blended workforce and address the onboarding and integration of gig workers as well as what type of training would benefit them.
The Development of Career Mobility Options
Millennials have surpassed Generation X in the labor force, now outnumbering both Generation X and Baby Boomers. It is important to consider want kind of experience each generation would be seeking. Career mobility platforms that allow employees to test out new roles and broaden their skills while keeping their current positions. By doing so, this can increase employee engagement, improve productivity, and enhance teamwork. As the jobless rate continues to drop, it is crucial to retain employees and these options can help do so.
Investments in Wellness
Organizations are now making deliberate attempts to create a holistic view of wellness, including financial wellness and health and well-being. For example, offering a financial wellness benefits are not uncommon. This can include an online financial fitness program, with the goal of helping employees to save money for an emergency. There are also programs that take a holistic approach to your health and well-being. These investments have become important because well-being in the workplace is becoming the expectation for how we will work and live our lives.
Not Just Individual Development Anymore
Traditionally HR has focused on individual employees, including recruiting them, developing them, and assessing their performance. However, now we are seeing this focus shift to the development of teams because teams deliver great results. An individual employee’s experience is their team experience so the HR has begun to put the emphasis on team dynamics within the HR process. One of the innovations in this area is crowd-sourced based pay. For example, a company provides 98 percent of an employee’s total compensation and the remainder is crowd-sourced by teams in the form of micro-bonuses. Crowd-sourced pay could become a popular mechanism to reward top performers in the workplace. \
These changes will continue to drive our HR functions and become the wave of the future as we change how work is valued and how we can recruit, hire, and retain a diverse and productive workforce.