Part 3/5 - Enter Employee Experience Design as a solution to the chasm of our current challenges…
Jacob Morgan – a best-selling author of three books, the latest of which is titled The Employee Experience Advantage, describes several dimensions of employee experience evolution that have developed over the years such as utility, productivity, engagement and experience at work. Organisational science has been slow to comprehend the importance of the individual in the workplace equation – opting early days for what I call the Disposable Battery approach to utilising human beings to create revenue streams and profit margins to the advantage of the most senior level leaders and shareholders/investors.
Experience is all about how people feel about the alignment of their value systems with their leaders and managers, the purpose of their work, the impact they see they are having every day, the sense of belonging and connectedness at work, with their colleagues and team members, the digital enablement their organisation’s provide regarding performance, personal information, productivity, collaboration and communication - and the environmental components of the physical and virtual spaces in which they can get work done.
Building capability, mastery and competence in all of these areas is crucial to the employee’s perception that the organisation supports them, their work and their sense of psychological continuity and synchronicity – but only if the programmatic underpinnings are created from the perspective of the employee lens first – and NOT for the convenience or expediency of the organisation’s bureaucratic structures, processes or procedures.
This is not an undertaking to be engaged with lightly, nor a lip-service attempt to placate employee perception – but rather a wholesale approach to re-tooling the transformative purpose of the organisation, through the eyes of its people, in changing the world symbiotically – with the notion of abundance (everyone wins) driving the relationship vs. scarcity (zero-sum game of winners and losers), where the organisation exists to scrape consumer wallet share, and then further scrape profit margin from the wallets and experiences of their employees to pump up executive pay and shareholder value.
Do you want to make some REAL money and future-proof your enterprise?
We’ve entered into a world where extraordinary human beings with incredible minds, creative processes, inventive capacities and complex entanglements intellectually will be required to outsmart the competition, and build new tools, toys and services that have likely never been imagined previously in human history. And we should expect NOTHING from them in terms of their creative energies if we don’t seek to serve their personal path of self-actualisation (personal human potential).
In order to nurture the creative contributions from our people, we need to lay the groundwork seamlessly for them to engage, embrace and enlighten themselves within the programmes, tools and activities we offer as support for that effort. Do this with abandon, and illustrate in real terms how your eco-system and environment is the right place for them to explore, invent and innovate to their heart’s content – and I promise you an experience of epic proportions – where you are attracting amazing people, witnessing incredible levels of collaboration and connectedness, and seeing incredible levels of natural networking that lead to exponential outcomes you never imagined possible.
What do we need fix within our human working populations? A chance for Transcendence…
Often organisations focus on the foundational aspects of the pyramid above. Current thinking about employee engagement often then focuses on the next level up, or emotional support and engagement. And whilst it’s true that human beings are certainly motivated by higher levels of emotionally driven activity – it’s often temporary and not sustainable over time.
What I’m proposing is a far more profound effect on the individual – more likely in the life changing aspects of this pyramid. Helping your employees to experience a place where they have attracted authentically from the moment they came across your existence, through to the day when they decide they need a new adventure elsewhere (hopefully through retiring vs. resigning), is the ultimate goal we are trying to accomplish.
Employee Experience Design seeks to understand the quality of our relationship with our most game-changing, most expensive and least predictable asset on the balance sheet – to ensure the best route to creating an ‘unfair advantage’ in your marketplace by creating a well nurtured, understood, looked-after and optimally productive employee base to achieve that exponential output we all desire.
At ex.design – we undertake careful, empirically designed approach to measuring the relative health of your Employee Experience over three areas:
- Globally randomised survey tools
- Targeted interviews with staff at every level
- Mystery shopper experiences as captured in situ (covering several areas of the typical employee life cycle)
Off the back of the aggregated results of our study, we share with your newly minted cross-functional Employee Experience Squad the key areas where there are significant gaps and seek to capture what 2-3 projects we might tackle together with the highest commercial impact (and thus greatest visibility to the CXO team to make you look like heroes to the powers above). The cross-functional mix is a combination of HR, IT, Finance, Internal Communications, Marketing and Operations team members – who need to come together as a unit to address, with the right lenses and intensity, comprehending the most expensive and risk-laden asset on the balance sheet – your people. We spend millions every year trying to understand our products and how our customers engage with them – bringing the brightest minds and most expensive experts to bear on the challenge of creating the best Customer Experience possible – but do very little internally to comprehend what the people who deliver that experience feel about their own lot in the workplace.
It’s like a Formula 1 racing team performing loads of research on all of their competitors, then putting a shiny coat of paint on their own race car – but forgetting to bring along the pit crew, the power plant engineers and the crew manager who communicates with the driver – hoping for the best. What a colossal waste of time, effort and money without having any predictability around your chances of winning (but a pretty solid chance of losing).
My team offer these critical actions and activities to ensure you and your organisation are living a life of consciousness, full awareness and intention in your commercial endeavours:
- Initial Digital Readiness and Future of Work audit across the enterprise to identify key gaps, challenges, and commercial impact to create the case for early stage, fast win, highest commercial value projects. Surveys, interviews and mystery shopping aggregated into a joined up illustration of your current state Employee Experience.
- We ensure you have properly and powerfully shaped your organisational Purpose, Core Values, Vision for Achievement, Mission. How will you achieve your Vision, led by a deep and well understood Transformative Purpose, making decisions underpinned by Core Values and give everyone a sense of Mission in the process?
- Addressing Leadership capability experience in the Digital Age – up-skilling leaders from earlier generations (Baby Boomers, Gen Xers) about what leading Millennial and Gen Z generations, digitally native, with great skill and compassion to get the best from them.
- Employing smart digital enablement – pinpointing which tools will have the greatest impact on commercial and market level relevance – at the right scale, size, price and capability – but delivered with the users in mind – ensuring seamless integration and user interactivity, connected functionality, amazing UX and UI, all built and launched to ensure high adoption and intelligent utility.
- Physical and virtual working environments – understanding how best to position work spaces and experiences to maximise collaboration, thinking, wellness, mindfulness and productivity by creating interactivity with every aspect of our lives – as work attempts to capture 2/3rds of our living day – and lives overall. But if we don’t seamlessly incorporate inter-co operability with the lives of our employees – we should expect to receive a distracted fraction of their involvement at work as they seek to multitask under stress to manage ‘life’ outside the ‘work only’ zone.
In designing the ultimate Employee Experience – we look at the following constructs, which I’ve borrowed here from Jacob Morgan’s book The Employee Experience Advantage:
We seek to understand how your employees are engaging with your work environment and then get to work helping you explore what they are looking for, and potentially not finding, such that we can move the needle closer to a joined-up commercial success formula to increase exponential outcomes across your enterprise.
The ROI is amazing and well proven:
Base-lining, where your organisation is today and tracking that progress over time in real financial terms is essential to prove the investment in your Employee Experience Journey.
Areas such as the following (depending on your unique requirements and areas of focus) include:
- Employee engagement
- Customer satisfaction relative to products/solutions, implementation, account management, support, revenue stream history
- Financial success YoY and projected targets, annual growth, financial health
- Innovation streams & market brand
- Estimated internal productivity indexes
- Speed to market with new products and solutions
- Competitive analysis
- External open source sentiment (Twitter, LinkedIn, Glassdoor, Facebook, Google Search)
- One-on-one strategic interviews
- Other employee sentiment data sources (exit interviews, attrition, promotion ratios, pay and benefit benchmarking, absence, health & safety incidents)
- Digital enablement index (automation, productivity, collaboration, communication)
This is our starting point, and from here we explore a host of key areas for potential success improvement:
Address critical areas of focus
- Leadership and Culture by intention – focused on building a synergistic and well-aligned experience for all across your enterprise – with consistency.
- Digital enablement – identifying the right tools to onboard, integrate and provide to ensure enhanced capability, efficiency, automation and acceleration of every-day activity – in an integrated and intelligently designed manner for optimal adoption.
- Operational environment (physical, remote, virtual, perceived)
- Measurement foundations (financial, psychological, productivity oriented, innovation driven).
- Internal collaboration, knowledge sharing, supporting, ideating – how does it happen, and where – with whom to understand the hidden neural networks that make your organisation hum.
- Product & service development – are they designed alongside your customers, to solve what challenges, and what impact do they make in the world?
- Customer centricity and connectedness – understanding the quality of conversation with the most important part of your company’s existence – and the synchronicity of psychological connection between your employees, your leadership and your consumers.
- Financial performance improvement – marrying up critical metrics on a per-capita basis so that everyone understands their impact to otherwise abstract, aggregated values that often make little sense to your employees.
- Organisational enablement (flat, cross-functional teams with devolved decision-making and financial authority across the enterprise – lean, agile, fast, learning led, mission driven, a core unit of operation).
- Innovation & future-focused intelligence – Do we know where we are headed – live with a sense of intention based on multiple variables to help us pivot intelligently when contingencies require?
Our expertise, therefore, covers a vast range of capability and disciplined knowledge.
- Organisational design
- Leadership development in the digital age
- New ways of working (agile, cross-functional, remotely)
- Up-skilling/external talent seeding (L&D and specialised recruitment)
- Digital enablement and transformation:
- Productivity tools
- Collaboration and communication tools
- Dynamic performance management
- OKR transparency and tracking (dash-boarding)
- Analytics and A.I. capability
- Cultural design
- Personalisation and employee experience journey design using consumer marketing techniques (personas, etc.)
- Learning and development (highly flexible and variable resources for just-in-time remediation or preparation for new challenges emerging)
- Employee engagement measurement
- Wellness, mindfulness and work/life integration
- Incentive, reward and recognition strategy alignment – linked dynamically with performance and key results achievement, rewarded as and when achieved
- Physical environment design (to enhance collaboration, connection and communication)
- Remote and mobile based working environments – to provide seamless connectivity and ease of collaboration and interaction no matter where you are – on any device
There is much more to come in this series to help illustrate how the journey toward designing highly competitive Employee Experience will change the very nature of your relationship to your market, your customers and your employees. Is it hard? Yes. Is it complex? Yes. So is your marriage, your relationship with your family and friends, your connection to your children. Amazing human interactions are hard and complicated. But we can all remember the best of those experiences and just how life-changing those were for us. Building incredible Employee Experience means inconceivable rewards for everyone (Executives, Shareholders, Investors, Employees and especially CUSTOMERS!).
If we can imagine had our past experiences been positive, nurturing and exponentially powerful – what might have been different for us today? The great news is we now have the tools, the methodologies, the knowledge and capabilities to bring about this life-changing positivity – if only we would engage in the hard work to achieve it. This is our mission at ex.design and we are ready to help you get there – together. And to bring the ‘future of work’ alive today to future proof your magical enterprise (for everyone).
Part 1 of the series from Jeff can be read here
Part 2 of the series from Jeff can be read here
Jeff Wellstead is the founder of ex.design - an employee experience design consultancy.
As an Employee Experience Designer who brings the promise of the "future of work" today, Jeff works with businesses of all sectors and maturities, who are urgently seeking rapid adaptation and digital transformation.
He engages with a number of human capital, agile, OD, recruitment, product & innovation and productivity specialists who have been schooled in lean startup and lean enterprise methodologies.