How to improve your Employee Experience: Insights from top EX experts

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Our chats with potential customers often feature this one big question: “How can you help us deliver a wow experience for our employees?”

In the last two years, the number of times we get asked that question has almost doubled.

While there still are some who think that employee experience is just “fluffy” and “nice to have”, guess what? More and more leaders and organizations are diving in, turning great experiences into not just a competitive advantage, but also a business advantage.

We recently did some serious brain-picking with four passionate EX experts: Emma Bridger, the Co-founder of The EX Space; Leslie Rogers, a Culture and Employee Experience Consultant; Dr. Janel Field, a Doctor of Organizational Leadership & Workplace Experience Strategist; and Steve Miranda, formerly the CHRO at SHRM.

These pros spilled the beans on all thing employee experience – both the now and the next – and sprinkled in some real-world gems for good measure. The full interviews are just a click away on Spotify and each one is around 30 mins long. 

But if you prefer a recap of the juiciest bits on how to improve employee experience, keep reading! 

1. From gratitude to expectation: Employees want to be treated like consumers

Improve employee experience by looking at it through the customer experience lens

Gone are the days when employees were expected to simply be grateful for having a job. The old routine of clocking in, working, and getting a paycheck doesn’t cut it anymore. Thanks to the pandemic, things have shifted - and fast. 

“Today individuals are choosing organizations and not the other way around”, points out Dr. Janel Field, while adding,  “A paycheck isn’t enough and not to forget, employees have a choice”. Whether an employee chooses you over 2-3 other offers they might have in hand completely depends on the experience you can deliver them. 

And it isn’t just any experience they’re after. Employees are expecting the kind of smooth, top-tier treatment they get from their favorite brands.

Emma Bridger puts it perfectly, “Amazon knows what I want to buy. Spotify can tell me what I was listening to in my teenage years with eerie accuracy. But even as our experiences with brands get slicker and better by the day, Employee Experience hasn’t caught up yet”. 

So when an employee turns up at work and doesn’t get a payslip or when the swipe card doesn’t work or the software they need to get work done is not available on Day 1 of their job, it automatically becomes the perfect recipe for dissatisfaction.

2. HR's new role: Crafting tailored experiences for every employee

Improve employee experience by changing the way HR is perceived

Most people still know HR as the folks who pay them or the people with whom they could get into trouble if they break company rules. But HR has always been so much more than that.

In the day and age of Employee Experience, the role is further growing in reach and impact. “HR is now sort of a concierge service that customizes different services for employees based on where they are in the employee lifecycle and in life”, says Janel.

Steve Miranda’s on the same page too and adds, “What’s at the heart of HR is still intact - to be able to communicate clearly, show care and concern to employees, and help people in the organization understand how the organizational strategy aligns to them as individuals. What has changed is how you deliver this.” 

From mediums of communication and engagement to data and technology, the HR universe has shifted and it calls for HR professionals to adapt to this transformation.

3. Putting business first: A strategic approach to Employee Experience

How to improve employee experience by keeping business objective at the forefront

Starting with Employee Experience (EX) can feel like diving into an ocean, considering its vastness and multi-modality.

Leslie and the others recommend starting on the business side of things. “Work backwards and sort of question what are the conditions that we need to create in this work environment that is going to enable people to deliver on the business vision and the customer experience vision”, suggests Leslie.

To be able to deliver by keeping the business at the core, Steve strongly advises that HR get to know their business inside out. “It's really important that you understand the business and follow the business ecosystem and not just your vertical or your function or job description, but understand the economy as a whole. In order to deliver the best experience, you need to understand the business environment that they're [employees] living in.”

4. Branding from within: Integrating brand experiences into EX

Employee Experience can’t and won’t be the same in all organizations.

According to Emma’s research, some themes are universal in all organizations and some are very unique to individual companies. She quotes the example of two companies to demonstrate this difference. 

“At the British Council, where they teach English abroad and go and do lots of cultural programs outside the country, the employees talked about the universal themes but also talked about a kind of  ‘work hard,  play hard’ mentality. Since the employees didn’t know where they would get posted next, there is a bit of risk-taking and adventure in their culture. But in Rolls Royce in the UK, the employees really focused on the work and getting things done. Adventure wasn’t a part of their culture.”

Understanding the unique themes within an organization is critical to building the right experiences and also attracting the right employees.

Leslie also recommends tying brand elements with employee experiences.

She recalls, “My partner actually went through a recruitment experience with a company that uses an online whiteboard tool. That's what their company is all about. And as part of their process for recruiting,  all of the candidate materials they sent were using this online whiteboard and it was very creative and it was very much on brand, and it was not only showing what their employee experience could look like, it was highlighting their product at the same time. So it's like, if you were LEGO, what could be a very LEGO-like onboarding experience?” And how do you build your brand experience into other experiences say, into your Rewards & Recognition program or exit formalities and more?”.

5. Improving employee experience: Going beyond standardized measurement tactics

There is no definitive tool to measure employee experience because everyone experiences work differently. Experiences are subjective.

And considering that the cultural themes across organizations also vary, having a standardized measurement practice for EX won’t work.

Going back to Emma and the Rolls Royce example, “If Rolls Royce uses the Gallup Q12 Employee Engagement Survey where one of the questions is ‘I have a best friend at work’, the employees might answer with a no. And you might think, oh, we've got to fix that but the employees might not need it.” Therefore, employee experience measurements also need to be contextualized for the business and its culture. 

Leslie suggests a better way of measuring employee experience through an example. “I worked for an organization where the customers were saying, we don't think this organization is a safe pair of hands, and internally employees were saying that they love to fight fires and get a thrill out of it. You can see the link between the two. And so ultimately, over time, what we tried to do is, change some of those “fire-fighting” preferences of employees. As a result, we started to see customer experience scores increase.”

So there you have it – a deep dive into the world of Employee Experience, guided by the sharpest minds. Let these insights be your compass as you navigate the journey of crafting remarkable experiences for your workforce. It's a new era, and it's time to ‘EXcel’!

Just in case you need any help with personalizing or scaling your EX, we’re right here.

And for those of you who wish to catch the full interviews, head over to the EXtra! EXtra! podcast or our YouTube channel.

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