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HR Talk with 'Non-HR Folk': CX lessons for EX

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Guneet Singh, Head of Marketing & Creative Services, Google APAC
Kiran Menon, CEO and Co-Founder, Tydy

One thing every HR leader we speak to agrees on is that to create a great Employee Experience, everyone in the organization has to work together. Making sure your employees are happy and well taken care of so that they can be their best, most creative, and productive selves at work, is no longer just an HR problem. It’s a team effort!

This led us to believe that there are so many hidden insights tucked away in different departments, amongst folk who don't directly work on employee initiatives, and yet who have their own unique viewpoint on what would make work a better place. And that's why we decided to create 'HR Talk with Non-HR folk'.

In our first episode, Tydy CEO Kiran Menon spoke to Guneet Singh, Head of Marketing and Creative Services, Google APAC about the lessons we can learn from the world of marketing and Consumer Experience (CX) to design a better Employee Experience (EX). 

“In all my jobs I’ve never thought about the question - what do I do which can translate to what my HR team does?” Guneet says, after having spent almost 20 years excelling in his profession. It’s a mark of the paradigm shift in employee management that leaders like Guneet are now starting to connect their expertise in CX to their organization’s overall EX strategy.

You can watch the whole interview here.

Here are some of our key takeaways from the conversation:

1. The ‘X’ factor

“CX is really about whether you get the second date or not” 

Guneet explains his tongue-in-cheek take on CX, “I think CX comprises of two elements. Most people end up focusing on the first one. Which are the feelings I have today after consuming the product or service. But the end impact of this experience or the feelings that I am left with leads to my future perceptions and actions. The collective of what my experience and feelings are today and what they could possibly lead to in the future is what CX is all about.” 

This analogy is a perfect fit for the other ‘X’ or experience, ie, EX. Think of onboarding as the first date. How organizations interact with new hires during the onboarding process, from communication to compliance, is the deciding factor in what kind of mindset and energy the new employees bring with them to their first day at work. It sets the stage for how they perceive any future interactions and engagement initiatives. Their level of commitment to the company will be determined by this first impression to a very large extent. 

Tydy Takeaway: Remember those first date jitters and make your first impressions count!

2. A customized, personalized experience

I think the richest experiences are drawn from the non-stated behaviors and actions that we can track. And that really forms the ’holy grail’ of creating an experience.”

Guneet shared this insight in response to the fundamental question that’s sure to be on the minds of EX managers everywhere today - How do you get started?

Guneet believes that organizations have to now start looking beyond the first layer of data collection, from what employees tell us about themselves, to gleaning insights from 'micro-moments' and employee behavior at different milestones and touch-points, to create a truly personalized EX.

 “Those micro-moments are happening. They exist today in multiple spaces which are captured digitally. And I’m not just talking about the glorified worlds of technology firms like ours but also everyday transactions that people go through everywhere. How do you pick up on those data crumbs? Those are really unstated everyday actions and behaviors. And then use them to possibly create personas?

Today in the digital world we have the ability to get to a very specific individual level. Not just to understand what the individual wants but then also deliver a very customized unique value proposition to them. And that’s really where the entire trajectory of movement for experience has happened over a period of time.”, Guneet says.

Tydy Takeaway: Personalization is the key to employee happiness! 

3. Designing for a new generation

It’s always a matter of demand and supply. I think fundamentally those economic principles don’t change whether you’re selling a refrigerator or hiring an engineer."

As millennials and Gen-Z fill up larger parts of the workforce, are employees hoping for an experience similar to the one they get as customers? They have grown up in a ‘consumer-first’ world that is built on CX. So should EX take a page out of the CX book?

“If there is enough supply and there is little demand, you can choose to be lax. But when talent gets scarce, and in markets like India we are seeing talent deficiencies and talent scarcities coming up, this will automatically start rising up as a critical lever that needs to be addressed. 

The other thing is, and I don’t know how often folks in HR look at consumer behavior meta trends, which is when you look at generational trends that happen between consumers. That reflects on people and largely the socio-economic exposure they’ve had growing up. The generation that’s coming up now, I would say across markets, is a lot more impatient. And that’s because the services and products ecosystem outside of their employment is now appealing to that impatience and making sure that they are gratified quickly enough.

That’s why in my life around me I’m seeing prediction. If I buy something on my card I get a suggestion for insurance, without me having to make any cognitive effort. We haven’t yet moved very seamlessly from physical effort to cognitive effort and measuring the latter. And for a lot of the white-collar environments we operate in, cognitive effort is a huge player in helping what experience gets created.”

Guneet illustrated his point by taking Google maps as an example. “By telling you the best time and route for your travel, Google Maps took away the active, cognitive effort required for navigation earlier. That is a fundamental behavior change that’s happened to you. You didn’t do it knowingly. You’ve given up that control. It’s taken away that cognitive effort from you in a credible manner.

Tydy Takeaway: In today's hyper-connected and virtual world, employees are constantly bombarded with information. When designing EX, try to ease as much of their cognitive effort as you can.

4. A wishlist from Non-HR folk

“I would love to have a dossier of the unstated, non-professional CV information that comes up in front of me when I’m meeting a new employee”, Guneet said when asked what the role of non-HR folks is in creating a good EX? As a successful people manager, what does Guneet want as a non-HR leader for his teams?

“Secondly, I’d love to know when my employees are feeling frustrated. Very often when it comes to people policy, the frustration doesn’t get communicated because people are either scared or don’t have the right avenue to express their frustration. But those frustrations need to be able to come through. Not at a sentiment level but at an incident level. Managers usually do have the tools to manage such a scenario but they usually don’t come to know till the employee escalates, which will be at the very end of their poor experience.”

This means that by the time it reaches the managerial level, the damage is pretty much done. Good, skilled, innovative employees can feel frustrated and overwhelmed for a long time before it comes to the notice of a manager higher up in the organization. Such employees usually have no trouble finding jobs, so the organization will likely lose a valued employee due to bureaucratic processes, which do not actively involve managers across the organization in building EX.

Guneet sums it up when he says, “We often end up being very reactive. Delight will come from proactiveness, which will come from prediction and this usually comes from historic data, but seen in the context of future occurrence.”

Tydy Takeaway: Proactive, predictive messaging and contextual insights will make or break your EX. All data across systems and processes need to be connected so people managers can see the whole picture - whether it is to zoom into each individual or zoom out to check the 'health' of the department, branch, or country at large. 

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