26 min 44 sec

Leslie Rogers on Data, Emotions and Employee Experience

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Leslie Rogers on Data, Emotions and Employee Experience

Kiran Menon speaks to Culture and Employee Experience Consultant Leslie Rogers about the role of different types of data, organizational psychology, and real human emotions in EX design.

#employeeexperience #futureofwork #leadership #hr #peopleops

You can connect with Leslie on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lesliebrogers/

Or visit her website EX Change Agents: https://www.ex-changeagents.com/

For more content on data-driven and personalized Employee Experience, visit https://www.tydy.co

Kiran: 0:08

Leslie, thank you so much for, agreeing to be a part of this chat. I would love to hear everything that you have to say about employee experience and the world that you know that's changing so quickly and where the EX is becoming so important. So before we dive into it would be great to just have you introduce yourself Leslie.

Leslie: 0:36

So my name is Leslie Rogers. I'm a consultant in employee experience. So I take a holistic look at the experience people have at work. And I think really at the heart, the stuff that I really love is when we talk about people's relationship. With work and how that's evolved over the years. I've done a lot of work on employee value proposition, you know how to get to the heart of that deal between people and their employer, and then how to deliver on that promise throughout the employee experience and for me from an organizational psychology perspective, I tend to use a bit of transactional analysis to look at some of the tangible structures that exist in the organization as well as some of the softer dynamics of how people think, feel, behave. So for me, the employee experience is all of it, and it's very akin culture. And that's a debate that people like to have in this space, which we can have another time, but that's me in a nutshell. Oh that's perfect. And thank you so much Leslie. I think just jumping off from that. I think on your LinkedIn, you talk about how you want to take employee experience and move it away from being a buzzword into business as usual, right?

Kiran: 1:52

Can you just talk a little bit about that?

Leslie: 1:55

So it's interesting to see I'm I'm on LinkedIn frequently and I it's interesting to see people changing titles to employee experience titles. And I'm not convinced that behind the change in title, there's been a change in sort of the ways of thinking. Or even maybe the mental maps and models and some of the tools that people are using to deliver their work in a more human focused way. Yeah, I think it is a bit of a buzzword at the minute and it feels like even within the industry, we're coming to a collective understanding of what we mean by employee experience because the experience is tech, but it's also your relationship with your manager. So it's new territory. It's a bit of a buzzword. And what I'd like to help organizations do is to adopt some new ways of thinking and some new ways of working practices, tools, techniques to usher in a lot more of the customer experience approaches that we've been doing in the world of marketing and customer services, and apply that sort of thinking within the world of employees. One of the things that we keep talking about is how could EX learn from CX, right? And we've had so much maturity from a customer experience perspective so many tools and years of honing in on building the best CX that there's a lot to kind of get from, from that experience. A lot of inspiration and a lot of best practices to learn from but do you think the employer employee relationship is changing today for that to happen and for us to get to that stage? Definitely. Yeah, a hundred percent. There's. Where I live, which is in London, there are a lot of conversations happening, for example, around going back to the office or around flexible ways of working, particularly for parents, for example. I think people during the pandemic and post pandemic have really come to acknowledge that we have different needs than maybe people did even 50 years ago and a hundred years ago. And so we want more flexibility. We're accustomed to having more autonomy in our day to day lives. If I want to order a pizza or if I want to get my groceries, I could just hop online and I can do it. And I'm accustomed to having that consumer grade experience in my day to day world. And when we step into organizations, the experience is so different from it, from a tech perspective and ways of working, but also just my ability to get things done. When I go on holiday, I have full autonomy to get things done. But in the workplace, we hear people talking about wanting more autonomy. And we hear organizations talking about wanting people to feel more empowered, but we're still using some of the techniques from the past to, to manage people. Yeah, I think the relationship, people want to be grownups. They want to have autonomy. They want to get stuff done. They want to do a good job. And we just need to evolve our structures to help companies be able to do that and treat people like the adults that they are. So when you work with companies do you use consumer experiences to I guess broaden horizons of EX leaders and, think about how some of those could be applied from an EX perspective? When I would start work, I guess it begins with what we're looking to achieve what the organization is looking to achieve. And typically, very often that's grounded in a customer experience. So we start from that and work backwards and ask the question- what are the conditions that we need to create in this work environment that are going to enable people to deliver on the business vision and the customer experience vision. So that's how I would typically look at starting the work. And then in terms of consumer grade experiences. Yeah, I think that I think leaders understand the difference, but in roles of being a consumer versus being an employee. And of course, that relationship is different. It's a, we go to work. Not all of us, but every single day, five days a week, four days a week, few times a week, and the relationship that we have with an employer, it's a deeper, it's a deeper kind of relationship than we have when we're a consumer. I know some people would argue otherwise, but people get to love their consumer brands, but they really also have a very close and intimate relationship with their employer. So there are some parallels between customer experience and employee experience, and there's a bit more for employee experience. It's a deeper kind of thing.

Kiran: 6:43

Yeah. And I think you talk about turning moments into signature brand experiences, right? How do you do that? Tell us a little bit more about how you do that with your customers and with your clients.

Leslie: 6:57

So we look at their brand, their consumer facing brand, what they stand for as an organization. We, I saw my partner actually went through a recruitment experience with a company who uses an online sort of whiteboard tool. That's what their company is all about. And of course, 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 if you were Lego, if you were the company Lego, what would be a very like Lego onboarding experience? Would you build something at your assessment center with Legos. So what is that very on-brand experience that only you and your company could create? And those are signature brand moments. Onboarding process and that journey is a really easy one to think about, but you could also think about what would it look like if you're doing recognition or what would it look like if you're having a growth conversation with your manager? Or even if you're having a goodbye moment when you're leaving the organization, how can you do it in a way that feels really aligned to your brand, your product or service brand?

Kiran: 8:13

I think that's really great insight because building your brand moments into the employee experience is a really good way of bringing both together, right? And also making the individual understand the brand a lot more and feel the brand a lot more. That makes a lot of sense. Having talked about all of this from an ex perspective do you think with the economy where it is today and, where it probably is going over the next couple of quarters, everyone's looking at probably a correction. Do you think leaders are still going to look at EX as an important piece of the puzzle, or will it drop a little bit from significance what it was maybe a couple of years ago?

Leslie: 9:00

I think it'll keep going. I think people see the link with culture as well, and understanding that the whole culture eats strategy for breakfast, we've heard for a long time. But what I see is that leaders are really understanding the importance of the environment that they create for their people. And, the war for talent is something we've been hearing about for a few years now. And I'm not a huge fan of the war for talent terminology, but I do recognize the competition. There's competition for sure. And so how are you going to stand out from other organizations? You gotta be a great place to work somewhere that people want to come to work every day and they want to tell their friends about.

Kiran: 9:47

What we've also seen a lot is companies who are still investing a lot from an employee experience perspective and continuing to do so even over the course of the last couple of months. I don't think there's that appetite, which has dropped, but I think. What we're starting to see, and I'm very curious if you're seeing the same thing, we're starting to see a change in perhaps the end goal, which was, maybe it was all about a ton of hiring before and, a lot of employer branding and those kind of things, but now it's also about, retention and how do you build that entire experience into the day to day life rather than just that the initial moment of the employee life cycle, right? So I don't know if you're seeing that and that's becoming a highlight as well.

Leslie: 10:40

Yeah. It's I also, every year I'm a judge at the employee experience awards in London. And in addition to the client work that I do, I get to have a look at what other people are doing out there in the market, which I love. And one of the things I've noticed is there's definitely a more of a focus on retention and that's both from companies who have had to make redundancies or layoffs, as well as those who haven't in the market we're seeing higher attrition anyway because we've gone through the Great Resignation. I'm talking to more people who want to maybe relook at what they're doing as their profession and whether it aligns with where they want to be in life and what their values are. So people are thinking about what their relationship is with work and what their relationship is with their employer. And so it's much more important, I think, for people to really focus on how they create that relationship with people.

Kiran: 11:38

One of the things that I keep talking about and probably and shouting from the rooftops is, EX not necessarily an HR only problem or it's not an HR only mandate. When you think about things like recruitment. Maybe HR takes the lead and runs a big part of that process. But when you look at the entire employee experience it's not just HR. You have all the other roles and parts of the organization, IT and admin and procurement and whatever kind of coming in. Do you see yourself working mainly with HR folks or do you actively involve others in your EX work?

Leslie: 12:27

Yeah, I love that. It's I completely agree. I think often HR serves as the catalyst for the projects that I tend to work on that are employee experience projects. But then I think there's work that we do, there's some discovery work, usually maybe some assessment stuff, then there's some design, but when we get into as soon as we start from the beginning. We're in the trenches working with employees, and then often they're managers and the people who influence the experience, and then they'll come a stage where we're working with subject matter experts in various domains. So it might be it might be the facilities management people or, it's definitely going to be IT, 100%. It's going to be IT. And we work together. I like to think of it as a little bit of a flotilla. So we like send the boats out and off they go and you've got to be able to like relinquish control and let everyone perform to the vision of the employee experience that you want to create.

Kiran: 13:33

I love the flotilla sort of analogy. That's amazing. I think one of the things that we ought to keep being is if you don't include the other roles and the other functions, then it starts becoming a very blinkered approach to EX, right? And unfortunately, then you're actually creating a solution which may not be 100% out there from a holistic perspective. So when someone comes to Leslie and says,"Hey, I have a problem. I don't know where to start in order to build my EX. What would Leslie tell them?

Leslie: 14:11

Gosh, go talk to people. Oh my goodness. Yeah, let's get in there and go talk to people. I remember working for an organization that went through a major reorganization and I was speaking with some of the managers and some of the employees and teams and they said, Do you know what? You are the first person that's come to talk to us. And, it was during reorganization and it was like, wow, it's just, we get so busy trying to fix things that we miss out on the talking to people and the co design. Even if we have great people analytics and great data, the conversations are data. Data is not just numeric data. It's in the interactions that we have live with people as well.

Kiran: 14:52

And so when you build this out and you go start talking to people, you I'm assuming start building a sort of process and a sort of flow. How do you turn that into ROI? Because at the end of the day, the CFO is going to come in and, your CEO and CIO are going to come in and say, this is great, but how do you turn this project into money? Because that's all that, you know is important at the end of the day. So what how do you show ROI from your project?

Leslie: 15:24

It's, it can be tricky to prove causation. Because we did this learning and development program, people are staying longer. It's more complex than that. So it can be difficult to directly link, but what we can look at is some correlation. We can paint a picture with multiple sets of data. So, we tend to start with KPIs. So what are we doing this for? Is this a specific program where we're looking to align employee experience and customer experience? And if we're in that arena, then we can look at the links between the two. I worked for an organization where the customers were saying, we don't think this organization is a safe pair of hands. And internally people were saying, Oh, we love to fight fires. We get a thrill out of it. And so you could see the link between the two. And so ultimately over time, what we're trying to do is even anecdotally, to start to solve some of those preferences, but also start to see customer experience scores increase and start to see certain areas of the employee engagement survey increase. We're looking for some correlations there. And I would typically be using performance data, customer experience data, as well as employee data, not just the engagement survey, but also looking at things like your sick leave and looking at some of your wellness metrics that you might have in place through things like pulse surveys. Because it all paints a picture of how people are doing.

Kiran: 16:54

Are you actually picking up data from all of these various systems and processes and putting that together to understand the EX health of the organization of sorts, right?

Leslie: 17:06

Yeah, you'd be looking at what your indicators are. And I would typically look at some indicators of great employee experience. And I would be looking at lead metrics and lag metrics. You're probably going to be able to see, for example, that people are going through your onboarding experience and they're ticking off the boxes within their 60 days or whatever it is. They're having a lunch with their team. Maybe you have systems in place where you can see these lead metrics, and some of your lag metrics might be, I feel like I belong here. So it would, I would look at both of those and I would iterate with some of your lead metrics, and then I'd be looking at some of the longer lag metrics over a broader span of time.

Kiran: 17:54

That makes a lot of sense. We have something called the unified profile, which is where we bring data from multiple systems to have one single view of the individual across multiple processes. And what we realize is just something that simple is such a huge problem in an enterprise because, you're otherwise pulling up Excel sheets from seven different systems, doing pivot tables, and then trying to make sense out of all of it which starts becoming a pretty big manual overhead as well. So if I were to ask you, what was what's probably your most exciting sort of project without naming names and customer names, but what was probably one of your most exciting projects that you're proud of.

Leslie: 18:45

Yeah, I would say it was probably working with nurses across the UK. It's such a critical role and we need them having an experience that allows them to do their job. Firstly, let's start there. And then that recognizes them and appreciates them for this really essential job that they do. And in the UK, in the system, they can often feel overlooked. Starting with what is their experience. We did a bunch of research around the UK, and it was around, it was also around what's their relationship with work you know. When does it feel really good to do the job that you do. Why do you choose to do this job? Why do you continue to choose this job? And what happens on those days when you feel like maybe you want to choose another profession, so when do they get really tricky? So we did some really in depth research focusing on them as human individuals. And I know people say human centered a lot or human led. What I mean is we're just we're talking about people with emotions and it's okay for them to have feelings and emotions at work. That's the first thing, and they are complex. And their environment really influences them to a significant degree. And so we need to take into consideration the environment. But that piece of research and then coming up with the 13 work streams to then really get specific about how we make their lives better. That was just a really rewarding program.

Kiran: 20:15

Sounds amazing. It sounds amazing. So in that, did you find EX to be qualitative or could you quantify it?

Leslie: 20:25

We did more qualitative than quantitative. There were some quant measures and attrition was one of them. So we were finding that at a six, six month point, all of a sudden there was this real I guess there's a spike in attrition. And so we were going to try to figure out why that might be. And how do we retain people longer? So that would have been the quant data.

Kiran: 20:56

Got it. No that's amazing. And so I think there if I were to ask Leslie, what does EX mean? What would your answer be?

Leslie: 21:09

Yeah, it's the experience we have at work from the individual's perspective and not the organization's perspective. I think that's one of the major shifts when we're doing EX work is that we're working from the perspective of the individual. And then I guess our brains can go into a bit of overdrive and bamboozlement because you go. But how do I personalize for 30,000 people in an organization? We do use tools from customer experience to start to be able to do personas, not based on demographics, but maybe more psychographics, for example. So there are tools out there to help us attack these complex problems, but yeah, I would say it's really grounded. It's our experience of we're grounded in the individual human perspective, including emotions.

Kiran: 22:05

Oh that's the tough one, right? The emotions is the tough one. When you're trying to personalize from that perspective. And so for you when you go into projects are you already thinking about technology or do you start with a clean slate and then, maybe technology is just one of the outcomes of it.

Leslie: 22:30

Yep. It's more that it's more the former. So I work across and I tend to work across industries and going into an organization you just don't know where they're going to be at right now. And NHS trust and how their technology is set up is very different to how Amazon might currently be set up technology wise. So start with a blank slate. See where we're at. And then see where the needs are. If they're if people are having a real if they had, if the team has no data capability to be able to gather and process data and make decisions then that might be something that we look at as a priority, but it it does depend.

Kiran: 23:11

No, that, that makes sense. I think maybe the last sort of closing statement from your perspective is I would love to understand where you see EX going over the next couple of years. We have obviously a lot of companies who are still fairly early from a maturity index perspective thinking about EX. Maybe they've just started thinking about EX, but then you also have some leaders who have gone out and done a lot of EX research, then put together solutions and processes in play. But where do you see it going just EX as a space?

Leslie: 23:54

There's a lot of talk about design thinking because it's grounded in beginning with your audience. And so I think that people in the employee experience space are probably going to be using some design thinking tools in order to do their work. I think they're going to be using data, obviously, quite a lot and how they do their work. And I don't think that we need to leave Organizational psychology behind. I think we bring that with us because I think when we look at data, we're not only just asking employees, Hey, what do you want? What's going to make your life better? We are then triangulating with science and psychology to to bring our expertise to the table. So I think that using more organizational psychology is going to help us. So design thinking, organizational psychology. And then I think people owning journeys. And so their role is a facilitator to help create these experiences and curate these experiences inside organizations. And a good deal of maybe change management and project management, because I think that people who are out there doing employee experience work very often want to see a different working world and make change. And change isn't always easy, and sometimes it's subtle and small and iterative which is fine. So more change expertise, I think, is probably what we're going to be looking at. But I love the idea of lighting little fires of change everywhere with all these EX professionals. I think that's where it's going to go.

Kiran: 25:29

Do you see it's do you think it's going to be a growing profession?

Leslie: 25:33

Yeah, for sure. Yeah. Yeah. Just by looking at people's LinkedIn, the number of EX people increased over the past year. And yeah, I think it'll grow.

Kiran: 25:47

That's excellent. And I think with that, I'm going to close this off. So thank you so much, Leslie, for, sharing your thoughts with us and, the experience. I think there's so much that all of us can learn from each other. As you said, it's a growing space. You see that kind of becoming bigger. There are more LinkedIn kind of job roles now talking about EX. So it's obviously on the rise. So I think there's a lot of sharing that we should do as a community to build the process together. So again, I appreciate your time and everything that you've given everyone over here. So thank you so much, Leslie. Thanks for letting me talk about my favorite subjects. Cheers. Thanks.