Employee Experience: The Business Case

Employee Experience_The Business Case_group of people sitting on sofa while discussing

Human resources, as a whole, is going through another transformation.  It’s turning into an experience department.

What does that mean?

The simple answer is today workers want something more than a pay check.  They’re looking for more than a title.  They’re looking for the experience of work.  It sounds funny when said in that way, but it’s not a matter of going to work for an organization and learning how to do a job… then moving on when the employee is no longer challenged.  It means so much more.

When a person takes a job with a company, they are looking for purpose, belonging or a mission.  And if that’s not enough, they want to engage with fellow co-workers and build relationships.  They want to take on projects either solo or in a team atmosphere and get them off the ground.  They want to succeed.  They want to work in an environment that is innovative and one where people are allowed to fail.  These are all part of the employee experience.

So, what does HR look like in this new world? 

Employee Experience Business Case

Defining EX

Anyone who has ever held a job has had an “employee experience.”  Notice the statement does not include the word “same” when defining the experience.  To further add credence to this, if a worker walked around his or her office and interviewed co-workers on the subject, specifically asking those individuals to define the term employee experience, the results would vary in detail.  It would be fair to say the worker would not be any closer to defining or fully understanding the concept.

So where to begin?

It started in the 1990s with the concept of employee engagement.  More than two decades later, there is an entire industry of study and analysis dedicated to the concept and it has massive influence on the way companies think about their employees.

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But a shift away from employee engagement is happening.  According Statista, in 2019, about 66 percent of employees worldwide were engaged in their work.

For those that aren’t engaged, Gallup says it’s cost companies worldwide approximately $7 trillion in lost productivity.

“In a nutshell, this global engagement pattern provides evidence that how performance is managed, and specifically how people are being developed, is misfiring.” Gallup

When this statement is coupled with the reality that people in the workforce now are looking for purpose, developmental opportunities, and accept the interconnectivity of work and life, one could see the reason for moving toward an employee experience strategy.

Addressing the Challenge

In Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends report release in 2017, the research organization found 80% of executives feel staff experience as being important or very important.  That said, however, only 22% feel their respective companies are good at building a unique experience for everyone.  Worse still, nearly 60% say their companies aren’t ready to address the challenge.

How does a company start to change these perceptions?  One sector to focus on would be learning.  In fact, companies should focus their respective learning strategies on training and support, manager development, self-directed and dynamic learning.

Training and Support

The nature of work continues to change, and it’s happening at a pace that makes it rather difficult to for HR professionals to keep up.  Take job descriptions for instance.  They are evolving into living documents meaning they are always changing with necessity of the working universe.  They evolve into new roles, tasks, and responsibilities.  And if the change doesn’t happen, the job may seem to be less relevant.

As a result, employees want and need continuous training and support.  This allows them to fell constantly equipped to do their jobs and do them well.

eLearning, and advancements in that space such as microlearning and on-demand training, allows the employee the ability to access the information whenever they need it.  This makes learning personal and convenient to the employee experience.

The State of HR

The State of HR is in transition.  The days of being merely transactional are extinct and the evolution of the strategic HR department is underway.  So, what shape will the future take?  Where will the focus lie in order to achieve success?  Find out in our latest report:  The State of HR.

Walmart is one of the largest distribution networks in the world.  It makes millions of products globally.  That brings up some hefty safety challenges.  To put this in perspective, just a 5% decrease in incidents translates to millions of dollars in savings.  To help make this a reality, Walmart created a microlearning program that not only kept safety on top of employees’ minds, but it also improved employee knowledge and retention regarding safety practices.

Walmart’s program took the form of a game.  It was made available to 150+ distribution centers and more than 75,000 employee had access to it.  At any time during a work shift, an employee could log on to the platform and spend 3-5 minutes playing a game that involves answering safety questions.  The system tracks their answers and gives them feedback.  As such, it gives employees the knowledge of where they need improvement and reinforces the knowledge they’ve already mastered.

Walmart saw a voluntary participation rate averaging about 91%.  They saw a 54% reduction in safety incidents and a 15% increase in employee knowledge about safety.

Manager Development

It’s been said the number one reason employees leave a company is because of poor relationships with managers.

Managers are pivotal when it comes to the employee experience.  To be more precise, a manager’s style and their decisions have a significant impact.  It’s for this reason that developing managers to understand how to engage and inspire employees is important to the overall employee experience strategy.

By investing in managers through flexible, self-driven, and on-demand training programs, these individuals will learn how to manage the employee experience.

Look no further than Pandora as an example.  The HR department at the company closely tracks two key employee metrics that measure the strength of employee-manager relationships:

  1. My manager really cares about me as a person.
  2. I would recommend my manager to others.

Based on this data, Pandora teaches manages how to coach, support, and manage their people.  The company creates all of its own content and training tools for managers… all geared toward promoting Pandora’s values and culture.  The courses are required and are all available online and on-demand.  Each session takes less than 15 minutes to complete.

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University Federal Credit Union also utilizes its managers to help with employee engagement and experience.  Jaclyn Courage is the Organizational Development Specialist for the company.

“The biggest challenge that I see is from a manager point of view; helping our managers to see that given that even their current level of busyness that we're not actually asking them to do anything in addition to things that they are already doing,” Courage said.  “Employee engagement is not separate or different from the ongoing conversations that they're already having.   It's just a more focused conversation.”

Courage further explained managers are development by and have access to “practical, simple tools they can easily apply.”

Self-directed and Dynamic learning

It’s been stated numerous times that we live and work in a digital world.  Why not learn in it too? 

Learning management systems can help develop and curate accessible and relevant content employees can use to direct their own learning and personal experience.  This is a far more agile, convenient, dynamic, and relatable tool for employees who are already functioning in a digital world.

Thomson Reuters is a company made up of 60,000 employees in 100 different countries.  With so many employees located in different countries and time zones, with each having different training needs, it becomes an extremely complex training challenge.

The news organization turned to a learning management system that allowed them to customize the content in different languages.  It was also made sure that employees could access learning materials through a variety of mobile devices.

In summation

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, writes that “as we shift to the future of work, where organizations are focusing on the reasons why employees want to work versus need to work, it is important to understand employee experience.”  Morgan further explains that every employee experience is comprised of three components:  cultural, technological, and physical.  All three components together need to create an overall environment, “where people want to show up!”

Knowing that, companies need to take a hard look at the tools and procedures they have in place that support and enhance employee connectivity.  This will allow employees to feel connected to their co-workers and their company. 

Human resources professionals must develop a culture of streamlined communications.  It must eliminate friction between employees allowing for connectivity, empowerment, and alignment.  At the same time, the right technology must be in place to connect and engage employees regardless of where they are and how they collaborate.

When all of this is said and done, the HR department will be in the best position to drive company success.


NEXT:  The Employee Activated Culture and Its Benefits


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