By: Michael Jetten, February 26, 2020
A Framework For Developing An Outstanding Employee Experience
Est. Read Time: 6 Min.
Employee Experience (EX) improvement in your organization holds a lot of promise. It has been shown that a well thought-out EX leads to higher engagement scores, more satisfied customers and even a higher profit for the company. But what is so difficult about it? If so many overarching business goals can be attributed to the EX, why can't every company demonstrate success?
The tricky thing about EX is that there are no universal success formulas for what works and no rules that fit all. Every company has to figure out for itself what EX means to them and how it can be specifically improved, especially if they want to stay ahead in the competition for talent.
Why does it make sense to invest in EX right now? Quite simply, more and more employees trust your company first and foremost. You are considered the most trustworthy authority, more than any other institution (see Edelman Trust Barometer 2019). This trust offers an optimal basis for investing in change - the ideal moment to invest in EX.
Source: Edelman Trust Barometer 2019
Now we know that we should invest in EX. But where should a company start in order to create added value for its employees that is rewarded with loyalty and positive reviews?
This is where Jason Lauritsen's 5-step strategy can help. Lauritsen is a US-based employee engagement consultant and author whose process incorporates all the elements that go into creating a unique Employee Experience.
A Model For Your Employee Experience
Step 1: Understand the impact of the Employee Experience
For an EX initiative to be successful, everyone involved must be clear about what EX means (and what it does not mean), what it can achieve and why it is important. One of the complex aspects of the Employee Experience is the relationship to Employee Engagement. The two terms are often used interchangeably but they do not mean the same thing.
Employee Engagement means how much an employee feels connected to your company, emotionally and mentally. The Employee Experience encourages employees to get involved - or not. Lauritsen explains: "We design and create experiences. We measure engagement. The Employee Engagement practice tends to be reactive, whereas the Employee Experience is designed proactively".
Step 2: You know what is really important for your employees
By intentionally shaping the experiences of your employees, you’re essentially designing them. This means that the same design thinking process that is used in creating products or mobile apps also applies to EX design. Once you're clear about what kind of EX you want to create, consider the four pillars of Design Thinking that the UK Design Council has formulated: discover, define, develop, and deliver.
The first design step, "discover", requires gathering information about what your employees want, need and expect from their work. Lauritsen says, "To create a great Employee Experience, you first need to learn more about the people who will live it every day."
This step can include surveys of managers and employees as well as employee focus groups. It's also a good idea to review current policies and processes.
Step 3: Define your ideal Employee Experience
The most important part of this model is that you clearly define what Employee Experience you want to create. This is the second design pillar. It ensures that you equip your employees with what they need to perform at their best. In this step, it is advisable that you set up a cross-functional task force to process the information collected in step 2 and narrow it down to a few key elements. To do this, you can obtain feedback from employees. "If your employees do not understand or welcome your plan, it is better to know in advance," advises Lauritsen.
When your ideal EX goals are complete, it's best to communicate them company-wide.
Step 4: Develop and deliver a great Employee Experience
Now you are ready to implement your EX plan. The next Design Thinking pillar "develop" is about developing concrete measures to help you achieve your EX goals. Start by evaluating the current Employee Experience and focus on the greatest potential to close existing gaps. Consider a variety of solutions that you can develop. It helps to look at what other HR teams have implemented (tip: Google "EX best practices" and "EX case studies"). It may also make sense for you to involve your employees and crowdsource ideas.
Once you've agreed on a solution that you want to implement, you're ready for testing. This begins the final phase of the design thinking process, the "delivery" of your design.
"Just as with the development of a new product that is about to be launched, now is the time to test. These tests should confirm that you have found a solution that will deliver the desired result," says Lauritsen. The expert suggests starting with a pilot program and making adjustments based on the initial employee feedback before the Employee Experience is implemented for everyone.
Step 5: Installing the right technology
Finding the right technology to implement your EX comes at the end of your planning process. Jason Lauritsen explains it this way: "One of the most common mistakes I see is that HR teams treat technology like a silver bullet to solve their problems. Before they even fully understand the problem they want to solve, they're already looking for a software solution."
Only when you are clear about the type of employee experience you want to create, will it be easier for you to choose the right technology. Some goals you may have for your EX technology are:
- Enable: These tools enable an ideal EX; they make your employees' jobs easier and promote productivity and satisfaction. For example, systems with "responsive design", which can be used by all electronic end devices (laptops, PCs, tablets, smartphones, etc.), allow greater flexibility of use and thus greater acceptance. Tools and software that take employees without desks into account also activate a positive EX.
- Unburden: This type of technology allows employees to perform tasks more easily and with greater agility. An example would be an HR knowledge base for self-service. This helps employees get answers to HR-related questions quickly, anytime, anywhere.
- Evaluate: Tools that help you collect and evaluate feedback so that you can ensure that the EX you are communicating to employees is delivered.
A framework for action, not a set of rules
These five steps provide a framework for action that will help you guide the design of your EX. There is no set of rules for discovering, defining, developing, and delivering an EX, but the four pillars of the Design Thinking process can help your team take the right path.
Coupled with the right software solution that promotes and realizes your EX goals, you can engage your employees and achieve the high levels of satisfaction that will set your organization up for long-term business success.
Lauritsen is well aware of this: "If it is important to you to create an outstanding Employee Experience that pays off both for the employees and financially, then the development and implementation will be worthwhile."