Employee Experience - How to Craft One That Drives Your Organization Forward

From an argument with the manager to receiving appreciation for their work on a project, the employee experience - what employees feel and encounter at work - can vary from one day to the next. But the term ‘employee experience’ isn’t really used for these micro-moments of everyday interactions at the workplace. Employee experience typically encompasses ‘the complete journey of a person, from the initial interview to the exit interview and everything in between.’

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The word ‘customer experience’ has become the single most important yardstick of how well a company performs. Success is delivering a superlative customer experience. And now it’s time to turn the concept inwards and understand that the workplace is also a service that is being actively consumed by your employees. Same as customers, if they find a better experience they will make the switch. So crafting the right employee experience becomes critical for today’s organizations.

The million-dollar question - how do you do it?

Every organization and its work culture is subtly different, and there is no one-size-fits-all employee experience creation template. However, we can put together a template for how to approach crafting an effective employee experience.

Define the employee experience you want

The employee experience that you want to create cannot be a shiny new object built from scratch. While it is possible to go that route, it will likely not be very successful or sustainable. A genuine employee experience, one that can be tangibly delivered across the organization has to evolve out of your larger brand, and the organization’s vision and values.

A good way to articulate your employee experience is to think about the customer experience that you promise. For example, if your brand is about “enabling people to follow their passion”, your employee experience should also aim to deliver on that promise. You have to create a workplace and culture where every person feels as invested in their work as they would with a ‘passion project’. Similarly, a closer look at the organization’s mission/vision statements can help better define the exact employee experience that you want to create.

Align your processes

Once you define your employee experience, the next step is to align your key HR processes to deliver that experience. While these processes are not the entirety of an employees’ experience, they are significant markers of their journey in your organization. Hence their interaction with these processes form a broad, and the most memorable outline of their employee experience.

Here are the processes you need to get in line with your desired employee experience:

Attracting: From foosball tables to holacratic organization structures, firms today highlight a range of features to attract talent. Based on the employee experience you wish to create, you need to start highlighting the right set of features. This ensures that you reach the right kind of people, those that identify with what you offer, and know what to expect if they choose to work with you.

Hiring: The hiring process can also be tailored to offer the desired experience, even though they are not yet your employees per se.

Onboarding: This is a key part of the whole employee experience because it’s their first introduction to the internal workings of your organization. It’s sort of an extended first impression and sets the tone for the rest of their time at your firm. While their experience from this point forward can be good or bad, the onboarding process is a significant opportunity for you to actively deliver the experience you want.

Engaging: Everyday workplace interactions, while not completely in your control, are another important thread of employee experience. What you can do is foster a culture where employees are empowered individuals with a voice in the organization. This is what engages them and makes them well and truly invested in the work they do.

Reviewing: The performance review and appraisal process needs to be carefully calibrated to the employee experience you wish to design. While industry-standard performance KPIs exist, your processes should also account for the qualities that your organization values.

Progressing: Careers progression in most organizations involves climbing up the corporate ladder. How it happens at your organization should be aligned with your employee experience. For example, if the experience you wish to design is one of authenticity and empowerment, the growth paths your offer would be more flexible and allow employees to chart their own path across the organization.

Exiting: Even as employees prepare to leave the organization, the exit process can leave a lasting impression of an employee's time with you. Often times, it can actually dominate the rest of the employee experience, and so it’s especially important to deliver the right experience at this stage.

Follow Through

And finally, when you have covered all bases, it’s time to concentrate on those micro-moments of everyday workplace experience. While organizations have no control over how individuals interact and the experience that creates, they can actually shape and mold it. When the initial processes of hiring and onboarding happen according to a planned employee experience framework, you’ve already brought in people who are aligned in their core values. And thus, their interactions in the workplace will also be in a manner that broadly adheres to that experience. And that's how you follow through on your initial concept of ‘employee experience’, and sustain it in everyday interactions.

While all of this might not sound very scientific and fool-proof, it’s a groundwork that needs to be laid. Yes, there are people and solutions that can help you craft your employee experience, in terms of executing it across your organization. But exactly what form your ‘employee experience’ will take, and how it will be delivered, is something that you will have to figure out the old fashioned way - observe, debate, discuss, finalize.

Deepa is the founder of Zinda.xyz. Zinda’s first product is called Journyz. It uses a gamified, social, AI and mobile first approach to help corporations and employees bring their personal mission and company goals to life.

Deepa has also been involved in various technologies for over 25 years, ranging from legacy mainframes to public cloud.

Holistic is a proud partner of Zinda. Read our partnership interview here.