A new HR era has dawned. More and more organisations are realising that employees can only be at their best if they are really comfortable. If they can control things, if they can achieve something, and if they can contribute to a greater cause. Organisations that actively engage in the happiness of employees are more successful. This makes HR responsible for the ultimate Employee Experience and that goes beyond the traditional hire-to-fire cycle!
Happy and committed employees are paramount for customer satisfaction and positive results. By binding employees in a positive way to your organisation, you will retain the right people with the right attitude, knowledge, and skills. That way, you can avoid not only high employee turnover costs, but also create the culture that suits your organisation and will earn a positive reputation in the market as an employer.
For years, renowned companies have used the so-called Customer Journey to focus on customer experience and thusly bind customers. The Customer Journey charts the various stages a customer goes through and how he or she rates these stages. In the last few years, an increasing number of companies have started to realise that an optimal customer experience is closely related to an optimal employee experience. Or, as Simon Sinek puts it: ‘Customers will never love a company until the employees love it first.’ For this reason, it seems sensible to actively coach this to consciously and purposefully develop the ultimate Employee Experience.
What are employees passionate about?
If HR wishes to help develop the ultimate Employee Experience, knowing how employees view their work is a necessity. What is important to them, what are they passionate about? Why do they work here and not somewhere else? What excites them? How much appreciation do they feel? How do they view their jobs and the organisation? How much fun, satisfaction and meaning do they experience? How committed and happy are they? And, as an organisation, what can you do to improve that? In short, you will need insights for a structural approach to make happier employees who ensure satisfied and (more) loyal customers who, in their turn, lead to better results. But which insights do you need exactly? How do you uncover them and how do you define them?
Step 1: Chart the Employee Experience
Many companies carry out a satisfaction or commitment survey among their employees once a year or once every two years. In itself, this frequency is interesting, as this is HR’s main asset. After all, isn’t it unthinkable for a financial executive to look at the profit & loss figures only once a year, or a sales manager to discuss the turnover figures just once every two years with his team? Apparently, we think it is acceptable when it comes to our employee satisfaction or commitment. Even though we know that happy employees lead to happy customers and better results thereby. What can you do to measure this KPI in your organisation as well? A number of survey tools are available to allow for more frequent measurements, as well as for charting the specific causes of satisfaction or commitment. These so-called pulse surveys often consist of just a small number of questions, they are like a finger on the pulse and can also very well monitor the follow-up actions from the annual survey. This last issue is often omitted in the annual employee satisfaction surveys or is bogged down in the course of the year. In addition, the advantage of these pulse surveys is that they give continuous insight into the perception of employees on issues that matter to the organisation. The reports and follow-up can be the responsibility of the management, but it’s even better if a team itself has an insight into the results of surveys, as well as the responsibility and freedom to get started with the results and implement improvements. A fine example is the Non-Residents Department of ABN Amro that experienced a number of problems until they started measuring commitment on a daily basis by means of a Live Employee Engagement Survey. By listening to the employees and by entering into a dialogue on improvement possibilities, the workload was mitigated and the efficiency was improved.
Step 2: Developing the ultimate Employee Experience
In creating the ultimate Employee Experience, the following five elements are important:
- A happy culture
Innovative Dutch organisations, such as Buurtzorg, Coolblue, Guidion, Incentro, Tony Chocolonely, and Teamleader (Belgium) operate in a happy culture. Start-ups are hip and happening for a reason. Generation Einstein wants to do things differently! If traditional organisations do not want to miss the boat, they also need to change direction.
Happy organisations put their employees first, since you will have no happy customers without happy employees. The ‘why’ of the organisation is clear and inspiring; this is why you get up in the morning! The organisational values are made explicit and a set of collective standards are shared: the framework in which you will get a lot of space is clear. From the top of the organisation, there is an open dialogue. Employees know what the people at the top are doing and what their opinion is, so they can act in their spirit. Cooperation is based on trust, but not without obligation. Employees are enabled to achieve results and work at their own development. Company results are shared openly; that ensures solidarity. Employees may be themselves, they do not have to play a role. There is flexibility in private needs. There is room for fun and enjoyment with colleagues: gatherings to welcome new colleagues or festive closings of each quarter. And the organisation is connected to the society. Not an annual gift as corporate social responsibility, but true involvement and social cooperation.
- New leadership
Leadership is paramount to the ultimate Employee Experience. What makes employees happy? A leader who shares an inspirational vision. Who fulfils an exemplary role? Who offers empathic and structural dialogue which makes you feel heard? Offering the opportunities to further develop your talents. Room to make mistakes in new challenges. Who coaches and guides you in your work?
- Reshaping HR processes
From employer branding to pension: HR will have to streamline all HR instruments, processes, and regulations into the ultimate Employee Experience. HR should ask themselves: Can we make our employees happier? Are we applying our values and core skills? Are we ‘living the brand’? Do we truly capitalise talents? Do we offer the best internal social networks? Do we help each other to make our jobs more efficient, easier and simpler? Do we offer the best service? Do we offer customised solutions? Do we really care for each other’s health? Can we work with fewer rules? Does this HR issue still need attention or can we stop? In the end, all HR processes should lead to employees feeling appreciated and happy. This focus should be featured in all HR aspects.
- Make new technology work for you
The technical tools and social media necessary to do the work are of great importance to the ultimate Employee Experience. Here, many organisations miss out on opportunities: good apps, software, e-learning, tutorials, gamification, self-service modules, and video conferencing. Predictive (HR) analytics enlarge insights and contribute to working efficiently and enjoyably.
- Inspiring workstations
HR now leaves the workstation design to facility management. That’s a pity, for an inspiring workstation is HR’s responsibility too. Just like a meeting room that fuels your creativity or rather relaxes you. Being able to choose that workstation that suits you or your job of that day best. A centrally placed coffee machine that encourages personal contact. An interior that promotes your health by letting you exercise more: taking the stairs or a path circling the office for a walk during lunch hour. Colour on the walls or a compliment board. Not every employee wants a ‘ball pit’, but the standard boring office interior really needs replacing.
Future of HR
HR is in the best position to tackle the responsibility for all five elements, in cooperation with other support departments. For the future of HR is offering the ultimate Employee Experience. And that future is now!
Gea Peper has over 25 years of (international) experience in the field of management consulting and HR and is the founder of the HappinessBureau which aims to make organisations (even) more successful by increasing the happiness of their employees (www.hpbbnews.com).
As an HR director, Heleen Mes achieved a top ranking as best employer with two employers and has monitored the (inter)national HR developments for years at Beste Employers, High Performance Organisations, and Happy companies. She is the editor for the successful news site http://www.hpbbnews.com.