Blog post

The future of HR: employee experience pivotal

Hans Janse 11 January 2018

The world is changing fast, and so is the HR industry. Are you ready to come on board with us and take off into the future? My name is Hans Janse and I am in charge of innovation and market analysis at Raet. In this blog series I cast a look ahead to what HR will look like in 2020. How will the industry change, and what challenges will organizations face? Which trends are taking shape, and how can we prepare for them? Employee experience is one factor that is going to become extremely important. In this fourth post in my series, I explain why.

Britain’s Virgin Group founder Richard Branson once said, “Clients don’t come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.”

Ask any marketing specialist to describe the steps leading to the purchase of a product or service, and I can guarantee they will tell you about the customer journey, from the first touchpoint – like an ad at a bus stop – to the actual transaction. Organizations understand that customers are their most valuable asset and that big investments are needed to optimize customer experience. But before you can have any customer interaction, you need lots of employees working hard to connect with those potential customers. As Britain’s Virgin Group founder Richard Branson once said, “Clients don’t come first, employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients.” 
 

Winning from the inside out

Engaged employees are the lifeblood of an organization. Their engagement shines through in all their dealings with customers, sending a clear signal about what drives the organization. Every single study on the subject shows that engaged employees not only perform better, but also stay with their company longer and moreover are willing to go the extra mile. It makes sense that this engagement also pays off in terms of operating results. This ought to be enough to convince companies that the employee experience is every bit as pivotal as the customer experience, and that the two are inextricably linked. The employee experience can be defined as the sum total of all experiences an employee has within the organization. It is not about what the employee delivers, but about his or her perceptions from the first moment of interaction with the organization and first workday right up to the day they leave. 

So how do we optimize that experience – and is this even possible? Simply spreading the message among your workforce is not enough.

So how do we optimize that experience – and is this even possible? Simply spreading the message among your workforce is not enough. Neither is paying a good salary sufficient anymore, these days. Designing the optimum employee experience goes beyond all that. For starters, employees need to feel that the organization trusts them and will give them the latitude to make decisions on their own. Working in self-organizing teams can be a great means of achieving this, effecting a shift from hierarchy to coaching and making the organization less individualistic and more concerned with team performance. Instead of assessments, employees get continuous feedback and guidance. Besides being essential to ensure the company is geared up to meet future challenges, this focus on development also plays an instrumental role in shaping employee experience. Another dimension that has been getting a huge amount of attention in recent years is health management, which looks beyond traditional policies to minimize absences by taking more proactive steps to improve physical and mental vitality. This is another great example of a win-win for employers and employees alike.
 

HR, put on your marketing caps!

There is no one-size-fits-all solution. Just as marketing specialists have to know their customers, HR has to know the organization’s employees. 

The foregoing examples touch on generic aspects of the employee experience. But it is just as important to zoom in to the individual level. Because where salary could be the clincher for one person, for another it may be training opportunities or a good work-life balance. When it comes to employee experience, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Just as marketing specialists have to know their customers, HR has to know the organization’s employees. Thus, where marketers stake out a customer journey that revolves around their target customer, HR departments have to design an employee journey that centers on staff. Once the whole employee journey has been mapped out, HR can look at things from their perspective and pinpoint needs at the individual employee level. The value of analytics is something I already touched on in earlier blog posts; analytics are also indispensable for understanding your employees and getting insight into what does and does not work.
 

Employee experience is a team effort

I should stress, however, that employee experience is not the responsibility of HR alone. On the contrary, everybody in the company contributes to creating a positive environment for all team members. That said, I do think HR departments have a special role to play. Certainly given the huge strides made in the automation of administrative HR activities, there should now be scope enough for them to tackle matters like employee experience in their organization. HR departments can bring that experience into sharp focus and ensure the organization has the right tools to influence it. And, once this groundwork has been laid, HR can concentrate on facilitating and stimulating management and, of course, employees themselves. So, what are you waiting for?

 

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Hans Janse

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