How to improve employee experience

by Matt Grimshaw
December 1, 2017


If employee experience is a design principle that helps you to create interactions that work for both organisations and employees – what does this mean in practice? How should companies go about incorporating employee experience into their people management practices, HR processes and workplace environments?

  1. Start by capturing the story of the journey the organisation is on. If you don’t know what’s important to the company and why, there’s a real danger of improving employee experience in a way that delivers no value to the organisation.
  2. Create narrative personas for different types of employee. Everyone who works for you is unique, with their own personality, values and dreams. One of the most exciting opportunities created by taking an employee perspective is switching from ‘one size fits all’ HR processes, to tailored provision that responds to the different needs of different people over time. The most sensible way to approach this is to start segmenting your employee population and to create personas that help you identify what’s really important to your people.
  3. Start journey mapping and identify the moments that matter most to both the organisation and the employee. Certain touchpoints, interactions or processes will have a disproportionate impact on an employee’s experience. Things like your first day, your appraisal conversation or your team away-day tend to stand out as ‘peak’ experiences.
  4. Take a human centred approach to redesigning these interactions. It’s critical to the employee experience approach that you treat employees as people and users not as a ‘resource’. We know that people are emotional, prone to irrational bias, and they have limited reserves of energy, attention and motivation. It’s easier to redesign your people management/HR processes around real people, than to try and undo millions of years of evolution and turn employees into cogs in the machine.
  5. Every interaction or HR process has to satisfy three types of organisational need. It has to work from a functional perspective (e.g. a recruitment process needs to hire the right people at an effective cost and time), but it also has to fit with the organisation’s strategy and culture.
  6. Similarly, every process and interaction needs to work from the employee’s perspective. Again, employees have functional needs (e.g. a chair that’s comfortable to sit on), but they also have a engagement need (how does this interaction impact on how I feel about my relationship with the company) and a ‘life’ need (how does this fit into my broader sense of what I want from my life).
  7. Finally, there’s a contextual perspective – interactions take place within a given environment and as part of a wider system. They’re also underpinned by certain tools or technology and tend to include some element of human or behavioural interaction. Each of these elements can be designed intentionally and comes with set of constraints and opportunities to do things differently.
  8. Finally, there are a set of broader principles that are wedded to the employee experience approach. Given the number of interactions and the number of factors that influence an employee’s experience, you can’t design the perfect experience behind closed doors and then launch it to the organisation. Improving employee experience necessitates taking an agile, experimental and evidence based approach. You need to focus on the moments that matter and look to deliver iterative improvements that have a measurable and positive impact on what’s important to both the organisation and the employee.

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