Designing Employee Experiences

 

​Content originally posted here.

The battle for the hearts and minds of employees is played out daily through their workplace experiences. Much as organizations are paying increased attention to winning customers’ loyalty, preferences and wallets, they are now turning to creating environments conducive to a more engaged and productive workforce. They are designing employee experiences that not only attract and retain crucial talent, but that optimize individual and collective potential in the workplace/

Overview and Objectives

Overview

To better understand the challenges and opportunities associated with this trend, IBM recently conducted  in-depth interviews with more than 30 individuals who had expertise in different facets of employee experience. Interviewees included executives who have employee experience as part of their overall mandates, providers of services and software tools designed to enhance employee experience, IBM subject matter experts and seasoned researchers in this field.

They found that a number of factors shape employee experience, including: the formation and development of work-based connections and relationships, the design and ongoing use of employees’ physical work environments, and the tools and social platforms employees use to accomplish work-related activities. Our research shows that organizations can enhance employee experiences through increased levels of personalization, transparency, simplification, authenticity and organizational responsiveness.

 For companies looking to improve the employee experience, adopting the employee perspective can provide an important starting point—using data and analytics to identify needs and measure impact on business outcomes. Understanding key milestones in the employee journey can further refine insights into areas where experience may be lacking and what actions can be most effective. Applying a holistic, iterative design approach to change can help ensure that employees see improvements relevant to their work and can set their expectations for continuous reinvention. The human resources (HR) function cannot bear sole responsibility for improving the employee experience; doing so requires a cadre of support from other functions such as marketing, IT and real estate/facilities, as well as leadership from line executives.

Objectives

Upon completion of this course you will be able to identify, 

  • the value of creating optimal employee experiences. 
  • the three spheres in which action impacts employee experience: 
    • the social sphere
    • the work sphere
    • the physical sphere.
  • the five strategies companies can use to improve their overall employee experience:
    • personalization, 

    • transparency, 

    • simplification, 

    • authenticity and 

    • organizational responsiveness.

  • the four methods for enhancing employee experience:
    • leveraging analytics, 
    • understanding differentiation touchpoints, 
    • building a cross-functional experience coalition and 
    • applying rapid, iterative design principles.

Employee Experience Design: Purpose and Components

Why should companies pay attention to employee experience?

Organizations are examining employee experience from many different perspectives. Themes that emerged from our conversations with experts include: linking the employee experience to the organization’s culture, fostering a collaborative community, and building purpose and value in work. For many companies we spoke with, the enhanced focus on designing meaningful employee experiences has its roots in five important trends:

What are the components of employee experience?

From our research, we see employees interacting across three primary spheres: the Social Sphere, the Physical Sphere and the Work Sphere.

During an employee’s work day, these spheres of interaction often overlap, creating six facets of the employee experience (see Figure 2).

Physical workspace

Throughout our discussions, experts mentioned the configuration and design of individual and team workspaces as a critical component of employee experience. Organizations can enhance their workspaces by providing reconfigurable furniture and equipment to accommodate flexible work teams, communal spaces that facilitate information flow, quiet spaces for concentration and places where serendipitous interaction can occur. 

For example, IBM has been developing “design studios,” where project teams of designers, business architects and programmers can come together to develop faster, more innovative client solutions. Physical workspace design can also impact employee wellness, as properly designed ergonomics can reduce employee stress and limit physical injury.

Environment

Not only do organizations need to focus on the design and configuration of workplace furniture, but they also need to consider other environmental factors. Ambient lighting, temperature control, noise, ventilation and even office location can notably impact employee productivity and experience. For example, research has shown that human error rates increase when ambient temperatures are set too low or too high for comfort levels.

Community

Virtually all of us depend to some degree on interaction with others. It is therefore not surprising that the relationships we create and sustain can influence our individual effectiveness and our perceptions of our organizations as a whole. The goodwill that we generate through these relationships, often referred to as “social capital,” impacts a number of important factors — from facilitating cross-organizational knowledge sharing to boosting individual employee satisfaction.

Tools

Digital capabilities —such as mobile computing and the Internet of Things —have changed the way we access information, tap into experts, make decisions, and ultimately deliver and consume goods and services. Not only have these new technologies changed where we do our work, they have changed the very nature of how work gets accomplished.

With this greater reliance on software-based tools comes a host of issues that, left unaddressed, can increase employee frustration and reduce productivity. The design of the physical equipment that houses the software is key. Is it easy to access and use under daily work conditions? Software design can also have a lasting impact on satisfaction and productivity. How easy it is to sign on to a system? How may clicks does it take to get to the right screen? What is the duration between screen refreshes? Employees expect frictionless and intuitive technology. They want to spend their time doing their work, not figuring out how to use the technology behind it.

Finally, do the tools enable users to address particular preferences or physical challenges? Given the aging workforce and the desire of many companies to provide more diverse, inclusive environments, tools that can accommodate potential visual, auditory and mobility challenges are taking on greater importance.

Activities

A major component of employee experience is the extent to which individuals feel they can influence their work, build mastery and understand their work’s overall purpose.

Our discussions revealed a number of factors that influence successful completion of work- related tasks. An understanding of how the task fits into the work-unit’s goals and the larger organization’s mission, possession of relevant knowledge or expertise, access to additional information or experts as needed, and availability of timely feedback – either from managers or automated systems —can significantly shape the employee experience. As Daniel Pink, author of Drive, has noted, “The science shows that the secret to high performance isn’t our biological drive or our reward-and-punishment drive, but our third drive —our deep-seated desire to direct our own lives, to extend and expand our ability and to live a life of purpose.

Social platforms

Increasingly, companies are using internal social platforms to support organizational innovation, expertise location and knowledge sharing, and to help employees connect to others across the globe. These social platforms provide a common environment where employees can find relevant insights. What’s more, the analytics derived from the use of these tools can help identify hidden pockets of expertise or emerging employee morale issues. 

For social platforms to truly influence employee experience, a number of issues must be considered. Organizations need to create a critical mass of users to sustain the necessary level of content and attract other users. Also, they must establish rules of engagement that clarify what can be said and how the organization intends to use data shared on the platform. Leaders need to publically support the use of the platform and recognize those who make substantive contributions.

Strategy and culture

An organization must consider each of these six facets of employee experience in light of overall business goals and culture. The business goals and objectives of a software company may be quite different from those of a retailer, while the culture of an entrepreneurial startup may differ from that of a large multinational corporation. For a hospitality company, the need to provide high-quality guest services may serve as a guiding principle in the design of employee experience; for an oil company, the emphasis may be on occupational safety. Clearly defining these underlying tenets is necessary to designing experiences that not only match the needs of the individual, but are aligned with organizational priorities.

Likewise, once a company defines its strategy, it must help ensure that leadership behaviors, people practices and management systems —formal drivers of organizational culture — consistently support the employee experience. Informal practices matter too; if the culture is fear-based or hierarchical, employees may struggle to collaborate on open, social platforms.

Onboarding

Make the first day meaningful

  • 92% feel welcomed, but 43% say their first day on the job was disorganized or confusing
  • Negative first day experiences = lower engagement

Acclimate employees to the company AND their specific job

  • Only 29% of employees who participate in orientation learn about their specific job during the session
  • Those who DO, rate it the most valuable aspect

When onboarding, keep in mind: one size does not fit all

  • 47% prefer to get a big work assignment right away
  • 53% prefer to take the first three months to learn the ropes

Designed and Curated by Derin Tolu

Thanks

Thanks for taking the time to check out my demo cause for WEWORK on easy generator. I hope to hear from you soon. 

Best 

Derin Tolu

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