How is your company’s product or service enhancing people’s lives? I’m not talking about customer success, technical support, increased productivity, or any other category that can be easily measured. The bottom line is that you need to pursue more than just a means to an end. Your company will hit its full potential once current and potential customers come to believe that your product or service is making them and the world around them a better place. To do that, your business needs to understand the human condition.
The good news is that many forward-thinking companies are well aware of how important it is to develop a human-focused, 360-degree business strategy. The human experience is complicated, connected, and nonlinear. Luckily, the rapid growth of automated and augmented intelligence technologies is helping companies define what it means to be human and adjust their business strategies accordingly. We live in a data-driven business environment that makes it possible for every single person who’s responsible for a touchpoint along the customer journey to affect distant metrics.
“We live in an interconnected, or rather a hyper-connected society. Organizations and markets behave like networks. This triggers complex rather than linear behavior.”
But, while more and more companies are harnessing insights into the human experience to develop increasingly nuanced, complicated, and effective business strategies, HR’s approach to its own people remains stuck in analog mode. This is why HR departments need to take a more holistic approach to the way it relates to its people, not as valuable human capital but as precious human beings.
Engagement: a spice, not the whole enchilada
Employee engagement seeks to address the psychological needs of people. By doing so, companies hope that their people can reach peak performance levels. Sounds good, but there’s a fundamental flaw with this approach: it only focuses on a sliver of the whole employee lifecycle pie. Engagement programs are characterized by performance reviews, monthly check-ins, or weekly updates that are usually managed by the same two or three members of a company’s HR team.
But an employee’s journey within a company is made up of many more situations that engagement programs don’t deal with. Everything from pre-hire to post-exit interactions and everything in between goes into how team members view their companies and their roles within them.
In other words, engagement is only one spice that puts some flavor in the whole enchilada of your people’s workplace experiences.
That other “E” no one talks about
There’s another way for companies to grow their people into happier, more productive, and engaged team members. Employee Experience (EX) puts a premium on creating a more responsive, agile, and fulfilling workplace. The main difference between engagement and EX is one of scope. For example, engagement efforts prioritize increased performance and reduced turnover. While these remain targets to hit, EX embraces the employee as a whole person by putting programs into place that are developed from the perspective of employees, not the companies they work for.
Josh Bersin, an internationally acclaimed HR expert says that employees, “…look at everything that happens at work as an integrated experience that impacts daily life in and outside the workplace, including overall physical, emotional, professional, and financial well-being. Candidates assess future employers from the very start of the talent acquisition experience and make quick judgments about what life will be like for them in the organization, based on how they interact with the enterprise during the recruiting cycle.”
By improving your people’s overall experience at your company, you’ll ultimately grow a group of more engaged employees.
Three building blocks: creating a 360-degree employee experience program
Such a comprehensive HR approach to growing a stellar, engaged, and innovative group of people can seem daunting. However, Jacob Morgan, author of “The Employee Experience Advantage,” has boiled down the entire employee lifecycle into three key components:
Culture: This is the foundational stone of giving your people a sense of purpose about what they do at and for your company. Ensuring that your people aren’t just satisfied but inspired to come to work every day means that your company must constantly and consistently express its commitment to the health and success of all team members.
Technology: This building block helps your people get their jobs done. Internal social networks, apps, software, e-learning tools, and video conferencing solutions are just a few things that can have a major impact on how your people feel at work. Using outdated technologies will increase the time it takes for your people to fulfill their jobs’ requirements. This kind of environment is bound to produce frustrated, angry, and unproductive team members.
Workspace: This pillar of the employee experience includes everything your people can see, touch, taste, and smell at work. Your company’s floor plans, the way the offices are designed and any amenities your people can use to work more efficiently should be an HR priority. You should definitely know the answer to this question: Are your people comfortable in their workspaces?
Does EX work? The numbers are in…
While an HR approach that focuses exclusively on engagement has produced disappointing results, the data on Employee Experience is impressive:
- Importance: 80% of executives rate employee experience as important or very important to them and their companies.
- Productivity: For the top 25% of employees in terms of EX, 96% also report high levels of work performance.
- Average Profit: Organizations that invest in EX outperform the ones that don’t by 4.2x.
- Per Person Profit: Organizations that invest in EX outperform the ones that don’t by 4.0x in terms of profit per employee.
- Retention: Organizations that are the 6% heaviest investors in EX are included among Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work 11.5x as often.
Want to Boost Engagement? Create an Awesome Experience
Attracting and keeping top talent is more challenging than ever. This is why it’s so important to develop a positive experience for your people. An HR team that creates and implements an action plan that positively impacts each phase of the employee lifecycle, including engagement, are much more likely to reach the goals of an engagement-centered program.
How’s that for the whole enchilada?