The concept of employee experience has changed since the pandemic and the emergence of a completely remote working environment. As experience became more important, the tables were turned, and employees took control of the functions. Employees nowadays seek the meaning of their existence within a company and investigate the significance of their contribution to it. Employees tend to leave organisations when they lack the freedom to explore.
People Matters interviewed Shruti Tandon, Director – People Enablement, Nagarro. A Human Resources Professional with more than 15 years of diverse experience in HR Business Partnering, Human Resource Management, Culture Building, Performance Management, Talent Management, Talent Development, Organization Development, Change Management, Talent Assessment, Diversity and Inclusion, communications, and International HR. She began her career as a specialist in OD, culture building and subsequently gained experience as a generalist and a Strategic HR partner. Currently, she is responsible for leading interventions in the area of Career, Culture, Capability and Change. Edited excerpts:
To create a clear definition of the term employee experience. There is no such standard. The term has different meanings to different audiences. What is it for Nagarro and you?
It's a very broad, big question. So, I agree with what you just said and there are many definitions. The way this is interpreted across industry is very different. It is unique to the context in which people are looking at this. But if you were to ask me, employee experience is everything.
Employee experience is everything. It’s a vague and deceptively straightforward term that’s been outlined in too many variations to number. I read it somewhere and it stayed with me, that the word “experience” encompasses anything and everything that filters through consciousness. It's beautifully written. No wonder that people have been personalized in their definitions because this is very contextual. It is how you want to perceive this, right? And we are living in an era of employee experience revolution, and this encompasses every sphere of employee life cycle, and it goes beyond that. Each day, each interaction in an employee's life cycle at your company is what experience is all about. It’s about the value, the connection, feedback, and it is a part of each critical moment across the employee value chain.
So, I would say, employee experience is everything and it must be treated as the number one priority. HR should be experienced first rather than second. Anything that we do has to be experience led, and at Nagarro, we try to take this one notch up by making it CARING led. This is a unique distinction that we create with the high touch personalized experience for everyone in the organization. I think, introducing the top-notch digital experience in this remote environment also goes a long way in connecting with your colleagues in this current scenario. We need to create bonding even more than what we used to do in the past. We need to create those experiences for them when the world is distributed now. Moreover, I think our strategy has been consciously driven towards investing in better tooling. Targeting individualized experience in all the spheres, learning benefits engagements, performance, managements, rewards, the way feedback is given and consumed, everything else.
Why is employee experience important for HR organizations in particular and business leaders, of course. So, like for example, have you noticed outcomes of a positive employee experience in terms of businesses and employee satisfaction and work culture?
In this world of intense personalization, the rapid transformation is nudging HR and business leaders to be more innovative and agile. I think the need of the hour is to ensure a unique and hyper personalised digital employee experience for each employee. That is why employee experience is important because this also gives you that competitive edge, not just this, but with all this powershift happening, one must also respond to the shifting priorities of talent, right?
Employees don’t want to be stuck, they want a workplace that values them, engages with them to connect, collaborate, and celebrate. That is when we start to feel that more personalized EX is a key differentiator in the job market. People need a feeling of belongingness to the workplace, a culture that is engaging, caring, and values their inputs. This will result in a happy workforce that treats its customers right!
If you want to be the employer of choice, you need to understand your people, their mindset, and you will have to become an organization that cares for its employees. In my opinion, that's the reason why this is very crucial and critical, not just for HR leaders, but also across the organization, across the board, and for the business leaders as well. Like I said for HR, employee experience is supercritical and now, companies are realizing that it is what shapes the ultimate success of an organization and gives them an edge over their competition. See, there is as much as you can pay the compensation, the benefits, there is a level playing ground, and there is as much as you could do in increasing or decreasing all of this. But what is that one thing that could make you stand out or could differentiate you, your organization? It’s your culture and the employee experience.
Gone are the days when the companies used to retain the top talent just by promising promotions and compensations. That's not the case in the current market anymore. You must have ways which will make you stand out, and I believe experience is one of the most important factors that would help people make that decision. You know, this helps attract talent, employees feel good and stay motivated. So, your entire productivity increases, and I would say, a workplace or an organization that has an emphasis on happiness of their employees before everything else will see a positive impact on business results. So, it has a direct impact there.
Organizations often think that employee experience is a strategy equal to a tech strategy. Yes, technology is important, but work culture is important too. What is your take on that?
Digital experience plays a huge role in today’s world, where connections in a distributed world are leveraged through technology for attracting and retaining talent, fostering workplace culture, enhancing productivity, and much more.
Technology for sure is important, right? It enables the culture in an organization and it's something that will build upon a lot of things that one does. For example, in Nagarro's current landscape, there are more than 15,000 employees across the world. So, how, and what will it take for us to bind them together in this culture? It is going to be technology. So, anything that you want to do has to be tech enabled. Any experience that you want to create, it will be through a platform. Any benefit that you must roll out, you must invest your time and energy to get feedback from people. The right kind of tools gives an edge to the experience. So, not just employee experience, but digital experience play a huge role in shaping the culture.
Everything is enabled by tech and that connects people in this virtual or I would say hybrid world, making distance irrelevant between intelligent people. Tech is going to be the backbone of culture that we are creating in this hybrid, distributed global organization. Use of more cutting-edge technology and experience data will open more avenues to digitally reimagine the company culture, creating connections, knowledge sharing in structured and unstructured ways, having newer methods of capturing feedback, and providing recommendations (and nudges to take action) in the regular course of business. I would say the technology driven, fast track work processes and systems, keeping abreast of the dynamic and volatile business environments, triggered due to massive digitization efforts across sectors/industries is the need of the hour.
Do you think that for better employee experience, communication is important? Do you think that regular and transparent communications from leaders to that employee are well defined company mission and a culture that cultivates a sense of belonging and in?
Yes, absolutely, communication is everything. The need to have transparent and regular communication is imperative. People need to see that they have leaders who are communicating with them. It is also very important for people to know that the leaders have access to them and vice versa. Moreover, being aware that they have appropriate platforms and forums to share their feedback, views, and to express themselves.
This is, always, a two-way communication, which is very crucial for the health of an organization. At Nagarro, we use this collaborative platform called Yammer quite extensively, for all important communications or announcements. We encourage people to participate in healthy discussions with these various groups we have created on Yammer. There are casual, serious, work-related discussions, and important messages go out as well. There are senior management interactions and comments, and if people comment, there are responses from the HR and senior leadership on them. This is one forum where people ask us anything and everything, and I think, discussion-oriented conversations go a long way in creating a non-hierarchical atmosphere for us. This platform has enabled us to do a lot of innovative things. We do not manage or delete or mask comments.
There are a lot of virtual meetups that we organize at Nagarro, where in some of them, people learn a lot of things from the experiences of other people, and some other ones are very casual. One such platform at Nagarro called ‘Connections’, is a weekly global call where people just get-together to talk and have some fun. All mediums and modes of communications are important within the organization for this culture to stay alive and strong bonds that you want people to build.
At Nagarro, last Friday of every month is TGIF - Thank God it's Friday. In this virtual session, leaders from across the globe talks about the culture of the organization with all the new joiners. They would also talk about their experiences, core values, which gives people the first-hand information on the culture which is very important for our new joiners to know and be aware of. Senior leaders want to spend time with them, which is a very defined and transparent way of communication. Our actions, decisions, focus on areas that we want to work on, help in generating that experience for people, even when people are far away. So yes, this is very critical.
What practices at Nagarro have the most significant employee experience? And any specific guidance you want to elaborate on how organizations can improve employee experience and achieve employee experience excellence?
If I talk about the most significant employee experience, it would be our individualized approach. We always believe in individualized employee experience. So, it’s not just one practice, but I would rather say, it's one approach to realize and accept the fact that people are individuals, they're not resources. It's not one pool of people that we are targeting.
Each person wants to be engaged in a different way. Every individual will have a different ask out of the system. As HR, we need to understand each one of these types, and make sure that we have something for everyone. We have numerous programs and collectively they are extremely effective because each one of these programs engages a different pool of people. Hence, we can focus on creating experiences which will allow people to be themselves as unique individuals at the organization.
I would say that, realizing that employees are a collection of individuals who have their own personality, their own preferences, their own likes, and dislikes, is vital because in this era of war for talent, as HR, we must enable each unique individual. That's why we call ourselves ‘people enablement’ because enabling each person is our responsibility. We enable each kind of personality. Organizations need to appreciate the fact that the ‘one size fits all’ approach will not work, and there must be something personalized for everyone. That's the challenge at hand and that's what we need to solve.
When done right, it is not just able to improve employee experience considerably, especially in a WFA environment, but it is also able to improve company performance by aligning and nudging each individual appropriately. This creates, I believe, a huge opportunity for the next evolution of HR or “people enablement”: a highly personalized engagement