Consider a scenario where you are promised a free coffee with the next purchase at a certain store via its app, but when you reach the designated store the barista is not aware of such a scheme and bills you for your order. You will either walk out or grudgingly pay, making a mental note to not trust any promotions from the brand again.
A similar experience is playing out today at workplaces with employees absconding or quitting within a few months, sometimes weeks and even days after joining a new company.
COVID-led disruptions and transformations in economies, technology, business models and our lives in the last couple of years have only accelerated the challenges around talent retention across geographies and cultures. People’s outlook towards life, family, professional work (full time or gig), and organisational cultures have undergone much change and clearly demarcated workplace and employee priorities into pre-COVID and post-COVID.
With four generations at workplaces today it is an era of personalisation of experiences rather than providing one culture at work, as each individual is unique, going through a different life stage at any moment, having different values and often diverging views. The post-pandemic workplace requires a value proposition that is designed to provide a positive response by taking care of attributes which are critical towards a person’s life experience and not just designed for an employee experience.
With the sudden and rapid increase in economic activity and the heightened demand for talent, the job market is on fire! Employers are scurrying to put their best foot forward to hire in a talent-scarce market. Companies today have elaborate customer value propositions charted out as per customer personas, similarly there is a need to rework their employee value proposition (EVP) so that they are not only able to attract diverse new talent but also retain those they have. Re-designed employee value propositions should be people centric - agile enough to cater to several employee personas.
The EVP of an organisation stands to answer the question “why should I work for your company?” and defines the value an employee derives by being employed with your organisation. Throughout the various stages of an employee’s life cycle an organisation’s EVP needs to be coherent, relevant, authentic and consistent in action. In the post pandemic era empathetic leadership, flexible workspaces, a purposeful organisation, inclusive cultures and tangible rewards have gained popularity among new talent.
Hence it is essential to spend enough time defining and articulating the EVP as it is the promise we make to our future talent. Organisations can understand the pulse of employees by doing frequent surveys to capture both qualitative and quantitative parameters, including what they like about the company and why. Once an EVP is articulated, it needs to be communicated and promoted, often several times using various channels, and adhered to by tying it to the people's processes.
It is often a chicken and egg conundrum between employee experience (EX) and employee value proposition as to which comes first. Is it a strong EX that creates a strong EVP or vice versa? Do we first define the value propositions that will drive work and culture and then create an experience which is aligned? However, there is no debate that a strong EVP can help attract the right talent and a synchronised EX can make them stay and thrive.
The foundation of a positive employer-employee relationship is trust. Many organisations spend a lot of time and money in winning external awards and accolades, however an authentic and real EVP will make them an employer of choice anyway for the talent they seek. To ensure the talent we attract with our EVP stays longer there needs to be a synchronisation of the employee experience as the battles for the hearts and minds of employees are won daily by providing positive workplace experiences aligned with what we promised them. For example, how often are leaders and managers living the EVP? If our EVP is to provide a flexible workplace experience, then we should not insist on on-site presence and fixed hours. What good is promising career growth when there is no succession planning or career conversations at work?
Employee experience does not have one common definition or standard, and one best practice may not fit another as it is a summation of a collective and individual’s perceptions, interactions, behaviours and mindset. It is also constantly evolving and can be felt differently. An organisation’s employee experience should factor in its current and future journey and strengths and weaknesses to design how our organisation shapes the way people work and live.
EX today not only includes employee engagement but defines a wider term including retention, health, productivity, flexibility, leadership, trust and facilities, legal, and safety. A strong EX encompasses not just the meaningful work we do, the teams we work with, the leaders and managers who inspire, guide and coach us, but also our physical, emotional and cultural workplace. An ideal EX should generate positive emotions while interacting in this workspace in an organisation that is authentic, trustworthy, and consistent in its support towards our growth.
An ideal employee experience design must be data driven, co-created with design thinking and empathy at its core. A 2019 Gartner study says barely 28% agree that HR involves them in scoping and identifying business needs. If we do not co-build an organisation, its processes and policies we would see low acceptance and lack of ownership and very soon a disengaged employee would seek greener pastures. Are organisations designing processes and policies which only the leaders and people function thinks are important and reflect their biases? Are we looking at one size fit all solutions only? An employee journey mapping can be a good way to visualise and measure an employee’s experience through every stage of an employee’s life cycle in an organisation. When used with specific personas (profiles of specific workforce segments based on behaviours, perceptions, motivations, and what creates positive experiences for them) it can allow for customisation to make the journey more meaningful and adaptable.
We can improve employee sentiments and retention by redefining our EVP and EX. That requires first defining our culture, articulating offerings and differentiators, providing a tailor-made experience as per our people’s expectations, collecting feedback, and simplifying the interactions leveraging technology. Both EVP & EX are powerful-human centric tools through which organisations can create cultures where employees can invest more of their holistic selves through all touchpoints in their day-to-day work.