When a human insight is translated to generate a positive emotion in someone, it is an experience. Technology is just the enabler that makes it personal.
Insight plus technology
The walls of the Seonreung subway station in downtown Seoul came to life in 2011 with virtual displays of over 500 of the most popular products with barcodes, which Tesco customers could scan using the app on their smartphones and get delivered right to their doorstep. South Koreans have amongst the longest working hours in the world, with young, upwardly mobile executives often too busy to go shopping for groceries at a traditional store. That insight, when combined with technology, created the magic.
Digital assets can be tangible, like servers, routers, online-purchasing platforms, etc. The larger value comes from intangible assets. That could be the proprietary designs that create digital experiences; the digital capture of user behavior, contributions, and social profiles, etc. In the digital world, intangibles can make up more than 60% of the firm’s value.
We clearly know how to design customer experiences. Why can’t the same understanding drive creation of great employee experiences too? Firms that are known for great employee experiences are four times more profitable and make twice the average revenue per employee.
What does great Employee Experience (EX) look like?
To begin with, it is based on the same principles as Customer Experience (CX). A good quality product sold at the right price is just the start; a great experience goes on to create a pull. It could be that it simplifies things or makes something aspirational available, something more than what is expected.
Trust is the foundation of all EX
Do the employees trust the intent of the leaders? Without trust, even the best of EX designs will be looked at with suspicion. Is the leader fair? Does the leader have integrity? The biggest element for great EX is to co-create it. The company’s policies reflect the assumptions the employer has about the employees. When Netflix said they offered unlimited vacation, they said the employee could be trusted not to misuse it.
The same organizations that said they did not believe in a work-from-home policy are now discouraging employees from coming to work given the coronavirus threat. Offices that relied on biometric attendance logging had to do away with attendance tracking to prevent spreading the virus through these fingerprint scanners. Maybe marking attendance is a ritual that we can drop since we expect people to respond to calls and emails even after office hours. That would be fair.
Do employees who work from home get rated and rewarded at par with those in the office every day? Is there gender pay parity? Are people with a disability or transgender employees given the same opportunities for going to conferences and career options as the rest? Trust generates positive intent in everyone. When a departing employee refuses to divulge the name of the prospective employer, it is a clear indication that there is no trust between the employer and the employees. Any exit interview post that interaction is a farce. The departing employee is going to play it safe and not tell you what you don’t wish to hear.
Truth and candor are the by-products of psychological safety and trust.
Separate me from a demographic cluster
A 25-year-old once told me, “I am sick of these generalizations about millennials. It stops people from knowing how I am similar to other 25-year-olds but also how I am unlike any other millennials.” Very often, our stereotypes about demographic clusters can limit us from designing EX that connects to the very group we are trying to reach.
Algorithms are often good at matching a candidate pool to the job description in an ad. I have often hired people who may not have met the requirements of educational qualification etc. but excelled because of their sheer determination to succeed. When machines identify traffic violations, they may not make an exception to the mother, who is trying to make sure her child is not late for the exam. Justice is better done by machines. Humans understand mercy.
When the organization gives the new hire a loan (that he or she was not eligible for), to tide over a life event, it creates a great EX not just for the beneficiary but even for the rest of the employees. A famous pediatrician told me that the trick was to make every parent feel that their child was special. Having bots answer queries may be a smart way to address employees. Until the bot is up and running, the employee answering every query with a smile. Human beings have an amazing ability to sniff out a fake smile from a genuine one.
What would be a six-star experience?
Airbnb often asks customers what they would define as a five-star experience. Then they ask what needs to be added to the five-star experience to deliver a six-star experience. Just when the customer has run out of ideas, they are asked what would turn the six-star experience to a seven-star experience. That could be a great model to design a great EX in your organization. Maybe you could start by asking whether the experience design would be limited to the “employee” or if it could encompass contractors, freelancers, alumni, and even candidates.
To learn from experts as to what it takes to create a world of incredible experiences, join us for the People Matters EX: A Virtual Conference on 19th June