Today, companies feel intense pressure in both the workplace and marketplace to attract and retain top talent. HR professionals must create an environment where employees stay longer, and people line up to apply. It might seem like the goal of cultivating a great employee experience is to create happy employees, but the true goal is to focus on creating engaged employees.
Engagement is an emotional commitment employees put towards achieving the company’s goals. This translates into discretionary effort. While ping-pong tables, free lunches and dog-friendly spaces may make employees happy, will these benefits truly inspire extraordinary commitment? Of course, organizations should strive to create a great working environment, but if employees don’t feel invested in the mission of the company, you cannot win their hearts and minds.
Recently, I joined Paul Hagen, Head of CX Strategy & Innovation at West Monroe Partners, and Erik Otteson, Director of People Technology & Analytics at Medallia, for a webinar on the Employee Experience (EX) journey, and its pivotal role in driving better customer experiences. Here are some ways we discussed to drive employee engagement:
One of the most powerful ways to create more engaged employees is by connecting their personal mission to that of the company. This creates motivated employees who feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves.”
It’s More Than a Job, It’s a Mission
One of the most powerful ways to create more engaged employees is by connecting their personal mission to that of the company. This creates motivated employees who feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. Employees will sniff out anything phony, so the company’s mission must be honest and authentic. When assessing your culture, ask:
- Why are we here to serve customers?
- What impact are we trying to make above and beyond ourselves?
- Are we accurately and effectively disseminating these principles to our employees?
If any of the answers above are unclear, many of your colleagues may be confused and lack engagement. Employees must understand why they are doing their job. Their true role in the company goes far beyond a job title or specific responsibilities. With clear mission alignment, we see employees with increased drive and determination.
Do You Really Hear Me?
Employees raised in the internet age are accustomed to almost instantaneous feedback via social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They bring this attitude into the workplace, so long, quantitative, annual employee surveys don’t cut it. Research shows that millennials would prefer feedback once per month.
A lot of companies haven’t evolved with their changing employee needs and may still rely on old survey methods with dozens (or in some cases >100) of closed-end questions. The worst part, little or no meaningful action is taken and productive communication rarely takes place.
HR teams are finding tremendous success with implementing shorter, more frequent surveys with open-ended questions — similar principles that drove the CX revolution over the past decade. They help open a faucet of feedback to allow the organization to better understand employee thinking. Leaders are able to understand and be more responsive to the structured and unstructured employee feedback using easy-to-use software like Medallia’s. In addition, progressive companies place a premium on clear and timely communication of changes associated with the feedback. Employees know their voice is heard and valued.
Another way to improve EX is to engage employees in helping to co-create their journeys. Employees are full of great ideas and are eager to help, but unfortunately, much of that energy remains untapped.”
Treat Employee Experience Like Customer Experience: Design, Manage, Improve
HR teams are tasked with developing experiences at each stage of the employee journey — from the selection process, through departures. But historically, responsibility for the health of each journey phase has been unclear. Many stages are poorly-designed relics from generations of prior managers with unclear intent.
Today, HR personnel are starting to change course by mapping employee journeys with human-centered design. Journeys are mapped based on specific employee personas (entry-level employees, executives, specialty skill roles, etc.), factoring in both employee and company life events (e.g. marriage, illnesses, corporate restructuring, etc.) to ensure that unique employee needs are considered.
Any company can apply this principle into their orientation journey design, and progress can be accelerated by adopting best practices. Horst Schulze, the former founder and CEO of Ritz Carlton, would personally train new housekeepers, dishwashers and other functions when opening a new property. He claimed that the hearts of the new employees were wide open and ready to be filled with a compelling mission. The first week of any employee’s employment therefore needs to be carefully designed to take advantage of that brief window.
Another way to improve EX is to engage employees in helping to co-create their journeys. Employees are full of great ideas and are eager to help, but unfortunately, much of that energy remains untapped. Collaborating with employees to ensure that their input is being used serves two purposes — it enhances their experience, and it makes them feel highly valued.
When employees know the company is working hard for them, they will work hard for the company.
To listen to a recording of the full webinar, click here.
Join us at Experience ‘19 to further explore the connection between employee and customer experience success from companies including Scotiabank, Petco, MassMutual and Ford Motor Company.