We value our customers, of course! But the big question is … do we value our employees as much as our customers?
Companies must understand that the Employee Experience is connected to the Customer Experience. Anthony Grasso, a managing principal at Continuum, believes that in a hyper-competitive job market, employees are as important as customers. He went on to add that when they work with clients to improve customer experiences or create innovative products and services, they focus equal attention on their client’s employees.
Before we take a deep dive on this, let’s understand the journey so far.
It all started when businesses viewed employees, essentially, as resources—ways they could create more products and make more money. That thinking began to fade a couple of decades ago, with more leaders adopting the mindset that they should be offering benefits and value to their employees, not merely extracting value from them. That’s where the concept of employee engagement started; by engaging employees, it was evident that work performance improved and employees were generally happier and healthier. The outcome was evident that engaged employees were more productive, creating a win-win situation.
EX, a new wave in own.
Although the predominant model to gauge employee motivation has been employee engagement, there has been a shift in focus, with the term employee experience steadily gaining steam. EX is short for the Employee Experience, whilst CX is short for Customer Experience.
Why the shift?
Well, the basic reason is this: Employee engagement, for all its virtues, tends to be focused on the short-term cosmetic changes, more of a distraction with fun activities. It’s about making little changes that can impact employee motivation in the here and now. EX is more long-term, and more big-picture. It’s about fundamentally changing how the workplace functions which is deep rooted.(www.business2community.com)
Really, EX is just a way of considering what it’s actually like for someone to work at your company. Another way to think about it: EX is the daily workplace reality for your employees.
It would be incorrect to assume that employee engagement has been replaced by EX, in fact in order to achieve excellent EX, both need to work together . As organizations strive to become the employer of choice in their industries, they are taking steps to attract and retain top talent by fostering an environment and culture that inspires people to join them.
It is not about perks and staff parties - “Feel good” tactics such as free gym memberships and ping pong tables in the pantry or reception area are simply that: Your EX may end up including such tactics, but EX is a strategic initiative whose aim goes well beyond making employment more fun and enjoyable.
EX involves designing and delivering distinctive experiences for employees that are aligned with your desired culture. The focus of EX should be creating a reality where your employees feel truly empowered—not micromanaged. It is also about providing easy access to resources and tools, streamlining communication, offering flexibility for things like lunch and coffee breaks - all of this is encompassed by employee experience.
The millennials also expect digital tools to optimize their work experience and allow them to be as productive and connected as possible. That should include modern technology for volunteer and giving programs that makes giving back a social, mobile and interactive experience.(www.causecast.com)
Designing EX for the employees with the employees
An organization can’t just design the EX for their employees but it should be done with the employees focusing on culture, technology and physical environment
Human resource departments are getting equipped to understand and improve the complete EX through new approaches such as employee journey maps and design thinking. Tools like employee Net Promoter scores (eNPS) are used to measure employee satisfaction rather than merely relying on Annual Engagement survey. The Net Promoter Score (NPS)was originally a Customer Service tool, which is now being used widely internally on employees.
It was also reported by Deloitte that a productive, positive EX has emerged as the new contract between employee and employer, providing an engaging experience that enables organizations to succeed in attracting and retaining skilled talents while driving a strong CX.
What are the blockers?
Treating employees like customers. The distinction that we pay our employees customers pay us has always been a mental barrier for achieving deep employee engagement.
How many of us consider EX as a business priority unlike CX? Though EX is not only purely a HR challenge, they need to proactively drive it as a business program and support business leaders with a continuous stream of data for future decisions and promote a culture of listening.
The perception of EX in many organizations is still similar to employee engagement where it is more of a short term cosmetics effect and not addressing the core issues within a workplace.
Lack consistency in using employee engagement tools such as pulse surveys or eNPS to engage employees on an ongoing basis.
HR and Line Managers fail to understand the expectations and needs of employees from the survey scores. It would be disheartening when views and feedback are given but ignored. Finalised action plans/programs on the improvement area must be clearly communicated.
Conducting surveys on an annual basis becomes ineffective if organizations have not yet define the principles of performance management goal setting, diversity & inclusion and leadership in an integrated framework.
Employees see everything that happens at work as an integrated experience that impacts their daily life in and outside workplace. Traditional HR addresses issues such as culture, EX, compensation & benefits, learning & development as separate, independent programs/functions with HR leaders working in silos together with their own set of tools and KPIs. It is now timely to review and redesign structures, roles & strategy in order to meet the holistic expectation of employees.
Where do we start?
1. Treat your employees like your customers as we need to recognize that in a hyper-competitive jobmarket, employees are as powerful as customers.
2. An integrated EX is a business imperative for Leaders at ALL levels and should be part of the core business strategy, moving it from being just a HR program. EX is as valuable and impactful (or more)as the CX strategy.
3. Appointing a Senior Leader or a team to orchestrate the functions of engagement, learning, career development, organizational design, rewards, and culture into a coordinated team so they fall into the domain of the integrated EX and be held accountable for it.(Deloitte). In 2015 Air In 2015, Airbnb kick started their journey on EX when they announced the appointment of a Global Head of Employee Experience,
4. Successful approaches to designing EX varies by geography. International companies should understand cultural differences in how employees perceive the work experience in different countries/regions. Cultures that are more collective or group-focused require different engagement programs than those that are more individual-focused.(Deloitte)
5. Embrace design thinking; this involves study, listening to, and learning what employees are doing every day and discover new ways to simplify work and improve productivity, performance, and engagement. Nike, Commonwealth Bank of Australia, Telstra, Deutsche Telekom, and several other companies have developed a new set of mobile apps, new user experiences, or new service delivery solutions to improve and simplify life at work.(Deloitte)
6. All segments of the workforce—candidates, full-time, part-time, freelancers, gig employees, and even, often, alumni—will expect elements of the EX to be designed to attract and engage them. (Deloitte)
7. Use information from Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and others to spot areas of opportunity and weakness. Visit peer companies and look for fresh ideas about how to redesign the employee experience within the similar industry or region. (Deloitte)
8. Build an open communication channel with employees to get their feedback and ensure their buy-in to the business direction which in time can be a part of the culture.
9. Communicate your organization’s commitment to employees wellbeing in a meaningful way once results of a pulse survey/eNPS is known. It is paramount to keep employees informed on why is this important and what is the finalized key priorities that is being worked on. Also critical to ensure that employees are participating in the redesign/improvement programs.
10. When you’re redesigning the EX, tap on your experienced marketing, sales or customer service folks who are working along similar lines to designing an integrated CX.
11. Move beyond annual or biannual engagement surveys to regular pulse surveys and open feedback systems. Consider instituting an employee net promoter score (eNPS), which yields one number on the value of the EX that can be regularly measured and tracked.
The Undeniable link between CX and EX
It is increasingly apparent that the two experiences are inextricably linked and that one impacts the other in the most fundamental of ways. It’s common sense if you think about it.
If you prioritize EX, you’ll be one of a growing number of companies discovering the power of EX to positively impact business performance in many areas. Research by Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, shows that organizations that invested most heavily in EX were:
• included 11.5 times as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work
• listed 4.4 times as often in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers
• listed 2.1 times as often on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies
• Most importantly, he finds that “experiential organizations had more than 4 times the average profit and more than 2 times the average revenue. They were also almost 25 percent smaller, which suggests higher levels of productivity and innovation.”
Here are 5 companies with success stories linking EX to CX. (Blake Morgan & Forbes contributors)
Marriott International founder J.W. Marriott said, “Take care of associates and they’ll take care of your customers.” It still holds true at the company- employees are valued, which makes them want to share that experience with guests.
Marriott publicly rewards employees for a job well done, celebrates diversity and inclusion, values loyalty, and offers a wide variety of training programs. It has been regularly rated a top place to work and a top company for CX.
Starbucks knows that happy employees lead to happy customers. The company is consistently at the top of every CX “best” list, and this recognition comes from taking care of its employees. At Starbucks, employees are provided with competitive wages, health benefits, and stock options. Each employee is trained not only on how to make the drinks but also how to interact with customers. The welcoming atmosphere of a Starbucks coffee shop is echoed in the company, where every employee knows they are welcomed and included.
As a result, it was reported 87% of customers’ affinity towards Starbucks is driven by the way he company treats its employees
Airbnb’s mission statement of “Belong Anywhere” extends beyond customers to also include employees. Airbnb is invested in every aspect of its employees’ lives, not just what they do at the office. The company works to create a culture that sets employees up for success in their personal and professional lives, from having a flexible, open office space to being transparent with the goals of the company. Employees can focus on their personal growth and the mission of the company, which allows them to create better customer experiences.
Four Seasons allows their housekeeping team to comp rooms in the moment. The old way to handle a displeased customer was to say, “Let me give the manager a call.” That was a problem, because the response time was more important than the level from which the response originated. Four Seasons learned their customers were frustrated by long response times, and empowered lower level employees to make judgment calls, which in turn, improved employee engagement. Finding ways to enhance decision-making on each level is empowering.
Instead of viewing customers and employees as separate entities, Adobe brings them together to drive positive, connected experiences. Employees are trained on CX metrics and how each person’s role impacts the overall CX. It also encourages employees to be advocates for customers’ needs and jump in when they see a problem instead of waiting for something to run its course.
At Adobe, employee compensation is tied to CX. When employees are connected with customers and see the role they can each play individually, they want to create a better experience
General Electric (GE)
It takes an innovative HR department to drive a EX at GE. Employees are involved in the process to make sure they have the physical space and technological tools to do their best work and that training programs keep employees moving forward.
When a division of GE saw it had low customer satisfaction scores, it worked to find the root cause and streamline internal processes. Cutting red tape keeps employees happier and allows them to be more productive, which helped the customer satisfaction score jump more than 40% in two years. Your employees are your often your most untapped resource when it comes to building powerful CX
What can we learn?
I hope you are just as inspired by the companies highlighted here as I was.It is proven beyond reasonable doubt that EX is not a myth or a hype but a pertinent factor for the success of CX .
If you wan t to make significant improvements to CX strategies you’ll first need to focus more on engaging your own workforce. It stands to reason that if there is any sort of disconnect between how a company treats employees and how employees are expected to treat customers, there is discontent that will not benefit anyone – company, employee or customer!
Lastly but not least I would like to leave you with my favorite quote of Angela Ahrendts, SVP of Retail with Apple Inc.
“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first”.