It’s a pure coincidence, but this week’s episode with Scott Burns, co-founder and CEO of Structural, marks the 24th episode of the eX Podcast. I can’t believe it’s already been half of a year since I launched the first episode.
Since then, thousands of people from various backgrounds (HR, Talent Acquisition, Marketing, Employment Branding, Operations, Customer Experience, and more) across the United States and Europe have learned from companies of all sizes about different components that help create positive employee experiences.
Here are some of the things that our guests have shared so far:
Competition is now more about talent than it is about products.
More companies now embrace Richard Branson’s mantra: “Your employees are your greatest competitive advantage. They’re the ones making the magic happen. So long as their needs are being met”.
Most products and services are now commoditized, and unless you are a clear disruptor in your industry (Uber or Airbnb come to mind), the real differentiator lies in the employees. When employees are engaged, and have a strong sense of purpose, they foster innovation, bring creativity and deliver higher customer service to your organization.
Companies that are successful at attracting and retaining talent are the ones with a clear purpose. The key is to know how to articulate the company’s purpose and employee value proposition (EVP) to current employees and to candidates. Organizations must re-think how they approach employee communication and talent acquisition. Successful companies in the EX space juggle consumer brand and employment brand (EB) effectively, creating EB advocates among their employees the same way as they create advocates for their consumer brand.
The HR function as you know it is being dramatically disrupted.
Digital technology completely transformed the marketing function 15 years ago. Today, we live in a data-driven world, which empowers companies to better identify and understand human behaviors and needs, fueling corporate strategies to deliver more engaging and personalized experiences. As consumers, we are now accustomed to it, and we take it for granted. The next frontier is for HR to implement it on the employee side. Companies sit on a ton of employee data. The challenge for most companies is that they often don’t know how to leverage this data and what to do with it. Some companies have begun to figure it out and use data to create engaging employee experience. However, EX advocates still face C-suite’s reluctance to embrace the opportunities as the direct impact or ROI of an Employee Experience strategy is still difficult to measure.
Historically, the HR function has existed to police and protect the organization itself, and has been limited to an administrative role. As the HR function is being dramatically disrupted, Chief Human Resource Officers are being pushed in a more strategic role, are asked to create winning cultures, develop strong employment brands and be competitive in the war for talent. This is why more and more organizations bring a mix of talent to the HR function as a whole, including marketing professionals and customer experience (CX) experts. These brand and CX experts bring an empathetic approach that HR did not have in the past, using design thinking, journey mapping, segmentation, gamification and leveraging technology tools such as chatbots, AI and marketing automation to communicate their EB and EVP to a more targeted employee/talent audience via multiple channels.
The interview process is the first touch point a candidate has with an organization. Often times, the cumbersome job application process and the lengthy interview journey provide a negative experience to potential future hires. However, many organizations either don’t care or don’t see it as a priority to revisit their candidate journey. The result is that they’re losing on top talent as candidates in high demand prefer to join companies that deliver a positive candidate experience.
Employees interaction with space (physical and digital).
The days of closed offices and cubicles are numbered. Successful consumer brands know how to create engaging environments (think retail, concerts or sports venues) to deliver impactful customer experiences. Forward thinking companies are now implementing the same ideas to the workspace, mixing open spaces with more secluded areas, balancing the needs for collaboration on one side, and privacy and quietness on the other side. They also see the workspace as an opportunity for current/future employees to “experience the brand”.
More and more companies offer their employees to work-from-home from time to time, or even have 100% remote employees. In that case, they must address this question: “How does the remote workforce interact with the lack of physical space and thrives in the digital space?”. Technology facilitates remote work AND collaboration, maintaining remote workers engaged and productive.
How companies think about their workspace is no longer an option. Millennials represent more than half of the total workforce, and they have very specific expectations when it comes to physical and digital environments.
EX as much the employer’s as it is the employees’ responsibility.
The EX journey must start at the top. If the Leadership doesn’t not believe in the value of a positive employee experience, doesn’t invest time and resources (dollars and employees) in it, EX has no chance to succeed.
Employees have a key role to play in the EX as well. They are the ones who are going to bring the EX to life daily. As employees become EB advocates, not only will they be more engaged in the EX initiative, they will also be more productive, they will collaborate to bring new ideas forward and to foster innovation, and they will deliver higher customer service.
Employers must create a work environment where employees want to come to work, not just a place where they have to come to work. Bring fun to the workplace, create opportunities for personal and professional growth, create a culture of candor, transparency and inclusion, are all key elements of an engaging and positive workplace.
EX is about testing and iteration.
Many organizations have not yet embraced the concept of employee experience because they fear failing. The CEO’s vulnerability is critical to bring EX to life. If the leader of the company is afraid of employee’s feedback, is afraid of failing first before eventually succeeding, nothing will happen.
For most companies which have successfully implementing an EX strategy, there wasn’t a culture book (although HubSpot or Ericsson for instance have published a comprehensive culture code or book). The common denominator is that all these companies have succeeded through trial and error, embracing failure as a stepping stone for future success.
EX is a bit like software development, it is all about being agile, testing, iterating. A culture is never “finished”, it evolves as the company grows and employee behaviors and needs change.
Stephan Vincent is the Founder of eX Summit and eX Podcast. Stream all episodes online at expodcast.com. Subscribe to the podcast on iTunes and find more information on the eX Podcast website. If you’d like to attend an eX Summit event in your city, or if you’d like to host/sponsor an eX event, find out more at exsummit.com.