Tips to Improve Employee Experience from the eX Summit

I spent the day last Thursday with HR Leaders, employee experience and engagement evangelists, and People Analytics fanatics. It was great! The eX Summit, founded by Stephan Vincent, one of the most committed, passionate eX evangelists you’ve ever met.

The agenda today was filled with some great thinkers, speakers and thought leaders from this space. There was significant consensus around the main thesis of today; Employee Experience Matters! Speakers referred at least a few times to the recent statistic from Gallup which showed that a full 70% of employees are not engaged at work. So what to do about it?

It's Time to Simplify
Steven Browne of LaRosa’s Pizza spoke first. He’s a passionate speaker on the topic, with significant experience in his current role as well as formerly from P&G. Steven’s perspective was great on how a modern HR department should work, and where its focus should be if it truly wants to optimize the employee experience. He pointed out that often HR becomes nothing more than the “department of rule setting” since they feel that is often their knee-jerk reaction when confronted with an employee challenge.

His recommendations:

  • Give People Permission. This means you don’t have to have a policy for EVERYTHING. He argued that we all grow up as kids, and essentially rule followers. “Well guess what,” Steven says, “Kids grow up to be employees. We forget that.” Another example is dress code? Why have one? Why not jeans? At LaRosa’s, the dress code is essentially “don’t be naked.”
  • Remove Obstacles: Ever met someone who loves to jump through hoops to do something? No. I haven’t either. So, why make the lives of your employees difficult if you want them to be passionate about their work, and their company. Obstacles just breed apathy.
  • “It Depends…”: This, Steven says, is on the door of his office. This means that all situations are different. And, more importantly, all people are different. How do we have ‘one rule’ for everyone. Often it doesn’t make sense. It depends does.

Building a People-centered Workplace
Jeb Banner from Smallbox in Indianapolis also had a great framework for employee engagement. He posed this question to the audience: “How do you build a people centered workplace?” Here are some of his ideas:

  • Give employees a sense of well being. In other words, treat them like sentient beings, rather than “office furniture.” Create conditions for ‘energy’ to help motivate and engage people.
  •  Nurture a Sense of Belonging. Strive for connection and communication. Jeb mentioned, this is something that “Structural, for example, is good at enabling.”
  • How Might we make a difference? Want to get your employees onboard, engaged and excited to come to work? Give them a purpose. Come up with a point of view on how what your business does makes the world better – then recruit your employees to adopt this in ways that fits their own worldview.

Speakers Paul Darwish, from Graydon Law, and Sam Julka, from DORIS, experts on designing work spaces both echoed the need for a focus on the work environment. They also showed some fantastic work they’ve done bringing to life people-centered workplaces.

People Analytics and EX
Finally, I really gravitated to the speaker right before lunch, Beth Giglio, SVP of HR from 84.51. They are very focused on employee experience and have spent lots of time pioneering tactics with people analytics. I loved Beth’s approach for analyzing your own organization. She provided an action-oriented set of questions you need to ask in your organization to improve the experience for your employees, recruit better and retain more.

Ex principals:

Do we know who we serve?
Have we addressed employee needs?
Have we thought through the employee journey?
Are we using data to build a holistic view of the employee?

These are definitely questions that will help an organization develop a better view to their own culture and ability to deliver employee success. When paired with employee success and engagement tools, this kind of organizational awareness can drive real, economic benefits, such as reduced recruiting costs, higher employee satisfaction and health, as well as higher profits.

We’re definitely looking forward to the next summit in Indianapolis on August 3rd, and hope to help Stephan bring the eX Summit to Minneapolis/St. Paul this fall. Stay tuned!

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