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Employee Experience in an evolving landscape

Photo taken in Granada, Spain

Employee Experience (EX) is the new kid on the block, and organizations, both consultancies and enterprises, are trying to get to grips with it. What does it actually mean? How to define it? Josh Bersin gave his perspective by saying: “All the programs we’ve invested in over the years (employee engagement, diversity and inclusion, leadership development, performance management) are all part of the Employee Experience. So in a sense, Employee Experience  is not a “program”, it’s a “topic.” 

In other words, perhaps we should just accept that EX is a broad topic covering every aspect of employee interaction with the organization and with people at work? Perhaps there is no point in trying to box it in with a fixed definition, as was done with, for example, Employee Engagement?

Before providing my perspective on it, let’s take a broader look at the employee feedback landscape as it is going through an evolution. The table below shows a number of emerging trends, some of them initiated by technology and some others by changes at workplace (new ways of working, agile organization, social enterprise etc.)

In this context, can we really have a universal definition of EX and hence a generic measure of EX? As EX is a reflection of what an individual organization is striving for within a specific cultural context, my response would be “no”.

In the olden days, one of the constant challenges with Employee Engagement programs was that they were “programs”. The expectation was that they include a project plan with a clear start and end date, defined roles and responsibilities above your daily work, and communication and action planning streams to promote and support the program. Employee Engagement programs quite often lived their own lives without clear touchpoints with the reality were organizations operated. The focus was on transforming employee opinions to numeric facts that allowed ranking and target setting without necessarily having a clear idea if the numbers delivered the desired outcome or not.

As EX is in its infancy, let’s make sure we learn from past mistakes and avoid glaring pitfalls. Here are a few initial thoughts:

  1. Each organization should think about what EX means specifically for them, much as colleagues in customer research think about CX. However, I don’t think you need to restrict yourself to a specific model. As you evolve as an organization, your approach to EX should evolve accordingly and you shouldn’t be limited by a rigid model of the past.
  2. Surveys continue being an important method in collating employee views. However, there will be a clear change in how surveys are used and for what purpose. Watch this space!
  3. Let’s broaden our minds by ensuring EX Management means more than “just” surveys. Modern technology allows us to do so much more to support a continuous dialog between employees and the organization (and managers/leaders).
  4. Every initiative supporting or measuring EX should have a clear purpose and a clearly defined measure of success (ROI). And let’s be clear, a measure of success doesn’t always mean another survey!

In all of this, we should keep in mind the ultimate business objective; we want EX to be a win-win situation where improved employee experience helps the organization to deliver its business goals.

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