Surely, a lot of us would be happy for (and very jealous of) the friend who says they’re genuinely excited to show up to work on Monday. Even more so when they’ve found tons of colleagues to celebrate shared accomplishments with —it speaks volumes for the company’s supportive culture and great employee experience.
So, what exactly is employee experience (EX)? I’d like to say it expresses the full extent of what employees do, feel, and think about while at work. What many leaders tend to forget is that employee experience always exists, regardless of a company’s effort to shape it.
We all know that to attract and retain top talent, today’s organizations are tasked with creating positive experiences for their employees. We’ve previously discussed how a concrete strategy won’t work because employee experience is fluid and ever-growing. Wondering why? There’s a long-lived misconception that EX is solely owned by the HR function. This standalone responsibility may explain why employee experience is commonly initiated from a narrowed, generalized perspective.
A more holistic viewpoint illustrates that employee experience is the way that cultural artifacts and relationships make people feel at work, along with technological touchpoints and the physical environment.
Intentional employee experience design
With remote work a norm for many of us to adapt to (and keep), we’ve seen massive hurdles to shifting our employee experience accordingly. If you’re looking to tackle this problem, know that you’re not alone.
Before you consider the “how” to improve your company’s employee experience, start by being intentional and ask yourself these questions:
- Why does our employee experience matter?
- What are we trying to accomplish?
Lenses are tools that leaders can adopt to offer different views when tackling the complicated matter of shaping employee experience. Putting on one (or many) of these lenses allows us to examine the plethora of EX considerations from diverse standpoints. Here are four lenses you can “put on” to examine and nurture a better experience for your employees.
The organizational lens
Setting aside individual relationships and emotions, this is the traditional mode of seeing employee experience from the organization as a whole. A top-down approach, leaders are expected to judge and tweak employee experience as an input to the company’s performance.
Examples of this could be:
- Looking at incentives to increase sales team morale/reduce burnout due to a drop in sales
- Hiring a retention consultant due to a high turnover rate which increases personnel costs
The employee lens
Putting on the employee lens means considering human wellness on an individual level. Leaders adopting this approach look at how work is impacting the quality of life of employees, and hence the output of the organization. Gil Cohen, Founder of Employee Experience Design, provides tips on adopting the employee lens with consideration of the eight wellbeing factors, covering aspects from financial wellbeing to psychological safety.
To use this approach means taking initiative to ask a lot of empathetic questions:
- What’s best for the people in this organization?
- Are they feeling happy, productive, motivated, and supported?
- What do they genuinely care about?
Oftentimes, the main action here is to determine how a company’s choices can align with supporting people’s needs at and from work. It’s worth noting that context matters: a single mother’s needs are wildly different to a fresh graduate looking to sculpt the first few years of their career.
Some ways to personalize this support include providing flexibility, recognizing effort, and overcoming absenteeism. The results here impact employee decisions, especially during uncertain times that often call for change management.
For example, at Jostle we encourage teammates to lead change through co-creation, where teammates incorporate their own experience into many decisions at the company level. Our team’s EX practices and transparency are part of what makes people enjoy their work and want to be part of our culture.
The leadership lens
The leadership lens illustrates a hybrid between the organizational and employee lenses.
As a manager, the multiple touchpoints in your work allow you to exchange ideas and perspectives with your direct reports, coworkers, and your boss.
Taking this approach, leaders are empowered to truly represent the organization through how they manage their teams and rally common goals. Since people are your organization’s most valuable asset, paying attention to their needs and development is crucial to authentic employee experiences. Organizations must equip leaders with the know-how to keep employees engaged, whether that looks like clarity, autonomy, or recognition.
Looking through the leadership lens enables management insights, blending the organizational and employee lenses with a broader viewpoint.
The customer lens
We often hear about companies “championing customers” and coaching through their success. Viewing employees through a customer lens puts focus on their journey with your company— from application to post-employment. Examining the life cycle of an employee should start with a thorough audit, then implementing familiar customer nurturing processes such as listening, engaging, testing, and refining.
This process-driven mindset also requires asking many questions and addressing employee feedback with concrete action. An example would be looking at how we might want an employee’s first day to feel like, rather than a checklist of what they need to do.
By understanding what actually drives the individual, we can focus on removing pain points and distractions to create a better experience, and marrying the business strategy with specific employee needs.
At the end of the day, we need to realize that not all experiences are created equal. Every workplace is different, and every individual employee’s perception of the same organization would look different as well.
Whether you take one approach or another to improve employee experience, I recommend trying to have a basic understanding of the employee’s perspective. After all, each individual employee drives the output and productivity at large, and helps shape organizational culture.
Remember that lenses can also be used in combination. When used together, you may find that a wider amount of cultural elements and interpretations are likely to be revealed.
Did you find this helpful? What lens(es) did you choose and why? We’d love to know through the comments below!