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10 Truths about Employee Experience that Matter to Your Business Now

What does it take to build consumer grade employee experiences inside your organisation? What should it look like? How do you measure it? And how do you ensure experience translates to engagement — building greater workforce satisfaction, motivation and productivity? These were some of the questions Conduent sought to answer when we brought together leading HR professionals in early February at our HRD Summit roundtable.

The purpose of the roundtable was to understand the challenges and opportunities of putting employee experience theory into practice. Those around the table included human resources leaders from well-known retailers, financial services firms and manufacturers. We’ve summed up the insights they provided, the cautionary tales they told, and the lessons they learned along the way into the following top 10 list.

1. Too much data can stifle the ability to act
It seems only a small minority of companies have an employee experience team within HR to listen to the voice of the employee. And many organisations, arguably as a result, suffer from a lack of experience-related data. However, those organisations with an experience team find themselves at the other end of the spectrum and suffer from too much data — measuring more than could ever be analysed and acted upon. The result: a lot of experience level reporting from HR but no way for the organisational leadership to do something about it. The lesson: separate the signal from the noise — and don’t act on every data point.

2. Learn from Amazon and take a transactional approach to employee surveys

The online retailer doesn’t carry out annual satisfaction surveys — and that’s for good reason. Instead, customers rate the experience on a transactional basis — one purchase at a time. This star-rated explicit indicator of satisfaction is matched by an implicit indicator of satisfaction: namely the propensity to return. Similar triggers can be applied in the HR context. Capturing experience data from employees is about measuring moments that matter. For example, the time between signing an offer letter and the first day at work, the first 90 days at the workplace, or the periods approaching performance reviews and 1:1s with a manager. These milestones are hugely important to each employee.

3. If you ask for employee feedback, make sure you act on it

Failure to do so is worse than not asking in the first place. This was a view shared universally around the table, a belief that management pays lip service only to assorted surveys, 1:1 sessions and other metrics — which ends up damaging, not enhancing, employee experience. Metrics must be matched by real action.

4. Churn can be a good thing

Whether it’s an internal or external move, staff turnover can be a reflection of mature management. Not all departures should be lamented. A fluid team allows for internal promotions while the desirability of those who move on suggests strong team leadership. 

5. Treat returnees as a badge of honour

Employee experience doesn’t begin with induction or end with the exit interviews. Those that have most success say investment in pre-recruitment and, crucially, post-exit activity really pays off. The way the brand is projected to those yet to start and those who have left really does matter. High achievers who exit an organization and return reflect well on alumni-focused employee experience activity.

6. Don’t ignore the silent majority

Surveys may only capture the views of the noisy majority. Use implicit measures such as absence, take up of employee benefits, and retention by cohort to get a broader view. Sometimes the best feedback comes when the employee doesn’t even know they are providing it. Think about applying unobtrusive measures to your employee experience programmes.  

7. A lack of 1:1s is an indicator of leadership issues

Managers failing to meet staff face-to-face on a regular basis? Alarm bells should be ringing. Everyone agreed that managers were very important and highly impactful when it came to the employee experience. Yet there are many organisations that do not train managers on how to lead, support and interact with their teams. That old saying “people do not leave their jobs; they leave their managers” rang true around the table.

8. Millennials are different and require a different approach

A lifetime’s loyalty to a single employer is anathema to most millennials. Therefore, if you apply the same retention metrics to this cohort as you would to an older generation, you’re likely to be disappointed. Expectations differ, so think hard about how you track satisfaction. Experience is personal and must be tailored to the employee. It must feel bespoke and authentic.

9. HR needs a place to deliver consumer grade experience
For HR to design best-in-class employee experience initiatives, it is necessary to have the right tools, platforms and spaces. These enable HR to deliver the experience strategy and positively impact workforce culture and productivity. For employees to engage through the intranet, HR Portal, or social sites, platforms and tools must be accessible, easy to use and fulfilling.   

10. Use data (and a human touch) to meaningfully engage with employees
What can HR do right now to positively impact employee experience? Those around the table agreed that predictive data captured during interactions with HR systems of engagement and with HR business partners were very important, but perhaps the least explored area was ensuring employee/manager 1:1s were part of the process. This underused measure can help HR predict who will perform well in the organisation and those who will not; who will stay and who will leave.


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About the Author

James is a Solution Architect in Conduent’s Human Capital Solutions business. He is a senior-level digital, data and technology professional specializing in solution innovation and implementation to transform and optimize organizations. He has gained extensive and recent international experience in UK, Switzerland, France, Ireland and Luxembourg, setting up and managing business change teams to deliver true value for organizations. Previous employers include Accenture, Capgemini, Greater London Authority and Pontoon Solutions (Adecco Group).

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