How to Design the Employee Experience Part 1: The Impact of Experience
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
Based on how often it pops up in articles and on conference agendas, employee experience must be a big deal. Over the past couple of years, the concept of considering the employee experience has become pretty popular. I don’t know about you, but I was skeptical when I first started hearing the phrase “employee experience.” HR is an industry with a long history of repackaging old ideas with new names and selling them as something completely different. For example, employment became recruiting, which then became talent acquisition. Same practice, new name.
I expected more of the same here. My assumption was that some crafty technology company or consulting firm had slapped a new name on the employee engagement practices of old and were hoping we wouldn’t notice. That is, in fact, happening (buyer beware). But I think that switching the focus to employee experience represents a big jump forward in our efforts to create great workplaces where employees can excel.
Employee experience: A proactive approach to engagement
Employee engagement and experience are not the same thing. Employee engagement is how emotionally and mentally connected an employee feels to work. Experience, on the other hand, is what actually leads an employee to feel a particular way about their workplace.
We design and create experience. We simply measure engagement. Employee engagement practices tend to be reactive, while employee experience is proactive.
In other fields, the work of designing and shaping experience is nothing new. User experience is a key ingredient in great software design. And customer experience plays a big role in how you feel about the things you buy and choose the companies you do business with.
The power of a positive experience
Not long ago, I returned some digital cable boxes to my cable company. Based on past interactions with this company, I was expecting the experience to be unpleasant and potentially combative.
As I approached the customer service agent, she smiled and asked what she could help me with. I told her what I needed, and she quickly helped me. The experience was fast and friendly. There was no attempt to upsell me or convince me I was making a mistake. Just quality customer service.
I left the store that day feeling happy and very satisfied. Some of my past frustrations with the company even began to fade from my memory. This is the power of a positive experience.
Moments of truth and the experience filter
When we step back for a moment to consider why it was positive, there were two important things at play. The first was my actual experience that day with the customer service rep. The way she greeted me was friendly. She heard what I said and responded to my need. And the overall experience was quick and got me on my way.
In experience design, these are called “moments of truth.” They are the moments in your interaction with a company and its products that shape your overall experience and satisfaction level. On this day, each moment of truth with my cable company was a good one.
The other thing at play was my expectations. Going into the store, my expectations were very low based on past experience. Each moment of truth during the interaction was being evaluated through that filter. In this case, they were all positive in comparison to what I expected. This is the recipe for great customer service—create moments of truth that exceed customer expectations.
This same recipe applies to creating employee engagement. Every day, employees experience moments of truth that shape how they feel about work. Examples include:
- An employee’s physical workspace
- Coworker interactions
- Any company communication
- All interactions with their manager
- The adequacy of the tools they use for their job
- The technology they use
- Getting feedback
- Turning in their work product
- Asking for help
Any interaction related to work can be a moment of truth. These moments either exceed or fall short of the employee’s expectations. The key is to identify those moments of truth and intentionally shape them to exceed employee expectations and create positive emotions about work.
The bottom line: an employee’s work experience drives their engagement.
Smart companies realize that to create sustained employee engagement (and thus performance), the traditional “whack-a-mole” survey process built to react and respond to employee issues must be replaced with a more intentional and proactive process to create an engaging experience every day.
Over the next several weeks, I’ll be sharing the basics of how to apply the design process to your employee experience. It’s not an easy or fast process, but things worth doing rarely are.
How to Design the Employee Experience is a 6-part series where workplace expert Jason Lauritsen gives actionable advice on employee experience design. Next, he discusses how to design an employee experience that leads to engagement. Check back each Thursday for a new post or subscribe to the right to get notified.
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About Jason Lauritsen
Jason Lauritsen is a keynote speaker, author, and consultant. He is an employee engagement and workplace culture expert who will challenge you to think differently. A former corporate Human Resources executive, Jason has dedicated his career to helping leaders build organizations that are good for both people and profits. Most recently, he led the research team for Quantum Workplace’s Best Places to Work program where he has studied the employee experience at thousands of companies to understand what the best workplaces in the world do differently than the rest. Jason is the co-author of the book, Social Gravity: Harnessing the Natural Laws of Relationships, and author of his new book, Unlocking High Performance, to be published by Kogan Page in October 2018.