How to Design the Employee Experience Part 2: Applying the Design Process
Est. Read Time: 3 min.
In the first post of this series, we highlighted that engagement is the product of an employee’s day-to-day workplace experience. This means that efforts to sustainably improve employee engagement must focus on creating work experiences that consistently meet or exceed employee expectations. In other words, we must intentionally design the employee experience to feel engaging to employees.
If you’ve spent most of your career in management or human resources, you probably don’t think of yourself as a designer. Design is something that artists, architects, and advertisers do, right? Not quite.
Design is something that you probably do regularly without even knowing it. At its most basic level, design is creating something to achieve a desired effect.
Designing an Experience
Have you ever tried to create a really special experience for someone you love? Do you remember the steps you took while trying to plan the perfect experience?
The first thing you probably did was imagine how you wanted the experience to make the other person feel. You may have asked them some questions to understand their expectations and desires. Then, you likely started brainstorming ideas and looking at options. Finally, you settled on a plan and got to work on the details.
I go through this exercise every year leading up to Mother’s Day. My wife works really hard for our family throughout the year, so I want to get it just right on her special day. I want her to feel appreciated and spoiled.
The longer we are married, the easier it is for me to predict what would make her feel loved. But each year, in the weeks leading up to the day, I ask her what she would love to do. It usually involves a nap at some point (a luxury these days), but may also involve anything from sitting by the pool to going to see a movie. Once I get a feel for the kind of day that she’s hoping for, my kids and I get to work on making it happen.
This is design—intentionally creating an experience to achieve a desired result. More specifically, this is “experience design,” and it’s exactly what we must do to transform our organizational results through employee engagement.
Declare Your Intentions
Designing the employee experience at your workplace is far more challenging than planning one day for a single person. However, the steps you’ll take are the same. Before starting in on design, you must be clear about what kind of experience you want to create.
Just as I did with my wife for Mother’s Day, you must start by clarifying how you want employees to feel at work. Are you creating a competitive environment where people feel challenged and pushed to maximize their performance every single day? Or, are you creating a place that feels safe, comfortable, and nurturing to encourage creativity and risk taking? These are two very different approaches that would lead you to create very different daily work experiences.
There isn’t a right kind of employee experience. There is only the right kind of experience for your employees and your organization. It’s easy to assume you know the kind of experience you are trying to create. Test yourself by writing it down and sharing it with others for feedback. Achieving clarity of intention is critical.
The Design Process
Once you are clear on your intentions, it’s helpful to have a process to guide your work. The Design Council of the UK articulates the design process clearly in four steps they call the “Double Diamond” and others refer to as the 4 D’s:
1. Discover. The process starts with curiosity. It involves learning more about what matters most to your employees. This requires taking a step back from traditional approaches, so you can see your employees as a group of individuals. The more you learn about your current and potential employees, the better equipped you will be to create a great employee experience.
2. Define. Next, you try to make sense of the information that you gathered during discovery. What things are most important and meaningful to your employees? What experiences are most critical to our employees’ feeling of engagement? This step helps you narrow your focus to the most meaningful problems to solve or opportunities to seize.
3. Develop. Now you start exploring potential ways to address the problems or opportunities you’ve defined. You’ll explore and test various solutions to see which is most effective.
4. Deliver. The last step is to deploy and implement the approaches or solutions that you designed.
Applying the design process to the employee experience ensures that you act with intention, which leads to success. In the upcoming weeks, we’ll dive deeper into the steps of the design process to help you apply this concept to your organization.
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 dives into the "discover" phase by explaining how to find the experiences that will truly impact your employees. Check back each Thursday for a new post or subscribe 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.