How to Design the Employee Experience Part 4: Define Your Ideal Employee Experience
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One of the most important steps in the employee experience design process is to clearly define what you hope to create. It’s nearly impossible to design successful solutions without a full understanding of the problem and the desired outcome. Part 3 of this series outlined how to gain a deeper understanding of your employees and their experience at work. Your research findings should serve as the foundation as you leverage this insight to define the employee experience you are committed to creating.
The objective of the “define” stage of design is to clearly articulate the type of experience that will help employees to unlock their best performance in a way that feels great to them and helps achieve the organization’s goals. In other words, what do employees need to have on a daily basis so they can do their best work?
Build a Team
As tempting as it might be, resist the urge to do this work by yourself or in the HR silo. To ensure that the experience you articulate is authentic and well-received, you must involve people from all levels and areas of the organization.
Building a cross-functional “task force” of employees and managers will be incredibly valuable. This group will process all the information (the discovery research, company vision/values/strategy, etc.) to identify and narrow down the most critical elements. This is challenging work that will likely require the assistance of a skilled facilitator.
An alternative to asking the task force to create the first draft from scratch is to hire an external consultant or partner to assist with this work. In my experience, this can be an incredibly worthwhile investment. A skilled partner will take all the information and distill it through a non-biased perspective. They can also work much faster than you can internally. In this case, the internal task force takes on the role of reviewing and refining what the consultant creates.
With a draft in hand, the next key step is feedback—lots and lots of feedback. Take your draft out on a roadshow. Do focus groups. Find out what people think.
- Is it clear and easily understood?
- Does it make sense?
- Is it appealing?
It’s tempting to skip this stage because it takes time and effort, not to mention that it opens you up to criticism. But do it anyway. This is, after all, an articulation of the experience you intend to create for your employees. If they don’t understand or embrace your plan, it’s better to know that now than after you’ve started rolling out solutions built on something they don’t like.
After a few rounds of feedback, you will develop a definition of your employee experience that is well-vetted and ready for the next step. Gathering comprehensive feedback creates a feeling of ownership in the end result and it generates employee excitement about the future.
Examples for Inspiration
Once you’ve finalized this work, it’s time to format it for sharing. There’s no right format for this. I profiled one organization that created a series of “We are” statements. Another added new language to their company values. The key is to make it feel culturally aligned to your organization.
There are two inspiring examples I’ll share with you today to get some ideas flowing. The first example is the employee handbook for the multi-media financial services company, The Motley Fool. It’s so clear and compelling that it has become nearly legendary (as much as employee handbooks can be). Fortunately for all of us, the company received so many requests to see it that they decided to publish it openly on the internet. You can find it at www.TheFoolRules.com.
- We commit maniacally to both our mission and metrics
- We look to the long-term and Solve for The Customer
- We share openly and are remarkably transparent
- We favor autonomy and take ownership
- We believe our best perk is amazing people
- We dare to be different and question the status quo
- We recognize that life is short
They explain these statements in a 128-page slide deck they have published online. Don’t worry, each page is quick to read but provides valuable context for understanding the code and what it means day-to-day for employees.
In both cases, these organizations have invested tremendous time and energy in creating clarity about the type of culture and employee experience they are committed to. Your challenge is to determine the right way to package and communicate this information within your organization.
Once you’ve designed a clear definition of your employee experience, you will have completed the first (and hardest) steps of the design process. In part 5, we’ll dive into how you can identify the solutions and actions necessary to create and sustain the experience you’ve defined.
See employee experience design in action. Watch the webinar "Creating a better HR experience at Biogen" to see how a global biotech company designed an experience that supports the organization's mission to save lives:
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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.