How to Design the Employee Experience Part 5: Delivering a Great Employee Experience
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Once you’ve done the hard work of clearly defining and documenting the type of employee experience you are committed to creating at your organization, the next step is to make it happen. Start with an honest assessment of the current employee experience compared to your aspirations. A review of your employee survey data, conversations with employees, or small focus groups can all provide great insight. The goal is to determine where you are currently succeeding at creating a great experience (“if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”) and where you need to do some work.
For example, imagine that your newly defined employee experience declares that you will create a flexible work environment that allows employees to find balance in their lives. Employee feedback might help you understand that while they feel a sense of autonomy in how they do their work, the lack of flexibility with shift scheduling is a source of frustration. This is a gap and would clearly need to be addressed in order to improve the employee experience.
Once you have identified where the biggest opportunities exist to improve the employee experience, it’s time to be creative and resourceful in identifying ideas for improvement. During this process of developing solutions, you should focus on questions that start with “How could we…?” or “What if we …?” For example, “How could we create more flexibility in our shift scheduling while maintaining performance?”
The goal at this point is to identify a variety of solutions for consideration. This is the part of the design process where all of your research and preparation pays off to help you imagine and identify a variety of ideas for how to improve the employee experience. To find ideas for consideration, there are two ways I have found to be helpful and effective.
1. Best Practice Review - Let me start by saying that I don’t believe in the idea of “best practices.” There are no silver bullet solutions and just because a practice worked at one organization doesn’t mean it will work for you. That said, searching the web for “best practice” case studies is a great way to identify different approaches that other organizations have used to achieve a desired result. A review of these options will often give you ideas for practices you might want to experiment with and test at your organization.
2. Co-Creation with Employees - By far the most potent way to identify and develop solutions to improve employee experience is to involve the employees in the process. Since they are living the experience every day, employees have a unique perspective. While it can feel daunting to involve employees in the process of designing possible solutions, the payoff in the end is always worth it. The process can take a bit longer, but the solutions tend to be both more effective and more quickly embraced. There are a variety of ways organizations involve employees in this process:
- Crowdsourcing - Some organizations use an online forum or tool to present the design challenge (i.e. How to create greater flexibility in shift scheduling) and solicit ideas. These ideas can be submitted by anyone in the company. Once submitted, the ideas are visible to all employees to be voted up or down. In this approach, employees both provide and evaluate ideas. This approach is particularly useful for large, distributed workforces.
- Design Forums - One organization I profiled for my new book hosted a series of interactive forums for employees in several offices all over the world. Their goal was to solicit employee feedback and ideas for how to solve a specific employee experience issue. The forums were facilitated using the principles of open space to create a feeling of empowerment and ownership. They achieved a deeper understanding of the issue and revealed several ideas for solutions that were later implemented.
- Focus Groups - If you feel like your organization might not be ready for these approaches, a simpler path is to conduct a series of focus groups. In these focus groups, present the group with the challenge you are trying to solve and three possible solutions. Ask the group to react and respond to each of the solutions and offer up any ideas for how to improve upon them.
Testing and Validating
Regardless of which path you take to find ideas, you should be able to identify several possible solutions to the challenge or challenges you are trying to address. Before launching anything to the entire organization, there’s one more critical step to take. Just as you would if you were designing a new product to send to market, it’s now time to do some testing to validate that you’ve found a solution that will have the desired result.
The best way to accomplish this is with a “pilot” program. A pilot is simply a small scale implementation of the solution with a limited subset of employees within the organization. The objective is to put into practice the key elements of the solution for a period of time within this group to measure impact. A successful pilot will either validate that your solution does what it is intended to do or reveal that it is ineffective.
In both cases, the path forward is clear. Either you’ve got a solution that works and you should proceed with a broader implementation or you’ve identified a solution that doesn’t work so you need to keep testing other options.
Once you’ve completed this testing phase, you’ll have identified solutions and practices to deliver to the organization. You will have designed solutions to improve and sustain the type of employee experience that will retain and unlock your employee’s peak performance.
All that remains now is implementation and roll-out. By applying the design process thoughtfully, this step will be fun and rewarding because you are delivering to employees the gift of an improved experience at work each day.
In part 6, we explore the role of technology in delivering and maintaining a great employee experience.
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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.