In 2017, Forbes named creating a compelling Employee Experience (EX) as the No 1 HR trend. And yet, as we move into the summer of 2020, the reality is that most organisations do nothing more than pay lip service to employees being their best asset. According to 2018 Gallup figures, only 15% of employees worldwide feel engaged in their work, leading to the global cost of unproductivity at a staggering $7 trillion. Something needs to change…
What is the Employee Experience Opportunity?
The Employee Experience Opportunity (EXO) is a new movement with a singular mission: to give EX parity with customer experience (CX). Founded by Mike Sharples (CEO, Brand Experiences) and Nicholas Wardle (Internal Comms practitioner), it launched in November 2019 with the support of the IoIC. Through an ROI model and toolkits, the EXO will enable internal communications professionals to have more sophisticated and evidence-based conversations with their senior leaders about providing the budget and resources to enable their people to be productive.
Mike and Nicholas share similar concerns about the gap between how senior executives talk about their employees and how they invest in them. Whereas funding is often liberally given to chase new leads and to keep existing customers happy; much less is spent on employees, despite the fact employees are often the biggest cost of any business and global productivity levels are very low. Both agree that this is largely down to the c-suite not being as convinced about the ROI for employees as for customers. Out of this frustration, and a desire to equip internal communicators with the tools necessary to change this, came the EXO with its mission to achieve parity between EX and CX. Eager to share the research and findings with the industry, Mike and Nicholas invited Jennifer Sproul and the IoIC to be part of the movement, which launched in November 2019.
There is still some confusion about what EX is. What it isn't, is next generation employee engagement. Mike defines it as: "The entire relationship between employee and employer. It encompasses every interaction and touchpoint with the organisation and its stakeholders."
So, it's the work environment, the tech used, and relationships. Employee engagement, motivation, and productivity are all outcomes of EX.
What are the benefits of EX?
Effective EX benefits all stakeholders:
- the employees – who will benefit from an improved employee experience
- the customers – who will be serviced by happier and more productive employees
- the organisations – who will see a better return from their investment in people
- the IC community - who will be able to develop their roles to better support their audience
What's currently going wrong?
Put simply, EX is not treated as seriously by senior leaders as CX. Think about it. If an organisation improves sales by 10% this would be a widely celebrated; if it decreased employee turnover by 10%, few would know. And yet, depending upon scale, the money saved by keeping employees in the organisation may be greater than the extra sales revenue - and retained, motivated employees are likely to contribute to sales.
Also, key touchpoints on the employee lifecycle are often managed by HR employees as an add-on to their core duties; so the work is often undercooked, either because the people responsible don't have the time or don't have the skills to bring about positive change. There are tech tools out there to support an effective EX, but few organisations are budgeting for them. EX is underfunded and undervalued.
IT has made the case for investing in tech, Governance has made the case for investing in fail safe data processes; now it's time for the case to be made for EX.
Time for someone new to lead the people agenda?
HR professionals have led the people agenda for generations. With EX this could change, as those with internal comms and/or engagement experience are more closely aligned with EX and have the skills and knowledge to drive it forward. Equally, L&D professionals with their influencing skills lend themselves to be a great fit to lead EX; as do HR professionals who have been involved with the people-side of organisational development. In short, anyone could own EX.
The Employee Experience Opportunity Roadmap
There are three stages to the Roadmap:
- Define your EX strategy, underpinned by evidence-based research
- Monetise EX, so that senior leaders can see its value
- Create action plans for each part of the employee lifecycle, zoning in moments that matter to employees and creating memorable moments
The EXO survey
A survey was launched in November 2019 to obtain evidence of how employees see the EX landscape. The survey was due to have closed, but with the outbreak of the Coronavirus, it would have seemed unhelpful to publish survey findings not influenced by the changing landscape of work this has brought about. Therefore, some extra questions have been added - if you haven't done so already, you're encouraged to both take the survey yourself, and to share it with anyone within work. Amongst other things, the results will display if employees feel:
- they have the right tools to do their work
- they have the right access to L&D opportunities
- their organisation has a recognition culture
- their employer cares for their wellbeing
- their feedback is taken seriously
- their managers understand what motivates their teams
- about change being managed well
Investing in EX is a win:win
Some organisations are already reshaping/renaming their 'people department' as Employee Experience (as opposed to HR etc.). This makes sense, as you have Customer Services/Customer Experience and CX/EX are two sides of the same coin. Whereas many organisations have customer success roles, they should surely have employee success-style roles too.
Ultimately, EX is about putting people at the heart of every organisation, because everyone matters at work. Effective EX leads to a more motivated, engaged and productive workforce… which will, ultimately, lead to a positive impact upon the bottom line.