The wellbeing of your employees, and the experience they have working for your organisation, is the most important factor in achieving your commercial goals. At least that's what Matt Johns, Head of Consulting at Humankind told the audience at our Wellbeing Now conference in Auckland. Which is why he finds it so hard to believe that a lot of organisations “leave the ‘Employee Experience’ to chance, resulting in a high number – potentially up to 87% - of employees being disengaged”.
“It’s not because they want to be, our working lives just don’t compare with the experiences we’ve come to enjoy in our personal lives. As consumers, our expectations are accelerating at an exponential rate. We can use an app to check into our flight, choose our seat and order a coffee on the way to the airport. We can choose which TV program we want to watch, when we watch it and on which device. And we can book accommodation in a stranger’s home on the other side of the planet. Yet when we get to work, we’re using outdated systems and processes.”
Matt points out that very few of us would consider using the company invoicing system to manage our own finances, or the CRM platform to keep in contact with friends and family.
“Today, employees want the same easy-to-use interfaces, hyper-personalised experiences and beautifully presented visuals they use to manage their lives outside of work, and they’re taking this expectation into the workplace, driving employers to take notice and make changes” .
According to Matt, future-focused businesses need employees who are empowered, engaged, enabled and capable. “Engaged employees put more effort into what they do. They’re more creative and innovative, and they massively increase productivity. Great employee experiences create great customer experiences and great customer experiences enable businesses to meet their commercial goals.”
He strongly encourages businesses to consider the four key factors that make up the employee experience: leadership, operations, environment and tools.
“Good leaders are inspiring, but they also ensure the organisation has a clear strategic perspective and purpose, one that goes deeper than increasing sales and reducing costs,” he says. “Good leaders are present and accessible, encourage two-way conversations and set meaningful KPIs that position an organisation to win.”
Matt believes true collaboration can’t happen unless the business is designed correctly. “Just encouraging or asking people to collaborate doesn’t work” he says, “organisations need to be designed with collaboration being the way things get done.”
Matt suggests ensuring your business strategy calls out the skills and capabilities required to execute it successfully, and that employee KPIs are tied back to the needs, goals and aspirations of the business. “Create policies that empower people to make decisions, if you take the ability to make decisions away and insist people follow defined processes, they’ll stop using their common sense and this will result in mistakes being made and opportunities being missed.”
The open plan, activity-based workplaces of today can be challenging – Matt knows this from experience. “There are times when people need to concentrate and not be distracted by sound or movement.” He points to Cal Newport’s concept of ‘Deep Work’, defined as “professional activity performed in a state of distraction-free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to the limit.”
“Employers need to provide places where people can go when they need to think and focus,” says Matt. “Employees also need places to socialise and spaces where they can meet, brainstorm and share ideas – spaces that don’t look and feel like meeting rooms.”
There’s a lot more to tools than technology. Matt believes making information and data available to employees is one of the most effective things a business can do to help employees make good decisions. “Using information and data to create knowledge that strengthens understanding, and insights that can predict the future, allow employees to be proactive”.
Engaged employees who want to create great outcomes and great customer experiences is what every business needs. “Tools and information make their lives easier, but organisations need to ensure employees have the skills and the empowerment to use them, otherwise they, and the organisation, is being set up to fail,” warns Matt.
Organisations must do more than survey staff to find out how engaged employees are, according to Matt. “Survey results are too broad and shallow to base decisions on,” he cautions. “They simply help to understand what an employee is prepared to say. To find out what employees are thinking and feeling you need to have a conversation with them and find insights in the stories they tell. To understand what they’re doing, just watch.”
He strongly encourages organisations to look beyond surveys, and instead use interview techniques like ethnographic interviews and observations to deeply measure employee experience. “The really rich insights are coming from what customers and employees say about the organisation, without being prompted via online rating tools and websites, and what both customers and employees say on social media” .
There are many factors that need to come together to create great employee experiences, and those factors need to be considered individually as well as collectively to create a truly winning culture.
Matt’s advice? Don’t leave it to chance.
Watch the video presentation here