5 Tips to Design a Better Employee Experience

With the world hurtling towards a more connected existence, experience is fast becoming the differentiator between brands.

And this trend isn’t just impacting the consumer space, either.

Organizations are quickly realizing the value of strategic and well-designed employee experiences, or EX.

Employee in workplace

Today, nearly 90% of talent say a positive or negative candidate experience would change their mind about a role or company. In short, every single experience matters.

If you haven’t heard the term EX before, don’t panic. EX is simply the sum of all touchpoints and experiences that employees or candidates have with your company.

But let’s be clear: EX doesn’t mean buying a few ping-pong tables and running a weekly social (although that can be a component). Fundamentally, EX is about designing experiences that reduce employee effort and spark delight.

The benefits are wide and varied. A strong EX can help you attract better talent, improve engagement, increase retention, reduce effort and even add value to your customers.

Don’t just take our word for it. Organizations that invest in EX generate 25% greater profitability and drive double the innovation than those that don’t.

If any or all of that sounds enticing, then you might be wondering how to design a powerful EX for your employees and future talent.

Here are five practical tips to help you build a strong and impactful EX.

1. HR must lead internal collaboration

The HR department of the future must become more agile and adaptive. This means partnering with each internal department to own the EX and champion its application across the entire business. Acting as more of a ‘consumerized’ people function, HR should take on a greater role and responsibility within the organization to champion EX. Whether it’s designing specific experiences or driving company-wide transformation, HR can lead internal collaboration and effect change at scale by operating as a business partner, not a siloed department.

2. Design for humans

As Margaret Mead says, “What people say, what people do and what people say they do are entirely different things.”

Most organizations do run internal polls, surveys and questionnaires, but these quantitative analyses fail to address the real issues at play. Instead, focus on speaking with employees in a face-to-face setting. This allows you to dive deep and discover the why. In other words, why people make certain decisions and why they feel that way.

This could involve voice of employees, in-context research or focus groups. Whatever your approach, the truth is simple: designing a great EX always starts with understanding your employees.

3. Focus on reducing effort

While much has been made of engagement and productivity, one of the most overlooked and essential measures of EX is employee effort.

Reducing effort means working to remove barriers that result in disjointed or difficult experiences. When there’s a moment of friction in an employee’s workplace experience, it often leads to feelings of pain and frustration.

Whether it’s the company hardware or an outdated digital system, every experience should be accounted for, and made as easy and seamless for employees as possible. Employees agree. In fact, two thirds of them think unnecessary effort is preventing good EX.

4. Love the problem, not the solution

To really deliver an exceptional EX, you must solve problems that matter to people in real-world, situational moments.

Quite often, HR teams solve problems by focusing on the solution. Typically, this is a new technology system, an app or some other technical fix. Designing for humans, on the other hand, means learning from them first so you can better define the problem and then initiate collaborative solution building (which may or may not involve existing or new tech).

5. Look at the end-to-end experience

One of the most common causes of poor EX comes from taking a siloed look at the overall candidate and employee experience. At Sutherland Labs, we find it’s useful to view EX through the lens of six stages: Searching, Applying, Onboarding, Performing, Developing or Exiting.

Each of these comes with its own unique challenges. But don’t fret – you don’t need to start by trying to fix everything at once. Instead, conduct valuable employee research and pinpoint the most pressing friction points that need to be addressed.

This will help you identify essential short-term pain points, so you can fix these and take one step closer towards a seamless EX.

Whatever stage your organization is at on its EX journey, use these practical tips and strategies to demystify the idea and keep things simple. In turn, you’ll be able to design powerful experiences that address real problems and issues for real people. It’s a win-win for your staff and for your organization.

If you’re interested in learning more about employee experience, we’d love to welcome you to our series of EX events in 2020. Contact harry@sutherlandlabs.com to find out more.

Creative Director

Sutherland Labs
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