Employee Experience: Getting Started Isn’t As Hard As You Think

New technology, shifting consumer behavior and increasing demands are changing the expectations of candidates and employees. Employee Experience, or EX, seeks to address this challenge by accounting for all of the touchpoints and experiences that employees (or candidates) have with your organization.

Given the vastness of these touchpoints, it’s understandable why some companies struggle to get to grips with EX. But there’s good news: designing an effective and compelling EX isn’t as hard as you think it is – if you know where to start.

employees at work

Here’s an inside look at how to identify problem areas in the EX and build human-centred design solutions that reduce effort, boost engagement and enhance the customer experience. 

Identify the most relevant area

To simplify EX, we look at the entire end-to-end experience through the lens of attracting candidates and retaining top talent. These are then split into six key segments that make up the EX journey:

  1. Searching
  2. Applying
  3. Onboarding
  4. Performing
  5. Developing
  6. Exiting

At each stage, candidates or employees want employers to deliver on specific needs and values. We call these the ‘pivotal moments’. 

The first step, then, in designing a powerful EX is to identify the problem areas that need addressing. Let’s take a quick look at how this works in the real world.

Reimagining an onboarding process

At Sutherland Labs, we recently worked with a global provider of financial markets data and infrastructure, to reimagine its talent acquisition and onboarding as part of a wider look at its EX. 

They approached us with a challenge – how do we reimagine our talent acquisition and onboarding as part of a wider transformation effort?

Through the discovery of crucial employee insights, we established candidates hired by talent acquisition were then passed onto HR for onboarding, creating a disjointed process. This uncertain and negative experience left a bitter taste in the mouths of new employees. 

To combat this, Sutherland Labs helped them make its talent acquisition function responsible for the end-to-end employee experience, which meant onboarding would start at least two weeks prior to the employee’s “first” day with the company. This employee-centric solution lead to a much improved first impression.

Augment quantitive with qualitative insights 

To uncover which stage of the EX journey you should focus on, it all begins by speaking with and understanding your employees.

First, identify the location and the people you need to speak to. It’s ok if you can’t speak to all of your employees, but you should speak to a representative group where you can gain real-life insights.

Typically, we’d suggest speaking with at least 25 to 50 employees. This qualitative understanding will enable you to identify specific pain points and find out what candidates and employees really think.

Why is this so important?

Well, quantitative tells you the WHAT data, but it doesn’t tell you the WHY.

Qualitative insights give you the WHY and provide context into the behavioral rationale and unspoken insights based on observation. These conversations allow you to explore real people and real challenges in real workplace environments. In a sense, this process means you should go on a journey and walk in your employees’ shoes.

This is in stark contrast to the traditional HR approach. Most organizations use generic surveys that rely on large swathes of data covering topics such as satisfaction and engagement. According to research from LeadershipIQ, 78% of companies are failing to generate positive results from engagement surveys.

In fact, the validity of these surveys often depends upon how well the questions are drafted. Plus, you have to consider whether employees are even motivated enough to give you honest answers.

Discover the why and employ a human-centred approach

Quantitative research can be a great indicator of what is going wrong, but qualitative insights intentionally work with a small group of representatives to allow you to dive deep and discover the why.

In this case, the why will be specific pain points and frustrations in the EX. 

When you identify the moments and influences that matter to top talent, you’re able to reframe and redesign them so that you can turn any negative experiences into positive ones.

So, how can you go about doing this?

There are a few different ways. It could involve voice of employees, in-context research or focus groups. Whatever the specific mix of methods, it’s important to include at least one element that is done in person. The observation of unconscious behaviors, workplace dynamics and environment provide subtle clues and insights that inform a more holistic approach. 

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

When you identify the moments and influences that matter to top talent, you’re able to reframe and redesign them so that you can turn any negative experiences into positive ones.

The resulting experience is one which fully meets the needs and behaviors of intended users, and also brings about positive, sustained outcomes for the business. 

If you’re interested in learning more about employee experience, we’d love to welcome you to our EX event, for more information please contact harry@sutherlandlabs.com. 

Snr Creative Director

Sutherland Labs
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