The Next Frontier: Getting the Employee Experience Right

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Today, at the top of the strategic imperatives for many companies is the Customer Experience (“CX”). In a survey commissioned by Pegasystems of 5,000 CX practitioners, 92 percent say being customer-centered is a high priority for their organization. So, the gloves are off as far as making the customer happy. Now, it’s all down to execution. It’s my contention, however, that if companies were to spend more time and effort in developing a superior employee experience (“EX”), they might succeed better at rendering that delightful customer experience. In sum, companies need to align their desired customer experience and outcomes with the employee experience and company culture.

The Next Frontier: Getting the Employee Experience Right.Companies need to align their desired customer experience and outcomes with the employee experience and company culture. #culture #employeeexperience #CX Click To Tweet

Being employee first

Of course, a lot of senior executives will wax on about how their employees are the most important asset and that they run a great place to work. For starters, though, how are they measuring that? Secondly, is the employee’s journey properly taken into consideration? Do the employees have what they need to work in good conditions, achieve their objectives and satisfy their ambitions? In a world where the buzz as all been around customer centricity, I feel that being employee first is going to be the real path to success. Not only have we all suffered through the pandemic in one way or another, but it’s the employees who deliver the customer experience. One of the key missions for any top leader is to make your employees’ existence and work more meaningful. This will include making them understand how they are contributing to the company’s purpose and, ultimately, success.

Crafting a superior employee experience

So what does that a superior employee experience look like? Just as implementing a CX strategy doesn’t necessarily mean kowtowing to every demand of every customer, it’s not about bending over backward for every employee’s needs. But it does mean taking it seriously by observing and listening, asking for and taking on board feedback, and investing. I recommend articulating the employee experience in close alignment with two vigorous concepts:

  • Treat your employees in a way that is congruent with the way you’d like them to treat your customers.
    For example, if you want your customer service or sales personnel to have empathy in their interactions with customers, how empathic are you in the way you engage with your teams?
  • Make sure your company values correlate with the de facto culture.
    For example, if beauty is a value and your version of beauty equates to being beautiful on the inside and by showing/sharing your emotions both positive and negative, maybe that means having handkerchiefs available at every meeting? As a leader, how are you making sure that the purpose and values of your organization resonate within and throughout? Make your values shine through in the employee experience.

Starts with the right mindset

Photo by Ahmed Zayan on Unsplash

I’ll never forget a CEO of a €1B company who, when I asked him to create a short video welcoming and thanking his employees for attending a seminar, said that it was, in no uncertain terms, for them to be thanking him! Obviously, you need to start with having the right mindset if you want to create a great Employee Experience. For starters, a degree of genuine humility is helpful. It requires empathy as you look at everyone’s roles and needs. It means listening without putting up barriers or being defensive. There’s always an arbitrage to make in terms of costs, but the investment should pay off, specifically if you’ve integrated the two concepts above. One of the more powerful mechanisms to drive an employee experience upgrade is to articulate it around the customer journey. By doing that, you can more easily dispel blockages and internal quarrels. However, many support staff and top executives (including the one I cited above) are actually far removed from customer interaction.

Employee versus Customer Experience

Getting the Employee Experience right is a very different beast versus the Customer Experience. It’s like the difference between getting right your home versus a garden shed or greenhouse. One you live with, the other you frequent with specific intent. Employee relationships are not only longer term, they’re closer and generally more complex than customer relationships. Employees are paid to work. There’s hierarchy and objectives to achieve. When you work together over long periods, tensions inevitably occur. Close communication biases can settle in (where you gradually lose the ability to listen deeply because you think you always know what the other person is going to say). Leaders tend to think of employees as a cost line on the P&L. Meanwhile, as leaders, we’re always looking for the employees to be engaged in their work and, through all sorts of mechanisms and practices, encouraging them to excel and spend their discretionary energy.

Making your employees your #1 fans

While it’s bound to be messy (like all long-term relationships where you have ups and downs), leaders would do well to double down on the Employee Experience, from recruitment, onboarding to retainment and departure, and even as alumni. As I describe in the inside-out model (see right) in You Lead, you want your employees — sitting at the core of your business — to be your #1 fans. Ideally, you’ve got such an inspiring purpose and strong values that you and your employees will be able to pass the Brand Tattoo Test. What will it take? It will mean above all making your purpose and strategy clearly articulated, understood and believed throughout the organization. In terms of creating that delightful employee experience, it will take looking at the full picture from the employees’ perspective, including the commute, the culture, décor, technology requirements, opportunities for personal growth and feeling that everyone is contributing, all the way down to the quality of benefits, amenities and an appropriate number of toilets.

The Next Frontier: Getting the Employee Experience RightIf you want a great customer experience, you will want to have an employee experience that is congruent and consistent with the way you want employees to treat your customers. #CX #EX Click To Tweet

The customer may pay the bills, but getting the employee experience right will be capital to achieving a delighted customer who’ll be only too happy to come back for more. The EX is the next frontier for the more enlightened companies and executives.

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