Over the last decade, there has been a sharp increase in workplace complexity. There is an average of 8-11 technology platforms for HR alone, and despite best intentions, this number is growing.
It is harder to do your job today than yesterday, and it will be harder tomorrow.
All the while, organisations have made significant investment in simplification and new technologies. Despite the effort, few have realised the productivity, fiscal, and customer experience benefits expected. The results are underwhelming.
The reward for getting it right, however, is high. When employees spend less time trying to work out how to do their job, and more time doing their job, organisations are twice as innovative and have double the customer satisfaction 2. They're also 2.5x more likely to have higher profits than their competitors 3.
Great workplace experiences also have a profound impact on the employee. Employees who can routinely remove repetitive tasks add more value and spend more time engaging with people 3. Employees are happier and more fulfilled.
There are deep-rooted reasons why experiences are powerful. For many of us, the never-ending search for positive experiences is what drives many of our life goals. Experiences are embedded deep within us and can evoke strong feelings. Joy. Sadness. Frustration. Pride. Delight. Anger. Achievement. Boredom.
The need for positive experiences is as real for our personal lives as it is our business lives. We are increasingly blurring the lines between our work and home lives.
Yet, for many organisations, employee experience stops at measurement or merely implementing new technologies. While very important, measuring an experience is not the same as designing one, and there is much more to employee experience than better technology.
Employee experience design has one objective: to shift employees from asking 'how do I do my job?' to 'how do I excel at my job?'
Organisations do this by answering three critical questions: 1. What tangible experience do our employees need to excel? 2. How do we deliver, support, and sustain that experience? 3. How can technology enable and accelerate the experience?
There are subtleties at play here. Organisations typically ask these in reverse order and start with technology. It is much more comfortable and less ambiguous to take a technology-first approach. However, technology-first is precisely the reason for the underwhelming results mentioned above.
The challenge this presents is that organisations then have to bring the employee to the technology. Approaching employee experiences in this way is akin to taking a new product to market; you need to market it, sell it, and have users adopt it. Similarly, it is fraught with risks of not getting it quite right and expensive training and change management programs.
We need to teach all of our employees to be able to use the new system and platform. We need them to take more time out of their day to learn the new system, and we hope that our marketing campaign fills in any gaps.
There are remarkable parallels to customer experience here. No longer is it acceptable to launch a new product without genuine engagement with your audience. Product managers, designers, and engineers alike spend countless hours with their key customer base to sincerely understand their every need.
A good experience is coordinated, precise, and never accidental. They are only ever designed with and for the employee—they are not external stakeholders to the process.
While intentionally designing your employees' experiences will yield great business results; there is a far more significant opportunity. By actively considering and creating employee experiences, organisations can substantially impact the world around them.
The workplaces that we design and deliver will be experienced by employees for a considerable duration of their lives. And because of this, organisations should strive to achieve a more excellent vision for the world. Organisations have become responsible for creating workplaces that provide employees with an environment for which they can thrive.
This responsibility implores them to continually ask what kind of lives do they want employees to have? What kind of life do they want for themselves?
Because the decisions they all make are the decisions that will shape the world around us. By designing frictionless experiences, we enrich employee lives, and in turn, we are enriching our own lives.
We should design experiences that give back time, experiences that allow us to pay attention to the slow things in life. We should create experiences that spark genuinely transformative ideas.
Because the experiences we design are more than work and more than money, they are a lifetime for your employees. That's the impact that truly matters.