A preview of the future – experiences from employee experience first movers

Author - Søren Smit. Director

A quick search on Google Trends shows that globally in 2017 there has been a significant acceleration in searches for the term ‘Employee Experience’ – the same trend line could be seen back in 2012 for the search term ‘Customer Experience’.

For HR, this means they have a discipline that they can look to for inspiration, because there is an increasing adoption of methodologies, tools and approaches from the world of customer experience.

Several companies are gradually beginning to work with employee journey mapping, where they uncover and design the traditional HR processes such as recruitment, onboarding and exit through the eyes of the employee – i.e. from an outside-in perspective instead of focusing solely on what the company itself thinks is best. Conceptually, we are also moving away from the term ‘HR processes’ and instead are beginning to name HR processes after significant parts of the employee journey – which may seem like a trivial point, but is a very good reflection of the shift that has been taking place in recent years.

Companies give employees WOW experiences

First mover companies are also starting to work with WOW experiences – which the customer experience world has been working with for several years. Within the area of customer experience, they deliberately place a WOW experience at key points on the customer’s journey through the company. This typically occurs at an important touchpoint, and the best definition is that this is something the company does that blows the customer away by significantly exceeding the expectations. It is so memorable for the person that, who cannot help telling about the experience – and thus mentioning the company.

Within HR, I am beginning to see companies putting WOW into their recruitment process. For example, they give a goody bag to the candidate when the job interview is over, recognizing that it has been an anxious experience for the person, who has been under pressure to perform. This shows that the company has empathy and is caring – and it is definitely an experience that the candidate will tell other people about.

Other companies have spent time putting together a ‘culture book’ that the job candidate can sit and look at while waiting at the reception to go into the interview. In this book, the company is telling about itself in an exciting and inspiring way, showing photos from the latest staff party etc. This gives the candidate a good topic of conversation to start the interview.

In the future, companies will compete to come up with unusual but significant WOW initiatives aimed at their existing and potential employees. This can differentiate the company, create pride and ultimately generate a whole army of ambassadors among the employees.

First movers measure points of contact on the employee journey

Within surveys, a shift is also taking place right now in the employee area. Up to now, most companies have just carried out surveys of overall employee engagement – typically called an engagement survey.

Now, first movers are beginning to supplement these with smaller and more narrow ad hoc surveys throughout the year, giving them insights into certain parts of the employee journey (e.g. onboarding) or a single touchpoint (evaluation of a team meeting). The customer experience world has been working with this approach for a number of years, where they talk about 24/7/365 insight based on the recognition that we cannot just put the customer on the agenda once a year – the customer experience is being formed at all times.

Surveys are becoming more structured

More and more companies are beginning to measure continuously and systematically at the most central parts of the employee journey, such as recruitment, onboarding and exit. First movers, however, supplement these traditional HR processes – or parts of the employee journey – with other significant parts of the journey, such as when employees are promoted, are relocated geographically or start in an entirely new role. With these surveys, companies obtain facts about the employees’ experience in the specific areas (including, for example, whether the WOW experiences actually have an effect). They will therefore gradually be able to design and optimize the employee journey based on this insight.

In this connection, we are beginning to develop standard models for measuring the different areas of the employee journey, as we have known it for long within engagement surveys. Thus, we can derive best practices from generic survey questions and, not least, begin to benchmark companies against each other so that they can see how they are performing in the significant areas.

There is no doubt that the companies that are the first to implement structured surveying of the employee journey get an advantage in developing, retaining and attracting employees, who will become increasingly demanding in the future.

Søren Smit. Director

Søren Smit. Director

Søren Smit is passionate about employee and customer experience. He is head of Ennova’s EX and CX business development. He has worked for over 10 years with customer experience as a director and as the person responsible for establishing a data- and analysis-driven CX culture as well as a transformation of the customer experience at TDC Group.