Research has found that only 24% of Australia’s employees are engaged with their work – a figure which has been constant for more than a decade.
What do companies like Apple, Facebook, Canva and Atlassian have in common? They put their people first. They recognise that every customer experience starts with an employee experience. As a result, it isn’t just customers flocking to these companies, but also the best talent.
“When we think about CX design, it’s designed to drive a certain customer outcome. And the performance aspect of that is to be looked at in a different way. So the CX could be designed to drive awareness, could be designed to drive preference, all the way down the funnel to actually purchase and even to advocacy.
“With the EX, you’re thinking about it the same way. How do we actually create experiences which allow employees to be at their best, to be their most effective, to deliver ultimately a business outcome for a customer or for other employees?”
Sean Hall, TEDx speaker, awarded innovator, Chief Energist, says he’s on his fifth career (having worked in fitness, marketing, technology and HR). WIth over two decades of leadership under his belt, he’s run a $10B telecommunications brand impacting 16 million customers, taught inclusive design thinking and designing employee experience strategy for 40,000 employees. He’s built two startups and worked as employee #11 in another.
This ultimately led him to create Energx and work with brands and government departments who believe employee experience design is the key to unlocking their most valuable asset, the collective energy and creativity of their people.
“Every customer experience starts with an employee experience. Ultimately we know that those customer experiences are driving outcomes that we’re taking one step further into the organisation to actually really look at the cause and the root of the opportunity to drive those customer outcomes which drive business outcomes.”
He says the companies most successful at delivering a great employee experience are innovative in their thinking and methodology.
“For example, we all know Google have food on premises for their people and what they’ve actually been able to do is drive their nutritional outcomes by using data. They knew that in the snack bars a certain amount of calories were being consumed through unhealthy food and by shifting the positions of those foods and putting them lower in the snack bars and making them opaque, they saw a massive reduction in the calories that Googlers were actually consuming.”
Google has taken it further than the majority of companies to consider what kind of fuel their employees are running on.
“What’s the experience of our employees interacting with food? And knowing that the type of food people consume actually impacts their health and wellbeing but also even their performance on a daily basis. If we load ourselves up with sugar and we have a sugar crash immediately afterwards, our cognitive abilities are impacted and staff performance is going to be impacted.”
Hall says that delivering personalised employee experiences is going to be an emerging focus in Australian businesses.
“Organisations, say like Canva here in Australia, are doing quite amazing stuff. They have an onsite nutritionist where people can come and look at their own diet, so it’s feeling very tailored and personalised. This is going to be a really key factor in employee experiences going forward. We’re seeing CX where designs are being more targeted, more tailored, more personalised, more contextually relevant to the customer and we’ll see that in the employee experience design.”
What Hall says he is most excited about, however, is how companies can use personalised data to empower employees and their own personal performance.
He foresees a point where companies will be able to leverage biofeedback (a wearable such as a FitBit) which is able to determine when you’re in your flow state based on factors such as heart rate, sweat, etc.
“We all have those moments when we feel like we’re on fire, like we’re in our flow. Sometimes those moments can feel quite spontaneous or random.
“But then it’s able to say, based on what you were doing, what was in your diary, we know what you were working on. Was it meaningful to you in some way? Were you aware of the impact? What strengths were you bringing? Who were the people you were working with? Were you working by yourself or were you actually collaborating? What was the environment you were in? Were you in a quiet space, a more collaborative zone, what was the lighting, the temperature?”
“And so all of these things, these little sources of information actually add up to create a recipe where you can go, the next time I want to be at my best, I’m going to make sure I recreate that for myself. I think that’s going to be hugely empowering for individuals to actually take much more control of actually doing that for themselves.”
The role then of the organisation, Hall explains, is to surface data on usable, meaningful ways that doesn’t “feel like Big Brother” but enables and empowers the employee. The organisation can also work to create the conditions for peak employee performance.
Measuring employee engagement, Hall says, is difficult due to the natural inclination of people to assure their bosses that they love their jobs. He advocates a different measurement method.
“One of the things we truly believe in as an engagement measure is – are people leaving work more well than when they arrive? And being able to measure from that perspective, what does being more well mean? It’s not just about the physical, it’s the type of work I’m doing. Is the work I’m doing meaningful?”
Ultimately, however, Hall says companies should be aware of the impact the work has on their employees.
“Being more well, to me, is often about my relationship with myself and the impact an organisation can actually have on that is actually huge and underestimated. And that comes back to things like inclusion, feeling like you belong, people feel respected and a sense of psychological safety within an organisation.”
With chronic labour and skills shortages already being experienced and masses of todays jobs ripe for automation, more than ever there is a need for the HR function to lead their people through radical organisational transformation, transform their own business units and ensure they are empowering their people to be their best.
The Developing & Implementing an Employee Experience & Engagement Strategy Masterclass, taking place in November in Sydney and Melbourne is a unique opportunity to review the strategic enablers of organisational growth and success by delving into what it takes to get people to thrive. Learn the key steps to creating and retaining an engaged workforce and how to measure the impact of employee experience for continued success.