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Employee experience: how to walk in your employees' shoes

Updated: Jun 29, 2021

Previously on Scaling Start-Ups...

We looked at our employees and recognised that they are consumers of HR products and services. In this episode, we will look how HR functions can better understand our employee needs by walking a mile in their shoes to deliver a great employee experience.


HR can learn from how Product & UX focus on their consumers

Companies who put consumers first often have Product and UX teams who are obsessed with the people consuming their products and services. They want to know who they are, what they need and what will make them loyal to their brand and their product(s).

As a HR function, the people consuming our products and services are our employees - why then would we not adopt the same approach?

By listening to the motivations, wants and needs of our employees, and tailoring our HR products and services to these needs, we can achieve exactly what our Product and UX friends are trying to as well: higher engagement, happiness and retention - and as we all know, this bring us closer to our goals of high performing and developing we’ll have a much more enjoyable time doing it as well!😎

The good news: we don’t need to reinvent the wheel here!

Before we hire an army of external consultants to overhaul our whole HR strategy, take a step back.

Firstly, identify our consumers. We have two groups of consumers: the business (which we tend to over-index on and are already pretty damn good at) and the employees (this is where we normally drop the ball). Being nice HR people does not count. The important question is, do we truly meet the needs of our employees?

To answer this question, add employee needs on top of the business lens. Relook at the initiatives that our HR functions are already working on (for example onboarding, leadership development, reward initiatives, performance management or offboarding) - most likely we know why we are building these initiatives from a business point of view, but have we asked, ‘From an employee point of view, what would they like to achieve or experience?’ 👀

The macro experience of the employee journey

Every HR folk is familiar with the employee lifecycle, which visualises the various stages an employee engages with. Generally this lifecycle is broken down to 7 distinct stages: attraction, recruitment, onboarding, development, reward and recognition, progression and performance and separation.

We usually look at these stages with a business lens. Now, add that employee lens and understand what our employees would like to achieve in each of these stages. With both lenses on, you can evaluate if both needs are being fulfilled.

Employee lifecycle: a macro experience of the employee journey

The micro experience of the employee journey

When we zoom into each stage of the employee lifecycle, we are able to get closer to each micro experience and touchpoint of our employees.

Let’s look at the onboarding stage. Typically, we build it out with a business lens: Preboarding, Week 1 onboarding, Month 1 onboarding and Month 3 check-in. As a business, we want to ensure new employees feel welcomed, integrated into the organisation and perform the new job successfully as quickly as possible. All these are true for a new employee. However, are there additional needs they may have?

Here’s the opportunity when we add an employee lens. We could map the micro experience of an employee’s journey from signing of their contract to the end of onboarding. At each touchpoint, we can dive into what they want to achieve and consider how they want to feel, think and do. It might look something like the image below - but be mindful this may differ from one organisation to another.

Onboarding: a micro experience of employee journey

Looking at both the macro and micro experience across the employee journey, gives us insights to design our HR products and services that better meet the business objectives, but also engage, motivate and retain your people.

The main takeaway here is not to take the above example and apply it to your organisation verbatim - it’s to think about how you can look at your current HR initiatives and ask yourself: what do my employees want to achieve or experience when they consume HR products or services? 🔎

In doing so, you can give your HR function a competitive advantage.


In the next season...

We will continue our quest to build a successful start-up with people at it's core.

Season 2 will explore the importance of investing early to build future-proof HR foundations to avoid HR debt that could become a blocker to business growth.

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