A Framework For How Any Company Can Design Amazing Employee Experiences
Over the past few months I’ve been working on a series of articles all around the employee experience which I define as being a combination of three distinct environments (physical, cultural, and technological). I shared several examples, explored how these three environments create experiences, and defined four types of organizations that emerged as a result of focusing on the employee experience. Today I wanted to share a framework for how the employee experience design process can actually work inside of an organization but first, here are the previous articles for you to check out.
- The Physical Environment
- The Cultural Environment
- The Technological Environment
- The Three Employee Experience Environments (Summary)
- The Four Types of Organizations (Empowered, Enabled, Engaged, Experiential)
I want to conclude this series by looking at what I call, “The Employee Experience Design Loop” which you can see below. It is comprised of a few parts which in no particular order are: Respond, Analyze, Design, Launch, and Participate. I cover these below.
The employee experience is not a static thing, it’s a moving target and in fact there is no single experience for every employee, there are many experiences. So how can organizations create this continuous cycle? The best way to think about designing employee experiences is as a never-ending infinity loop or a type of continuum that has four parts FIDE (but keep in mind they don’t have to follow this order). On the right side of the loop you will see the organization that is responsible for the three environments and on the left side of the loop you will see the four types of organizations that are created as a result of what happens on the right. The whole process looks something like this.
Employees provide ongoing (and preferable real-time) feedback around the three environments. Do they have the right tools needed to effectively do their jobs? Do they want to work in the physical space that the organization has created? Do employees feel a sense of purpose at work? These are some of the things that employees should provide feedback around. Now the accountability here falls on both parties. Employees must be willing to speak up and share their feedback and experiences. Organizations must give employees the opportunity to share their feedback at scale and commit to doing something with it. Feedback by itself is useless. This can be collected via employee interviews, collaboration tools, or apps that companies are starting to deploy to get a sense of employee engagement.
The organization takes the feedback from employees and analyzes it to gain any insight. This takes all of the structured and unstructured data that employees provide and turns it into something actionable. For example, you might learn that employees want more collaborative spaces to work with colleagues, that they get along well with managers but would love more autonomy and accountability, or that they don’t find the tools and technologies that the organization provides to be that useful. Of course the insights here can be big or small. The idea here is to answer the question of “what have you learned from the feedback that employees provided and wha are you going to do next?”
Once the insights have been extrapolated the next step is to focus on design. That is, take action and make change based on the insights you have learned. Employees get along well with managers? Great, how can you scale and strengthen that. Employees don’t enjoy showing up to work because the office space looks like a hospital? Ok, what can you do to fix that? Employees want more autonomy and accountability? Wonderful, what are the mechanisms you need to enable to make that happen? Do employees feel that a strict hierarchy is slowing down decision making? How can you flatten? This is where your organization decides on things it’s going to do (or not do) and how it’s going to do them. A key step here is a level of transparency. The Daily Telegraph recently decided they would place monitors and sensors around the office to examine how and where employees work, this received negative feedback quickly and caused the company to quickly stop the project. Other companies such as Atlassian and Mars Drinks have also done this but they were much more transparent in their efforts and employees accepted it because they knew why it was happening and what the benefit would be. Don’t design something for employees, design something with employees. You don’t need to create Pinocchio’s Island here but be open and transparent about what the organization will do, what it won’t do, and why. Want a great example of this? Check out My Starbucks Idea to see how open and transparent Starbucks is with customer ideas and suggestions. You can see what the top ideas are, which ones have been implemented, which ones the company is working on, and even which ones they have tried but failed to make work. This same concept can be applied to the workplace.
Simply put, this is the part of the process where you “put it out there.” Once the program has been designed the next step is to actually launch it to the organization. Sometimes this can be done with a beta or pilot group and other times this can be ready to scale across the organization. Typically in this phase internal communications and marketing teams get involved to help promote the new initiative.
This is the process whereby employees actually “experience” whatever the new changes are and provide a response back to the organization. Perhaps it’s a work from home program, a new employee perk, cool office design, modern technology deployment, the removal of annual reviews, or something else. Whatever “it” is, employees have to use it, experience it, and go through it in order to provide that feedback.
The goal of this process is to speed up designing and creating employee experiences. There is no good reason for why changes need to take multiple years to roll out across an organization. If an organization like Accenture is able to role out new performance management approaches to hundreds of thousands of employees in under a year then there’s no reason why a new leadership training program or a workplace flexibility initiative needs to take your organization four years.
I believe that if organizations and employees follow this framework and understand all of the components above, then we can truly start to move away from creating environments where we assume people need to show up, to creating environments where people actually want to show up.