Employee Experience – Good for Employees, Good for Business


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Employee Experience – Good for Employees, Good for Business

I originally wrote today’s blog post for Intouch Insight. It appeared on their blog on September 5, 2019.

In order to truly establish a foothold in – and to then propel – your customer experience transformation, one of most important things that businesses must have in place is a happy and engaged workforce that is well cared for by business leaders at all levels. In other words, employees and the employee experience must be the first priority of the business.

Before they can do that, they must
understand what employee experience is. I define it as the sum of all
interactions that an employee has with her employer over the duration of her
employment relationship. It includes any way the employee “touches”
or interacts with the company and vice versa in the course of doing her job. It
also includes the actions and capabilities that enable her to do her job and,
especially, the feelings, emotions, and perceptions the employee has about
those interactions and capabilities.

The interactions begin before the
individual even becomes an employee. There are many interactions within the
various stages of the employee experience, which starts with the job search,
the interview, and the job offer. From there it evolves to orientation,
onboarding, and training, and then doing her job, receiving feedback, dealing
with life events, career management, and eventually, exit.

The actions and capabilities that either
enable or hinder employees to do their jobs fall into two categories that I
call “the soft stuff” and “the hard stuff.” Typically, when these things
happen, they are enablers, and when they don’t, they are considered blockers.

The soft stuff includes all the things
that we typically think about when we think about employees and managing or
leading employees: growth and development; feedback and coaching; recognition
and appreciation; leadership and care; communication; camaraderie and
collaboration; contributions, impact, and meaningful work; trust and respect; empowerment;
and career success.

Before I move on to the hard stuff, I
should note that the employee experience is really what your employees tell you
it is. You’ve got to ask them for their feedback; you’ve got to listen to them.
And then design a better experience based on what you learn.

That’s a good segue to the hard stuff,
which I know isn’t top of mind when you think of employee experience. But I
know these are important because your employees tell me so. At the outset of
any new client engagement, I like to interview executives, employees, and
customers to do my own baseline assessment of the current situation. When I
interview employees, sure, they tell me about some of the soft stuff, but they
all tell me about the hard stuff, which includes the tools, resources,
training, processes, and environmental factors (workplace and workspace) needed
to do their jobs well. When these things aren’t in place to allow them to do
their jobs and to do them well – especially to deliver the experience customers
desire and deserve, they are not happy. No one wakes up in the morning and
says, “I want to do a crappy job at work today.” No, your employees come to
work wanting to give their best and do their best, but when they’re not
equipped to do so, then it’s a challenge – and a downer.

A lot of research has been conducted to
support why we should focus on the employee experience. It’s good for
employees. It’s good for customers. And it’s good for business.

One such piece of research, the MIT CISR
Research Briefing (June 2017), found that companies that are considered top
performers when it comes to the employee experience are twice as innovative as
those defined as bottom performers. These top-performing companies are paving
the way for employees to work together effectively and engage with customers in
new ways to enhance revenue streams. As a result, they experience higher
customer satisfaction and advocacy and a 26% increase in profitability.

How do you achieve this employee
experience –> business performance connection? Clearly, customers are in the
middle of that equation. I don’t think you need any proof of that, but The
Service-Profit Chain is the best way to visualize the entire, well, chain. I
scanned the image below from The Service-Profit Chain: How Leading Companies
Link Profit and Growth to Loyalty, Satisfaction, and Value
by James L.
Heskett, et al. From this graphic, it’s clear that the chain begins with
employees and their experience, including many of the things I outlined earlier
that comprise the employee experience.

Image courtesy of The Service-Profit Chain book

To see this clear connection between the
employee experience and the customer experience, all you have to do is create a
service blueprint. You will notice in the image above that service quality,
output quality, etc. lead to service value. The only way that you’re going to
be able to see where the service quality and, hence, the service value are
breaking down is by outlining how that service is being delivered in support of
the experience that the customer is having.

You know that, in order to understand
the experience the customer is having, you need to first map the customer
journey. That journey map must capture what the customer is doing, thinking, and
feeling as she interacts with your brand to solve some problem she is having.
After you’ve mapped the current-state experience, one of the next steps in the
journey mapping process is to develop the corresponding service blueprint,
which details the people, tools, systems, policies, and processes that
facilitate and support that experience. Most companies will discover during
this blueprint step that their processes were not developed with the customer
in mind – and oftentimes, not with the employee in mind, either!

The employee experience – > customer
experience connection is clearly uncovered through that process, as should the
root cause of customer pain and employee pain. Improve those things that impact
employees. Fix the broken processes or create processes where they are missing.
Kill bad policies and simplify things. Put systems and tools in place that help
employees do their jobs better, not hinder their ability to perform day in and
day out. When I hear from employees that a new system was just installed that
was worse than what they had before, plus they weren’t involved in the decision
to purchase it nor were they properly trained on how to use it, I feel smoke
coming out of my ears! What’s the point of that?!

Executives and managers trip over themselves to make things better (or so they think). The bottom line is: listen to employees, hear what they say, involve them in decisions and changes, and watch their satisfaction and engagement flourish. And as research shows, customers will benefit, and so will the business!

You don’t build a business – you build people – and then people build your business. -Zig Ziglar

Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Annette Franz
Annette Franz is founder and Chief Experience Officer of CX Journey Inc. She is an internationally recognized customer experience thought leader, coach, consultant, and speaker. She has 25+ years of experience in helping companies understand their employees and customers in order to identify what makes for a great experience and what drives retention, satisfaction, and engagement. She's sharing this knowledge and experience in her first book, Customer Understanding: Three Ways to Put the "Customer" in Customer Experience (and at the Heart of Your Business).


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