HR: Leading Through Employee Experience

Ben WhitterFebruary 26, 20186min0
How can HR professionals lead through employee experience? What difference does it make in practice?

With demand for exceptional employees at an all-time high, especially those with unique skill sets, talent is controlling the market in 2018, not companies. Walk into most progressive human-centred workplaces and you will find an array of eye-watering benefits, perks, and experiences that are designed to attract and retain the best team possible. Why? Because it makes absolute sense to do so and accelerates progress, growth, and business outcomes.

With employee experience now being recognized as a competitive advantage, employers are now working hard to clearly differentiate their experience from companies competing for the same talented people. Questioning and challenging the status-quo in a way they haven’t done before, businesses and CEO’s have never been as open to new approaches as they are right now. Attracting talent is at the forefront of their mind, and for real success, businesses worldwide are going deeper, much deeper, into the experience of work.

Why? Because employee experience is not about simply introducing new high-value benefits programmes and best-in-class technology, it goes before and beyond that.

Before we embark on defining, designing and delivering new experiences, we must understand the core purpose of the business. Behind every experience, our purpose will be seen, heard and felt every day. It will be aligned, clear, and increasingly, positioned in a way that connects the employee community to the outside world. Experiences that have societal impact. They make a difference to the human experience as well as the employee experience. When companies do this, and everything lines up in such a way, it is inspiring to see and even more inspiring to be a part of.

In this sense, every process, procedure, or policy can be viewed as an experience. It is this truth when acted upon, that sets the great HR functions apart from the good or average ones. They deeply understand that anything they interact with affects the quality of the employee experience, and in turn, performance and business outcomes. The very best spot the connections that every department has on the employee experience and work to ensure that each touch-point is taken care of and is considered thoughtfully.  Even the most routine and basic policies come into play when the employee experience as an approach is in full flow.

A compelling example, and a beat that we can all dance to comes from Spotify, a company leading the music streaming industry with 70 million subscribers, and 140 million active users. Leading the market is one thing, but staying ahead is an entirely different proposition when faced with competitors like Amazon and Apple. To stay out in front, businesses need to consistently innovate, and not just maintain but strengthen the connection with staff, and to do this there is no better way than focusing on the employee experience.

I’m sure that every colleague can relate to the bank/public holiday policy, which is usually placed on the corporate intranet, contract, or in the onboarding pack without a second thought. A couple of A4 pages and job done. Nothing ground-breaking here.

Inspired by the work of Swedish Telco 3, Spotify HR, namely Katarina Berg & Alexander Westerdahl took this very ordinary HR policy and turned it into something that was extraordinarily impactful and celebrated by people and their employees worldwide.

Celebrate Your Own Beat

“Every Spotifier has the opportunity to take the holidays that matter to them. They can choose to work on a day that is a public holiday in the country they work in and swap it for another workday instead. This means they can be off work on a day that fits their observations or beliefs better.”

Promoting inclusion, flexibility, and autonomy, this purposeful ‘experience’ quickly captured the attention of a global audience (resulting in major brand outcomes) and shows what can be achieved when we apply the lens of ‘experience’ to HR work. Not only did this work transcend the business, it brought to life an HR policy that has never really fulfilled its potential before. If you look at the HR function, I imagine there are many other areas where a shift in thinking will help integrate purpose, people, and profit.

It is also worth noting that Spotify acknowledged that they had built this new approach on the experience of others, which is why I am so pleased the UK Employee Experience Awards 2018 is in place so we can rightly learn from and build on our collective experiences of work in the UK.

With more organisations embracing EX, we will really start to see some stunning outcomes across the economy and celebrate them on our own, authentic and unique British beat!

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Ben Whitter

Connect with Ben LinkedIn Social Icon Twitter Social Icon wechat GLOBAL EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE LEADER Ben Whitter is described as the World's "Mr Employee Experience" and works at the forefront of the employee experience movement. Ben's mission is to create organisations where people belong, find meaning, and co-create astonishing human achievements. Ben regularly advises and works with the World's leading organisations exclusively focusing on the employee experience.

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