What Employee Experience Really Means

Despite many companies’ efforts to embrace new technologies and more human-centric working practices, there are still some workplaces today that are populated by employees who feel like cogs in a wheel. Managers are perceived, at worst, as slave drivers and, at best, incompetent middle-manager process fiends. Work itself feels like drudgery.

You may have experienced one of those types of jobs yourself at one stage in your career.

Thankfully, today we’re taking a much more considered approach to employee welfare and really starting to care about how individuals feel about their day-to-day roles.

It is because of what I like to call the ‘empathy epiphany’ that was highlighted by ServiceNow’s Pat Wadors and Farrell Hough in a head-to-head, on-stage discussion at ServiceNow Now Forum London 2018, which drilled into what employee experience really means in the workplace, as well as what it will mean for the future of work.

The session reflected much of what ServiceNow founder Fred Luddy said when he envisioned a cloud-based platform that would enable regular people to route work effectively through the enterprise. Wadors, our Chief Talent Officer, and Hough, our General Manager, used their time to dig into what really matters to today’s workforce.

I’m passionate about so many of the themes and issues that were discussed at this meeting, but before I give you my take on things, allow me to provide you with some of the thoughts that were expressed on the day.

The future of work and the digital world

We know that workers need great technology, productivity, uptime and data. But we also need to know that the data they are served with is accurate and timely, if everyone is to have a good work experience. Keeping data validity and veracity front of mind is very important as we build this new digital world of business.

Wadors explained that she knows that many workers will exist in their own silo mentality and preferred way of working. She also acknowledges that many others will be open to scale and growth and so will be ready to engage with a whole shared service structure that an organisation can offer.

We need to be able to work with both mindsets and pretty much everything that falls in between.

Both Wadors and Hough agreed that modern work experiences can be described and defined around three key cornerstones:

  • The culture, practice and policy that govern any individual in their role.
  • The systems and tools used in order to do a job.
  • The physical and digital environment inside which the worker has to exist.

Moments that matter for employee experience

Taking these factors in hand and managing positive employee experiences around them can be overwhelming, so where do we start? During the onboarding process? How about before?

Pat Wadors says that it’s all about finding the ‘moments that matter’ in any given role. There are sometimes the little things that really make an employee feel engaged. From talent acquisition to the onboarding process, to ramp up, to promotion and onward to offboarding… we can get signals for what is working and what isn’t at any given point, but only if we listen properly.

Building the new world of work can indeed be overwhelming, so it’s a question of making changes in iterative incremental steps. We have to be able to measure the state of work at any given point in time, assess where we are, and then make more informed decisions on where we go next to make work processes work better for the organisation and its employees.

The fragility of the employee value proposition

We need to map out the cycle and cadence for change required to move forward. If you are ramping up your headcount at around 20% or more in your organisation, then you’re at risk of ‘breaking’ your employee value proposition, that is – your ‘promise’ and commitment to your staff that you can provide them with a good place to work that allows them to flourish and be productive.

Farrell Hough reminded us how we must understand that today, an employee will very often know that they can leave a role and find what they are looking for in another gig. This reality factor underlines just how important it is to provide the right employee value proposition for every worker at all times.

She makes a great point. If a business were losing customers due to a problem, then managers would rally the troops around to find out what kind of business resources are needed in order to direct some new courses of action. It’s the same with human capital; if we’re at risk of losing it then it’s vitally important that we realise this.

ServiceNow itself is experiencing rapid growth and so is using the ServiceNow onboarding process module to humanise the experience and localise every experience for every employee coming online.

Every worker should feel like their first day at work is a time when the company is really excited and happy to have you.

People, a precious resource

I think all the time about how we used to treat talent acquisition and employee experience with less care because the potential labour pool was more abundant. In that scenario, we took less care over people. But today we have skilled worker scarcity in so many sectors of industry that we need to think more carefully about talent acquisition, particularly when it comes to how we treat our most precious resource.

Looking forward into the next half-decade or so, we still have a few obstacles ahead of us. As we now look to make sure we embrace employee experience, with a watchful eye on diversity in all forms on the road to combatting unconscious bias, we have much to do.

ServiceNow is excited to be building the future of work in a place where employee experience is at the heart of every organisation’s mission statement. Think about the fact that we probably wouldn’t even have had this discussion in quite such a direct and measured way at the turn of the millennium, or perhaps even the turn of the last decade.

In figurative terms, we’ve now joined the support network and ‘shared with the group’ out loud. Now is the time for action.

Jason Sutton

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