Improving employee experience

The increasing complexity of the systems and technologies used in the products of global industrial companies is reflected in the organizational structure. The complexity induced by strategic choices, takeovers and mergers of smaller businesses, the creation of alliances pushes the company into a three-dimensional matrix universe: geographic, functional and programmatic.

This matrix doesn’t necessarily mean complication, but it is the consequence of choices that leaders have not always been able to get accepted. The irreducible complexity, the understanding of this entanglement is a challenge for the employee who will only fully appropriate it through master plans or macro-rules clearly defined by the company’s management.

On the other hand, the employee has legitimate aspirations to eliminate unnecessary complication. An estimated 20% of an employee’s time is spent on low or non-value-added tasks. These non-value added tasks can be long or obsolete processes (decision-making process, purchasing process…) and/or irritants (finding a parking space, taking time off, managing a training plan, giving on-site access to visitors, managing 200 daily e-mails…) that employees feel as an obstacle to the accomplishment of their tasks.

1. Experience as a lever for employee retention and operational efficiency

Employee experience is the sum of a multitude of experiences that the employee has had at each interaction or point of contact with the company before, during or after the employment period.

First of all, the company must give the employee the means to carry out his or her mission effectively and by reducing unnecessary complexity related to tools or processes. In addition, the environment in which the employee evolves, the working atmosphere, the workspace, and the associated services are as many parameters that will contribute to the employee’s fulfillment.

Secondly, the career plan offered by the company to its employees must be clear and offer opportunities that facilitate job or geographic mobility. The employee will more easily fit into the company’s future and his contribution will be greater if he feels that there are prospects for development in terms of both progression and remuneration.

Working on the employee experience aims to act on each of these points of contact and to transform the employee’s daily life into a target experience.

Attracting and retaining employees are the goals of the approach. The simplification of tasks, the work-life balance, the digitalization of processes are some of the messages aimed at the youngest, the “digital natives”, users of fluid and intuitive applications in their daily tasks (ordering lunch on Deliveroo, shopping on Amazon, looking for a job on LinkedIn). As a result, they are more demanding than their elders in terms of employee experience and therefore in their company choices.

There is a strong correlation between employee satisfaction, employee engagement and company performance. If the employee is recognized and valued, he will identify with the company’s product and culture and naturally become its first and best ambassador. Finally, the employee is the first customer of a company, isn’t it?

2. What needs to be done to improve the employee experience

Rule n°1: Listening to employees
Offering a seamless experience to its employees requires the company to listen to them and give them the opportunity to express themselves. Employee satisfaction is measured through internal surveys that regularly assess the company’s pulse. This diagnosis leads to the co-construction of an employee career path and a mapping of the points of contact.

Rule n°2: Creating meta-rules
Complexity must be assumed at the highest level. The existing difficulties in the employee’s career path, the constraints that hinder movement and initiative must be understood and recognized by leaders. They must explain that not everything can be changed, but in return establish principles of action to reduce complexity.

Rule n°3: Mobilizing support functions
Support functions (Human Resources, Procurement, IT, General Services) are by definition at the service of employees and must adapt the tools and processes available to users to help them fulfill their tasks. The implementation of a multi-channel and multi-directorate approach to improving the employee experience requires the coordination and support of the support functions responsible for the main points of contact. Mobilization will be effective if it has high-level sponsorship capable of creating emulation among all contributing departments.

Rule n°4: Getting employees in motion
“Complexity is other people”. Just as there is a carbon footprint, employees are sources of complexity. The untimely use of the “reply to all” e-mail function, for example, creates a climate of anxiety and generates urgency that is sometimes unnecessary. The employee must be an actor in simplification.

Rule n° 5: Simplifying above all
Digitization will only accentuate the existing in both its good and bad aspects. Digitizing dysfunctional processes will ultimately only put more pressure on the people concerned and create more slowdowns. The prerequisite for any digitization is a review of the process, its stages and the actors involved, as well as any gaps and heaviness.

Rule n° 6: Digitizing the employee experience
In order to make the administrative tasks of the employees more fluid, the digitalization of processes is a “must have” for the employees. It is difficult for an employee to understand that he can easily order on the internet while ordering a notebook in the company follows a long process requiring the validation of several decision-makers.

Rule n°7: Measuring progress and value achievements
Measurement tools exist to evaluate simplification efforts: number of pain points removed, number of simplified rules, clarified processes or digitized tasks. On the other hand, setting up an irritant escalation system can quickly prove to be a wrong approach because it can generate high expectations from employees and ultimately frustration if they are not met.
The employee experience is an affect and will only be successful if employees perceive changes in the company. Communication is therefore a key factor in sharing progress and highlighting the main contributors.

3. A four-step approach to improve the employee experience

Building the employee’s path

  • Identify employee/company interactions
  • Collect verbatims
  • Identify, characterize and prioritize irritants reported by employees

Mobilizing support functions and employees

  • Present the diagnosis to the support functions
  • Define intiatives in coordination with the business lines
  • Implement KPIs to measure progress

Communicating on progress

  • Highlighting the initiatives deployed by the divisions
  • Being the relay of communication between management and employees.
  • Staying in touch with employees

Deploying the methodology

  • Promoting the current approach to the countries / subsidiaries
  • Accompanying the deployment of the methodology in favorable countries
  • Setting up a platform for the exchange of best practices

Pagamon, consulting firm in Strategy & Organization founded in March 2013, assists industry players to structure their strategic vision, improve the operational performance of their business and sustain change in organizations.

We help clients within the automotive industry, agri-food, life sciences and several other industries . Our areas of expertise are:

  • Strategy & Organization
  • Marketing & Customer Experience
  • Innovation & Development
  • Digital transformation & Big Data

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