June 16th, 2017

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I’ve worked with a number of organisations on employee experience projects and I’m starting to see a number of unfortunate commonalities. Whilst most leading businesses now appreciate that the employee experience is more than simply the culture (although it does directly impact the culture), the following three mistakes are all too common:

1.    Failing to consider the emotions of employees

Our emotions rule every single one of us, however, I’m continuously surprised at how often emotions are ignored in the workplace. It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the emotional state of your employees is likely to be one of, if not the biggest, contributor to productivity. Failing to consider how emotions affect employees on a continuous basis can leave organisations with a significant blind spot.

Take the time to consider what currently triggers an emotional high (e.g. buzz of being involved in special projects or sense of accomplishment due to decision-making authority) and what might cause emotional lows (e.g. resentment over managers communication style or anxiety over the lack of development opportunities). It’s incredible how obvious some of the solutions are once you understand the cause of a problem.

2.    Substituting style over substance

There is a real trend toward employee experience “projects” that might include complete office fit outs and aesthetically pleasing workspaces. Whilst these projects are not wrong in any way, alone they are not enough to create great employee experiences. In fact, it is not uncommon to find a lull in employee’s motivation and engagement shortly after taking residence in a new space, especially if other key contributors to their experience remain ignored.

If you are considering a new office fit out, consider what impact you are seeking to have on employees first i.e. how do you want them to feel? Then consider what else might be a key contributor to this desired outcome? Leadership, professional development opportunities, and tools (including technology and access to information) are examples of contributors that remain the same even in a nice new shiny workspace.

3.    Focusing on “stages” rather than the day to day

For a long time, HR professionals have understood and focused on the employee lifecycle. This remains important at a macro level, helping organisations to build initiatives to improve key stages (onboarding, performance reviews etc.) on the employee journey. The downside, however, is that this same thinking tends to become the basis of which HR professionals consider the wider employee experience. The impact is that there is too much focus given to these key big stages and not enough focus given to ordinary day to day activities. This is where the majority of employees actually spend their time.

To give further depth to employee experience analysis, consider a regular day outside of the key lifecycle stages and capture all the seemingly minor activities, tasks and interactions that take place.

In my opinion, deliberately designing and executing a great employee experience is one of the most impactful strategic initiatives an organisation can achieve. Avoiding these common mistakes will help to make that a reality.

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