The 10 Principles Behind Great Employee Experiences

June 11th, 2018

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A few years ago, I read what would become a life changing book called The 10 Principles Behind Great Customer Experiences, by Matt Watkinson. This book clearly articulated the principles that both independently and collectively influence the experience customers have with all businesses. I thoroughly recommend it.

What was most interesting to me, however, was how obvious it was that these principles, with minimal amendments, applied to the employee experience too.

Below is our view of ‘The 10 Principles Behind Great Employee Experiences’:

Great employee experiences strongly reflect the employee’s identity

It is crucial when designing intrinsically motivating experiences, that time is taken to deeply understand who the employee is as a human being. Understanding their expectations of the organisation, both voiced and unvoiced, will allow you to consider how best to align expectations and meet their needs. Remember – one size fits one.

Great employee experiences satisfy our higher objectives

What is it that your employee seeks to achieve during their time with your organisation? Ensuring you develop an understanding of this will provide you with the knowledge to design an experience that enables success for your employee. It could be micro in terms of success on a project or simply developing knowledge, or macro in terms of career advancement – either way, knowing this and working to create the environment where your employee succeeds is a recipe for a great employee experience.

Great employee experiences leave nothing to chance

In my view, this should be the number one rule of employee experience. Far too often this is left to chance – with tactical or reactive activity the norm. To achieve truly great, time and energy must be put into deliberately designing experiences that will intrinsically motivate and ultimately lead to increased productivity.

Great employee expectations set and meet expectations

This seems remarkably obvious, but if your organisation either explicitly or implicitly creates a set of expectations with your employee – make sure you meet those expectations. The emotional fallout of letting employees down or failing to deliver will have a material long lasting effect on motivation and business success.

Great employee experiences are effortless

All employees want to do good work – so putting barriers in their way just doesn’t make sense. Unfortunately this is far too common. Clunky, outdated systems, poor quality information, disruptive and distracting physical environments, and confusing contradicting information from leaders seems to be commonplace. Deliberately seeking to remove unnecessary effort will go a long way to enabling and empowering employees to do good work.

Great employee experiences are stress free

Directly related to the previous principle, creating a stress free working environment has a direct impact on high quality productivity. Be it unreasonably high workloads, the inability to find basic information to help a customer, or the usual run-around with poorly designed policy documents – these all create unnecessary stress that damages motivation and reduces productivity.

Great employee experiences indulge the senses

As human beings, our senses are always on. To create truly great employee experiences, all of these senses need to be considered. Think about what can be done to ensure the working space has enough natural light, noise levels are appropriate, physical spaces are aesthetically pleasing and well laid out. All of these things have an impact on employees – and the best workplaces go all out to make the physical workspace an enjoyable place to be.

Great employee experiences are socially engaging

The workplace is more than a place to work – it is a place to engage other human beings, to develop connections and to feel like part of a community. All too often though, it can become a place just to get stuff done. This is particularly true during times of high workloads.

Creating space to connect as people, rather than just as colleagues, can have in immediate and long lasting effect on both motivation and productivity.

Great employee experiences put the employee in control

In days gone by, it was common for decisions to be made behind closed doors and suddenly announced to teams. The impact was almost always negative – why has this decision been made? What were the alternatives? Why couldn’t we do x or y? It simply does not make sense anymore to continue with this obsolete way of managing a business.

Wherever possible, employees should be engaged to participate in problem solving and designing solutions. Not only will a sense of inclusiveness be achieved, but more than likely you will end up with a better solution.

Great employee experiences consider the emotions

Vincent Van Gogh once said “little emotions are the great captains of our lives, and we obey them without realising it”.

One of the most common mistakes we encounter when working with organisations to design great employee experiences is the tendency to only focus on the rational. An example of this is the modern phenomenon of surveys – we assume that how employees respond is rational and absolute.

The reality is that this is just not true.

This approach does nothing to understand how employees are actually feeling or indeed what they may be thinking, but do not feel comfortable saying. Yet, this is the very essence of every individual employee experience.

To design truly great employee experiences, disproportionate effort should be put into engaging with employees one on one, to develop a deep understanding of what drives and influences their behaviours.

The key question all organisations should be continually asking is how do I want my employees to feel?

These principles are the foundation of deliberately designing truly great employee experiences.

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