Throughout the 2018 Employee Experience Awards programme, EX18, we heard many stories and saw initiatives which are making a huge difference for New Zealand employees. We wanted to share our insights, to help all New Zealand organisations improve the reality and experience at work for their employees.
What is Employee Experience?
Employee Experience is the sum of perceptions employees have across their interactions with leadership, operations, environment and tools.
These insights follow EX18, New Zealand’s very first Employee Experience Awards programme.
Eight EX Insights:
- Great leadership is consistent
A key trait of a good leader is one who is consistent in how they talk to their manager, their peers and their staff. If you have a Leadership team who are incredibly hard on each other, but then turn it on for staff, or the opposite – who appear matey to each other, but quite hard and cold towards staff, they won’t be genuine and authentic and you risk creating double standards where there is one rule for leaders and another for staff. Leaders need to hold each other accountable to the values of the organisation and be consistent across all the levels in how they adhere to those.
- Powerful moments of truth may happen outside the workplace
How an employer chooses to react to a difficult moment in life can make all the difference. For one EX18 organisation, finding out an employee had Multiple Sclerosis was an opportunity to go above and beyond in showing their support. Knowing that he loved the Warriors, the employee and his wife were flown up to Auckland, kitted out in all the fan gear and taken to a corporate box to watch the game. At the end, he was presented with the match ball. The organisation promised that no matter what, there would always be a role for him. When the time came for the employee to decide it was time for him to stop work, he asked to stay on the Social Club. He remains a member of that group today. It’s one of several examples we heard where employers show genuine kindness to their people.
- Great experiences are co-designed
We saw some great examples where employers are co-designing policies with their employees. Gone are the days where a CEO or HR Manager should sit in a room by themselves writing policies with their compliance hat on and imposing them on employees. Policies are a great opportunity to involve the team, and form the foundation for decisions, driving much of the employee experience. One recent example was an employer grappling with the decision to ban alcohol from their work places and work events, after the behaviour of a few employees caused concern. This was a key opportunity to pause and involve employees in the discussion about what is appropriate. For that example, taking a wellbeing approach rather than a compliance one proved to be more effective.
- Great on-boarding focuses on connection
On-boarding is not just about introducing a new employee to the organisation, the tech and their new role. Its primary purpose is to build connections. Survey results show the impact employers can have if they take the time to get to know their people on a personal level. Time should also be built in for employees to meet their colleagues and get to know them also. The best and closest of connections are not made across a meeting table. We believe in formal coffee catch-ups and walking meetings, so the employee gets to know their new working neighbourhood – these work brilliantly. Don’t forget to organise a team lunch or drink on the first day too!
- People come to work… to work!
Most office-based employees generally reveal that most of their work is individual work. The biggest frustration around the physical space is the teams’ ability to concentrate, which might be due to layout, but most commonly office protocols and manners are also missing. Most offices have never had the conversation about expectations – instead office behaviours and etiquettes evolve over time. Have a conversation about how your team want to work together and alone, helping everyone find common ground on things like interruptions, noise levels, and where to collaborate. Next, is providing people with technology and seating options to allow them to work from different locations – in the office or from home – it puts the power in their hands.
- Environment sends a message
Unknowingly many organisations have offered different roles very different work surroundings, immediately giving the message about how the role is valued in the organisation. We see IT teams with small, crowded offices with no natural light, and sales teams with large corner offices. While it is understandable to require teams to work together, it is important to consider the experience of your people and the message their environment sends about how much their role or function is valued. The result can be a ‘them’ and ‘us’ culture. It is important we give different groups of employees the same level of consideration when it comes to their physical space.
- Collaboration tools do better with a deliberate strategy
So many of our organisations are using tools such as Slack or Yammer to communicate, share information and build culture. Like many aspects of the employee experience our use of these tools often evolves and before we know it there are 25 different ‘channels’ where information is shared. Creating a communication strategy to support the use of these tools, determining what information goes where, and most importantly giving your teams a guideline for what information is a must-read and digest vs. optional, will improve employee experience. Discussing what is appropriate to post to everyone vs. what should be in a more focused message can ensure these tools do not become a distraction for our teams. A guideline document co-created by leadership and team members will ensure your collaborative communication tools continue to add value – not stress and overwhelm to your employees.
- Modern tools and technology are appreciated by employees AND customers
Technology programmes looking at improving point of sale or other key business processes can often be expensive exercises. Yes, the systems will save time and provide more accurate information capture, but also consider the employee and customer experience created by modern technology. Most terrible customer experiences are created by a terrible employee experience i.e. the employee doesn’t have the right information available or there are cumbersome legacy systems slowing the service down. During our observation and interviews a highlight was one organisation using technology with their customers, entering important personal information into a great user interface, saving on admin time afterwards, creating a great employee and customer experience! Modern technology and tools for employees are often seen, noticed and appreciated by customers just as quickly!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on your own valuable employee experiences. Please feel free to comment below and let us know what it is that you value the most.
If you’d like to find out more about the Employee Experience Awards, check out www.exawards.nz