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Samantha Gadd | 24 August 2020

Embedding Purpose - our journey

Embedding purpose isn’t easy, neither is changing ways of working.

I am keen to share our experience of doing both at Humankind, as this journey forms an important part of our story. 

About five years ago I remember first learning about Employee Experience (EX) and being very excited. I immediately knew EX would be the future of HR. 

I was deeply interested in what EX is and how to go about designing better workplace experiences. Fast forward to today and I am proud of how far Humankind has come, our purpose and approach - but it has been a journey. 

Where it all started 

Realising EX was going to be the future of HR was just the beginning. I knew I would need to learn as much as I could to share this passion with my team and ultimately start educating the market, before making any impact. 

Making Change 

This started with the decision to rebrand to Humankind. Ultimately I knew our original brand, HR Shop would not carry this new passion forward. The decision to rebrand was obvious, to me. What I didn't anticipate though was changing our brand, changed everything. The next couple of years were tumultuous, to say the least! 

Designing Foundations 

Living into our new name, Humankind and growing employee experience consultants wasn't easy. We spent a lot of time discussing our own ideas about what EX is and how to describe this concept to others. Ultimately, we developed an inputs-based model to describe and work with EX.  

Leading the EX discussion in New Zealand provided us many opportunities to grow. At the beginning of 2019, we realised our first model had been useful for categorising different inputs to employee experience but did not support designing employee experiences. Our team craved better and ultimately threw out our original thinking, to make way for something new. 

Introducing PREP, a new and improved way of looking at EX. Instead of looking at inputs, our PREP model looks at four types of experiences. PREP stands for Purpose experiences, Relationship experiences, Enabling experiences and Performance experiences. This model is powerful at explaining the different experiences that make up our every-day EX, but even better, also supports designing great experiences. Every experience should consider purpose, relationships, enablers and performance.  

PREP is serving our work beautifully in this space. However, no doubt we will continue to evolve as we grow and experience more. 

While having a model to frame our thinking and work was a great start, we still needed a toolkit.  

Realising our purpose 

Early 2019, at around the same time we introduced the PREP model, we had also become aware of the need to spend time rethinking our purpose. While we had always been driven to help people love what they do, it was time for our team to articulate our purpose more clearly, following so much change at Humankind. 

Where we landed is perfect, and truly impactful. Our team speak passionately about our reason for being every day.  

Our refreshed purpose is Humanity at work. 

Embedding purpose 

The journey so far has us realising our passion for EX, rebranding to Humankind, a name and brand that will carry our passion and vision. Developing PREP for EX, a powerful framework to share with clients and support our work in this space and redefining our purpose. 

Still, there was something missing. 

Ultimately, how were we going to lead Humanity at work? We needed guiding principles.

This is where our team introduced Employee Centred Design (ECD) as a mindset and developed a set of principles to guide our work.  

While developing guiding principles, we were inspired by fields such as user experience design and customer experience design – where the perspectives of the user/customer is at the centre of any problem solving. 

Ultimately at Humankind, our ECD mindset is founded on two key beliefs,  

  1. Employees represent one of the greatest sources of performance potential in an organisation. Great employee experiences inspire people to perform 
  2. The solutions you seek lie in the population you serve. Employees are in the best position to tell you what’s going on, and should be involved in solution design. 

We introduced five principles to develop great employee experiences: 

  1. Find the why 
  2. Design with 
  3. Build and test 
  4. Make it BASIC 
  5. PREP for EX 

Each principle keeps the employee front of mind and supports us to ultimately develop awesome employee experiences. 

Practical ways we embed purpose at Humankind

  1. Talk about it every day. To keep our purpose front of mind and influence ways of working, we talk about what we are doing to lead Humanity at work and serve our clients using ECD. Every. Single. Day. At our daily morning huddle, we ask our team “how did we apply ECD to work yesterday?”. This question and ritual reinforce our purpose and has been critical to ultimately impacting behaviour change across the business. Our team are challenged to reflect daily on their approach to work and share with others.
  2. Foundation of strategy. Our strategic plan is our roadmap to bringing purpose to life. Every priority (annual and quarterly) can all be linked to leading Humanity at work. We share our strategy and update on priorities at our Monthly Business Update (all hands) meeting.
  3. Embedded in policy and practice. When we develop new policy, processes or practices we link steps or decisions to Humanity at work. We also explicitly incorporate our beliefs and guiding principles wherever practical. A recent example is our own Flexibility guidelines, developed by our team.

Like so many journeys, embedding purpose is never done. There are opportunities to lead humanity at work everywhere we look.  

I am so proud and grateful for the Humankind team (past and present), we have made a great start! I can’t wait to see where we go next. 

#purpose #employeeexperience #humanityatwork