Why a great employee experience is the competitive advantage of any business

About Jacob Morgan

Employee Experience
Morgan is a three time best-selling author, keynote speaker, and futurist. His latest book is The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture they Can Celebrate (Wiley, March 2017) and is based on an analysis of over 250 global organizations. Jacob's work has been endorsed by the CEOs of: Cisco, Whirlpool, T-Mobile, Best Buy, SAP, Nestle, KMPG, Schneider Electric and many others. Learn more and get access to resources by visiting TheFutureOrganization.com.

What is employee experience?

If you ask most people, they will simply tell you that it’s the ongoing relationship that an employee has with an organization. But that’s not really a very useful way of looking at it.

Instead I prefer to look at employee experience as the overlap between the needs, values, and expectations of employees, and the organization's ability to design for those needs, values, and expectations.

Now the big problems organizations have had for the past few decades is they’ve been investing in employee engagement initiatives that have largely failed. Employee engagement investment is growing while the scores keep dropping, which seems like a bit of a paradox until you look at what’s going on under the hype.

Today, employee engagement has essentially become this notion of forcing employees to work in outdated workplace practices but giving them perks to distract them from the realities of work. In other words, you will have annual reviews, a strict hierarchy, long commutes, bureaucracy, cubicles, etc., but now you will also have free food and yoga. So the organization hasn’t changed, it’s simply introducing perks as a way to manipulate employees and I believe it’s a cowardly thing to do.

Organizations that truly care about their people actually rebuild their workplace practices from the ground up. Companies like Linkedin and Cisco literally have hackathons where they bring their employees together to come up with new ideas that they can implement around how work gets done.

Culture, technology and the physical space

The good news for organizations around the world is that employee experience is really only a combination of three environments. Culture, technology, and the physical space.

Culture refers to the side effects of working for your organization and these can either be good or bad. Pretty much any prescription drug has side effects like nausea, skin discoloration, weight gain, hair loss, and the like. Well, many of us work for organizations that have the exact same side effects, but it doesn’t have to be this way.

Side effects can also be positive such as growth, feeling valued, or the ability to contribute something meaningful to the organization.

The technology environment is all about the tools that employees use to get their jobs done. This includes that hardware, software, devices, apps, and anything else that employees use.

The last environment is the physical one, and no secret here, this refers to the actual spaces in which employees work whether they be coffee shops co-working spaces, or corporate locations. These three things make up what I like to think of as the employee experience equation which is Culture X Technology X Physical Space = Employee Experience.

Why you should bother

Why bother doing any of this? It turns out that organizations who do an amazing job of investing in employee experience are more profitable, have lower turnover, are smaller in size, see more revenue, and far superior stock price performance. The ROI is actually quite significant!

Getting started with this also doesn’t need to be very complicated either.

I recommend organizations do a few things:

1. Put people in positions of power who care about others

2. Get to know your people by encouraging managers to speak with them, and leverage technology to get feedback when you can

3. Use data to understand as much as you can about your workforce

4. Embrace the laboratory mentality of constantly testing and experimenting with ideas

5. Make sure that you design things with employees not for them

We all deserve to work for an organization that invests in employees experience, in the near future, this won’t even be a choice for organizations, it will be a necessity.

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