Customer-centricity has been talked about in marketing circles for more than ten years now and it is still very central in the context of digital transformations, customer-focused culture and customer experience.
This movement is now also present within the HR environment with the focus on employee experience (EX). This attention is due to increasing digitalization, where a growing group of employees expects more from their organization, such as a pleasant working environment, a good culture and modern, digital solutions.
On the other hand, the reality is that in every established company there is a group of employees who no longer keep up with the same digitalization. The latter is something that most start-ups, often referred to for inspiring examples about employee experience, have little or no connection with. This means that for most companies working with EX, not only the positive, inspiring story of how we make organizations 'sexier' needs to be looked at, but also what this change means for employees (especially on a digital level) and how they can be supported to make the transition to digital working.
For us, Employee Experience is therefore not only about creating a new future, but also about bringing people into that future. For both aspects, a deep understanding of the employee and how he or she works is crucial.
That's why the basis for EX is having an employee-centric mindset.
But what exactly does that mean, employee-centricity?
Putting the employee at the heart of everything you do.
It means that you won't create consistently good experiences without really understanding the employee.
It means that instead of thinking from the perspective of your processes and creating solutions to improve your own organization, you start thinking from the perspective of employee journeys and create solutions that help the employee when he or she needs them. And then, where necessary, to set up your processes as efficiently as possible.
The employee does not want to see or know how an HR department is organized, or how an IT, communication or other department is organized. He wants to be able to find what he needs quickly and easily. He wants to be able to book a day off quickly and easily, book a meeting room, reserve a car park, find and collaborate with colleagues, ... He also wants to be able to learn quickly and easily, preferably at the time he needs it. He wants to be able to log in easily from the workstation of his choice and continue to work productively.
Most employees just want to do a good job. Doing something meaningful. Making a contribution to the team and to the organization or beyond. That's why it's so important to digitize things that take a lot of time and don't provide real added value in their job, such as long holiday application procedures or frustrating searches for the right document to register for a training course. Of course, employee experience is about more than just digital solutions; it is also about the physical working environment itself (office, home and other workplaces), as well as about the working climate or the culture that is largely determined by the manager and the colleagues. What you focus on is a first exercise that you have to do when you start working with EX.
An important footnote here is that you have different groups of employees, and the need for these kinds of solutions is also different. That's why everything starts from your vision and strategy: what do you want to be for whom and how will you organize it? To become an employee-centric organization, you have to plan, organize and measure. You will have to make choices about exactly how to do this for your organization. There are, of course, frameworks such as the one of Jacob Morgan (author of the Employee Experience Advantage) that can inspire your strategy, but you will mainly start from the organization's own needs. The strategic needs and the needs of the employees.
On the other hand, it is also important to work on the organization's employee-centric mindset: how do you ensure that employees are central to what you do? Just telling people to just do that from now on will not be effective. A better solution is to set up ways to listen empathically to your organization, either directly with employees or digitally via measurements, to bring in innovation so that the current thinking pattern is challenged, to learn from what other companies are doing (inside or outside the sector), to create a working environment that stimulates creative thinking and where new management tools can be introduced, to help people learn by applying new thinking and working methods...
Moreover, it is very important, perhaps crucial, to link it to specific business objectives and needs. Employee experience is not a separate issue or an end in itself, it is and remains a strategy to do better as an organization, which does not always mean just financial growth.
Finally, you will adapt your organization to the new reality through structures and working methods that transcend silos and are organized around the employee rather than around processes.
You can start small with employee experience and achieve good results with it, but if you really see it as a change that you have to make as an organization to stay ahead, then it is a big change that needs a broader vision, strategy and approach and that starts with putting the employee at the centre of everything you do.