We recently hosted a webinar titled ‘Enhancing EX: Why employee experience makes business sense’, where a panel of industry leaders discussed how an enhanced employee experience directly impacts your customer experience, and why this benefits businesses in the long run.
“Everyone talks about building a relationship with your customer. I think you build one with your employees first.” — Angela Ahrendts, Senior Vice President, Apple.
Most companies adopt the mantra that in order to succeed, the needs of the customer should be prioritised. But, to be truly customer-centric, you must first be employee-centric, and with Forrester claiming that “2022 will go down as the year Executives were forced to care about Employee Experience,” the time to set your strategy is now.
The conversation was led by Patti Alderman, AVP at Zone and Cognizant Digital Experience and included:
- Lauren Coe, Employee Experience Strategy Director at Zone
- Tina Rudzinski, Head of People and Culture at Lloyds of London
- Gina Arangio, Head of Change Management at GSK
To spark growth and improve employee experience within your organisation, it was discussed that there are three key areas to assess: mindset, methods, and measures.
Setting the right mindset in business
Gina Arangio summed up the importance of changing mindsets. “It is absolutely essential — it is the ‘Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200’ moment if you really want to create something that is going to be sustained in your organisation.”
Business practices have changed. It was previously believed that investing in expensive technical equipment and state of the art office spaces was enough to ensure staff satisfaction, making hiring and retaining staff simple and easy.
Heading into 2022, this could not be further from the truth.
Tina Rudzinski agrees and feels that large pay packets are also no longer a priority. “Those days of the 80’s where people were about ‘where can I go to get the biggest salary?’ are over — it isn’t important to the younger generation. They’re more likely to go where the customer experience is better.” Failure to reflect this in your employee value proposition (EVP) will mean missing out on talented prospective candidates.
With ‘The Great Resignation’ leading to 1.3m job vacancies in October, it is clear that employees are comfortable leaving their current positions — even if they don’t have a direct replacement lined up.
Lauren Coe offered insight on this topic. “It is about shifting the mindset away from what you think the business needs, to what the employees actually need. Traditional leaders will have opinions on how they envision their businesses running. However, if employees do not buy into the culture or mindset, initiatives will stall and possibly fail.”
It is important that the C-Suite sees employees’ perspectives first hand. Meeting with staff, and having face-to-face conversations is great for this — these will quickly serve to shift their mindset.
Tina concurred with this assessment, and elaborated further: “It gives people the sense of bravery — they know they have the backing of the leaders.” Words alone are not enough to stimulate change. Those in positions of power must act, as this can generate a sense of trust and belief. Tina followed this up with an example where a business leader directly intervened when a customer used discriminatory language in a confrontation with a member of their team: “The cancelling of client accounts is a prime example. If your customers’ values aren’t aligned with your own, cutting them loose will reinforce your new culture.”
Putting methods into practice
Businesses can retrospectively analyse the changes that were made and see what worked.
“The idea of safe space and experimentation is great,” said Tina Rudzinski. “It gives people permission to fail.” Accepting that perfection might not be achieved the first time encourages teams to think bravely and creatively.
Gina agreed with this assessment, and highlighted the principles organisations can focus on to improve employee experience. “To create the conditions for success, you need to envision a four-legged stool — this is SEAM.” An acronym for Sponsorship, Empathy, Ambition and Measurement, this framework can be broken down into four separate elements:
- Sponsorship — ensuring that the C-Suite actively endorses the new mindset; this helps to get employees to buy into the scheme
- Empathy — use the tools at your disposal, be it research or surveys, to build empathy amongst your workforce
- Ambition — be crystal clear about what the ambitions of your organisation are, and get the right conversations started
- Measurement — this can be used to garner feedback; without measurement, it will be difficult to secure funding
It is the measurement and ensuing analysis that is most crucial — this is what lends credibility to a company’s actions. This data can be used to drive future funding. With 55% of executives believing great employee experiences fuel better customer experiences, the onus is on business leaders to invest the time and effort necessary to get things right.
The sheer amount of data that can be collected, both qualitative and quantitative, is enough to cause businesses headaches. It is hard to know where to start.
There is no golden set of metrics applicable to all organisations as Patti explained. “There are two sides. What are we measuring to see ROI, and what are we measuring to drive employee behaviour? In order to maximise the potential results, businesses must narrow down the data that they have available. Different industries will measure employee experiences in different ways.”
Regular interactions with employees are critical. This is not enough, however, to guarantee success. Lauren believes that the raw information needs to be handled in the correct manner. “Data gives you the start of the conversation. Listening with purpose gives you the rich feedback.”
Once your business has made changes, follow up with those that have been impacted and initiate conversations with consumers and employees alike. Their responses will subsequently inform you as to whether or not the desired shift has been achieved. This reflects the intrinsic relationship between EX and CX.
Going back to basics
Patti summarised the discussion: “Employee experience and customer experience can’t be separated — you have to draw out how they’re connected. These are not two separate entities. Without a satisfied workforce, your business will struggle to form a stable relationship with its core audience.” Studies show that only 20% of the global workforce is engaged. Take proactive steps now to change this, and the productivity of your employees will benefit massively.
The webinar’s consensus was that this is a marathon, not a sprint, and you must go slow to go further. Companies must acknowledge that there is a need to experiment with different methods, and find the one that works best for them. Listening to employees is key — by actioning the feedback that they provide, you can overhaul your experience for the better.
Catch up on the full conversation here: