How to design for Employee Experience
From internal processes to good services
Companies with a good employee experience consistently outperform those without it. It reduces employee turnover, increases productivity, and, consequently, revenue. But, what is Employee Experience? And how can we design for it? It all starts with viewing your internal processes and routines as services, where value must be generated for both employees and the organisation.
The topic of employee experience is relatively new, despite the experience itself having existed for as long as there have been employees. It’s an extensive field that touches every single department and function of an organisation. In this article, I will approach the topic from the angle of a service designer, with a series of tips on how to approach Employee Experience with building better services.
1. The employee life cycle as a journey
In essence, the employee experience is… everything. It is not defined by one moment or one person but by a series of interactions and experiences throughout the employee’s journey within an organisation. It starts even before officially becoming part of an organisation, when the person experiences the company from the outside. It then continues throughout the application process, hiring process, onboarding, work, possible promotions or role changes, (when leaving the company) and continues as a post-experience after the employee has left the company. Throughout this journey, it’s the company’s role to provide services that generate value and purposeful interactions at each moment, ensuring consistency all along.
2. Purpose, Promise, and Performance
To design for Employee Experience is to take control of the narrative. You need to make it clear to your employees (or potential employees) what your purpose as an organisation is. Why do you exist? Where are you going? If this is well defined, chances are higher that this purpose can be matched with the purpose of the employee. They must see and feel where they fit in that purpose.
Moreover, it’s essential that they know what to expect from you as an employer. In other words — you need to define and communicate what your promise is. And, more importantly, you need to deliver on this promise — you need to manage your performance. Are you providing the employee what you said you would? There is evidence to show that delivering on your promise can decrease employee turnover by as much as 69%.
3. Develop a systemic approach
As with any service, there are a set of components that will help you design the service you’re offering as an employer. These include gathering insights, mapping out the existing journey, identifying pain points, and, eventually, designing a new journey and its touchpoints. Classic service design is your friend here. However, as employee experience relates to several services, with innumerous touchpoints, and with a journey that lasts (hopefully) for many years — how can we keep the consistency? The answer is designing a systemic strategy.
Just like digital designers develop design systems to maintain consistency in their design, and brand designers create brand manuals, we need to create a system for the services we’re offering the employee. This system should revolve around your company’s Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and aim to make it actionable. It’s essential that the system and the resources we use to design services (for example, insights, metrics, tools) are available and anchored within the entire organisation. Employee Experience is not created inside one single department.
4. It all starts with HR
So, where to start? If Employee Experience happens everywhere and all the time, how do we know where to begin the design work? The simple answer is — start where you can impact the most. An employee’s first interaction with your organisation will most likely involve HR in the hiring process. HR will also play a role in most of the following formal interactions throughout the employee’s lifecycle. This is already a great reason to start with HR services. HR employees also have the unique, hybrid role of being both employees and providers of services for employees, making them the most valuable guardians of the Employee Experience. If they can have good experiences, they will spread good experiences across the entire organisation.
From here, you can start extending and developing the journey with the help of other supporting departments and functions.
All in all, the most important thing to remember when it comes to Employee Experience is that you, as an employer, is a service provider. If you manage to incorporate this mindset, you have an excellent starting point for designing a great journey for the people who work in your organisation.
Did you find the topic interesting? Do you have any thoughts on how to design employee experience? Share in the comments!