The Principles of an Employee Experience Design Strategy
Updated: Jul 17
What is Employee Experience Design?
As explained in our blog More than an HR Trend: Understanding the “Employee Experience” Correctly, the declared goal of employee experience design is to create the most inspiring work experience possible for employees, this has a direct impact on their engagement and commitment. The employee experience design covers everything from the working atmosphere, communication and team interaction.
Principles of an Employee Experience Design Strategy
According to the IBM Institute for Business Value, the employee experience is designed across three dimensions; social connections, the physical environment, and the employees work. The IBM institute identifies five strategies and additional methods to enhance employee experience.
Three Types of Interaction, Six Facets
The institute identifies three types of interaction involved in employee experience design:
Social: interactions with others at work
Physical: Interactions with environment
Work: Interactions with their work and tasks
These interactions aren’t independent of each other, but create six overlapping facets.
Community: Employees' social interactions at work, also known as ‘social capital’, has a huge effect on an employees experience. In turn this affects their engagement, satisfaction and feelings towards the workplace.
Physical workspace: Most people spend a huge amount of their week at work. As much effort should go into designing the workplace that goes into building a home. People's surroundings at work impacts their health and wellbeing and in turn psychological, and physical stress. Learn More about Psychological stress in our blog.
Environment: The focus on the physical workplace should go further than the office design. Factors such as lighting, noise, temperature are also important in the employee experience design.
Tools: If your computer keeps breaking at work or slow internet makes online conferences keep buffering you can bet that employee engagement and productivity will drop. Tools cover all the necessary equipment an employee needs to do their job. This should also include accessibility, and user friendly nature of equipment.
Activities: Or better described as employee prospects. One of the facets of employee experience design is how the employee sees their potential in their job. Does an employee feel they can build themselves into their role? Do they understand the purpose of their work? Understanding the effect that an individual's work has on the company as a whole affects employee experience as well as feedback, support and access to expertise knowledge.
Social platforms: We are social beings and for most people their social life in the workplace makes (or breaks) their whole work experience. Internal social platforms such as Slack, Microsoft Teams and our partner Office Accord, are used across companies for knowledge sharing and connecting with colleagues, and increase employee engagement.
Culture in Employee Experience Design
Each of the six facets mentioned above should be considered in a company's culture. Having a strong company culture and clearly defined Vision and Core Values affect an employees experience. Designing an employee experience with a basis of core values will keep employees motivated and connected to the company.To have employees "live the values" they should be embedded into the culture and every element of the employee experience, this continued alignment will become the backbone for building up a dedicated team. See our workshop on Mission, Vision and Core Values. A strong culture can only develop when the necessary strategy and structures are in place and core values should underline a company's strategy. This strategy will help all external and formal drivers of company culture support the employee experience design.
Five Strategies for Influencing Employee Experience Design
According to the IBM institute there are five different strategies used in employee experience design.
As a company’s culture and values vary, so should the employee experience design in response. The employee experience should be tailored to both the company's needs and the needs of the employee. This could be adopting a flexible working environment where employees are allowed to work remotely in order to create a work-life balance suitable for them. See our blog on how to ensure effective communication with remote employees. Personalisation also extends to an employees developmental learning. Most companies have a Learning & Development (L&D) budget of 500-1000 euros for their employees. This budget should be used in employee experience design and improve learning personalisation. Personalisation is also linked to the tools facet as an employees need for equipment may vary.
One of the most important approaches to an employee experience design as well as company culture is transparency. This means what does the company actually stand for and not just wish to stand for. If an employee feels connected to a company due to their values but these values are not actually reflected in the company this will not only have a negative impact on the employee experience but also the external reputation of the company.For an improved employee experience employees should know how a company is working and what for, as in the end goal. If there is a change in the company such as a change in location or change in management, this should be transparent. This can also be related to current times in relation to the Corona crisis. Many companies have had to cut their team and employees have been let go. One way to deal with this would be to be completely transparent and give employees an option to work part time.
As a company grows they typically will go through a number of ‘teething stages’, these can lead to uncertainty within the company and have a negative impact on the employee experience design. There are a number of ways to overcome these stages (download our whitepapers on growth crisis(here). As with many things the best way to deal with something is to prevent it happening in the first place. The organisation of the company should be structured simply so that employees are able to do their work more efficiently and streamlined. Part of the employee experience design is having clear, simple structures within the company and removing processes that don't add value and create confusion. Knowledge should be accessed easily and organised clearly.
Links back to transparency, culture and how the companies and employees values are aligned. These values should be represented throughout the company, structures and processes. If a company's core value is learning and development there should be a clear focus to promote learning and development and it should be ingrained into the entire employee experience design, from KPIs to feedback talks and performance management, (there are covered in our trainings and workshops).
“Organizations that claim a particular characteristic but fail to follow through in their interior design can come across as inauthentic to employees, whose impressions inevitably trickle down to clients.” - Ron Friedman
The final strategy mentioned by the IBM institute is responsiveness and it talks being responsive to employees willingness to engage and performance management systems. To adopt responsiveness into an employee experience design employees are given the chance to give feedback about the company, management and workload. From this feedback companies are given an insight into how the company works from an employees perspective and in turn make changes in order to improve the employees experience.
Methods to Enhance Employee Experience Design
From their research the IBM institute has identified four key methods in enhancing the employee experience design.
In order to start the enhancement process of the employee experience companies should start with analytics. Before making any changes to the employee experience design you need to actually find out what your employees want. Surveys and evaluation forms can be used to analyse employees' experience. Using analytics a company can identify the weakest points and put their energy into improving these.
Invest in Touchpoints:
Companies cannot run without their employees. Therefore making employees happy should be the top priority in every company, and it often requires an investment. A company should use analytics to pinpoint the focus touchpoints for the employee experience design and then these touchpoint should be invested in.
“Understanding the relevance of different employee experiences, and taking into consideration your organizational strategy and culture, will help you target investment in those areas that are most impactful.” BIM institute.
Multifunctional, Multifaceted Approach
When integrating employee experience design it should be a multifaceted approach which requires a multifuncional perspective. This means that all three types of integration should be considered; Social, Physical and Work as well as each facet. To really enhance an employees experience a company needs to focus on more than just one area but consider the employee throughout the whole work life journey.
Agile Employee Experience design :
HR has changed so much in the last few years and companies are now required to be more agile, this is also relevant with employee experience design. Quantitative, observational and analytical data should be used to really understand the current employee experience, what works and what doesn't. This should be done considering the different interactions and facets that affect the employees journey. Agile solutions should be created to initiative change quickly rather than slow, large solutions. This should all be constantly monitored and refined using feedback systems.
Learn how employee experience can help strengthen your employer brand in our blog. Contact us if you want support improving your employee experience.