Who is designing your employee experience?
Product designers focus on experience design, a growing field popularized by iconic designers like Dieter Rams of Braun or Jony Ive of Apple. Designing experiences is all about creating a genuine connection with the people using your product. It’s not the “feel” of a product. It’s the feelings you get when using it. Experts engineer those emotions.
So, why don’t we invest the same effort in our employees’ experiences? Especially when they are responsible for our users’ experiences?
Evaluate your employees’ typical process to complete their work. Would you want to use it?
You can uncover a lot by writing down the five primary responsibilities of a job and how a person accomplishes them in your business. Then, author an elevator pitch describing what is necessary to complete it. Here’s an example.
Introducing: Work! With Work, you can do exactly the job you’re paid to do. Spanning 17 applications, few of which work together, you can get your stuff done quickly by:
- Copying and pasting between documents
- Navigating database-centric CRMs and applications to follow-up with customers
- Managing 13 tabs in your browser
- Sending the same stuff to different people at different times
- Creating your own templates for the thing everyone does and variants of the same documents over and over
Can’t wait to use Work? Me, neither.
It’s a simple exercise, but the solution may not be. It is not reducing the number of applications, and it is not expanding interoperability between different tools. It is a shift in mindset, a commitment to helping employees connect to their work and your business. The same way experience designers create magic moments for their users, companies have to orchestrate how “work happens” so that it gets out of the way of the work you need done.
Whose job is focused on employee experience today?
I don’t know of many organizations invested in optimizing their employee engagement or experience with this mindset. When talking about this with colleagues, I hear three different roles owning employee experience, none of whom possess the skill set, incentives, or time to address it.
Managers focus on end results
Nearly all managers are incentivized by end results, not optimizing how they are achieved. Further, most are dual-role employees, where companies pile on managerial duties to individual expectations. They don’t have the time.
Department heads look for efficiencies
Department heads have greater business responsibilities taking their time, and they don’t possess an experience design skillset. They focus on employee efficiency, not engagement and experience. While efficiency is a benefit of excellent employee experience design, it leaves out the most important part: genuine connection to your work.
HR is not in the weeds of work getting done
Human Resources designs global employee engagement and experience, like onboarding, but lack the domain expertise to engineer department workflows. Like managers and department heads, optimal employee experience is not a primary task of the job.
It costs organizations to overlook the employee experience.
Businesses do not naturally evolve into simpler, more optimized organizations. It goes the other way, increasing in complexity and variance over time. Departments “bolt on” more considerations, steps, or keystrokes as their work changes, often without the time to reevaluate the system in whole.
That complexity has repercussions. It increases the time it takes new employee to contribute, and complexity slurps up mental capacity every day. Compound that drain by the number of employees within a department, and the total efficiency loss quickly translates to lost margin and employee interest.
Complexity stifles employees’ connection to their work. People want fulfillment and satisfaction by doing their jobs and contributing to their teams. When that work is mired in extra steps and non-intuitive processes, it affects employee attitudes, satisfaction, and their longevity with your business.
Employee Experience will drive the next wave of sustainable, high-performance companies
Remote teams, changing demographics, and the gig economy make employee engagement and experience critical. Employees don’t marry their jobs anymore. They lease their talent for fulfilling experiences. Organizations who understand this can create a team and culture built for long-term success.
Next, I’ll share how to apply those to your employees’ experience, and how doing so can create focused, enthusiastic employees who contribute greater value.
How are you designing your employee engagement program or enhancing employee experiences? Share below!
W. K. Cash Forshee
Co-Founder & SVP, Product and Strategy, Lucro