According to Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report,
A productive, positive employee experience has emerged as the new contract between employer and employee. Just as marketing and product teams have moved beyond customer satisfaction to look at total customer experience, so is HR refocusing its efforts on building programs, strategies, and teams that understand and continuously improve the entire employee experience.
The Impact of Experiences
Experiences (terrible, average, or great) are at the core of our lives as consumers. We know the difference between an extraordinary experience (the hotel that remembers your room preferences, meal choices, and specific needs) and a terrible experience (the waiter forgets your drink order, brings out the dishes at separate times, and goes missing when you're ready for the check).
Experiences matter. They impact our satisfaction, loyalty, relationships, happiness, buying decisions, and they shape us as human beings.
As discussed in my article, This is The Best Way to Engage Millennials at Work, research shows that humans derive more meaning and joy from experiences than objects, so when faced with the decision to buy a new item or go on vacation, choose the vacation in order to create an experience.
Though experiences may be momentary, they stay with us in the form of memories. Similarly, the experiences we have at work have the capacity to positively or negatively shape the connections we have with our managers, coworkers, and the company as a whole.
So, if experiences are so critical and we put so much value on a good experience, why are great experiences missing from inside of our organizations?
What Is Employee Experience?
Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces They Want, the Tools They Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate, explains that organizational priorities are shifting to focus more and more on "people and bringing humanity and experiences into our organizations."
Morgan believes that organizations have evolved from utility (basic components of work), to productivity (getting the most out of people), to engagement (making employees happy and engaged), to employee experience. "If employee engagement is the short-term adrenaline shot, then employee experience is the long-term redesign of the organization," says Morgan.
Morgan defines attention to employee experience as "designing an organization where people want to show up by focusing on the cultural, technological, and physical environments." Said another way, employee experience is the approach to delivering excellent experiences to employees inside of an organization throughout the life cycle of employees. It's the impact an organization's processes, policies, and programs have on its people.
The core of the shift to employee experience is creating organizations where people want, not need, to show up to work. Organizations can no longer assume that employees need to be present or have to show up. They must instill a desire to be there.
Employee experience has recently emerged as a top priority in organizations as a way to foster innovation, recruit and retain top talent, improve customer and employee satisfaction, and increase overall company performance.
Deloitte's 2017 Global Human Capital Trends report sums up why employee experience is emerging as a top priority:
In a digital world with increasing transparency and the growing influence of Millennials, employees expect a productive, engaging, enjoyable work experience. Rather than focus narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organizations are developing an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, bringing together all the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job.
A new marketplace of pulse feedback tools, wellness and fitness apps, and integrated employee self-service tools is helping HR departments understand and improve this experience. Through new approaches such as design thinking and employee journey maps, HR departments are now focusing on understanding and improving this complete experience and using tools such as employee "Net Promoter" scores to measure employee satisfaction.
The Rise of Employee Experience
A major contributor to the rise and relevance of employee experience is the growing representation of Millennials in the workplace. The presence and expectations of Millennials have required organizations to fundamentally redefine their structure and purpose.
Previous generations learned to keep silent about the change they wanted, but Millennials are vocalizing the change they want. Change and the shift to employee experience will accelerate when Millennials account for 50 percent of the global workforce by 2020.
More experience-seeking Millennials in the workplace means that a shift to experience-centric organizations is needed to attract, retain, and engage the Millennial worker.
(This is 1 of the 47 strategies Ryan shares in his new book, The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.)