People are the greatest assets for any organization in any industry. Whether it be customers, employees, or partners, people are the key drivers of success. But as the world of work continues to evolve, organizations are challenged to meet the expectations of their people.
Embedding employee experience initiatives into an organization’s people strategy is therefore critical, as employees who are engaged and committed to their work significantly impact business results and drive competitive advantages, such as increased customer satisfaction, lower turnover, and higher revenue and productivity.
To succeed in the experience economy, organizations must strive to shift their focus to changing the way they provide value not only to their customers but also to their employees. Why is it becoming imperative for human resources (HR) leaders to close experience gaps in the workforce and how can marketing principles of customer centricity, segmentation, and data analytics be applied to improve employee experience strategies and drive business results?
Principle 1: Put Employees at the Center of Your Vision
For many years now, organizations have focused on ensuring that customers have a positive experience with their products and services, failing to realize that their employees are also their customers in some shape or form. The employee experience is influenced by the behavior and expectations employees have as consumers. The conventional wisdom is that employees expect to have engaged, flexible, convenient, and personalized experiences in the workplace, similar to what they experience as consumers. However, it is more than just about meeting expectations; it is about understanding what employees value.
According to research by Gartner, organizations that focus not just on what employees need but what they value can increase performance by 20 percent. For example, focusing on instilling a sense of purpose, a sense of belonging in the team, and honest recognition can motivate employees and drive performance. Hence, in the same way customer experience data is being used to understand customers’ needs, employee experience data can be used to understand employees’ values, leading to a competitive advantage.
Similar to how marketing teams focus on customer centricity—placing the customer in the centre of everything they do—HR can approach its people strategy by listening to employees and creating experiences that bring unique value. For instance, an organization can optimize its candidate experience in the same way as a customer engagement strategy.
The expectation for candidates is that their application experience will mirror the online shopping experience with technology being the key driver. HR can adopt technologies, such as artificial intelligence assistants, that allow candidates to ask questions throughout the application process and the chatbot to ask the candidate all the required questions, speeding up the process and increasing the recruiter’s productivity. Other technologies, such as virtual reality, can be used to interview candidates or provide virtual tours of the workplace, thus revolutionizing the experience and reinforcing employer brand perception and advocacy.
Principle 2: One Size Does Not Fit All
Long gone are the days where ‘one size fits all,’ where it was assumed that all employee groups regardless of age, gender, business function, or role are the same. The workforce today is becoming increasingly diverse, global, and complex, consisting of many types of employees, such as full-time, part-time, freelancers, and contractors, from multiple generations and locations.
Like marketing professionals, HR leaders can apply segmentation principles to identify employees based on needs, wants, and motivations, creating targeted talent and well-being strategies that deliver unique experiences for each segment. For example, younger employees prioritize work life balance, working environment, wellness programs, and career development when deciding whether to join or stay with an organization. In comparison, mature employees may place more importance on saving for retirement or tailored benefit packages.
Another example is work environment, which often differs by job function. Traditionally, people working in call centers have a higher level of churn due to the nature of work compared to people working in specialized fields who have higher time to productivity but longer retention. Adopting a segmented approach to a people management strategy will allow organizations to effectively identify gaps in employee experience initiatives, increase retention and engagement, and ultimately lead to happier employees.
Principle 3: You Can’t Improve What You Don’t Measure
Harnessing the power of analytics is not only essential but critical in achieving competitive advantage. In the same way marketing professionals have leveraged data to measure effectiveness of consumer engagement strategies, HR can identify employee experience gaps—the difference between the experience an organization believes it is delivering and the actual experience delivered—so that action can be taken quickly.
With an experience management (XM) platform like Qualtrics, which helps organizations understand and improve the employee experience at every meaningful touchpoint in the employee lifecycle, an organization can improve every aspect of its people experience. By blending people and operational HR data (O-data) from SAP SuccessFactors with valuable experience data (X-data) from Qualtrics, an organization can understand what is happening with its workforce and the why behind it. For example, combining O-data such as which employees are leaving the organization filtered by gender, location, department, and role with X-data such as beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions that influence employees leaving the organization, can give insight into what talent management practices are needed to attract, focus, and engage each employee segments to ensure retention.
Embedding marketing principles of customer centricity, segmentation, and data analytics into people strategy can help achieve a competitive edge. Putting people at the center helps ensure employees’ voices are not only heard but valued. Disrupting the ‘one size fits all’ approach with segmentation principles enables the identification of what drives employees so an organization can set itself apart from competitors and offer employees a unique personalized experience that caters to their needs. An employee experience strategy that takes on a consumer-style approach, uses data to understand what really matters to employees, and listens is likely to lead to a better performing and highly engaged workforce that drives business outcomes.
Vrinda Raniga is an intern for Cloud HCM Product Management – Analytics at SAP Australia.