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Employee Experience (EX). What is it?

There is a multitude of definitions out there, ranging from a replacement term for employee engagement, all the way to a total overhaul of HR systems to be more user-friendly, and everything in between. Understanding the steps it takes to create a great employee experience, as well as critically engaging with the many valid counter-arguments that follow, is even more confusing. 


We need to change our culture! Again? But we did a program last year and it didn’t make a difference. Plus, what is our ‘culture’ and can we really change it? We need to double down on the quarter-end results, not deal with the fluffy HR stuff. 


We need to listen to the employee’s voice! But we run quarterly engagement surveys and we have a 95% participation rate! Isn’t that enough? 


We have to become digital! Of course, and we invested in a new HRIS system last year and are in the process of implementing a new ATS and now going through an RFP for a new LMS. (How many more acronyms can HR use that employees don’t really care to know?)


We have to make the work environment open and fluid! Well, the open floor is not conducive to productivity, so people need to have private space. No, people need to have the flexibility to work from home and not have an office at all. 


Maybe we leave everything the way it is --  too much change creates chaos and people are experiencing change fatigue. And we can’t do anything about contingent workers either because of the law. 


Sound familiar? No judgment.

Understanding Employee Experience through a simple example

Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein said, ‘To understand is to know what to do.’ Let’s try to deconstruct the experience through simple examples: 

Scenario 1: It is a hot and humid Tuesday morning in July. You walk into the building after a 1.5 hour-long drive in heavy traffic, sweaty and exasperated, only to find a long security line. You are one minute late for your meeting but you have no choice other than to queue up. The security guard captures the unhappy look on your face and now it’s imprinted on the badge you’re going to display all morning. A slow elevator finally takes you to the 12th floor and by the time you find the conference room you need to be in, you’re five minutes late. The client team is already sitting and chit-chatting while you fumble with your cables and dongles, trying to get your laptop connected and fired up. While someone is fetching a Wi-Fi guest password for you, you’re praying that your laptop battery will hold up for the duration of the demo. Seven minutes past the start of the hour, and you’re connected. Now you are furiously entering all the passwords to all the systems that provide the data to the application you will need to demonstrate. How you wish you could start the day over! 


Sound like a scenario that could easily happen to you? Well, it’s too common and everyone can relate to situations where technology that was supposed to make life easier actually gets in the way of productivity. 


Let's, for a moment, dream of an alternative scenario. 


Scenario 2: It is a hot and humid Tuesday morning in July. You walk into the building after your 45-minute commute that can often take 1.5 hours. Your smart car found an alternate route through back roads that bypassed all the traffic on the bridge. You walk into the building and the security guard smiles at you while you retrieve and scan your pre-registration QR code on your phone. You then receive a notification that elevator D will take you to the 12th floor, and when you arrive at the elevator bank, indeed; elevator D has its doors open and swiftly takes you to your destination. The voice-enabled building map on your phone guides you to the conference room where your big demo day will take place. You take a deep breath, inspect the room, walk to the podium, and pull up your phone, which automatically connects to both the wireless network and to the projector in the room. You fire up the app you're about to demo, log in to it with your Face ID, and once you see the projector display the image on the wall, you know it will be a great meeting. You can pause the screen, put your phone down, and spend the rest of the time welcoming and connecting with the client group that is slowly starting to walk in. You are calm, confident, and ready to wow them. With time to spare. 


Do you see a difference in these scenarios? Which one reminds you more of your organization? No judgment… 

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