Naturally, you need a mental model of Employee Experience. Here is a way to build an organizing framework and a limited set of questions to reflect on.
Physical work environment: What’s the look, feel, and vibe of your office environment? Is it an open space or a cube farm? Is furniture ergonomic? Does it allow you to reconfigure things fast? What color scheme are you using -- bright and loud or calm and subdued? What is the level of noise and can people find quiet spaces where they can concentrate without being interrupted by a loud conversation or startled by the running of the espresso machine? Do you have an espresso machine or free tea/coffee?
Digital workspace: How do people use technology to get work done? Do you have a single sign-on option or do they have to log in to 17 systems to be fully productive? We might be exaggerating with 17, but maybe not -- no judgment. Are systems integrated and does data flow seamlessly between them? Are the technical features available on the desktop also fully available on mobile interfaces? Can you activate anything with voice control? Is Wi-Fi strong enough? Does your tooling feel like you are in the Flinstones era, or in the Jetsons’?
Virtual workspace: Can people access the work tools they need and do their work from anywhere? Do they have the ability to continue to be productive regardless of when they choose to do the work? Do they have to carry two separate phones (one personal and one work-issued) because the security doesn’t allow data to be separated on one device?
Of course, some of these questions will not apply to workplaces where you have to be physically in a warehouse, or on a manufacturing line, etc. The core question is -- are you using what you have at your disposal to make the work environment work for people (versus against them)? Is the workplace supporting them in getting their work done, in being productive, in feeling safe? Or is it a source of minor or even major irritations?
Inclusion: Do you have a culture where everyone feels they belong? Do you have a “public square” or “town hall” channel (be that a physical way of gathering and discussing, or virtual way of raising questions, issues, and concerns)? Do employees feel they can freely speak about things that are of concern without experiencing repercussions? Are policies designed for everyone or are they only benefiting specific segments? For example, better health insurance coverage that is only available to executives, eligibility for student loan assistance only available to recent graduates (and more likely on the younger age spectrum) versus parents who are carrying the burden for loan repayments for their children. Are you age-inclusive?
Accessibility: is your workplace accessible? Do people with physical limitations have the ability to use the same tools, same entrances, same spaces? Are your website and digital tools accessible? Do you look at people who have certain physical and mental limitations as people with disabilities or people with diverse-abilities?
In short, when you design any workplace offerings, are you making people feel they belong to different classes or they are all treated in a way that makes them feel cared for? This doesn’t mean that everyone expects riches to be bestowed upon them, but rather that there is fairness in how resources are allocated, and more importantly, there is transparency on how those decisions were made.
Culture: How do people treat each other? Both in the moments of success and failures? Do people understand each other and empathize? Do they feel visible? Do people relate to what’s it’s like to be a family caregiver, or a parent, or a single mom, or a person with a disability (especially of invisible one)? Do people have the ability to adapt their workload to the times when they are performing at peak capacity and when they slow down to recharge their batteries? Is there tolerance for being human? Do leaders role model the behaviors of compassion and empathy?
Teaming norms: Is the work organized to be done primarily by one individual? Is the organization believing in the “lone creator” with exceptional abilities and traits? Do you have an individualistic culture or a collaborative? Is there is a belief in tapping into the organizational community that stretches you, challenges you, and also helps you get things done? Do people generally enjoy working with each other? Do they have the ability to work on some “skunkworks” projects with each other, just because they are passionate about it?
Processes and Policies: Do you have policies that govern nearly everything in the company, or procedures that describe exactly how things need to be done, or processes that one cannot deviate from and there is an army of compliance professionals policing the adherence? Do you add to the collection of those or refine them every single time someone makes an error or does not comply? Are there loopholes that allow people to make exceptions from all those rules if the opportunity to “do the right thing” comes up? Do you trust your employees? Do you trust that they generally have a positive intent? Do they trust you?