The polling results from our recent employee experience webinar revealed that leaders have an opportunity to better leverage data and people analytics to help inform their employee experience. In fact, 81% of attendees said they were either just starting to analyze their people analytics, or they have some basics in place but weren’t where they wanted to be. And 13% said they didn’t know where to begin when it comes to using data to enhance employee experience.
If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s that companies need to be equipped to rethink, reinvent, and reimagine the workplace experience for their employees as part of the new normal. And it’s critical for HR leaders to use their data to understand what their people really want and need.
Our webinar panelists, Ben Eubanks, Chief Research Officer at Lighthouse Research & Advisory, and Dave Millner, Author, Founder, and Consulting Partner at HR Curator, along with Ceridian’s VP, HRBP Americas, Cindy Yi, explored why and how HR leaders can use their data to design the experience their employees actually want, and shared some tips on how to start.
Let’s start with why employee experience is more important now than ever before. What’s remained true throughout the global health crisis is that employees are an organization’s strongest competitive advantage. And, as we continue to climb out of the COVID-19 pandemic, competition for talent in an increasingly borderless and flexible world of work will be fierce. Eubanks says the employee experience parallels the customer experience. Employees and customers both go through different emotions, transactions, and experiences along the way. So, it’s important to not only have that employee engaged throughout their journey but also provide them with an experience that aligns with their needs.
Webinar: Using data to craft an employee-centric experience. Watch on-demand and receive an exclusive EX checklist with key takeaways from the discussion
Millner highlights that it’s critical for people leaders to understand that employee engagement and employee experience are different, but complementary. He explains that an engaged employee is one who has strong feelings for the organization they work for. Experience, on the other hand, is closely tied to how passionate they are about their own individual work experience. Having a passionate employee is the ultimate goal because their work pride soars, which is naturally reflected in their performance. Milner shares, “everything is really about trying to make this a better place for people to work, this is what we are trying to do. And I think if data can help us do it, it’s not cold and clinical, it’s representing the people.” The focus should remain on what employers and organizations can do, to add tangible value for employees.
This isn’t to say that there needs to be a wow-factor every day for employees in every facet of their experience with an organization. As Eubanks suggests, experiences have peaks and pits, citing Disney as an example. When you look back on that Disney experience, you aren’t left thinking of the “pit moments”, like how much a bottle of water cost, or how long lineups were. Instead, the focus is on the “peak moments”, like the smiles and laughs, or living out a childhood dream. Milner advises, “we need to see employee experience as a change management challenge because this is about changing behaviour of leaders, of managers, the workforce, it’s about changing technology, absolutely. This is not just an HR thing … this is a business initiative, which obviously has a very strong people focus.” The focus should be on using data to craft these peak moments in the employee journey.
Yi, Eubanks, and Millner agreed: The time is now to create an intentional experience, with outcomes in mind.
People data and analytics help guide and inform decisions to help HR leaders better invest in key areas of the employee experience. Those data points can include engagement survey results to sales and productivity information
Our panelists noted that once HR leaders have datasets in hand, they should analyze it from all sides, and a level deeper. For example, if 80% of employees share they are currently satisfied with their work environment, from one perspective, this sounds positive. However, if this survey went to 10,000 employees, that also means that 2,000 people are not satisfied. Who are those 2,000 people? Are they top performers? Are they in a particular department or functional area of the business? Looking at the data this way requires a mindset shift to drive an employee-centric experience. As Milner suggests, “The one thing we must always remember is behind every piece of data that’s about an employee or customer, is a person.”
Employee experience in today’s world of work is not simply a one-off program. It is a strategic business initiative that requires partnership with multiple business stakeholders, and data-first thinking to better understand employees and meet their needs.