In recent months, employee experience has become critical to driving impact for organizations. HR has had to greatly accelerate its pace of developing and implementing experience strategies and tools. What are the critical components of a strong and impactful EX strategy? Jason Averbook, CEO and Co-Founder of digital experience company Leapgen, shared several key points for creating a foolproof EX strategy at a workshop during the SAP HR Connect 2020 Virtual Conference.
Begin with the mindset and vision
Mindset is critical: the larger portion of an organization's HR resources, about 35 percent in Jason's estimate, should be dedicated to creating a modern mindset and clear vision, and getting leadership aligned with it.
What does this mindset involve? He suggested asking the following questions:
What matters now to the workforce?
What is high-impact and adds value to the organization?
How do you make sure you have a clear strategy?
How do you get full acceptance and commitment?
Have a coordinated, integrated model for people operations
Many HR organizations have centers of excellence that own the strategy, policy, and delivery of their various functions. But this leads to the creation of silos and non-contiguous strategies, resulting in an inconsistent experience across the different functions. "Instead of digital transformation it becomes technology transition," Jason said—people are moving from one technology to another rather than changing the way they work.
To coordinate the various HR strategies, he suggested that organizations could bring all operations under a single function, such as a VP of people operations, who would be responsible for the entire employee experience strategy: from vision to how people interact with tools to the moments that matter.
"The days of having a HR leadership team, and then having someone owning data operations who's not in the leadership, and then having someone else owning HR technology, are over. It's time that we made HR a digital function," he said.
The employee experience layer is a must, not a nice-to-have
The employee experience layer is where people begin their journey with the organization: the platform where they access services, take actions, and interact with the organization. Under that is the interaction management layer, where user transactions are managed and adjusted; and under that is the transaction layer, where the actual corporate services functions and their underlying systems are located.
Out of these three layers, the experience layer is the most important, because it drives the interaction and communication with employees.
"If you don't have a great experience layer, you don't have a great experience," Jason warned.
Design for your intended audience
The intended audience is not the HR function; it is employees, managers, and leaders. And so, Jason said, all the tools used, layers put in place, and approaches taken by HR must be angled towards this audience. We need to understand, he pointed out, that what is important to HR—such as processes that help HR obtain data—may not necessarily be important, relevant, or even useful to the actual people in the organization.
Along the same lines, he said, HR can no longer rely on the model of engagement surveys and scheduled interactions. "We have to move to a real-time listening, monitoring, and action model to truly understand the workforce," he said.
Technology is the final step
In a world of experience, our measures of success are not just about taking a piece of technology live. Success is derived from having a mindset and strategy that focuses on enabling people to do their best work in a distributed way, wherever they are; from reimagining processes to serve people; from understanding what people need and what works for them. Technology, Jason said, is then the fuel for allowing all that to happen.
"If I have all of these things—mindset, vision, people, audience, process, journey—then I can make the technology successful," he said.