Winning EX strategies to maximise business returns
The employer-employee relationship is changing with greater emphasis on employee expectations. While designing a meaningful and impactful employee experience (EX) is fundamental for both engagement and retention, it can also play an invaluable role in organisational success in the current economic scenario. Leading companies today recognise that investing in EX will undoubtedly pay dividends across the business from enhanced productivity, and greater innovation to a maximised value from existing technology investments. Hence, implementing the right technologies and tools is critical to improving EX and driving business performance.
The current EX landscape
Today, multiple digital tools are available to empower organisations to drive productivity and efficiency, but for an engaging EX, we also have to look at the softer side i.e. people. Shenton Sng, Vice President of HR, SPH Media shares, “We must be mindful that today’s employee base comprises of a multi-generational workforce and we must manage change inclusively for all kinds of employee bases”.
Nowadays, the EX begins right from the first day of the meeting, when the employer hires a new employee. “It is not just about bringing a person onboard but about starting a new relationship”, believes Anung Anindita, Senior Vice President-Strategy Human Capital, PT. Pegadaian. Today, he sees new technology bringing employers and employees closer together.
Rajat Luthra, Chief Operating Officer - Southeast Asia, ZingHR then brings forth the larger debate everyone is facing, “Is there really a family relationship between employer and employee today. If not, then what are we?” He believes that the two aspects that define the employer-employee dynamics are a performance-driven relationship and alignment of ‘aspirations and purpose’. EX thus begins with clearly defining a relevant EX model.
An impactful EX model
To truly align the aspirations of the organisation with its people and curate a great EX, Zing HR defines six main principles:
- Attract & Nurture: Attract, engage and nurture talent, and build your employer brand
- Engage & Empower: Ensure EX empowers teams and fosters collaboration
- Decide Intelligently: Have deep data insights to make informed decisions
- Align & Grow: Strategically align aspirations of the organisation and its people
- Adopt LEAN and be efficient: Eliminate non-value-adds to improve productivity using LEAN methodology
- Be socially responsible: Achieve broad priorities around ESG and sustainability
Clearly outlining these EX tenets along with business outcomes is important, because with the gig economy, employees have more options than before. Hence, employers must reinvent their EX to deliver an attractive employer value proposition to bring aboard critical talent who will drive success.
How to curate a relevant and engaging EX?
Technology defines experiences today, of both employees and consumers. Research reveals how tech can lead to up to 20% improvement in productivity, lower churn, improve attrition rates, and other tangible business outcomes. Shenton highlights that any new HR technology must be designed so that it does not become an obstacle to how people perform their day-to-day jobs. It should aid innovation and profit-making for the organisation.
This then brings us to the core question around data and tech, “Do we have the right digital tools to curate critical data insights?” Rajat highlights how data is available in different forms – manuals, excel sheets, and even in the hearts and minds of your people. He also adds that if we have centralised meaningful data along with the right tools, it can do wonders. He then suggests organisations embark on a 4-layer Data Analytics Journey that is inclusive of Descriptive, Diagnostic, Predictive and Prescriptive analytics.
Choosing the right analytics tools will enable organisations to personalise the EX to meet employees’ specific needs and implement practical employee interventions, believes Anung. According to Rajat, this is possible by basing the EX design on three fundamentals, which are collaborate-communicate-connect.
Coming back to the power of tech, it indeed plays a big part in determining how an organisation delivers on its purpose, and what kind of employees it attracts. Shenton shares a practical example, “A critical employee demographic to note is that bosses and managers are getting younger and younger, and one must accept the fact that the boss may be younger than me, and yet focus on delivering what the employer branding is all about.” For example, SPH Media has a very clear and simple purpose to be a ‘trusted source of news’. How the company delivers on this determines whether employees would get on the bandwagon and support the purpose. Thus, tech and purpose alignment go hand-in-hand when it comes to EX design.
The role of HR professionals in reinventing EX
HR shapes the EX by creating and implementing policies on performance and talent management and HR practices, which in turn, drive business performance. Shenton highlights an example of how the new generation of employees request more frequent feedback from their peers and supervisors, while older generations prefer annual appraisals. HR can then drive a process to have periodic feedback sessions and tech can enable this with dipstick surveys, monthly and instant feedback.
When implementing digital solutions, HR must redefine and reengineer them to ensure minimal iterations and maximum convenience. Along with embracing tech, HR professionals must retain the softer touch. “HR helps attract top talent by fostering a positive workforce environment and driving employee wellbeing”, shares Anung. Rajat believes that this hard-soft blend of HR impacts not only the bottom line, but also the top line.
Sustaining the EX strategy for success
It is important to measure EX success. One must set up goals to improve productivity and profits through it. “Tools are there to quantify and measure outcomes. You can evaluate if you are meeting the goals, but tech is only a means. The larger purpose is to have people motivated and happy”, shares Rajat. Anung agrees that aligning EX with business outcomes requires a different approach. It starts by understanding the organisation’s strategic goals and defining the key success factors.
HR must begin by assessing the current employee experience through the right conversations. The impact of such a positive EX on business will be seen as per Rajat’s formula:
Positive EX = high motivation = high performance = high customer EX = higher growth and profits
Anung believes that at the end of the day, the core of EX is to show employees we care. But empathy must be balanced with data to design a sustainable EX for the future. Every employee touchpoint must be analysed to re-engineer and rearchitect personalised workflows. And while HR takes the lead, its impact lies in collaborative efforts. “HR today should not be a function, it has to be a trait in all line managers. EX cannot be the sole responsibility of only HR teams, but must cut across the organisation,” advises Rajat.