Why firms fail to move the needle on ‘employee experience’

'EX' is not about free pizza or the Ping-Pong table, says Amit Bhatia of Forrester

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Employee experience themed conferences sell out, while vendors have been rebranding their offerings around it.

Across the Asia Pacific region, interest in the topic, and organisations have embarked on a range of employee experience programmes.

Employee experience or ‘EX’ has become the new buzzword, reports Forrester.

“Despite this buzz, the needle on EX has not been moved in many firms,” notes Forrester analyst Amit Bhatia.

Many EX initiatives completely ignore the tech dimension 

As he states in a recent report, employee experience efforts in Asia Pacific are well-intentioned but misguided. 

Many organisations are not grasping the full extent of EX, he says.

“Employee experience is not about free pizza or the Ping-Pong table,” he notes in a recent blog. 

He says many of those assigned with improving EX are essentially human resource staff rebranded as EX pros.

For many firms, EX focuses on the employee lifecycle from ‘hire to retire’. 

Very few, he states, focus on understanding employees' daily journeys, improving their productivity, or considering the role that technology plays in all of this. 

He points out it is important to take a holistic, multi-partner approach to improving the employee experience.

This calls for HR, technology, operations, and CX teams working in tandem to give employees a “cohesive experience”.

Most jobs today are heavily dependent on technology, he cites.

A Forrester survey on 14,000 global information workers shows that tech significantly influences EX.

Six of the eight drivers in Forrester's Employee Experience Index relate to technology.

Yet, many EX initiatives completely ignore the tech dimension, he states.

Even when EX teams, which are typically HR teams, understand how important technology is to the overall employee experience, they face several hurdles.

Among these are lack of resources and the skills to make tech buying and maintenance decisions by themselves. They have also been unable to get collaboration going with digital leaders within the organisation. 

“This results in suboptimal technology choices, hinders tech adoption, and ultimately ensures that the EX pot of gold stays out of reach,” he writes.

He says organisations should also look to apply customer experience (CX) skills to solve EX problems.

CX pros are already familiar with aspects of EX such as persona creation, journey mapping, experience design, and measurement. 

“CX pros must leverage their solid experience and understanding of the important differences between CX and EX to apply these skills to EX work and fill the gaping holes in EX management,” he says.

It also helps if the same team leads both CX and EX initiatives.

This, he says, is the case with Volkswagen Australia, which, among other initiatives, runs an annual and event-based employee surveys and four best-practice events. The company also published a book, 101 tips to improve EX, internally for leaders. 

Another company that he cites is Cisco, which started focusing on workforce transformation nearly 10 years ago.

Cisco used focus groups across teams to understand employee needs and defined employee personas based on work styles. It has also allotted 70 per cent of office space to collaboration.

“Take a good, hard look at your EX programme,” Bhatia further advises.

“EX is more than the employee lifecycle; it’s about the employee’s daily journey.”

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