In employer branding, experience is everything.
People are exposed to brand experiences continuously throughout their day, either as consumers, employees or candidates. The reality is that these experiences are rarely distinctive, consistent or deliver what is expected based on perceptions of the brand. At its worst, the impact can be loss of business (customer), accepting another job offer (candidate), resignation (employee) or damage to a company’s reputation (potential employee and/or potential customer).
There are many examples of great brands such as Virgin, Apple, Starbucks and Chanel. One consistent characteristic amongst them is how they make us feel because of the experience we have when we interact with their products, services and/or people.
Michael Holm, a Danish HR Senior Manager at Lego says, “Happy employees perform at their best. If they are passionate about what they do, work in a trusting environment with highly skilled colleagues and in a company they can be proud of, they will provide stellar performance. They are telling a story every day to friends, relatives, networks about work and, if that story is positive, they will attract other like-minded individuals to the company. That is the best and most relevant sourcing platform any company can build on – a positive employee experience is key!”
The only true source of competitive advantage of any company is its people and the value they create for their customers. High-performing employees committed to their work and company who are able to innovate and create valued experiences for customers is a critical factor for the sustainability of organisations.
The concept of employee experience
Employee experience can be defined as “the sum of all experiences an employee has with their employer, co-workers, supervisors, leadership, work environment, customers and other key stakeholders during their tenure.” Experiences influence an employee’s cognition and affection, and lead to particular behaviours that positively or negatively impact an employee’s engagement and consequent business performance.
Great employee experiences, just like great customer experiences, don’t just happen by chance. In leading brands they are supported by an integrated strategy across people, customers and systems. When employees have positive experiences with employers, they are more engaged in creating positive experiences for customers, which results in increased sales. This approach is what makes the Apple stores a retailing success story at a time when bricks and mortar retailing has been on a decline.
The Minchington and Morris Brand Experience Model™ highlights an integrated approach to delivering differentiated experiences by focusing on the Employer Brand Moments of Truth (EBMOT) in the employee lifecycle whilst being agile enough to adapt to the challenges in the macro environment (see Figure 1).
EBMOTs are the touchpoints (company reputation, leader/supervisor relationship) in the lifecycle where employees are more emotionally invested in the outcome, compared to more rational touchpoints (company website, workplace technology).
Employee experience assessment and strategy
To design the ideal employee experience journey and evaluate its reality, an employee experience journey map can be a very effective tool. Designed from the employee’s point of view, the map details each interaction or touch-point within each stage of the employee’s relationship with the organisation.
A survey tool is used to rate the employee’s experience at each EBMOT. Simplistically, it’s a way to walk in the employees’, candidates’ or alumnis’ shoes – to describe and understand what each is doing, thinking and feeling at each stage.
These employee lifecycle stages can be categorised as:
• explore and apply;
• join and on-board;
• perform, get recognized, learn and grow;
• separate; and
• reconnect and re-join.
As candidates and employees evolve their relationship with an employer, they have distinct objectives with different needs and motivators at each stage. Mapping out the overall journey and the touchpoints at each stage aids with identifying any disparity between the ideals and practical realities of the experience (see Figure 2). It will also highlight the stages or touchpoints which require closer attention in order to create a consistent employment experience that adds value to the customer experience. For example, if the company is poor at developing or rewarding people, most of the hard work and investment in recruiting the best talent is wasted as people cycle through the organisation looking for better opportunities elsewhere.
Key focus areas
To optimise the employee experience across the employment lifecycle, we encourage you to focus your efforts on the following areas:
1. Be clear on the brand experience you want to create for customers and align the employee experience journey.
2. Train leaders and employees in how to deliver the brand experience and align with your EVPs through supporting systems, processes and policies.
3. Engage leaders across functions at the outset to ensure a consistent approach to managing the employee experience journey.
4. Identify which cultural behaviours need to change to support the employee experience and align systems, processes and policies to support the change.
5. Conduct an employee experience mapping exercise to understand where the company delivers the most impactful experiences and those areas which need improvement, re-design and/or discarding altogether.
6. Develop an integrated communications plan with cross functional support and training to ensure employee behaviours and attitudes are reflective of the desired brand experience.
7. Identify and appoint ambassadors to role model the ‘on brand’ behaviours expected from employees.
8. Reward attitudes, behaviours and actions which reflect the delivery of outstanding employee experience.
9. Review the performance of the leadership to deliver an ‘on brand’ experience through quantitative and qualitative feedback provided by employees and address any gaps.
10. Remember the workplace is a key part of an employee’s lifestyle so approach the employee experience holistically and manage accordingly.
11. Learn, train and encourage leaders to use technology to enable and support the creation and delivery of signature employee experiences.
Brett Minchington, MBA, is Chairman/CEO of Australia-based Employer Brand International, www.employerbrandinternational.com, an international strategist, corporate advisor and educator who has trained leaders in more than 50 cities in 30 countries around the globe. Follow Brett on Twitter: @brettminch.
Lisa G Morris is a Principal and a People and Change Practice leader at North Highland Worldwide Consulting, Atlanta, Georgia in the US. She specialises in employer brand strategy, employee experience design, employee engagement, and organisational development. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @LeeseMorris.
This article appeared in the October 2015 issue of HR Future magazine.