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Who cares about employee experience - a webinar with Ben Whitter

Employee experience once came down solely to a desk, office space, and possibly some free cake at the coffee station. This has completely transformed in recent years, the initial catalyst being the pandemic. The mass exodus from the workplace forced employers to rethink the employee experience (EX), as keeping morale high and workers connected to each other was paramount. However, even in the aftermath of Covid-19, the EX has continued to evolve.

Changing views around the workplace have been driven, in large part, by changing views on life. Many are choosing to move out of cities, turning away from long commutes, and some are even reconsidering whether the 9-5 is for them. Many organisations want their employees returning to the office, but this isn’t always a shared aspiration. With all these factors at play, EX needs to be at the heart of every organisation.

We were joined by Ben Whitter on a recent webinar. Ben Whitter is globally recognised as a leading authority on employee experience (EX), having literally written the book on the subject! On the webinar, Ben spoke to us about EX – what it is, what its key components are, and whose responsibility it is to care.

Who cares about the employee experience?

The simple answer to that is, a lot of people! Of course, the employees themselves are the first group. They want good pay, a diverse and equal workforce, fair treatment, and so on. They want to feel valued and respected, to have flexibility and to have their voices heard. But the list of who cares stretches far past the employee. Shareholders want to know the companies they are investing in are treating their staff well. Consumers are less willing to spend time and money with companies they know have an unhappy workforce. A company’s treatment of its employees is now synonymous with its brand and reputation.

In terms of who pulls the strings to actually make EX happen, there is no one single group. During the webinar, Ben Whitter asked attendees the question: Is employee experience a priority at your organisation? The vast majority, 74%, said yes, which is extremely positive. However, 13% admitted that it was not a priority, and not taken seriously by senior management. For employee experience to become a priority, this needs to change. It is a shared responsibility among C-suite leaders, managers, HR teams, the IT department, and even marketing and communications teams. For organisations looking to refocus around their employee experience, a collective accountability must be acknowledged and embraced.

The bricks to building a strong Employee Experience

Webinar attendees were also asked whether their organisation had a formal EX strategy. The responses were mixed. Whilst 41% said they did, 24% said not yet and 25% admitted it was not taken seriously by senior management. This indicates that, for many, there is work left to be done. So what does a strong EX actually look like and consist of?

Whitter explained that a good employee experience must be holistic. The traditional EX has been upended and the entire journey now needs to be considered. This encompasses the journey from attraction through to onboarding, development, growth and, finally, to exit. This is crucial as employee relationships don’t just end when a contract does.

Organisations need to focus on creating a truly holistic EX that becomes a lived experience for their employees. The key components of this include:

  • Human-centricity: The individual and the human need to be at the heart of every decision surrounding the EX, such as the ability to provide a personalised employee experience.
  • Leadership: EX must be embraced from the top-down.
  • Structural: Everything across the organisation must be connected and seamless, removing fragmented experiences for employees. A unified structure and way of working is key.
  • Technology: Tools and technology that support this seamless organisational structure must also be selected, enhancing the employee experience. HR digital transformation is central to achieving this.
  • Workplace: Places of work must be seen as more than just buildings, but rather as the places and spaces that can support employees to do their best work.
  • Community: Creating a sense of belonging is intrinsically linked to employee experience, tying employees closer to their co-workers and parent organisation.

L&D’s relationship with EX

Whitter also highlighted the importance of the learning experience to EX. During the webinar, he asked how much the learning experience impacted the overall EX. The results were resounding, with 100% agreeing that it forms an important part of the EX, as it shows a commitment to employee development. Clearly, for organisations looking to create a strong EX, the provision of learning materials and opportunities cannot be overlooked. As such, the existence of a Learning Experience Platform (LXP) goes hand-in-hand with a complete, fulfilling EX.

Here, Whitter also called out the importance of in-moment experience – creating an experience that slots into employees’ flow of work, rather than it being something they need to seek out. We can look to Cornerstone’s integration with Slack, by way of example, allowing employees to easily access learning materials as part of their working day. By placing emphasis on in-moment experiences like this, organisations can build an EX that keeps employees engaged and happy in their place of work.

CONCLUSION: Learn more about employee experience

To watch Ben Whitter’s webinar, Who cares about the employee experience?, on-demand – click here. You can learn more about how Cornerstone can support your organisation in creating strong employee experiences, here.

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