They may, for example, simply attempt to gauge employee sentiment once a year, in an annual survey. This rarely delivers insight into how people actually work, to the impact of work on life, and how they’re truly feeling. This lack of insight can have serious consequences – when HR fails to understand the levers that make the most difference to employees, dissatisfaction becomes a work feature, not a bug.
Another striking takeaway from the research was a lack of confidence among HR professionals on how to make EX better. This may come down to lacking the insights, technology and processes they need to do so; or it may be an upskilling issue, as job requirements increase and performance stakes become higher.
How to get EX right
Any organization seeking to build and deliver an effective EX program first needs the ability and latitude to collect, comprehend and apply that EX data. Listening to employees should be a business’s top priority – in order to understand them, their sentiments and their behavior.
Listening means designing consistent programs or mechanisms to collect feedback and gather information – from capturing employee interactions and mapping employee journeys, to introducing voice-of-the-employee feedback programs and ongoing employee engagement surveys. Moving from annual engagement surveys to more regular “pulsing” delivers more valuable insight.
Equally critical is that any listening should extend beyond the individual, to understanding how people in the business influence each other, examining the quality of the relationships between each person and their teams, their customers, managers and peers. This takes leaders beyond the formal processes and workflow they may expect, and gifts them an understanding of the informal networks and connections that really drive behavior. Then there are the environmental aspects of experience, including how well the organization’s tech ecosystem enables its people to do their jobs.
Through that listening, businesses can develop an understanding of the perception gap, and begin to close it by designing and implementing EX initiatives. The EX data must remain distinctly aligned with a clear understanding of what the organization wants to do and the kind of experience it seeks to offer.
This means being clear on the cultural behaviors the organization wishes to encourage in the first place, which may require leaders to ask more fundamental questions about purpose, strategic direction and market aspirations. Then it involves looking at the individual, relational and environmental levers the organization needs to pull to deliver on that agenda.
These are fundamental organizational considerations. As such, this is not just an HR responsibility. Instead it has to bring the broader business along on the EX journey. By getting buy-in at C-suite level, HR will be able to secure greater investment, better tools and superior headcount with which to improve EX. And to get the momentum to drive lasting change, efforts need to be coordinated across departments, from legal and finance to marketing and IT.