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Article | EX Insights

Employee insights for a better employee experience: A panel discussion of companies leading the curve

Employee Engagement |Talent

April 2017

In this month's EX Insights, we review the employee experience with Rolls Royce, GSK, a global energy provider and Willis Towers Watson.

Employee insights for a better employee experience is very much our raison d’etre. We believe that measuring engagement for its own sake isn’t enough. As organizations, we bring the customer, client and consumer experience to our brands. This drives loyalty, trust and success. It stands to reason that we should use that same approach with our employees. The more our employee experience aligns with our customer experience, the better. But what do we mean by the employee experience, and how can we best use it?

We recently held a client seminar to explore these questions. We wanted to understand how pioneering companies are using insight to get a fix on their employees’ experience, how they improve that experience and how this drives their businesses.

Joining our panel were Rolls Royce, GSK, and a global energy provider.

We opened the discussion with our view on the employee experience. The Employee Experience (EX) is the collective total experience an employee has working for their employer. It’s multifaceted, but can actually be broken down into four broad, fundamental components: one’s purpose at work, the work itself, the people you work with and for, and the Total Rewards deal. Each of these four components then is comprised of specific experiences. The total experience is a consequence of the strategy, culture, operating model, structure, systems and processes of the organization. Positive EX drives positive outcomes such as engagement, employee retention and customer satisfaction, which in turn drive performance.

It all adds up to employee experience

It all adds up to employee experience

Moving to a more diverse listening strategy

But what’s the best way to measure the employee experience? We believe that the census survey is a good place to start, and that it’s an inclusive component of an employee listening strategy. But we also need to be agile in monitoring the different facets of the employee experience. This is where the use of agile pulse survey software becomes an equally important part of your listening strategy.

Better more diverse insight – measurement against new EX benchmarks

With improvements in software, it’s easier than ever to collect data. What’s much harder to do is to gather good, meaningful data with which an organization can make real change. The Willis Towers Watson Employee Experience Success Index, which is increasingly used by our clients, provides a way of gathering valuable data. This index is a combination of hard data (such as attraction and retention rates, new hire success, social media data) and opinions from employee surveys. Scores are combined into an overall score, and benchmarked against other organizations, identifying both behaviors and outcomes to be addressed.

Towers Watson Media

We asked the panel a series of questions on the value of coming to grips with the employee experience in their organization.

Question – How far have you come in understanding the employee experience in your organizations?

Rolls Royce – We have a very glossy feel to our external brand, but actual discretionary effort doesn’t always match that. We identified the need to have the definition of our employee experience aligned to our customer experience, but we needed to do more with the feedback we received via surveys and really understand the voice of the employee, so we hired Willis Towers Watson, who proved a great partner for us. They collated all surveys and data we already had related to this topic in addition to conducting focus groups and interviews internally and externally and this helped us identify the real insights and root causes we needed to focus on.

Global Energy Provider – We have very different businesses, each of which has a very different culture. We worked with Willis Towers Watson, who helped us build a good understanding of the employee voice internally. We began looking at the employee experience three to four years ago, and we bought into it, but it wasn’t on the HR plan at that time. We used focus groups to define our employee experience pillars, and with that clarity we’re getting buy in, and the employee experience is being placed firmly on the HR agenda.

GSK – We too have very different businesses, and initially had a tough job understanding our employee brand. But we wanted to be a better, ‘modern organization’. We decided to put EX firmly on the strategic agenda. We created the role of Head of Employee Experience. We were passionate about our external brand, so why were we not doing the same for our employee experience? There’s been a fundamental shift in approach, and that also applies to our research. Now I tell people, “It’s not a survey, it’s insights research!” We’ve begun the first part of our journey.

Question – What are your next steps?

Global Energy Provider – For us, a key challenge is that the employee experience feels different across our different businesses. A key goal is to bring it all together. The research helps us prioritize what needs to be done. For example, we found a key enabler was making the digital experience easier for our employees by treating them as consumers of our internal technology, and understanding their experience of using our internal systems. That new perspective enables us to make real change to our systems, which removes frustrations and increases productivity.

GSK – For us, it’s understanding what employees value most across our different employee segments and importantly, for the future of work. We know from our insights research, that there are one or two pain points in our employee life cycle that we need to fix. We now have nine work streams focused on this. Essentially, my role is helping the business see things through the eyes of the employee, to connect the work streams, and get some quick wins. Getting the right insight is crucial to this effort. My first win, similarly to Rolls Royce, involved tidying up our access to information on our internal systems, by looking at it from a user journey perspective.

Rolls Royce – Our next steps are to align with our Corporate Vision and ensure we test the Employee experience framework globally – we can then start working on our external messaging and branding. We will also use the insights to ensure the work we do across the employee lifecycle is really addressing the issues from an employee experience lens and help us prioritise our work.

Question – What have been some of your greatest breakthroughs?

Global Energy Provider – Someone once said to me, “At last we’ve found someone in HR who’s interested in employees!” For example, facilities became really interested in the future of work, and the future work experience, in order to really get their property choices of the future right. Our research insights feed directly into that.

GSK – We found our consumer insights team has been really open to working with the employee insights team. In some ways, ironically, HR have been our toughest customer!

Rolls Royce – What really changed it for us was the EX Success Index. When we compared our results to the high-performing companies’ norm, and understood the emotional aspect of our employees’ experience, then this really hit home. We could see where the gaps were, and what we needed to focus on.

We concluded our seminar with an open discussion. Three points resonated very strongly with the delegates:

  1. Transitioning from a focus on employee engagement to the more holistic notion of employee experience is the naturally progressive step to a more relevant and impactful insight approach.
  2. Moving from a more narrowly focused engagement survey to gathering insights on the whole employee experience can yield very actionable insights.
  3. Putting in place a listening strategy that blends agile listening with deeper dive insight gathering can be very powerful.
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