Redefining the Employee Experience
Health outcomes have long been the primary focus for benefits professionals, but there are many more opportunities to consider now. We can put our benefits to work in new ways and impact the employee experience in avenues we may not have considered before, beyond simply health.
During my time at Kohl’s, I learned this first-hand. I saw endless opportunities to provide value to our team in uncharted ways, and challenged myself to think about what else the employee experience could be. In my new role at Evive, I’m setting out to use this lesson to help other employers challenge how they view the employee experience—and how they can elevate it.
This has given me a unique perspective on how the customer experience can be tied into the employee experience. As HR teams, we need to look within our own organizations to understand how we’re attracting and retaining customers with the products/services we sell (the customer experience), and how those concepts can be applied to our own workforces (the employee experience).
A different approach
Take a moment and ask yourself: What can we do to make things better for employees in all areas of life? Whether this means implementing new enhancements, creating more tailored messaging, or better positioning existing programs, they can all come together to meet important goals. The challenge is figuring out what those pieces are, and how they fit in.
Simply put, think about how you can leverage more resources within your company to impact the problems you’re trying to solve. There are certainly going to be existing problems to address, but you’ll also want to spot opportunities to get ahead of other issues before they occur.
For example, you may have a diabetes management program that’s being communicated to everyone in your company, but that should only be targeted toward diabetic employees, so you adjust the messaging strategy. That’s solving an existing problem. But if we think about the non-diabetic members of your workforce as well, what should be communicated to them? Just because it was logical to remove them from the nudges about the diabetes program doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about what else you can share with them. This is where you can reference your strategies with the customer experience—you likely have several segments you reach with several, different messages. Why wouldn’t you take the same approach with your employee population?
In this case, you might consider what resources you can direct toward healthy employees to keep them healthy. What benefits should be created or promoted to support that audience in meaningful ways? If we think about driving engagement through multiple lenses, an elevated employee experience is born and more positive effects come into place.
Translating the customer experience into the employee experience
Once you’ve identified the problems you want to solve and the resources you can leverage, it’s time to figure out how they all come together. Consider how you want to illustrate the employee experience to your team. It should be unique and relevant to your culture and your benefits, and it should line up with your company mission.
As always, a necessary step is looking at the data. At Kohl’s, we saw a high incidence of PTO and sick days among employees who were parents. This led us to the idea of adding an onsite daycare to improve their experience, as those parents likely wouldn’t have to take as much time away from the office with that in place, and higher productivity could result.
There are plenty more examples of how this kind of thinking can apply to any workplace—and the beauty is, such ideas can often take on lives of their own in the best ways. Perhaps your company has a volunteer committee with high participation, but it’s unclear which charities or causes people care most about. Separately, maybe you’ve seen from aggregated claims data that much of your employee population is affected by a specific illness, like breast cancer. This might draw the conclusion that a breast-cancer awareness program could be personally relevant to helping employees and draw even more participation for volunteering. With more people on board with the program and more passion behind it, the opportunity may even extend into an employee-initiated office event, with speakers on the topic or onsite mammograms. In turn, these efforts would become more of a team event between your employees that they can take pride in, rather than a “forced-upon” benefit or generic HR message.
Even organized social outings and activities can be incorporated into your employee experience. Enabling real connection, bonds, and camaraderie amongst your team is one of the strongest levers you can pull. The more well-rounded the experience, the more likely your employees are to feel supported by it (and feel your commitment to them as individuals).
How we can tell the story better
Always keep in mind, you can create the culture and workforce you want. By tapping into what works for your customer experience and bringing it into your employee experience, you can tell the story you need to tell. Best of all, you can rely on the data to help dictate the moves you need to make to share that story. When we added the onsite daycare at Kohl’s, the results showed parents who used the center not only performed better at work, they ended up having longer tenures than like employees who weren’t utilizing it. Employees were happier and we felt confident in the action we took.
With unemployment as low as it is, the war for talent across all business sectors is a top priority for companies and CHROs. Compensation and core-benefit offerings are givens; today’s world is all about personalization of the consumer, and your employees deserve the same.