Many EX Leaders are tracking below their own expectation when it comes to making meaningful and measurable experience impact for individuals in their organizations. That’s a harsh reality considering the resource invested in EX so far and rising expectations from CEOs and executive committees, eager to see tangible progress in a more experience-centric ‘new world of work’.
Our recent Human Experience of Work report shows EX Leaders seeking a new path forward. The survey of over 100 global EX Leaders reveals their top priority in 2021 is to ‘gain a deeper understanding of the phenomenon of experience and how it unfolds in the daily reality of work.’
That being so, how can organizations get a more precise view of what’s standing in the way of superior experiences- when and where it matters most?
An experience ‘blind spot’
Through our work with global EX and Business Leaders, we have come to a powerful realization: Common frames that break down the experience of work into ‘moments that matter’ mostly center on understanding the quality of service delivered by support functions to the entire population, such as HR, IT, Facilities, etc.
These frames are useful to root out poor service interactions. They, however, overlook the lion’s share of what individuals report caring about most: the experience of ‘doing work’, that is, performing their actual jobs. In fact, linear regression analysis conducted on our 1M+ global EX dataset yields a nearly 2X impact (Beta score) from the moment ‘I perform my job’ compared to other moments.
A new perspective
Just how can an organization begin to make sense of the experience of ‘performing my job’ considering the huge variety of jobs in a typical organization? To start, EX Leaders can turn to CX professionals for understanding the complex world of customers. They can use similar CX customer segmentation logic to zoom in on the experience of different job segments and leave behind the ‘one size fits all’ perspective.
Let’s take the example of a global logistics company that was trying to reduce ‘year 1’ attrition of newly hired warehouse selectors. These individuals select and carry bulky items and, therefore, play a critical role in the logistics value chain. The initial hypothesis was to redesign the experience of new hires during moments like pre-onboarding, day one, and initial training.
As the team further investigated the new hire experience, the real problem became apparent. The layout of the warehouse created frictions in their work. Selectors had to stop at each forklift crossroad in the warehouse, which was stressful and time-consuming. New hires were quickly discouraged and left, regardless of the quality of onboarding. Armed with a precise understanding of the poor experience, the Head of Warehouse Operations was quick to redesign the layout and look for further opportunities to reduce friction, in search of improved productivity and reduce attrition.
This example highlights the centrality of ‘the job’ in the overall experience. More so, it underscores how Business Leaders control most aspects of it, rather than matrixed support functions.
‘Selling’ EX to Business Leaders
Crucially, EX Leaders who wish to meet employee needs for the 80% of their experience of work (e.g ‘ I perform my job’) rather than the 20% ( e.g. ‘I consume company services’) must engage directly with business Leaders. Business Leaders are on the critical path to meaningful EX impact and the conversation with them around EX needs an overhaul.
That is easier said than done. Business Leaders can be quick to regard EX as ‘HR’s domain’, not always realizing that the story about humans working easier and better is also a story about delivering greater business performance.
So how can EX Leaders successfully approach the conversation with a Business Leader? Start by meeting them where they are. Lets take the example of a senior leader in a customer-facing function (e.g. service, sales, etc.):
- Be mindful of his or her goals. In this case success is defined by KPI’s such as CX, attrition rates, customer churn etc.
- Articulate how an upward tick in the customer-facing teams’ experience of work would translate into progress on the KPI’s.
- Illuminate areas of friction, the poor experiences that hinder and frustrate frontline workers day-in and day-out, whether they are business processes, managers, tools, equipment, work environment, etc.
- Finally, show tangible, actionable improvement paths focused on reducing friction rather than yet another ‘engagement to-do’ for line managers, or worse, multi-year strategic transformations.
For example, one of our clients successfully used the ‘Business Value tree’ pictured below to support more effective conversations with senior customer facing leaders by visualizing how experience drives business results.
As with employees, appropriate context is important to understand the needs of Business Leaders. One ‘business value story’ does not fit the needs of all leaders. For example, a leader serving internal customers such as a CIO will work with a partially different set of KPIs from a customer-facing leader referenced above, such as UX, internal customer satisfaction, or cost.
In summary, people spend most of their time and energy wrestling with their job in a context defined by Business Leaders, rather than consuming services from support functions. That realization is a powerful shift in perspective. We believe it is the key to accelerating EX outcomes to more meaningful impact on the experience of individuals and better business performance for organizations.