The Vicious Circle of Employee Experience

For 15 years, progressive CEOs have been relying on their marketing, sales and service teams to manage the outside customer experience (CX) – quite successfully. Now they aim to internalize the CX success in their companies as employee experience. They hand over the task to the ‘natural’ go-to-function, HR. Yet the sheer scope of EX – defined as ‘sum of all experiences of managers, employees, candidates, alumni and freelancers with a company’ – goes far beyond what HR is overseeing. Plus, HR comes with the legacy of not being recognized by business as a value adding function. A perfect vicious circle: EX is a viable opportunity for HR to add business value. Yet to seize this opportunity, HR needs to involve business and other support functions. But because it has failed to deliver business value in the past, HR has a hard time attracting the business to jump onto the EX bandwagon.

The conventional approach: Too small or too big

To tackle the vicious circle problem, HR often limits its EX focus on the HR function, or even worse – the user experience with new HRIS. The function either applies design thinking methods, in best case involving customers in hackathons or similar interactive formats. Or it evaluates EX by applying HR measurement methods like onboarding pulse checks and exit surveys. This approach is falling short.

The other conventional reaction of HR: A bold claim to own the entire EX space from workplace to job and culture. That reaction may seem impressive for the moment, but in the end it won’t deliver results. And it ultimately adds to the legacy burden: EX becomes the next HR initiative without business outcomes.

The key data point: 42% and 78%

The best data to prove conventional approaches wrong? It is the number of HR customers’ touchpoints and who owns them. Some background: Experience forms in ‘journeys’ (not processes) and occurs at ‘touchpoints’, defined as interactions at a point in time, in a context, with a goal, visible to customer and company. Some of these encounters are emotionally loaded, with disproportionate impact on engagement, we define them as ‘Moments of Truth’. When we co-created with 30 companies, we defined 17 HR journeys defining the HR space, with 285 touchpoints, 62 of them being Moments of Truth. Here is the trick: 42% of all touchpoints and 78% of all Moments of Truth are not owned by HR but by business managers. Hence, successful EX will remain an illusion for HR, if business is not involved.

The better approach: Staggered, iterative, sustainable

The solution to the vicious circle problem is a staggered approach to EX:

  1. HR has a model in place to explain the business value of EX.
  2. HR defines its own journeys, personas, and moments of truth.
  3. HR defines an EX operating model for all touchpoints, including the 42% non-HR ones.
  4. HR initiates consistent and rapid iteration of journey and touchpoint design, based on KPIs.
  5. EX goes beyond HR journeys to cover job, leadership and workplace experience.

Of this procedural task, we have resolved stages 1 to 4 with CxHR, our co-created DESIGN / SHARE / MEASURE / ACT methodology and with our CxHR Platform to support it.

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