Empowered x engaged employees = unstoppable organizations

  • Posted on February 7, 2019
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
improve workplace experience

This article was originally published in MoneyInc.

Organizations are relentlessly in pursuit of the ultimate customer experience – the one that will keep their customers loyal and engaged with their brand for years to come. But all too often, the customer experience (CX) is pursued at the expense of the employee experience (EX). For many organizations, this creates unsustainable work environments where the customer experience is temporarily and artificially maintained through individual heroics and/or expensive operations.

We increasingly see enterprises create truly unforgettable and, importantly, durable customer experiences by focusing more on the employee experience. But the next frontier actually goes further than that, approaching the workplace experience (WX) as a way to drive sustainable value, where technology, operations, culture and employee experience are combined in a holistic approach. It’s about how employees are enabled or constrained by the business to do things differently today and to reimagine their jobs of tomorrow.

The importance of the workplace environment cannot be overestimated for the financial success of your business. Research from the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at MIT Sloan School of Management shows that firms with the best employee experience achieve business benefits, including double the customer satisfaction, twice the innovation and 25 percent greater profitability compared to competitors. It seems basic, yet it’s so powerful – empowered and engaged employees lead to an unstoppable business.

The employee experience doesn’t just mean free breakfast on Fridays; it comprises the entirety of their interactions with the brand. The more innovative organizations are now designing “employee journeys” around the moments that matter, using the same mindset used to create customer journeys. Essentially, they design a workplace that adapts to work, rather than the other way around. Additionally, they also use workplace analytics to optimize the mix of design and science in order to create capacity (for example, addressing shadow functions or collaboration overload) and orchestrate the change. A typical approach combines aggregated data from collaboration tools with the organizational context to reveal behavioral patterns. Bringing in data on business KPIs enables organizations to correlate actionable insights to meaningful business outcomes. As an example, for a healthcare provider, this could be the success rate of their cancer treatment board, or for a wealth management company, this could be the alpha for their investment team.

We believe there are 3 pillars to successful WX:

  1. Re-imagine culture and re-engineer the end-to-end EX so that it has parity with the CX. This is achieved by focusing on the collective actions that transform work and as with CX, creating targeted, highly personalized experiences via continuous workforce segmentation. The new experiences need to be co-created with the employees rather than simply given to them, and the scenarios often need to be re-imagined (just providing a new interface does not create a new experience).

  2. Re-wire ways of working where people and ideas are connected and activities and systems are integrated and governed with clarity and transparency. A key element for this is truly connecting WX to company profitability, rather than simply cutting costs. There needs to be a direct causality – not just correlation – between a WX strategy and business priorities. Clearly, this also requires a cross-functional approach that spans silos and hierarchies. WX is not a question just for HR or IT, but for the whole organization.

  3. Rethink the approach to technology platform value realization. Technology is an important component of how employees experience their work, yet many organizations are struggling with extracting the promised benefits (or even with basic adoption). We believe that an “evergreen” mindset, where the fast pace of cloud-native software capabilities is used as a competitive advantage. Too often, this is viewed as a headache around compatibility, supportability or change enablement and, as an effect, the default approach is too often to disable or ignore. A more thoughtful yet pragmatic enterprise architecture is also needed to come to terms with the often-chaotic IT platform, with overlapping (and often competing) tools and applications – especially in the collaboration space. 

According to Gartner, “by 2020, the greatest source of competitive advantage for 30% of organizations will come from the workforce’s ability to creatively exploit digital technologies.” With this trend on the horizon, we can only surmise that in 2019, organizations will devote more attention to their employees. We believe, in unequivocal terms, that employee experience drives customer experience and that a Modern Workplace is paramount to sustain the much talked about competitive edge, regardless of how one feels about the overused term “digital transformation.”

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