Given the changing nature of a global workforce (rapidly growing percentage of Millennials among our workforce), concerns regarding skills shortages and the gradual shift of “power” to the employee, as well as changes in consumer behaviors related to new technologies, employee experience should be a primary focus area for any HR transformation programme, digital redesign projects for a company portal and employee interaction tools, or broadly creating new HR strategy for any organization.
This is why some organizations are now using service design thinking to bring the H back into HR.
Service design thinking is a human centered approach to creating new, often innovative, solutions to complex challenges impacting human experiences around products, services, environments and interactions. It is a method traditionally used by designers across various design disciplines, elevated by technology industry and successfully introduced to the corporate world by companies such as Apple, Phillips and Google. The rapid evolution of digital technologies and its impact on consumer experiences have given consumers increasingly seamless interactions with every touch point with any brand, and they have provided opportunity for highly personalised and customised products and services. Even more, they have changed the traditional onedirectional communication flow (brand to consumer), opening a real ongoing conversation (consumer to consumer to brand). Inspired and empowered by this shift in the consumer world some forward thinking companies are also applying the same customer-centric approach to their employee environment and employee services. These organisations are redesigning employee experiences using customer journey mapping, prototyping, user experience research and leveraging new user centered, mobile friendly and often cloud based technologies.
As employees, whether permanent or contractors, throughout our working lives we all interact directly and indirectly with people (HR, managers, coworkers, customers) and systems (including processes, intranets and various technologies). For instance, when I started my first assignment at The Coca-Cola Company, I was welcomed upon arrival by two colleagues, who walked me through the office and some key HR policies, introduced me to my new team; my manager briefed me on the project and how we were going to collaborate with stakeholders in various countries. I was given a laptop, a smartphone, access to on-boarding materials. Later on I was invited to several induction sessions, including an online webinar for new associates about Coca-Cola and its Global Business Services. That was the beginning of my employee journey at Coca-Cola. My overall experience as a new, temporary associate was also influenced by available travel support, interactions with IT and HR, communication enabled by the Company portal, internal social networking tool (Chatter) and the office setup itself, in my case, few offices in fact. The project I was given was to look at how we could improve GBS HR services delivery focusing on Coca-Cola associates experience (GBS customers) – across digital and physical interactions enabled by Global Business Services.
- Employee Experience Journey Mapping is a methodology based upon the very successful Customer Experience Journey Mapping method (Service Design Thinking) Employee Experience Journey Mapping can be used to better understand specific employee journeys that can be improved further to create better employee experiences that reflect a company brand.
- Based upon this mapping exercise, we can identify moments that matter the most to the employees and aim to redesign and improve employee experience. We can influence the attitudes that will ultimately drive the outcomes we desire, whether it is hiring and on-boarding process, employee engagement or employee separation and off-boarding. With the understanding of employee journeys we are able to take a holistic design approach that results in new experiences delivering desired outcomes for both employees and the company.
- Employee Experience Journey Mapping is all about looking at how HR services can be experienced from the perspective of an employee – the end user of any HR service. The goal is to achieve both defined business objectives and empathic experience. Given the changing nature of a global workforce (rapidly growing percentage of Millennials among our workforce), concerns regarding skills shortages and the gradual shift of “power” to the employee, as well as changes in consumer behaviors related to new technologies, Employee Experience should be a primary focus area for any HR transformation programme, digital redesign projects for a company portal and employee interaction tools.
- Employee experience is more than just having a nice user experience in the HR system or a company portal. There are different aspects of employee experience. Any journey usually begins long before a departure. It involves many actors, each responsible for a part of a journey. How and what employees experience depends on communication strategy and its execution, employer branding strategy, the HR service process and technology (SAP, Workday), high touch support offered, and how employees are being engaged.
- Employee Experience Journey Mapping is all about looking at how HR services are delivered from the perspective of an employee with the goal of achieving defined business objectives and meeting employee needs in a simplified, intuitive, easy to follow and whenever possible enjoyable way.
- Today employees, just like consumers, are seeking interactions with digital technologies and complex systems to be intuitive, considerate and designed around their needs. Through observations and analysis of behaviours one can draw conclusions about what employees want and need in order to build empathy with end-users and to meet these needs. At the end the role of HR is to support, develop and often enable employees to deliver their daily job and strategic role objectives. Very often conclusions from empathic or user experience research are hard to express in quantitive language. Instead, service design uses emotional language concerning aspirations, desires, engagement, experience and challenges. The work to understand employee – the end user, is deeper and more ethnographic than quantitive and statistical. Project teams may discuss the emotional resonance of a value proposition as much as they would discuss utility, process and technology requirements.
All organizations have business goals, however leveraging customer journey maps as a supporting component of an experience strategy keeps employees at the forefront when making design decisions for organisational HR or IT processes. These can be used in both as-is analysis and future state visioning to examine the present, highlight existing pain points and uncovering the most significant opportunities for building a better experience for employees.
A good mix of people should be involved in an employee journey map creation. It’s helpful to have stakeholder participants from many areas of the organization, as well as people of varying levels of seniority.
There are number of companies that already redesigning their HR function in that direction, including well known global brands such as Cisco, The Coca-Cola Company, Vodafone, Statoil, P&G, AirBnB, L’Oréal. A move to consumerized employee experiences helps companies to create a more enjoyable and effective work environment, attract the best talent, and often to put the “human” back in human resources. As an example of that shift, earlier in 2015 AirBnB changed the Chief HR Officer function into a Chief Employee Experience Officer function recognising the essence of a workplace as an experience, especially among millennials.
For The Coca-Cola Company service design has allowed to achieve a structured understanding of how to ensure a desirable HR experience. It helped its Global Business Services redesign HR services based on customer journey maps, prototypes and service blueprints. This required acquiring and developing a service design thinking capability. Working across the HR team and employees from across the company resulted in gathering essential insights and drawing up a customer journey map for Coca-Cola GBS HR services. The result is a complete service experience that is intuitive and enjoyable, and incorporates mobile and digital technologies, including: new end-to-end customer centric GBS HR services based on user insights and journey mapping and new, digital, mobile-friendly, user-centric communication tools for employee embedding Coca-Cola consumer brand values of happiness, togetherness, engagement and inspiration into employee experience. The impact of these projects is clear – when services are organised around employees’ needs we have seen a significant increase in employee engagement, satisfaction and productivity.
Another company that redesigned HR services around employee needs is Cisco. To delight employees the company identified “moments that matter” — needs or events that employees view as particularly important. “Moments that matter” vary across organizations and constitute life or work events that have the greatest impact on employee satisfaction, productivity and business results. Cisco determined that moments that matter included joining the organization, changing jobs or geographies, and managing family emergencies. The company redesigned its employee services around these moments.
Service design thinking can help understand and redesign each aspect of employee experience leveraging new technologies and responding to the changing aspirations and needs of tomorrow workforce – starting from the recruitment and new employee integration, through learning & development, every day work environment, collaboration and reporting, etc. Companies embark on that design journey with various projects; re-shaping career websites, employee communication design, intranet re-design, recruitment and assessment processes, employee integration and engagement, work-space environments. Employees, as consumers, expect the same kind of delightful, seamless and often personalized digital experiences they enjoy in their everyday consumer life. Although not everywhere design thinking is specifically referred to as such, there is one shared objective – looking at re-designing employee experience across digital and physical fusion, changing organisations by design instead of only by processes optimization
To explore more on the subject I strongly invite you to join Service Design Thinking on LinkedIn group or reach out to a well-crafted service design guide: ‘This is Service Design Thinking…’
Cross – Industry Report: Design Thinking – Crafting Employee Experience, published by Deloitte Press.