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The Rise of EX: Why companies are embracing employee-centric cultures

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Why companies are beginning to treat employees like customers

For decades, the adage "The customer is always right" ruled the day for many companies. Customers "voted" with their dollars and companies responded with desired goods and services. For enlightened companies: If there was a problem, "just fix it". If customers wanted something new, "just make it". When customers demonstrated loyalty, smart companies found a way to say "thanks".

This collection of customer interactions became knows as CX or the customer experience. Across a broad spectrum of industries, teams were deployed to collect data, better understand, and optimize the customer experience. And it seems to be working. Companies who focus on the customer experience and optimize interactions see elevated performance. Deloitte & Touche found that companies who are customer-centric are 60 percent more profitable.

The emergence of EX, the employee experience.

As companies benefited from a focus on customer interactions, some are choosing to apply a similar discipline with their employees. It makes sense. Customers are essential to revenue and employees are critical to producing the product or service that creates the value in the first place.

Recently, in Forbes magazine, Donna Morris, EVP of Customer and Employee Experience at Adobe Systems, explained, "We had become acutely aware of the parallels between how you build a great experience for customers and for employees, and we want to be as exceptional to work with as we are to work for." Adobe saw the intersection of the customer experience and the employee experience as so parallel, that they created a new department -- a combined customer and employee experience organization -- which brought together the support people on the front lines of helping customers with the human resources team responsible for supporting employees.

This "optimized employee experience" thinking is finding fertile ground in many human resource departments. A 2018 report from McKinsey suggested that, "a growing number of organizations are into employee experience. They're discarding the stiff, outdated term human resources and many have even replaced chief human resources officer with chief employee experience officer."

McKinsey cites two driving forces: Millennials, who will make up 30% or more of the workforce by 2025, seeking meaningful work, with flexibility, autonomy, connection, and mentoring. And automation, suggesting that 45% of employee activities could be performed by machines. In the coming years, the workplace will change dramatically and a focus on the employee experience will help companies stay aligned with the needs of their workforce.

Employers are increasingly aware that to attract, engage, and retain workers, they need to re-imagine every aspect of the employee experience–from hiring and onboarding to compensation, career development, and perks. Candidate questions have shifted from straightforward matters such as, job duties and pay, to more nuanced issues like "How would you characterize the work culture, how will I be able to grow, or what makes people stay?".

This shift toward an "employee experience" perspective means looking at your workforce more like a customer base, acknowledging that company success is directly correlated to engaged employees. In their latest State of the American Workplace report, Gallup found that "highly engaged employees don't just lead to a better workplace experience. Companies with great workplace experiences had 10 percent higher customer metrics—and 20 percent higher sales".

EX takes an empathetic approach. It requires understanding that employees have a myriad of responsibilities at and outside of work which play into their attitude and engagement. EX looks at company/employee interactions in a more comprehensive manner, often times mapping every significant employee touchpoint and striving to optimize each outcome. Inspired companies are committing resources to really understanding employee needs, wants, wishes, frustrations, and perceived roadblocks to success.

Ultimately, the optimized employee experience delivers authentic, meaningful, memorable interactions that help employees sustain engagement throughout their careers. Just as consumer marketers realized the power of being persistent, consistent, and compelling, so too must companies be diligent about their focus on delivering elevated employee interactions. How often do you bestow praise or show appreciation? How do you help connect employees seeking answers to those within the organization who have the answers? How accessible do you make resources such as technical support or mentors? How often do you surprise and delight employees to inspire commitment and foster loyalty?

As your company thinks about EX, just imagine the potential that could be realized. Don't worry so much about your employee engagement scores. If you focus on delivering an extraordinary employee experience each and every day, the numbers will reflect your success.

If you want to further explore how to create an optimized employee experience for your company click here.

Workplace Engagement
Employee Recognition
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