How to improve Human Experience in our offices?
We already know how to improve the experience of our clients and end-buyers, but what can we do to enhance our employee experience?
Nowadays, every business that seeks to survive in the organizational world understands that the importance of client experience is an indisputable fact. This experience can be defined as a set of client’s associations with a particular brand or company, that is formed as a result of interactions or experience obtained throughout the entire product/service cycle. It is pretty obvious, that providing a positive experience of selling and delivering products and services is crucial for the return of transactions, receiving recommendations from customers, customer retention and attraction, in other words, in order to survive in the market. Understanding the customer experience is easy for everyone, we live it every single day in transportation, when we order deliveries, have lunch in a restaurant and contact the bank customer service.
We also know that a positive customer experience is a successful differentiator of many brands, for example: Starbucks with their cozy space and drink customization, Apple giving the opportunity to try products at their stores, companies like Amazon and Uber with their performance evaluation system that allows you to rate your customer experience from the product/service search up to its delivery.
Today, the idea of customer experience is considered from the point of view of the entire organization, where companies have extrapolated this view not only to their external customers but to the internal ones: their employees. Why? Because employees generate brands as well, they talk about the organization they work in, the products and services it provides, the workplace culture, the way they feel at work every day. It’s people, who actually create an organization.
There’s a common phrase that says “take care of your employees as they take care of your clients”. If your team’s happy, there’s no doubt this will reflect on your clients’ satisfaction. We already know how to improve the experience of our clients and end-buyers, but what can we do to enhance our employee experience?
The employee experience encompasses many aspects: the induction, daily life at the office, services, benefits, HR policies, etc. However, according to the psychologists of the Gestalt school, this experience is more than the sum of all these ingredients.
The employee experience includes all the factors that influence employee career in an organization. For example, office location, benefits, flexibility, easy access to public transport as well as such important details as office temperature, quality of the office furniture, look & feel and workplace comfort.
The physical workspace is a key factor in the employee experience. It is the background where the professional activities of the majority of employees take place. According to the Peakon's latest report and his the “employee voice” survey based on 11 million comments, workspace is one of the five ingredients that workers would change if they had the opportunity to make a change in their organization.
Traditionally, in real estate, in facilities, in interior design, workspaces mean a physical office place with square meters that accommodate, is supposed to be sold, bought, rented to give people space to work in. However, office space is not just the place where a company develops and manages its production. It's not just an office area, meeting rooms and office furniture. It’s a place that represents the company’s brand, identity, objectives; a space of professional growth, where we learn from our colleagues as well as how to communicate with the leaders. Besides, it’s a sort of networking space, where employees develop professional relationships and friendships. It’s a place where we celebrate events, birthdays, share experiences and support each other. It’s also a useful tool for employee retention and attraction as well as for boosting creativity and innovation.
Also, it positively influences the company policies, benefits and social matters by emphasizing flexibility, work-life balance, equality, diversity and well-being. Every day we find dozens of studies and articles proving that the working environment is closely connected with well-being and the working space with emotions, diversity and inclusion in work spaces, etc.
We understand that the employee or, in other words, user experience is a multi-factorial phenomenon with many pecularities. It could be simplified in terms of working conditions + focus on employee + wellbeing = increased productivity, innovation and better performance. It looks like an easy-to-understand combination that we all agree on at first. However, in practice and when implementing it, it is difficult to know where to start.
To deeply understand the real-life within your office, you need to turn to the most important part – people. The employee feedback will directly tell you what could be improved and what your workplace strengths are. The key point here is to evaluate and measure the results with the help of both qualitative and quantitative tools.
1 - Team up: Before starting the evaluation process, you need to build a team of leaders from the Human Resources, Technology, and Facility Management departments, that are experts in the areas, have a profound knowledge of the daily routine of their employees and aware of the aspects that need to be improved.
2 - Define leadership and commitment: From the top management of the organization, you can get an idea about the points of connection of the user experience and the brand with the company’s values and objectives to achieve internal alignment. Without this internal congruence, it is impossible to start the process, it is the compass that guides us to where we want to go in terms of human experience.
3 - Evaluate: Interviews, surveys, studies, and recordings will give you a clear idea of how your office space is used, which are the priority benefits, which needs haven’t been met, and what aspects should be improved according to users.
4 - Listen to your employees: Generate communication channels that allow office users to speak and share their feedback: blogs, social networks, town hall meetings, spaces where they can anonymously give recommendations and comments, etc. All users are different and will choose the channel they feel comfortable with. If you provide users with a map of contacts and various opportunities to comment, write recommendations, it will increase the chances to receive the feedback you need. Only by taking time and creating new communication channels, you’ll be able to send users a sign you’re willing to listen, and they will consider it as a very positive one.
5 - Analyze and personalize: Always think of the aspects that are top change priorities in terms of needs, costs, and resources. There are no secret formulas, just focus on developing tailored solutions whenever possible.
6 - Take action: The information from surveys and initiatives aimed at getting to know the actual situation in the workplace, is usually received and no further action is taken to improve the user experience. In this case, users “learn” that their opinions will be neither heard nor considered. This leads to despair, discouragement, and distrust towards the next initiatives the company plan to carry out. The best option is to propose short-term improvements and realize them following the feedback received from users.
7 - Strengthen the communication: The first and most direct contact of employees should be with their leaders, that is why it is so vital to train them to improve this communication. A user who has no idea where to go for advice, in case of any issue, or the one, who believes he will not be paid attention to, is going to gradually lose contact and connection with their organization.
8 - Keep on doing a great job: We always focus on what should be improved, but we also need to remember to strengthen what is already working and appreciated by users. Making sure that the current benefits will not be lost is always a good thing to do.
9 - Make long-term plans and take risks: Think of the future and imagine the experience you would like to have. Propose a strategy that leads to this experience and can be easily realized in a couple of years. New user experiences keep on appearing. However, some of them look a bit weird, they meet the current needs of users: pet-friendly offices, game rooms, shortened working week, time for personal and volunteering activities, etc.
10 - Organize the change well: If the change is necessary, it is preferable to stick to methodology, personalization, and structure. The Change Management strategies will ensure a smooth transition to a new workplace culture, which will affect neither the employee nor their performance.
Any company that intends to survive and reinvents itself understands that knowing and listening to their internal clients as well as the external ones is an investment, and is a process under constant development. Understanding how we collaborate and under which conditions as well as the feeling of professional satisfaction and happiness, boost our productivity and life quality.
To sum up, if there are factors in work experience that affect users in any way, it is time to make changes and changes are conjunctures to improvement. Take advantage of the opportunity to make a lasting, people-focused, risky change that is not a checklist for setting a goal, but a way to exceed the expectations of your internal clients.