Call it ‘human-centered design’, ‘empathy’, or simply ‘understanding the employee’, it’s the crucial first step to better engaging the modern workforce.
That’s according to Jason Averbook, CEO of Leapgen, and author of the new book The Ultimate Guide to a Digital Workforce Experience - Leap for a Purpose.
Averbook told HRD that understanding the workforce is not so much about looking at past experiences or where employees went to school or college.
“It’s more important to look at all the things they do on a day-to-day basis to get their job done,” said Averbook.
“HR needs to understand that and then figure out how to grow, develop and listen to employees without overwhelming them.”
“This should be done by making it natural for them while not competing with what they were hired to do.”
The second thing HR must improve on is “creating value”, as it’s very important to be aware of where HR can improve experiences.
He cited the example of an employee who is about to have a baby.
An “old-school HR process” would be for the employee to simply record the fact that she is having a baby, added Averbook.
She would then be sent a link or a piece of paper to fill out which would be returned to HR. But what value did the employee get out of that?
“Maybe her pay check will be right or maybe the employer will have updated information, but she didn’t get a lot of value personally out of doing that transaction,” said Averbook.
“Alternatively, once the employee said she was having a baby the employer could send her a onesie with the company logo on it, a coupon for diapers, or some information about how she can access daycare.”
Moreover, HR could then send the employee a question every week, such as: How are you and the baby going? Are you getting any extra support? Is there anything we can do to assist?
“Therefore, I have just turned a transaction into an experience.”
Indeed, when Averbook recently spoke at ServiceNow’s Knowledge 18 event in Las Vegas he talked about how “experience is transaction plus interaction”.
“So the employer added a ton of interaction or trust to that transaction to create an experience for the employee who just had the baby,” he said.
“For the employee, they’ll be thinking ‘wow, this company really cares about me’. Not only do they care about me, but they care about my new baby.”
Averbook said that the third factor to engage employees is to realise there is a huge difference between a user experience with technology and a human experience.
“A lot people say if I go buy the latest technology it is going to be a great experience - that’s not always the case,” said Averbook. “Let’s say you love shopping on Amazon and you like the user interface, but when you buy something the product never comes - it’s a bad experience.”
While it might be a good user experience, the overall experience when you don’t receive the product is obviously a poor one.
“For HR, it’s about realising that technology is one part of it, but the experience/ architecture that really focuses on understanding the employee and how to add value is important - interface isn’t an experience.”