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The Importance Of Employee Experience with Ben Whitter

What is your employee experience like? Would your employees write rave reviews about their experience working at your organisation?

Today’s guest, Ben Whitter, is an employee experience expert and a bestselling author. He works with a number of global companies helping the CEOs fix their employee experience so that it’s in keeping with their preferred customer experience and their brand. 

“We look at everything that’s connected to people, society, culture, the organisation, leadership, technology, and we say, how is this driving people forward and helping them fulfil their potential?”

Today, Ben talks about his mission, how he wants to see HR own the commercial metrics inside an organisation and step away from the typical HR metrics of recruitment and sickness absence. He wants HR to instead be responsible for innovation, profitability, customer satisfaction and productivity.

“If you’re developing and investing in your customer experience, you would expect to see some return with new business coming in, retaining clients or customers, new customers, new referrals. And it’s the same for employee experience.”

From where his research has taken him, to the best place for an organisation to start, to sharing a few tactical examples from the organisations he’s worked with, to his views on hybrid work and how that’ll affect employee experience when we start to return to the office, this is a fantastic conversation with Ben. 

We hope you learn as much as we did. 

On today’s podcast:

  • The best place for an organisation to start
  • Tactical examples of best practice
  • How to measure employee experience
  • His favourite CEO story
  • The Timpson model for talent
  • The hybrid model and employee experience

Links:

Ben Whitter is an employee experience expert. He works with a number of global companies helping the CEOs fix their employee experience so that it’s in keeping with their preferred customer experience and their brand. 

“They tend to be global multinational corporations. Those are the ones that beat a path to our door in terms of some of the services that we provide from consulting, to keynote speeches, to ongoing coaching relationships.”

Why might you need an employee experience expert helping you? Because the workforce is human, and we need to embrace that. 

From customer experience to employee experience

The concept of customer experience is well known, but the concept of employee experience is still relatively new. There’s been employee engagement for a while, but employees don’t talk about engagement, when they’re thinking about their time with your organisation, they talk about their experiences. 

But HR, for so long, has focused on engagement. However, Ben reckons we’re now moving away from that towards focusing on experiences – brand, product, customer, consumer, shareholder, and now, employees. 

“I went on a world tour before I even had a book that talked about these ideas, and, like 30 countries, and then corporations, booked me, all manner of different organisations want to understand this idea more.”

Where to start

So if you’re wanting to improve your organisation’s employee experience, where do you start? 

“It depends on the context. If you’re new to the field, that usually starts off with some form of education for leadership teams. Sometimes the CEO goes to a conference about employee experience, and then comes back and says okay, we’re doing it. Now, let’s set up a team.”

You usually start from HR and then it should travel to consume the entire support functions: IT, digital, catering, facilities, everything starts to connect with this idea of looking after experiences for the employees. 

Just make sure, if you’re investing in programmes, projects and technology, that you’re realising the value of it, that you’re seeing the real impact. Look for areas where they’re not connected, where the right people aren’t working together. Because these things create issues in and of itself. 

The importance of employee experience

Here’s the thing, says Ben, it’s about delivering business outcomes. If engagement or morale between colleagues isn’t efficient, effective or impactful, it starts to hit sales margins. And CEOs care about profit. 

The best companies Ben has seen highlighting the importance of employee experience are those that have the mindset that we’re all humans and our experience is vitally important, rather than simply seeing it as a new process or a new policy that is HR driven. The companies that do employee experience well are the ones who think about it through the lens of how it impacts their people. 

Ben’s company, HEX Organization, when they talk about employee experience, they look at the holistic employee experience. 

“We look at everything that’s connected to people, society, culture, the organisation, leadership, technology, and we say, how is this driving people forward and helping them fulfil their potential?”

Measuring employee experience

For Ben, the biggest measurement for employee experience is business results. 

“If you’re developing and investing in your customer experience, you would expect to see some return with new business coming in, retaining clients or customers, new customers, new referrals. And it’s the same for employee experience.”

So, lower staff churn, lower sick rate, higher quality of hire, higher quality of applicants. 

“But also, the business results you’re claiming are improvements in innovation, improvements in profitability, customer satisfaction and productivity.”

Employee centric

Because the truth is, says Ben, nobody can love a customer until they love the company. It all starts from within. If you want to be a customer centric company you have to be employee centric first. 

“If they feel good about the brand, and they’re in a space where they can give the best performance, then inevitably, you’re going to see the returns from that. But if they’re not feeling good about the brand, they’re not feeling an emotional connection, then they’re not going to give as much as they could do.”

How can you put into practice that you’re all about employee experience? The best companies, says Ben stand out because of:

“The way they onboard people, from the way that they recruit people, to the way that they train people, the way they develop the leaders, the leadership programme, the way they hire and promote people up to the next level as well.”

The hybrid work model

With most of the world working from home for more than 12 months, what will a return to work look like from an employee experience perspective? 

“I think on one side of this kind of discussion, you have employees who are overwhelmingly saying we want to go back to something different, we don’t want the old way of doing things. So the vast majority say, okay, three days at home, maybe two days in the office.”

Essentially, global research is showing that we all want a better work and home balance, and no one likes the commute. 

“I think the majority will find their way to a hybrid experience.”

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