Some aspects of employee experience, such as recruiting and onboarding experiences, are temporary, but other touchpoints can span an employee’s entire employment life cycle and color his or her total experience with an organization. Four elements in particular—the HR operating model, technology, people analytics, and the physical workplace—serve as foundational pillars that underlie and permeate the whole employee experience and create a real impression on the employee’s tenure with an organization.
Building a Solid Foundation
Employee experience is the sum of all touchpoints employees have with employers, from being candidates (whether active or passive) to becoming alumni. Individual touchpoints may vary in length or frequency during the employee lifecycle, but the four pillars, if properly constructed, can support and enhance all elements of employee experience.
The HR Operating Model. A central purpose of HR is now to design compelling employee experiences. Disruptions in the workplace have created a need for a flexible and responsive HR operating model. This model helps ensure that innovative HR teams are fully embedded in the business and lead and manage organizational effectiveness, change, and people initiatives. The move from transactional HR to strategic HR also supports work with business leaders to understand the importance of personalizing employee experience, and to define what it means to put the employee at the center of everything. This involves pulling the entire enterprise together to proactively respond to workforce needs through the capabilities, knowledge, and overall network of multiple stakeholders.
Technology. At most organizations, technology is intended to enable employees to work faster, smarter, and with greater productivity. But employees have individual standards and expectations, ranging from their comfort level with technology to the ways in which they access their work spaces: from home, while traveling, or logging in outside of traditional office hours and environments. Tools such as in-person observations, focus groups, and employee segmentation can help companies analyze how employees interact with a given app or system, leading to more employee-friendly solutions. As efficiency measures increasingly call for employees to adopt self-service solutions throughout their careers, technologies such as artificial intelligence will likely become more important to enhance employee experience.
People Analytics. Collecting people data can be incredibly powerful in helping companies understand their workforce, but many employees today feel uneasy about being watched. Because of concerns regarding privacy and confidentiality, employees may be reluctant to provide feedback when asked to share information, such as taking a survey or offering suggestions about a specific interaction. Companies should address these concerns by being open and transparent about their data-collection processes, emphasizing the purpose behind collecting the data, and offering opt-in solutions for employees.
Physical Environment. Offices have a direct and obvious impact on how employees feel at work, yet some organizations still treat workplace redesign efforts as a means of cutting costs. Office designs that support flexible work and feature attractive amenities can lead to significant improvements in employee productivity and everyday experience. Companies are adopting approaches such as hoteling, shared spaces, distraction-free rooms, and other innovative office designs that support virtual and nonvirtual teams. Forward-thinking companies increasingly offer on-site facilities like salons, dry-cleaners, catered meals, car-sharing programs to run errands between work obligations, and similar services.
The bottom line is that companies should consider how they can shore up the four foundations that underlie and strengthen employee experience. Our Understanding Employee Experience series of articles can help. If your organization is working on new employee experience initiatives and you’d like to be interviewed as part of our research, please reach out to Madhura Chakrabarti (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Jeff Mike (email@example.com). In addition, be on the lookout for an online survey later this summer.
Bersin members can download and read the full article, Understanding Employee Experience: The Four Pillars. Bersin members should watch for our continuing articles in this series that take a deeper look into the many aspects of employee experience today. Not a Bersin member but want to know more? Visit the Bersin website. For more insights into employee experience, please see our blog series, which continues over the coming summer weeks.
 Seven High-Impact Findings to Redefine HR, in the High-Impact HR series, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Jeff Mike, 2017.
 Put the Business Back in HR: The Need for a True HR Business Partner, Bersin, Deloitte Consulting LLP / Karen Shellenback Stacia Sherman, 2015.