The future of work is rapidly changing. Increased digitisation, flexible and hybrid ways of working, and adjusting to life post-pandemic is driving more companies to be more innovative around their 'human experience.'
Ben Whitter is the best-selling author of Employee Experience, and the CEO at HEX Organisation, a global independent human & employee experience company. Ben is also the Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI).
Ben recently appeared on AZK Media's podcast, Target Market, to discuss innovative ways customer experience and employee experience are evolving.
We've seen a huge shift in ways of working recently, what have you seen as some of the challenges and opportunities?
The way that we used to work is somewhat of a distant memory now, because we've been kind of detached from physical work locations and buildings that often used to keep us anchored around a certain place or a certain location for prolonged periods of time.
But now, I think there's been a revelation in thinking, not just from the employer perspective, but from employees worldwide as well. They're saying, we've had a lot more flexibility to do our jobs and actually found it much better, it's better for our lives, it's better for our outcomes, and we feel better about it as well. That's one of the primetime things that's really occurred through this pandemic - the realisation that we can still deliver great outcomes, regardless of where we work.
In your new book called human experience at work, you uncover some very big and bold ideas about the future of work. Can you share some of those with us?
Organisations have now become more adept at understanding the whole human experience. This holistic experience that we have here, and how they build the workplace, design and cultivate experiences that actually bring the best out of people. This is a really good thing that has come out of the pandemic and linked to that is this notion that we can be ourselves at work.
Organisations are starting to think about how to create spaces in places to really get the best out of people. Where they can celebrate their talent diversity, the differences of thought, the differences in approach and personalities - and still get great outcomes.
I think in order to do that, you have to really create something that's more unified and stronger and something to believe in. That's what organisations have been focusing on.
What excites you the most in the employee experience space?
I've been immersed in the employee experience field for a long, long time. Now, I suppose it's this next level of evolution that really excites me. But we're still at the phase where employee experiences and management idea is growing in stature. I think that'll come through more as the years unfold - employee experience will breakthrough and really make an impact.
My employee experience model, which is the holistic employee experience, was recently covered by a special report featured in The Times in London, I thought this is an amazing thing that we're putting employee experience, so high on the agenda, that it's breaking through into mainstream thinking.
At AZK media, we believe employee experience and customer experience go hand in hand. So if you give your employees an exceptional experience as you would your customer, and your employees, just like your happy customers, will become brand champions and advocates. What do you think about this?
Absolutely! You can have a great employee experience without a great customer experience, and vice versa. They're interconnected, they're interlocked and you can't do one without the other.
If you want to transform your customer experience, you're gonna have to start with your employee experience. A lot of organisations are certainly the ones that make strong progress Initially, the ones that look at the CX and EX together, and they say - what can we learn and use and leverage across both experiences? How strongly can we connect them across a CX and EX to create this great brand?
It's no coincidence that great brands often have this really almost evangelical following of advocates and brand champions - and that starts from the inside. Because CEOs will need to line up people behind the idea behind the brand. That this is a viable growth earning idea, it's going to make an impact, people have to get behind it. The workforce has to get behind it.
As a B2B media and marketing agency, we work closely with a lot of HR technology firms, and we believe technology if implemented correctly, can really help solve a lot of the current challenges. How do you think technology can help HR and business leaders enhance employee experience?
Yeah, it's a great area to look at and it's often where most businesses start. So they'll start looking at all the things that they can fix through process or procedure. They can start looking at things that okay, would it make sense to automate this? Do we need to have so many people involved in this? Can we just make it a very seamless experience? That's where a lot of organisations focus on creating a very efficient, seamless, integrated experience of work.
Using technology to drive that through different parts of the employee journey. It could be an onboarding experience, where you're looking to bring people in, and give them a great welcome experience. Again you could be preparing for that, and getting data and information via technology beforehand. Some of that could be automated in terms of the welcome packs, and the branding, and how people are welcomed into the organisation.
However sometimes companies can can hinder the progress if they're not bringing in the right types of vendors or kind of people who can really add value to the employee experience.
So what should organisations who want to boost employee experience start doing and what should they stop doing?
Stop viewing people as 'resources' - that's the first place to start. If you think of people as human beings, you treat them differently. You build a different type of experience and you connect things in a different way. You certainly communicate in a different way.
That ultimately delivers a different way of leading the entire organisation fold. That one shift is dramatic, profound, and it's an overnight success.
If you start looking at people as human beings, it determines what policies you write, what procedures you write, what experiences you offer, how you co-create and work with your workforce - instead of telling them what to do, telling them what to think and issuing big tax from the corporate centre.
Start thinking of your workforce as human beings, and see how you can co-create with them. As a result of that, you stop doing a lot of bad things. You stop treating people in ways that don't deliver great productivity and well-being outcomes.
Ben Whitters novel Employee Experience can be purchased here.
Target Market, a podcast series by AZK Media, where the world’s most premium thought leaders across technology, marketing and data come together to share their insights.
This article was published on Little Black Book Online