"Some leaders believe that they shouldn’t concern themselves with their employees’ non-work related life experiences. This should no longer be the case." (Gallup, 2021)
The next evolution in Employee Experience (EX) has arrived, and it is more human.
The last couple of years have encouraged people to think about what’s really important to them in life and work. The lines between personal and professional are growing increasingly blurred and people expect to be treated as whole humans, not just a 9-5 resource.
Employee Experience (EX) vs Human Experience (HX)
Everyone is familiar with EX. It is basically everything about work that affects how employees think and act, their perception of their company and the work, and the feelings dealt with at work. The human experience is how we think, what we feel, the relationships we build, the interactions we have, the values we practice, how we communicate, and all the ways we develop. It’s how we’re supported to do more than turn input into output; it’s the opportunities we have to grow professionally, mentally, emotionally, and creatively.
HX leans into the idea that we don’t wake up and go to sleep as employees; customers; partners etc, but as humans. It acknowledges that there are external factors that influence how an employee ‘turns up’ and does the work. It acknowledges people as emotional beings with feelings: imperfect and messy.
In the context of Human Experience, the organization rises to meet the social, environmental, technological, political and even spiritual challenges that people experience. HX is now a strategic consideration for businesses.
"If we consider a non-human resource, it is for us an object or instrument devoid of will power. Because of its human nature, a person must be treated with respect and approached differently from other resources."(Melé et al, 2015)
Trust, Love and Worthiness
What do we need to get right when working on HX?
- Trust: between employees and employers/organizations:
- Love: from our co-workers, managers, and organizations
- Worthiness: Feeling purpose driven and valued in the work that we do.
Deloitte Digital believes you can measure and predict trust levels with these four fundamentals:
- Humanity: Genuinely caring for the experience and wellbeing of others.
- Transparency: Openly sharing information, motives, and choices in plain language.
- Capability: Possessing the means to meet expectations.
- Reliability: Consistently and dependably delivering upon promises made.
Their findings have concluded that highly trusted companies outperform mistrusted companies by 2.5x. When companies are high on humanity, their employees are 260% more likely to be motivated to go to work. Although there is extensive research on organizational trust, Deloitte's recent framework offers a direct link between trust and HX.
Love is a growth mindset. When we love, we care about and invest in our growth, and we care about and invest in others. The organization grows together when everyone works on love individually.
The Worthiness Gap
According to Amelia Dunlop’s research with Deloitte Digital, feeling worthy matters to 9 out of 10 people, yet 5 out of 10 struggle to feel it, especially at work.
Worth is both intrinsic and extrinsic. Extrinsic value is found in job titles, remuneration and promotions. Intrinsic value comes from purpose and meaning. Today's climate is becoming holistic, with many forfeiting the titles and pay packages for purposeful work and flexible working conditions. The most successful employers have found the balance of both.
Humanized EX is nothing new!
HX is a new term, but not a new idea. The anti-work movement has been mobilizing since the 1970s to fight for better working conditions, pay and benefits through strikes or unionized action. The pandemic has seen a resurgence of this movement as employees leave or advocate for improvement within their organizations.
Many in the HR or EX space have talked about this ‘human centered’ employee experience. Ben Witter or Mr Employee Experience believes we’re in a stage of organizational change, trying to figure out how to best apply this human-centric experience within organizations. He sees HR leaders transitioning from an administrative or support function to a core part of the business because of EX’s importance.
Who’s doing it well?
This UK based organization provides answering services for companies of all sizes and has consistently been regarded as one of the UK’s best employers. According to HR Zone, this is because their business model takes people seriously. They’ve recognized that no one thing makes them a great employer - it’s the 150,000 things that they do each and every day. This is why they’ve worked with their people to revamp their HR function into a working life team.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts
“You can dream, create, design, and build the most wonderful place in the world… but it requires people to make the dream a reality.” Walt Disney.
Walt Disney Parks and Resorts ensures that every employee, regardless of their seniority, understands how their role in the organization contributes to the overall vision and mission of the organization. New team members begin onboarding with a class called Traditions. Here they learn the purpose of Disney, bringing them on the journey towards delivering exceptional customer service.
In an interview with HBR, IBM Head of HR Diane Gherson talks about co-creating the employee experience at IBM. By seeking feedback and working with their people, they ensured that employees were excited to join, and understood the role they had to play in IBM’s vision. In their rework of learning and development they co-designed a learning platform for their 380,000 employees.
HX doesn’t discount previous EX efforts. Instead it reminds us that behind all the experiences of work there is a person, and they bring all their life and feelings with them to work.
In 2021 Josh Bersin published Secrets To Employee Experience: The Definitive Guide. His research concluded that practices related to trust, transparency, inclusion and caring have a disproportionate impact. Before adding dollars to job listings and perks in the workplace, he calls for businesses to focus on these core matters that will improve experience:
- Employees want a feeling of purpose from their employer.
- They want to trust their leaders and institutions.
- They want to feel that they belong and that their team will take care of them.
- They want to be treated fairly; their uniqueness and identity as a person respected.
- And they want to see the company investing in their pay, growth, and advancement.
Fortier, M., & Albert, M.-N. (2015). From Resource to Human Being: Toward Persons Management. SAGE Open. https://doi.org/10.1177/2158244015604347
Gallup. (2021). State of the Global Workplace. (2021) Retrieved from Gallup’s website: https://www.gallup.com/workplace/349484/state-of-the-global-workplace.aspx