The term employee experience was first introduced about five years ago and has quickly became synonymous with next level HR: “Employee experience builds on the foundations of the best HR theories, research and practices,” says HR guru, Dave Ulrich. Now the term ‘human experience’ has come into play. What’s the difference? “Human experience is next level employee experience,” Heleen Mes explains.
What distinguishes the employee experience approach from traditional Human Resource Management? Firstly, employees are neither resources nor capital. Employee experience puts employees first in the organization, not the customers or shareholders. As Richard Branson once remarked, “Clients don’t come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they’ll take care of your clients.” The organization enables employees to be the best versions of themselves.
The organization moreover has a compelling purpose and core values, which are lived and the yardstick for choices, behavior and procedures. Employees are involved in the solutions and improvements occuring within the organization: the innovations, but also the revising of (HR) procedures and systems. Change comes from bottom-up co-creation. And employee input is actively sought: what is occurring and what is important? What do employees find important in their work? What do they think of their work environment? Do they have the right tools to work with? Answers to such questions are found in annual employee assessments, for example, but also through frequent pulse measurements, one-on-one interviews or in consultation with sounding board groups. All available information is used to improve matters. The organization, especially in the larger sense, is data-driven, frequently measuring and using (HR) analytics. (Predictive) analyzes and cross-analyses are conducted, and data-driven decisions made with regard to employees.
Where necessary, design thinking should be used to actively transform the employee journey – from recruitment to dismissal. Put yourself in the (potential) employees’ shoes and redesign the employee journey, using positive emotions and surprises, and doing just that bit more than the employee expects, all aligned of course with the organization’s standards and values. It’s not the organizations’ functional requirements that take precedence but rather the employees’ expectations. Employee experience is not a department, but rather a view of employees that is created when all those involved – HR, ICT, marketing, communication, facility management and management – collaborate in an integrated approach.
Human experience is the highest level in employee experience, it is deeper and broader, extending beyond the characteristics of employee experience.
Human experience is not only for those employees with employment contracts. It should also be available to job applicants, temporary workers, freelancers, interns, volunteers, contracted cleaners and catering staff. And don’t forget alumni and retirees. Human experience management focuses on everyone who contributes to the organization, aiming to make everyone involved feel that they matter. Distinctions are only made if they are relevant for the target group itself. Consequently, do not send a smaller Christmas gift box to the independent contractors who also worked for you all year.
Human experience means that people are never just employees. People are comprised of so much more than that: they have all kinds of roles and responsibilities in their lives. They are also partners, parents, children, friends or volunteers. The human experience concept means that you have a holistic, inclusive view of the people connected to your organization, and you want to help them in their personal lives and growth as people. One example: use your training budget for personal development, instead of only for job-oriented training.
The employee experience is never separate from the experiences that customers, suppliers, subcontractors and business partners have with the organization. In short, the experience encompasses the entire chain. Can employees be proud of the products and services the organization provides? Must suppliers wait excessively long for their invoices to be paid? And the reverse also applies: how employees are treated is public knowledge and influences the customers’ experience. Human experience focuses on successfully integrating the customer experience and business experience with the employee experience, and they must align with the organization’s purpose and values. This is why it’s crucial for departments to collaborate, and for the overall experience-management to be centrally coordinated. As Simon Sinek once remarked: “People never love a company until the employees love it first”.