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PHOTO: Demi Kwant

The theory that happier employees lead to happier customers is nothing new. While logical, it's a theory still difficult to prove through any qualitative formulas. Yet organizations are increasingly understanding the importance, for both their future success and for the attraction and retention of the right people to their workplace, of delivering employee experiences that are on par with the experiences these same employees have outside of work.

So what does it take to deliver these excellent employee experiences? And will we ever be able to prove a direct link between that and customer experience? We spent an hour discussing these topics and more in our most recent Tweet Jam.  

Why Employee Experience, Why Now?

Back in 2010, business consultant Julie Hunt wrote on this site: "Enterprise intranets are usually created to act as the main conduits for internal collaboration, including content creation/acquisition. But, to-date, most are failing to engage their internal customers: the employees of corporations."

Swap "digital workplace" for "intranets" and the same can be said in 2018. The difference is, businesses feel more pressure to do something about it, driven by a desire to retain top performing people, attract new employees and in recognition of the trickle down effects that such improvements can have on the customer experience.  

Related Article: CMSWire Tweet Jam: From Good Employee Experience to Great CX

Who 'Owns' the Employee Experience?

Without clear ownership and strategy, any initiative will fail — and it's no different for the employee experience.

In spite of the emergence of the Chief Employee Experience Officer role, our panel was in basic agreement that, much like the customer experience, employee experience efforts need to be a cross-organizational effort. In spite of a recent dip in popularity, human resources was the most frequently named area designated to lead any initiative.  

Connecting Employee Experience to Customer Experience

It's a question whose answer has eluded many. When Altimeter, a Prophet company, chose to add "employee experience" to its yearly digital transformation report, principal analyst and author of the report Brian Solis admitted it was a hotly debated topic, but "regardless of the direct connection right now, we have to just look at culture being the number one inhibitor [of digital transformation]."

The responses spoke to the broader challenge of directly measuring success of internal working practices, a challenge which many suggest could be mitigated by businesses becoming more open to less quantitative and more qualitative signs of improvement.

 

What Does Excellent Employee Experience Look Like?

People don't stop being people when they clock in in the morning. Some basic needs carry over, such as the desire for meaning, autonomy, recognition and growth. The right tools support these desires and add to the sense of feeling valued, but can't in and of themselves create a successful employee experience.

Tricks of the Employee Experience Trade

While one of the keys to delivering an excellent employee experience may seem obvious, it's still common for many businesses to ignore it: involve the people in question in creating their own experiences. This isn't to say any initiative is starting from scratch. Any initiative must align with existing company values, culture and goals in order to succeed for all involved.

Is Success Possible for Businesses Who Treat Their Employees Poorly?

The panelists — in general — agreed that while such success might be possible in the short-term, sustainable business success is not achievable with an organization filled with unhappy employees. A few outliers suggested customer happiness and employee happiness were two different animals which had no direct impact on each other. Which do you agree with? Share your comments below.