Key takeaways from ExChange: the Employee Experience Event
When I saw ExChange: The Employee Experience Event advertised I was very excited about attending and I definitely didn’t leave disappointed. It was a fabulous conference with great speakers, plenty of food for thought and attendees who were all advocates of improving employee experience in whatever ways they can.
The event took place on 24th May 2018 and details and tweets from the day can be found on Twitter @ExConference and using the hashtag #ExChangeLDN.
Here are some of my key takeaways from the day.
- Overall the event focussed on making the case for Employee Experience to be given the same prominence as Customer Experience within organisations. This means using many of the research and insight techniques common in the customer experience landscape (if not the budgets) and demonstrating the impact it has on performance. This is crucial as it impacts whether a business will survive in the future or not.
- The main difference between Employee Experience and Employee Engagement is that the former is an INPUT and Employee Engagement is the OUTPUT. The Employee Experience is what drives Employee Engagement (and ultimately customer service and business performance. This needs to be measured in order to demonstrate its impact, importance and value.
- Matt Macri-Waller from Benefex described Employee Experience as ‘every single interaction an employee has with the organisation they work at over the course of their relationship with them’ and emphasised the need for this to be designed rather than just allowed to happen. The Employee Experience starts before an employee joins a company and continues after they leave. It includes things like trust, enablement, voice, belonging and connection.
- Aside from getting us all to take part in a group ‘Om’ chant at the start of his session, James Wallman, author and futurist talked about what the rise of the experience economy means at work. I was surprised when he said that we should look at what’s NOT going to change in the next 10 years and build our strategies around that. But it makes sense as we can only work with what we know, although we can make ourselves agile, flexible and resilient to be able to adapt to change when it happens.
- Midlands based PFK Cooper Parry talked us about how their experience of the 2008 crash led them to re-evaluate their business and change their culture to become the biggest accountancy firm in the East Midlands with 29% sales growth (2016). They have been named as having one of the top 10 coolest offices in the UK and clearly their focus on the Employee Experience has worked brilliantly for them.
- The presentation from Pete Trainor from Us AI had the biggest impact on the audience emotionally during the day. It was a powerful presentation and I’m glad I stayed in the room for it. He told us that 12.7% of sickness absence is due to a mental health condition, and that 1 in 6 people will have a mental health issue at some point in their careers. We heard that while AI and technology can help in many ways, most people will still need emotional support and someone ‘being there’ for them, which a machine can’t provide. In conclusion, technology is an enabler of Employee Experience not the solution.
- Andy Swann, author of the Human Workplace told us that unfortunately many people dislike their job but reminded us that small things can go a long way to rectifying this. He gave us the excellent example of US chocolate company Hershey’s who discovered that simply saying thank you was more effective at engaging their colleagues than their Christmas bonus. He also described the process of designing the Employee Experience as 1) understanding your business 2) designing your organisation 3) observing it in action and 4) tweaking and re-tweaking.
- The panel section of the event looked at what we can learn from customer experience. I particularly liked the comments that Employee Experience is a journey that we should take one step at a time and that we shouldn’t try to be sexy too soon! Other nuggets included:
- Listen to employees and act upon what they tell us – basic but something we often struggle with (especially the latter part)
- The smallest things can make a big difference and don’t need to cost much, if anything
- Reinforce what’s going right rather than what’s going wrong
- Say thank you
- History doesn’t serve our brands now
- Internal Comms is the engine of Employee Engagement
- Keep it simple
- I really enjoyed Andrea Pattico from MVFs presentation on millennials as she articulated something I’ve been thinking about for some time, namely that there is no real data to back up all the claims being made about millennials. With this being the case I believe we focus on this group too much at the exclusion of others, especially when we have workforces that are made up of many age groups. Maybe we should focus more on what we have in common rather than what separates us? Andrea also gave us a great description of what an authentic Employee Experience looks like. We should Say (be clear), Believe (not just pay lip service) and Do (not be hypocritical).
I hope to be able to attend more events like this in future where knowledge and experience is shared to help us all progress and be the best we can be.
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