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I’m a firm believer in the idea of providing a great employee experience.

Done right, it’s not just another word for employee engagement. Its the driver for engagement, passion, commitment, motivation – whatever you want to call it. Mental health too. Positive experiences are good!

But this is where I have a problem.

McKinsey define EX as:

companies and their people working together to create personalized, authentic experiences that ignite passion and tap into purpose to strengthen individual, team, and company performance.

I see software companies describing themselves as Employee Experience providers. I see lots of EX solutions. I see solutions looking for problems. I see Perks aren’t an EX solution, they’re perks. Office furniture is part of the employee experience, but isn’t an EX solution either, is it?

My problem is that there’s NO solution that doesn’t involve understanding what your people are actually EXPERIENCING. There’s no “best practice”, no off-the-shelf blueprint.

Actual experience is about EMOTIONS. Like it or not! That’s what we experience. Good emotions, bad emotions…

I feel like EX is going the same way as Employee Engagement, and I know I’m not the first to say that (I was talking to Rebecca Longman about it just last week, and this is her blog) It’s in danger of being an industry, rather than a positive goal, something with meaning – a purpose if you like. Like Employee Engagement, there’s a risk that it becomes a box to tick, an easy way of making money for some people, that doesn’t really ‘move the needle’. We might be moving from engagement surveys and scores, to off-the-shelf software, and other HR solutions that, while well-meaning aren’t addressing the real need.

If you want to design a “great” employee experience, start by understanding what they’re experiencing. It might be at different points in the employee journey, but it doesn’t have to be and perhaps shouldn’t. If you limit people to talking about specific points that are aligned to the HR lifecycle, you might be depriving them of the opportunity to talk about what’s really driving their experience, what’s most important to them and, importantly, how that might actually impact organisational performance.

Emotions give us clues to people’s motivations (which is where a good framework comes in handy 😉  and motivations drive change.. ..spending time with them can be REALLY useful!


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