EX playbook: How to power your brand by fulfilling employee expectations

Blake Friis
Publication Date
18 March 2022

EX playbook: How to power your brand by fulfilling employee expectations

It’s a widely held belief that success in business comes down to who understands their customer best. What isn’t as talked about is how the key to making sure your business does that is by being the company that best understands its employees. 

In this series, we explore strategies and tactics to bring the same focus to employee experience (EX) as we usually apply to customer experience (CX), and the benefits of both.

Part 1: Designing solutions to The Great Resignation

If 2020 was the year of “we’re in this together,” 2021 has been the year of, “where did everyone go?!”

The Great Resignation was a term coined in April of this year, when a record number of people left their job in the U.S. That record lasted until July, when it was broken again. The new mark stood until the very next month when a new record was set yet again.

It’s now clear that The Great Resignation is not an isolated economic consequence, but a sustained cultural shift, sending businesses into a bit of a panic about how to get, keep, or replace the talent they need to operate at a high level.

Employees are leaving for a number of reasons, some are tactical, like better pay working for a competitor. Many simply understand they are living in a moment of shifting power, where the demands of the employee matter every bit as much as the demands of the employer.

Culture matters

Culture isn’t just a buzzword leaders use to describe ping-pong tables and free vending machines around the office. Now, it’s at or near the top of a generation of employees’ priority lists as they plot their next career move. 

In the old days - approximately 18 months ago - companies could espouse their values, paint them on the walls, print them on t-shirts and run one-way communications on the company intranet telling employees who they were, collectively.

Sometimes the company lived those values. Other times, it just sounded good. They were platitudes on the wall, repeated in internal emails and blog posts without comment sections. 

No more.

Want a better culture? Design great employee experiences

Great cultures are built with employee-first focus. Where and how we work has changed, but wherever  they are - at home, in an office, or rotating between both - empowerment, autonomy, flexibility, and appreciation are fundamental demands.

The good news is all of those qualities can (and should) be designed into the tools you give people to do remote work and engage with the company.

Traditional methods of employee communication have been one-way message delivery - company-wide email, intranet, office signage. All of these tools were built to make sure leadership could tell employees what they wanted them to know. 

The corporate model favored monologue over dialogue. 

But digital technology has improved. The same tech that enables us to design tools that create great customer experience can be leveraged to create great digital employee experiences.

If you care enough to do the work.

Focusing on employee experience is good for business

Happy employees lead to happier customers, and that might be the scariest thing about The Great Resignation for companies suddenly having to compete just as hard to keep talent as to find it.

The staffing issue has become an operational hazard impacting a company’s ability to fulfill its brand promise at every turn, but a great employee experience platform not only helps people engage with the company, but gives them the tools to do their job when and how they want, increasing employee engagement and productivity. 

If you have talented people, and you want to keep them, it makes sense to invest in them. It will pay off in the long run.

Part 2: Happy employees lead to happy customers: How EX can deliver a better brand experience for customers

Scroll through LinkedIn at any time and two subjects will likely find their way into your feed, regardless of the industry you work in – delighting customers and building a great company culture. 

It’s become increasingly clear those two topics are joined at the hip.

While a number of factors define a great company culture, happy employees are non-negotiable. And companies who delight their customers, consistently, over long periods of time, tend to be the ones that create the best experiences for their employees. 

Being good to your people is good for business. The question is how do companies design exceptional employee experiences that translate into delighted customers?

The business case: EX equals greater revenue

The first hurdles to great EX design are motivation and prioritization. For companies of all shapes and sizes, there are only so many resources. Everyone, in every department, is waiting for budget approvals. This leaves executives the unenviable job of placing one department’s wants over another. 

Oftentimes, those prioritizations come down to things being “business critical.” If you can attach an initiative to revenue, it moves up the chain. If not, it’s a nice-to-have. Too often, initiatives tied to company culture fall into that bucket. But should they?

A recent Forbes Insights study showed a direct link between better employee experience (EX) to better customer experience (CX). Companies that invest in both EX and CX see almost double the revenue growth as those that do not.

Seventy percent of executives agreed improved EX leads to improved CX, which in turn leads to rapid revenue growth and cost savings through mitigating risk. Many of the executives surveyed believed creating teams that combine EX and CX skills is the best way to overcome cultural obstacles.

Experience design isn’t just for customers

Being great at CX starts with understanding your whole customer – what they want and need, and the hurdles they face in pursuit of those things. Once you know that journey, you can leverage technology to design solutions. 

The same is true for EX. Companies looking to build a great culture, full of happy employees that serve customers and drive revenue, can no longer hide behind trendy office perks. They need to understand what really matters to employees and how to best facilitate the culture they want to work in.

“COVID didn’t just change the way work got done, it changed the expectations of the people doing the work,” said Mike Welsh, Mobiquity’s chief creative officer. “Employees don’t care about ping-pong tables and free snacks. They want the work they do to fit their lives, rather than live a life that fits their job. Companies need to give them the tools to do their jobs well, where they are.”

For employees, experience is relative

One of the reasons companies need to put the same effort into EX as they do CX is because outside of work, their employees are customers themselves, and have experienced the benefit of great CX-focused digital experiences.

In the digital space, companies have to deal with experience relativity – the fact that customers compare the experience they have with their brand to all their digital experiences, not just those of direct industry competitors.

Likewise, employees don’t compare their experience on a company intranet to other companies' intranets. They compare it to the social networks they use every single day, whenever and wherever they want. 

If it is easier for your employees to order take-out or get a ride to the airport than it is to find a document they need to do their job from their home office, it doesn’t really matter if you have video games in yours. 

Simply put, facilitating the kinds of experiences that enable your employees to do their best work will produce job satisfaction, happy customers, secure employment opportunities, and a healthy bottom line.

Part 3: Employee Engagement is a dialogue, not a monologue

Let’s start by ripping off the band-aid – your intranet is terrible. Don’t take it personally. Most intranets are terrible. It’s not the technology, it’s the intent. 

Whether it’s access to important documents, brand guidelines, leadership messages, or the cafeteria menu, the company intranet as we know it today was designed for top-down information delivery. 

But if the great resignation has taught us anything, it’s that crafting the right message in the boardroom pales in comparison to making employees feel heard and providing them the tools to do their job when and where they need them.

Here’s how to make sure employees are at the center of your business strategy, and move past the limitations of the traditional intranet to unlock their potential.

Include employees in your “North Star”

At Mobiquity, we start every digital transformation project by defining that project’s north star. It’s not a new concept, but it is a critical one for successful CX…and EX. 

“It really helps to align everyone involved in the project on what success looks like for the customer and what success looks like for the business,” said Britt Mills, Sr, Director of Customer Experience at Mobiquity.

This same principle is true of EX, though it is not nearly as often applied. Planning and strategy sessions are all about what’s good for the business. What’s good for the customer is seen as an avenue to achieving business goals. But where do employees fit in that equation?

By putting the same amount of focus and resources into EX as you do CX, you create a north star that gives them equal consideration. When you do that, you’ll soon realize a repository for one-way communication doesn’t cut it, no matter how technologically sound it is.

EX platforms don’t just engage, they empower

Employees want to work for companies that reflect their values. The best way to ensure that happens is creating an environment – and implementing tools – that allow them to have a voice and express their values to begin with.

But if giving employees a place to express themselves doesn’t make replacing your intranet with a true EX platform fly up your priority list, maybe this will – EX platforms make the work better.

Acquia, a digital experience platform provider, has rightly pointed out the advantages companies are seeing by leveraging modern self-service tools to move away from a traditional intranet to a modern EX platform. 

Using low-code tools allows teams to build out solutions for their customers without having to wait for the availability of finite IT resources. The same is true for internal processes.

“By investing in tools that don’t require technical expertise, businesses can onboard new employees faster, so they can get working on meaningful projects in less time,” said Kevin Cochrane, Acquia’s senior vice president of product marketing.

That’s just one business critical example of how improving your internal tools can elevate your entire business. To learn more, download our free ebook: Doubling Down on Employee Experience.

Download our free Employee Experience ebook

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