As humans, we are incredibly good at grouping things. We are also very good at seeing patterns. Indeed, pattern recognition has been shown to be a clear evolutionary advantage for our species. That said, our natural penchant for patterns can sometimes obscure what is really happening. If you spend any time with optical illusions, you’ll quickly see how our brains distort reality by using innate patterns, or “shortcuts.” Predictable patterns mean our brains have to work less, and nature loves to conserve energy.
So, how does this observation apply to your organization’s Employee Experience (EX)? If we follow our brain’s preferred course, we might naturally try and create an Employee Experience that is nearly the same for each employee. As noted, we are wired to look for repeatable patterns and processes. Yet, this tendency may create a bias that works against our most important business goals.
Consider the following. Your organization’s EX is the sum of the various human-based operating conditions that surround and influence your employees at a behavioral and social level. In other words, your EX is that unique social environment in which your employees do their work.
In designing your EX, whether at the team level or at the organizational level, the goal is to create an EX environment that supports your organization’s key business objectives. For example, if you need precision in your engineering team, then the engineering team’s EX should promote and cultivate precision. If another team’s value is derived from creativity, then their EX should be tailored to foster creativity, such as designing work schedules that allow for uninterrupted chunks of time.
There is also a secondary lesson to be gleaned from these two examples. The Employee Experience should not be the same for every employee. Certainly corporate values and ethics need to stay the same, but other components must differ if you are going to get the most from your organization’s talent.
Armed with these insights, the next step is to try and understand your organization’s current EX. Every organization has an EX. Some are inherited. Some EXs are carefully controlled and created. But most are haphazardly acquired, or the EX has been foisted upon the organization’s current leadership. But, you can’t shape and improve your EX unless you have clear understanding of the starting point.
How to Better Understand Your Employee Experience
Analyze the Survey Data
We suggest that one way to better understand your current EX is to analyze your employee survey data. But, we suggest you use it differently this time. Rather than focusing on traditional groupings and comparisons, dig deeper and use your data to help understand how and why employees are having different Employee Experiences within your organization. The key question to be looking for in your employee survey data is: Do my employees have different Employee Experiences, and, if so, why?
Sort Employees into Groups
Here is one possible way to tackle this process. Start by sorting your employees into four groups based on how favorably they view your organization. We suggest you follow a traditional bell curve. For example, the highest raters might represent the top 15%. These are the fully engaged employees that give your organization top marks. They are the most enthusiastic champions of the organization, whose excitement is palpable and contagious.
The second group could be the next 35%. This group likely represents your key contributors. These are the employees that meet performance expectations, the “strong-and-steady.” They get things done, but they typically invest limited time innovating, improving processes, or breaking from the status quo.
The third group might be the next 35%. This is an employee segment where there is a strong opportunity for improvement. They generally feel underutilized, spend a lot of work time taking care of personal needs, do enough to get by and not get in trouble.
The last group is your remaining employees, and this group represents those that are disengaged at work. These employees are bored and frustrated; say negative things about the organization and tend to blame others for their failures.
Once you have sorted your employees as suggested, the next step is to look at the following three metrics.
Look at Three Metric Types
Compare the overall favorability score each group gives your organization. What do you see? What do you learn about each group’s Employee Experience? Then work at finding who are in these groups. For example, are they mainly women, engineers, line workers, etc.? Try and understand the forces that have shaped and molded these groups.
Based on all the survey responses, find the top three questions from each group. These are the questions where the group gave your organization the highest favorability rating. Compare those questions across the groups. Ask yourself, why does my top group care about one particular set of questions as opposed to what the other groups have indicated?
Compare each specific question within your top group against how the other groups responded to these same questions. In other words, you are examining the same question across each grouping to see how they responded. Where are things different? What insights can you find?
Armed with this data, a picture, although fuzzy, will likely emerge as to what your current EX looks like. This will serve as a good starting point.
But, you can’t stop there. Next steps might include targeted surveys that measure everything from what drives your employee value proposition to running exit surveys to illuminate why individuals might be leaving.
The key is to build an EX data analytics plan that is both comprehensive in its reach and targeted in its depth. Also, make sure your analytics plan covers multiple time periods as well as natural employee lifecycle landing points.
One last tangential point. During the analytical process, don’t just look for points where data converges; rather, look for points whether data diverges. Check your natural bias in favor of patterns by looking for instances where you see strong differences. Then ask yourself why those differences exist and what insights can be found.
In the end, by taking an analytics approach to your Employee Experience, you will be able to explore the nature of your EX and begin the process of shaping it to create a winning organization.