Why employee experience matters

How becoming the #1 Best Place to Work in Canada hardens our resolve for our employee experience practice.

We are incredibly proud to be ranked #1 on the List of Best Workplaces in Canada for 2018 (less than 100 employees) — our ninth consecutive year on the list. We want to say a heartfelt “thank you” to every Hab who collectively earned this award as building a workplace in which our employees thrive is central to our organization’s purpose.

We have a kinship with other award winners—clients and peers who share similar values. At events such as last night’s awards dinner, we enthusiastically share stories of our own workplace, but, more importantly, we listen closely to what others are doing to improve the world of work for their employees.

The evening's conversations harden our resolve for our employee experience practice because it's clear that every organization benefits from the engagement, support, and alignment of its employees.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience is a holistic approach to understanding and designing how employees experience your organization. We love the description the Head of Employee Experience at Airbnb uses: employee experience is anything that helps set an employee up for success or contributes positively to the organizational culture.

Employee experience is empathy-driven at its core. This, perhaps, is what distinguishes it from its Human Resources or Human Capital Management predecessors, which while complementary, take an operational view of employee interactions. Employee experience, being holistic, reaches far beyond the walls of HR.

Our clients cite autonomy, purpose, growth, connection, and ultimately the realization of greater human potential as outcomes they seek for their employees. Not every employee experience, of course, has the chance to address each of these outcomes. This is why our employee experience strategy and design work focuses on finding and creating moments with the greatest impact.

The emergence of employee experience at Habanero

Employee experience design is a natural application of the principles of its customer experience predecessor. Customer experience design pivots around the idea that critical customer service moments are primary drivers of customer satisfaction, engagement, and retention. Customer experience design uses tools such as a journey map or service blueprint to discern, define, and enhance these moments.

Ten years ago, when Habanero began applying service design techniques to our own organization, we realized the potential they had to impact our employee engagement, satisfaction, and business performance. Shortly thereafter, and perhaps prophetically, we created a leadership role—Director of Employee Experience. Our company regularly steps into the shoes of our employees to understand and improve our workplace. From mapping the employee onboarding experience to evolving our old-school performance management process, employee experience has been a driver of our success.
And through that success, we recognized that this philosophy and practice had the potential to significantly benefit our clients and their employees.

How it works

Employee experience design uses the core tenets of design thinking as a foundation for the work: human-centered, hypothesis-driven, holistic, collaborative, and, everywhere possible, visualized. Yet unlike its sibling, our employee experience design approach looks at the overlapping influence of culture, people, and technology in the organization. We combine research, cultural models, and growth frameworks with service design tools to help organizations discern culture, build agility, develop productive organizational structures, and create thriving digital workplaces.

In some organizations, our work in this arena is a single project. In others, it’s an ongoing program. Most projects include coaching and training so the organization can use our tools and techniques themselves to continuously improve and evolve.

Why should you care

Getting deliberate about your employee experience is a win-win. There is absolutely no critical business initiative—be it transforming your customer experience, preparing for growth, or modernizing your business model—that isn’t impacted by the enthusiasm, ability, and understanding of your employees.

Whether you’re looking to renew your organizational purpose and engage your company with a new trajectory—like our mission at Arc’teryx—or you’re considering a digital transformation and need to revisit the role of IT in your organization—such as the work we supported at Urban Systems—or you’re realigning a fractured culture—like our work at INETCO—approaching these issues with an employee experience lens will most certainly be an asset.

Data from Great Place to Work shows, "that great workplaces benefit from stronger financial performance, reduced turnover, and better customer and patient satisfaction than their peers. What’s more, work environments with trust at the foundation are ripe for innovation, agility, resilience, and efficiency".

Want to learn more about the exciting new world of employee experience design? We’d love to chat more.


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