By Roslinda Abu Bakar, Head of Human Capital & Talent, The Centre of Applied Data Science

Employee Experience

The world is moving at a faster pace than it has ever been and in order to keep up with the changes, organizations have had to reinvent ways to keep tabs on their employees’ progress. Annual and quarterly reviews do not cut it anymore as employee performance in January may have gone through substantial change in the weeks and months that follow. Therefore, organizations find it inefficient to track an employee’s progress too infrequently.

In the interest of understanding each employee deeper, the organization will have to design experiences with the employee in mind and demonstrate care for the employee’s experience. The system or the strategy that the organization employs must be expansive and holistic. The system used has to be able to use the intangible aspects of the organization and make them tangible; while understanding that even though the end result is important, the data collected throughout the process is even more imperative to the company.

Based on my personal experience as the Head of Human Capital & Talent at CADS, a quick survey during my first month indicated there were low hanging fruits which could be done to improve the experience for our employees. Out of all the requests, there were two glaring non-sexy requests that were easily granted. The first one being improvement on the employee medical benefit set as a “pay and claim” at a certain capped amount while the other was the autonomy to spend on benefits; this was separated into three rigid buckets – healthcare, grooming and learning.

Once we had improved these two pertinent requests, especially giving employees the autonomy to exercise on personalized spending power, these two points became part of our Employee Value Propositions (EVPs).

Employee Performance Measurement

In its quest to stay relevant and applicable, human resource management has to transform itself into a more strategic process by enabling itself to engage employees through meaning as well as providing valuable input and feedback. Organizations need to offer workforce technologies that allow employees on-demand access to their progress. This way, employees can keep track of their career goals and their contributions to the company. They will also have access on how their progress, or lack thereof, is impacting the company. Inevitably, this will allow employees to proactively charter their career goals while at the same time, be able to see how their contributions have a positive effect on the company.

Since CADS is still in its toddler phase, the organization is constantly challenged by the VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex & ambiguous) nature of things. In fighting our way to reach stabilization and ensuring growth, we constantly need to maneuver ourselves around these issues that crop up. It became a challenge to fix performance targets that will stay the same for the duration of an entire year because to CADS, a year could be too long a time and we do not have that luxury. This meant that as an organization, we then had to have an immediate way of managing performance.

The first was our Trigger Performance Improvement Plan. It measured the performances of our employees throughout as opposed to waiting till the end of a project or cycle. This plan allowed us to address a non-performing employee before things got out of hand. It does wonders for performance as employees are given the opportunity to either redeem or improve themselves. We also implemented a system where continuous feedback is given and leaders of projects are provided with an informal platform to share their managerial experiences with one another. This gives them a forum to provide each other with insights on their experiences in dealing with their respective teams.

The next best platform in addressing performance is to have an honest peer-to-peer feed forward, where the entire organization is open to giving and receiving feedback in order to move forward in the spirit of achieving continued excellence for the organization. This will indicate the maturity level of the company and the reliance on Key Performance Indexes as well as Score Cards will be things of the past.

Understand How Employees Are Feeling

In addition to objectively measuring an employee’s performance, supervisors must understand how employees feel about their job on a more emotional level. Applications like  Officevibe and 15Five give employees the opportunity to give supervisors quick status updates as well as voice concerns on a weekly basis. Employee responses in these applications give supervisors better insight into what they can do to help their team feel more engaged.

On a more generic basis, we have designed our own tool in measuring employees’ emotions. This tool is called “O-Pulze” which is a simple survey to give us an indicator of energy level of the organization holistically.

O-Pulze is our very own tool, developed in-house to measure energy levels. As opposed to Employee Engagement Survey (EES) that is conducted annually at the end of the year. The EES takes months to analyze, months to implement recommendations and before results can be fully impacted the EES cycle hits again. While our O-Pulze is a quick indicator of how activated people are being in the action – in other words the vitality, vigor, drive to make things happen as an organization as a whole.

Implementation of Leadership Effectiveness study within the organization gives a good data point around development opportunities, aspiration, clarity & performance as well as the level of empowerment.

Last but not least, we also have developed our own app called “TO ME”. It is an anonymous platform to air out anything that the employees wanted to air out directly to the attention of CEO and Human Capital.

Enhance Collaboration

There will almost assuredly be members of the workforce who prefer to work more on their own. On the flipside, there will also be employees who thrive in a team-focused environment. Regardless, an employee’s work doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Both types of employees need to be able to easily communicate with other team members. Thus, the technologies offered to employees should be designed to meet the needs of individuals with different communication styles.

As employees look towards maximizing their experience within the organization, the employers have to understand where the employees are coming from. A recent study found that 83% of HR leaders state that employee experience is important for an organization to obtain success. If an organization is looking towards transforming into a digitalized and analytical organization, there are a few steps which need to be taken into consideration.

  • More than 80% of employees prefer mobile communications because their life is on the go. Meet them where they are.
  • Employees expect and deserve a mobile-first experience, and communicators need digital technology to deliver on this requirement. This technology exists, and has been specifically designed for them.
  • Do not overlook change management in the organization’s technology plans. Resistance is to be expected, even though the business case sounds right.
  • Leadership needs to lead thus it is important for The Board to be on board. Without their support, any “new” system or idea will have to fight against the current. Find ways to not only get their support on the new business case, but also to assist in driving the results through leading by example.
  • Measurement of internal communications has never been so important. There are several platforms available that offer basic to comprehensive analytics solutions, with easy to use dashboard interface and hundreds of reports to create and share.
  • Important to address the “What’s in it for me?” issue. The HR department must understand its audience so the use cases and business cases are able to address employees’ expectations. In turn, the employee receives targeted, relevant content and information that they want more of.

Upcoming Application in Employee Experience

Organizations must understand that engagement with employees cannot happen overnight and cannot be compensated by benefits or changes in the office environment. These may work, for a time, but the goal is to have engagement which starts from day one.

For a company to stay ahead of the competition, it is important that the organization embraces its employees as well as its clients. Enhancing the employee experience and being involved in employee engagement is the next step towards business innovation. By applying these new strategies and immersing employees in a digital organizational culture, employers will be able to present a more committed workplace, produce skilled talents and move beyond their competitors.