We were asked to tackle this question during last month’s episode of EX Waves. It is a question that is posed to me frequently by companies wanting to quickly focus their efforts for maximum value and impact, and no doubt, it is an excellent question for us to consider.
What is the one thing you can do right now to improve the employee experience at your organization?
There are a wide range of possible answers to this question and all of them depend entirely on an organization’s unique context, but without restriction or limitation, and in a more ideal scenario than is usual, there is one thing that springs to mind. What I am proposing, rather conveniently, will ensure that many things get done quickly across a company – a mindset shift to human centricity.
This, I have found, in any context, has an immediate and lasting impact across and beyond all functional areas within a business. It may be embodied in the appointment of new people-centred CEO or new approaches to develop people and the organization, but it makes a fundamental difference. It changes everything.
What do I mean by everything?
Well, for starters it changes the focus of the company to people. This means that the conversations that matter evolve around the everyday life of people. This shift is transformative because we are now looking at things that stand-out as not being very human-centric and we start to fix them. These could be long-standing pain points or issues from the perspective of employees, but they may have been avoided, ignored, or put to one-side because other things have got in the way previously.
Why go after the things that cause frustration and pain for employees? Because leading and thinking in a human-centric way demands a high level of empathy. In relationships, in processes, in practices, in design, in leadership, and so on. As a first port of call during any project, programme, team meeting, or 1:1, we are now considering the audience before us- their wants, needs, emotions, challenges, goals, and dreams. This is a powerful immediate improvement.
This may seem obvious, right? Yet if you have ever worked for a poor employer, one that regarded employees as numbers or replaceable robots, you will understand through your own experience the importance of what we are discussing here.
In the same way that any viable businesses have empathy for their customers, we are also more sensitive, aware, and bold in creating great experiences for employees that enable them to contribute strongly to the business and to their own life goals. It is these experiences that will determine the overall strength of a business.
By placing a high value on human-centricity, we can start to see clearly what needs to be done and how we need to do it. The outcome of this is a more positive, successful and sustainable future for everyone.
Ben Whitter is Founder of the World Employee Experience Institute (WEEI) and is recognised as one of the World's leading figures within the field of employee experience.
Through his speaking, advisory, and training services, Ben helps people and companies get and stay ahead with EX. Ben is Chairman of the UK Employee Experience Awards and has delivered keynotes on EX in over 15 countries. His work has reached 16 million people to date and has been referenced by Forbes, Deloitte University Press, MIT Sloan, Hays Journal, and Thomson Reuters.