Dr. Nasos Gouras, Head of Talent Development & Employee Excellence, Optimal HR Group, discusses why employee experience matters more now than ever.
Undoubtedly, crises times have been proven to be high risk eras, especially when mental or physical health is at stake. Perhaps when safety and human wellbeing is in danger, human behaviour reverts to introversion, strictly defines comfort zones, and goes down to Maslow’s pyramid to cover basic needs (e.g. job security, health safety, etc). The actual result is a drop in motivation and engagement which, sequentially, remain at low levels in a potential turnaround and demand intensive efforts from the company’s side to return them to normal levels. McKinsey, recently published post Covid-19 survey, revealing that by ensuring the bare basics in health & mental safety during the Covid period led to a 30% increase in work engagement and only a 17% increase in work effectiveness. Substantial room for improvement remains unexplained; don’t you think?
What kind of factors may moderate human behaviour and impact decision-making and behaviour-shaping? How can we identify, measure, and leverage them?
Is it realistic to be discussing high levels of motivation and engagement in turbulent times?
The Employee Experience
Consciously or not, employees are exposed to various interfaces and touchpoints with either humans or objects, even with ideas and abstract situations, every 3-seconds. This exact exposure happens automatically and is translated, quantified, and activated through a state of mind called “experience”. Employees, as humans, continuously store and retrieve stacks of experiences (series of experiences), accessing their conscious or unconscious self, shaping memories that are tied to situations based on the experiences stored in their minds. In turn, employees lead themselves to decision-making and filter out, depending on whether the memory is favourable or not, their actual behaviours.
Simply put, actual behaviours of engagement or disengagement are a direct product of past and current experiences humans are exposed to and, guess what, they are inevitably happening every 3 seconds!
Expectations are great
Unfortunately, experiences are just one side of the coin, or one part of the equation, leading to permanent behavioural patterns in favour or against employee engagement. Equally powerful are the expectations that employees formulate, the anticipation of a potentially positive result or impact after a behaviour. In full collaboration with experiences, expectations, when met, can achieve a good balance in work satisfaction. However, when breached, they may lead to partial or total disengagement and demotivation. What about actual motivation and engagement?
Exceeding expectations during the pandemic cannot be illustrated better than the example of a Multinational Cosmetics Company initiative. Not only did they establish strict safety and hygiene protocols throughout every single facility across the globe, but they also stepped up. They built an extraordinary learning platform enriched with synchronous and asynchronous learning, running on a 24/7 basis, encompassing stress management, managing individuals in a remote mode, running effective remote meetings, etc. This syllabus can be reached by all employees, irrespectively if they are working remotely or not. This initiative has been embraced by most employees around the world, also demonstrating high levels of engagement in post-Covid-19 engagement surveys.
Accenture’s survey titled “Care to do Better” indicates in a crystal-clear manner that employees formulate memories during crises based on what they have experienced, and these memories are those which constitute the compass for future behaviours in a potential normality. Crises times inflate experiences and raise expectations in the hearts and minds of employees, landing them in the very front seats of “memory stacks”, and are recalled first. It is, subsequently, a remarkable opportunity for Companies to invest in listening and acknowledging employee experiences and to strive to outreach their expectations in order to develop trust and reap the benefits of high levels of engagement and fulfilment in a future normality, or during recurring crises times.
Optimal HR Group represent CSG in Greece and provides unparalleled, bespoke HR services to large organisations and SMEs operating in the EMEA region. Priding themselves on delivering a 360° business support platform to our clients through 4 divisions: Talent Acquisition & Talent Development, Learning Services, Workforce Management and Neuro Consulting. Their mission is to combine advisory and consulting services with the world’s most innovative and respected tools in order to provide clients bespoke HR solutions which will assist them to maximise the value of their human capital and strengthen their core business model.