By Simon Daly, Experience Strategist, Qualtrics
Now more than ever, the pressure is on HR leaders to demonstrate a return on investment (ROI) from employee listening programmes. Your employee experience (EX) programme can deliver long, medium and short-term benefits, but only if you build it the smart way.
Measurable value and tight timelines
The business value of employee experience, employee engagement and employee happiness has always been hard to articulate, although thanks to advances in technology and a more strategic role for HR, we can now measure and prove ROI more easily and make the connections more clearly.
However, at a time of uncertainty when businesses are demanding short-term value and quick results, it’s critical not just to know what your EX programme has to offer, but to be able to promptly demonstrate value using tangible, whole-business benefits.
A common objection to investing in EX management is that it takes a long time to mature and deliver value. Fortunately, it’s a misconception. In fact, you can begin seeing results quickly and clearly if you design your programme the right way.
Short, medium and long-term benefits
You can think of your programme as a mix of short-term, medium-term and long-term value drivers.
Actions to take
The first step is to lay down a baseline of employee listening. As well as the classic annual employee feedback survey, this can include time-triggered pulse surveys which run quarterly or six-monthly. Keeping these going will give you a continuous, consistent cycle of acquiring data, finding insights and taking action.
There are typically quick wins or low-hanging fruit at the start of an EX programme. These are the issues that come to light early in your experience data, and are things you can quickly fix. They’re often practical things like tailoring a communication to address key areas of interest/discussion, using employee preferences to make in-office experiences better, or changing a simple process to make it quicker to get things done. These are straightforward to accomplish but can be very meaningful to employees, delivering tangible results like employee retention and engagements as well as cost-savings. What’s more, they will continue to deliver value in the longer term and will help set the tone for your EX strategy.
Actions to take
Once you have a steady rhythm of listening and action in place, you can begin to move towards event-triggered listening. This is when surveys are tied to key moments in the employee journey such as recruitment, onboarding, or promotion.
Medium-term results include being able to develop new ways of working together, such as technology, process and system changes. With experience data behind you you’re in a strong position to bring in solutions that are designed around workforce patterns and behaviours and a deep understanding of your people’s needs.
Actions to take
In addition to time-based or event-based listening, you can add agile listening points which are dependent on circumstance. These can be responsive to outside events or to big changes within the company, and can help you take action quickly and flexibly. Another big opportunity is to tie employee listening to customer experience. In a typical business, CX is a few steps a head of EX, and taking a leaf out of your company’s CX book can have a substantial impact on revenue in the long term, as well as making you more agile, precise and efficient. For example, adidas used their customer pulse programme as a blueprint for better employee listening.
In the longest time-horizon, you can expect to see cultural changes taking place. These are often undervalued, but they can have powerful and pervasive benefits in terms of engagement, intent to stay, wellbeing, shared values between employer and employee, and your ability to attract quality candidates for open roles. Agile, ad-hoc listening helps you understand what sort of impact big changes are having to your baseline, and where you should act in order to minimise or head off problems.
Consistency is key
Demonstrating value is only possible when your reference point is clear. If your employee listening is sporadic or unfocused, it’s much more difficult to demonstrate value because you’ll have no baseline to measure from. When you build an EX programme in a structured way from the ground up, not only will you begin to see benefits early, you’ll also have a measurable result to point to when you compare data from before and after.