A 5-Point Plan for Improving Employee Engagement

Your employees have a significant impact on the quality of the experience you deliver to your customers. As more and more organizations focus on improving their customer experience as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors and spur growth, more attention is being paid toward understanding and optimizing the employee experience. As a result, it’s never been more important for companies to engage with their increasingly distributed, on-demand workforce in brand new, compelling ways. In this blog post, I’ve put together a five-point plan for improving employee engagement at your organization. If you’re serious about raising the level of your company’s employee and customer experiences, read on to learn a few actionable strategies.

Your Plan To Improving Employee Engagement

1. Define a Course of Action for Improving Employee Engagement

Mastering the workforce experience starts with an honest, holistic assessment. I recommend that this assessment begins with standard business metrics that are heavily influenced by engagement, including profit, customer satisfaction and workforce retention (including freelancers and other types of workers).

Often, the clients that I work with are already aware of weakening profits or sub-par customer satisfaction. However, they may not be aware that workforce engagement is one of the root causes. Through generative workshops and one-on-one conversations with key stakeholders, my colleagues and I helped clients identify this connection on various projects.

If profits, customer satisfaction or workforce retention is weak, it’s time to move on to the next step, which is using research to measure the key inputs to engagement.

2. Research the Honest Experiences Your Employees Have at Work

Before implementing action plans and kicking off workforce engagement initiatives, it is critically important to understand how your organization works. The process of uncovering these gaps provides an opportunity to understand your workforce in detail.

By conducting a series of workforce interviews, you can clarify important needs, behaviors, preferences and tasks while also digging into engagement. My take on workforce engagement boils down to alignment, support and safety.

  • Engaged members of your team are not only continually aligned to the bigger picture, but feel that their work is actively contributing to it and the success of others.
  • Engaged workers feel that the company is investing in them by providing tools tailored to their needs, investments in their health, and opportunities to grow.
  • With a nod to the recent workforce research conducted by Google, engaged members of your team will feel comfortable and confident speaking their mind, sharing ideas and critiquing colleagues—a trait known as psychological safety.

On one recent client project, I helped the client map their workforce journey through a series of ethnographic interviews. This was key to understanding the main digital and physical touchpoints that influence productivity in the organization and—eventually—market share. The most surprising finding was that the company’s strengths—as identified by management—were not echoed by the customer-facing workforce. Therefore, when you kick off your employee engagement initiatives, the foundation from your efforts should be based on information directly from the employees themselves, as opposed to opinions clouded by management bias.

3. Create Personas to Dynamically Represent Your Employees

After interviewing administrative staff, freelance designers, software developers, middle managers and customer service reps, you’ll have the data you need to develop a set of detailed personas. Before developing solutions—including digital tools or offline engagement programs—you need to codify understanding of your users.

While administrative staff might not be aligned to company initiatives, a freelancer might not feel supported by management. Developing distinct personas, and considering how themes and habits span job titles, is critical to understanding the needs of your employees.

Personas can be forward-looking. If you’re not currently working with freelancers or distributed talent, it might be worth including personas with those details now.

In one instance, instead of slicing customer demographics by job title, age or gender, my colleagues and I helped a recent client segment their workforce by mental models and motivations. Understanding what drives your workforce can help you develop tools that influence engagement.

Use personas for improving employee engagement

Personas actualize employee preferences.

Creating an enterprise persona that truly adds value is not a one-time activity. Since the landscape of your enterprise constantly changes, your personas should be dynamic assets that are continuously updated with the needs, wants and feelings of your workforce.

4. Use Journey Maps to Tell Cohesive Stories

It is common for this type of research to reveal problems in need of immediate attention, gaps in knowledge, themes for discussion and ideas for solutions. While I do recommend taking advantage of quick wins, the next step is to develop a comprehensive set of journey maps.

After conducting interviews, you might find that you need to do a bit of ethnographic research. This will help you move beyond understanding what the workforce is doing to how they are doing it—especially if they’re working remotely. Journey maps help turn disconnected data points into narratives.

Journey maps improve employee engagement

Journey maps visualize the experience your employee has with your organization.

Within these journey maps, it becomes easier to see how processes, touchpoints and behavior could be optimized. You’ll probably notice that the key metrics of engagement fluctuate throughout the worker’s lifetime.

By helping clients improve their understanding of how work is actually done, I’ve identified tools that measurably improved the workforce experience. My team and I have developed community calendars, automated day-to-day tasks and created information-based tools that could be customized by each worker.

Workforce journey maps convey a lot of information in a very short amount of time, from successes to failures. Effective journey maps, most importantly, tell a story about what it is like to work for your company.

5. Activate your New Plans for Improving Employee Engagement

Now that you understand the existing workforce experience, it’s time to define the ideal—distributed and diverse—experience. Empower your employees to brainstorm solutions and recommendations and then prioritize them against business and engagement metrics.

Here are a few ideas—based on my experiences with clients—for improving employee engagement:

  • Enable self-service through access to important documents and relevant tools.
  • Improve access to information with real-time access to databases and documents.
  • Broaden searches to reveal documents and experts at the company.
  • Augment sense of community through a worker directory, real-time events, community posting/content, and connection regardless of physical location.
  • Advance collaboration by providing tools to share, connect, and plan.
  • Automate day-to-day tasks and improve workflows through customizable tools.
  • Develop workforce skills by providing access to training, and help promote alignment by providing insight into company initiatives and performance.

Summing It Up

Engaging your workforce can be an incredibly powerful tool to improve the bottom line. You’ll find that improving your brand’s employee experience will transform your customer experience. As workers become increasingly distributed and diverse, it’s more important than ever before to enroll them in the process, understand their needs, and enhance their experience.

Your employees have a significant impact on the quality of the experience you deliver to your customers. As more and more organizations focus on improving their customer experience as a way to differentiate themselves from their competitors and spur growth, more attention is being paid toward understanding and optimizing the employee experience. As a result, it’s never been more important for companies to engage with their increasingly distributed, on-demand workforce in brand new, compelling ways. In this blog post, I’ve put together a five-point plan for improving employee engagement at your organization. If you’re serious about raising the level of your company’s employee and customer experiences, read on to learn a few actionable strategies.

Your Plan To Improving Employee Engagement

1. Define a Course of Action for Improving Employee Engagement

Mastering the workforce experience starts with an honest, holistic assessment. I recommend that this assessment begins with standard business metrics that are heavily influenced by engagement, including profit, customer satisfaction and workforce retention (including freelancers and other types of workers).

Often, the clients that I work with are already aware of weakening profits or sub-par customer satisfaction. However, they may not be aware that workforce engagement is one of the root causes. Through generative workshops and one-on-one conversations with key stakeholders, my colleagues and I helped clients identify this connection on various projects.

If profits, customer satisfaction or workforce retention is weak, it’s time to move on to the next step, which is using research to measure the key inputs to engagement.

2. Research the Honest Experiences Your Employees Have at Work

Before implementing action plans and kicking off workforce engagement initiatives, it is critically important to understand how your organization works. The process of uncovering these gaps provides an opportunity to understand your workforce in detail.

By conducting a series of workforce interviews, you can clarify important needs, behaviors, preferences and tasks while also digging into engagement. My take on workforce engagement boils down to alignment, support and safety.

  • Engaged members of your team are not only continually aligned to the bigger picture, but feel that their work is actively contributing to it and the success of others.
  • Engaged workers feel that the company is investing in them by providing tools tailored to their needs, investments in their health, and opportunities to grow.
  • With a nod to the recent workforce research conducted by Google, engaged members of your team will feel comfortable and confident speaking their mind, sharing ideas and critiquing colleagues—a trait known as psychological safety.

On one recent client project, I helped the client map their workforce journey through a series of ethnographic interviews. This was key to understanding the main digital and physical touchpoints that influence productivity in the organization and—eventually—market share. The most surprising finding was that the company’s strengths—as identified by management—were not echoed by the customer-facing workforce. Therefore, when you kick off your employee engagement initiatives, the foundation from your efforts should be based on information directly from the employees themselves, as opposed to opinions clouded by management bias.

3. Create Personas to Dynamically Represent Your Employees

After interviewing administrative staff, freelance designers, software developers, middle managers and customer service reps, you’ll have the data you need to develop a set of detailed personas. Before developing solutions—including digital tools or offline engagement programs—you need to codify understanding of your users.

While administrative staff might not be aligned to company initiatives, a freelancer might not feel supported by management. Developing distinct personas, and considering how themes and habits span job titles, is critical to understanding the needs of your employees.

Personas can be forward-looking. If you’re not currently working with freelancers or distributed talent, it might be worth including personas with those details now.

In one instance, instead of slicing customer demographics by job title, age or gender, my colleagues and I helped a recent client segment their workforce by mental models and motivations. Understanding what drives your workforce can help you develop tools that influence engagement.

Use personas for improving employee engagement

Personas actualize employee preferences.

Creating an enterprise persona that truly adds value is not a one-time activity. Since the landscape of your enterprise constantly changes, your personas should be dynamic assets that are continuously updated with the needs, wants and feelings of your workforce.

4. Use Journey Maps to Tell Cohesive Stories

It is common for this type of research to reveal problems in need of immediate attention, gaps in knowledge, themes for discussion and ideas for solutions. While I do recommend taking advantage of quick wins, the next step is to develop a comprehensive set of journey maps.

After conducting interviews, you might find that you need to do a bit of ethnographic research. This will help you move beyond understanding what the workforce is doing to how they are doing it—especially if they’re working remotely. Journey maps help turn disconnected data points into narratives.

Journey maps improve employee engagement

Journey maps visualize the experience your employee has with your organization.

Within these journey maps, it becomes easier to see how processes, touchpoints and behavior could be optimized. You’ll probably notice that the key metrics of engagement fluctuate throughout the worker’s lifetime.

By helping clients improve their understanding of how work is actually done, I’ve identified tools that measurably improved the workforce experience. My team and I have developed community calendars, automated day-to-day tasks and created information-based tools that could be customized by each worker.

Workforce journey maps convey a lot of information in a very short amount of time, from successes to failures. Effective journey maps, most importantly, tell a story about what it is like to work for your company.

5. Activate your New Plans for Improving Employee Engagement

Now that you understand the existing workforce experience, it’s time to define the ideal—distributed and diverse—experience. Empower your employees to brainstorm solutions and recommendations and then prioritize them against business and engagement metrics.

Here are a few ideas—based on my experiences with clients—for improving employee engagement:

  • Enable self-service through access to important documents and relevant tools.
  • Improve access to information with real-time access to databases and documents.
  • Broaden searches to reveal documents and experts at the company.
  • Augment sense of community through a worker directory, real-time events, community posting/content, and connection regardless of physical location.
  • Advance collaboration by providing tools to share, connect, and plan.
  • Automate day-to-day tasks and improve workflows through customizable tools.
  • Develop workforce skills by providing access to training, and help promote alignment by providing insight into company initiatives and performance.

Summing It Up

Engaging your workforce can be an incredibly powerful tool to improve the bottom line. You’ll find that improving your brand’s employee experience will transform your customer experience. As workers become increasingly distributed and diverse, it’s more important than ever before to enroll them in the process, understand their needs, and enhance their experience.

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UX360 - Enterprise Journey Mapping Platform

Power Platform

UX360 - Enterprise Journey Mapping Platform
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2017-06-02T09:08:09+00:00