Don't we all occasionally feel like the thing in the picture? Confused and trying to figure out what to do. HR says this, but my manager says otherwise. The company says we are a family, but then we have policies preventing us from working with family members. You are told about the culture, company values & competencies, but nobody demonstrates them, so you are desperately trying to figure out the behaviour you should adopt to fit in. HR introduces policies and takes actions that are misaligned with or go entirely against the company's vision & purpose.
You are sent for a leadership training or program that doesn't consider who you are, your strengths, skills, or personality instead, they give you a set of leadership characteristics you need to develop and tell you to feel, think and behave in a certain way because that will make you a good leader/manager. You even get to be told that your childhood trauma is causing problems today with responding to unexpected situations, so you better go and seek advice from your line manager, who is entirely ill-equipped to help you but will give you a 5-step model of how to manage last-minute requests.
You are hired due to the Diversity & Inclusion agenda but discretely told to behave like white people or as men if you are in leadership roles.
And we do it. We do it all! The result? We all look like the picture above. Confused, disoriented, and disengaged. Because how could we actually be engaged when we have been asked not to be ourselves and the environment is giving us mixed signals? We are just present, feeling like a poorly put-together puzzle.
But what is the reason? Long story short, organisations need to look at employee experiences and alignments. We mindlessly implement new initiatives, policies, programs, and leadership styles without considering their impact on employees and the company's culture.
You would say, "Yes, but HR is looking after employee experience". No, they don't. They manage HR processes. They are the process completion department designed to execute and keep the organisation running, but they are not designed to look at employee experiences.
First, they cannot, as most employee experiences are embedded in HR practices. They will not grade their homework; if they do, all will be a distinction. Just look at all those HR people tapping themselves on the shoulder, posting pictures of team dinners and lunches on LinkedIn. This is how far HR can get with EX. In addition, trust in HR is destroyed, and employees feel reluctant to express anything valuable to them. Also, HR always sides with the business because its fundamental role is to keep the machine running. You cannot even blame them. So what is the solution?
Organisations need a senior Employee Experience role outside of HR, reporting directly to the business leader. The role is complex and requires a highly qualified person(s). It measures employee experiences at every step of the employee life cycle. Using that data, it advises and works with HR and business leaders on solutions to address those experiences. It also looks at alignments and initiates policy & process changes. Example:
Recruitment - How employees feel during the recruitment process. Delay, communication, ghosting reviews, assessments etc. If the company receives external reviews of being ghosted or feedback from employees about poor communication prior to arrival, EX would look at HR processes and help the department rethink how they work.
Onboarding - Looks at experiences during the onboarding like training, welcoming, team atmosphere, regular check-in with line manager etc.
Disciplinary process - Do people feel they were heard during the process? Was it a fair process? Did HR follow the disciplinary protocol? Etc.
Development programs - Not a training evaluation! But experience. Was it too below par, the wrong person sent, trying to teach me something irrelevant, im being sent for training after a night shift or on my day off? Etc.
Exit - Do people leave happy or happily? EX's role goes beyond the exit interviews as it combines data that displays a pattern so interventions can be designed to address it.
As you can see, EX is not an HR role, and it has millions of areas. EX is about paying attention to our employees' experiences and translating anecdotal evidence into data and company policies, working closely with the leadership team and HR, and advising them on modern workplace practices.
EX's role is HUGE and complex because it has the power to advocate for employees. They are protected by the business owner or the most senior leader and have the autonomy to speak up and to speak for employees. They also have the power to challenge and redesign practices and policies for better employee experiences in line with business needs and organisational culture.
If you have this role in your organisation, I believe you care about your employees' experiences. If you don't, we can help you. Work with us and start paying attention to your employees.