When designing a brand experience, most organizations focus on delighting the customer. However, there is a missing piece to the puzzle – and that is thoughtfully designing the brand experience to benefit employees as well.
There is a widening gap between the customer experience and the employee experience. Gallup has found that among employees worldwide, 87% of them are not engaged. However, companies with a highly engaged workforce outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. That is a staggering statistic and shows that there is a lot of room for improvement among brand’s internal culture and operations.
Fellow brand expert Denise Lee Yohn agrees. She recently wrote an article in Harvard Business Review, arguing that companies already know how to improve the employee experience: all they have to do is apply to their HR practices the same principles of customer experience design in their marketing and operations team are already implementing.
The BrandedWorld Framework is made up of 7 Axioms, or universal truths. Two of those Axioms directly relate to developing and engaging employee experience: design and culture. As we explore the employee experience, think about how design and culture come into play. They can be used together to develop and incredible employee experience that elevates your brand and enhances the brand experience overall.
Borrowing from the Customer Experience to Create an Exceptional Employee Experience
If you were to apply a customer experience strategy to an employee experience, you would first begin with a needs-based segmentation, identifying wants and needs among employees. While most companies segment employees by title, rank, department, business unit, and/or geography, applying a customer experience strategy requires a much more nuanced approach.
Employees are all different – requiring different opportunities, rewards, and schedules. Companies should be able to appeal to different employee segments, providing a designed experience for each.
Developing an Employee Experience for your Brand
Another tool human resources can borrow from the customer experience is the journey the brand takes them through. Employees have their own experience that they are going through – the employment life cycle. When you begin to think about the employee experience, you may realize glaring gaps and holes in what the brand is providing to them.
When designing a customer brand experience, I use research to help visualize and evaluate the employee journey from the employees’ point of view. The employee journey often is not linear. Transitions between stages and identified milestones in the experience where an employee may get “lost,” are critical to developing a exceptional experience.
Brand strategy and operations go hand in hand. The performance of operations directly affect how effective the brand strategy will be. Going through this design process shines a light on the changes that may need to be made in operations, policies and procedures, programs, and even specific touchpoints to provide a seamless, valuable experience.
Personifying the Brand Through Experiences
What I love about exceptional brand experiences is that they bring the values and attributes of the brand to life. The same is true within a brand’s internal culture and the employee experience the brand is offering. Brands should design and shape the culture to align with its core values, principles, vision, and mission. The brand should celebrate when it has achieved a milestone of delivering on its brand promise. These types of actions validate and emphasize the values of the brand, building a stronger foundation and setting them apart from their competitors.
When an employee experiences the benefits of the brand firsthand, they are better equipped and motivated to reinforce and interpret them with customers. More so, it cultivates a distinctive culture, which helps attract and retain top talent who are a good fit. This makes it more likely that employees who fit the culture will thrive within the culture.
Think about what your brand is promising externally to your customers. For example, you could have a promise about innovation and cutting-edge technology. Now, look at your interal operations. Are you delivering on that promise for your employees? Does your technology hardware and software live up to the promise of what your messaging is promoting?
I once worked with a client who promised their clients innovative design solutions using the latest cutting edge industry software. Digging a little deeper, it became obvious that their technology internally was woefully outdated. Using design software that was over 10 years old may save a few dollars annually, but is not in alignment with the promise you are making to clients. From the employee perspective, the integrity of the brand is off. From a client perspective, you would be hard-pressed to understand how the brand can provide innovative design solutions using decade-old software? It’s out of whack.
Once we identifed the problem, we could then develop a strategy to realign the brand with a realistic promise to its clients. One solution would be to continue using the existing software and change the promise to align more with their current operations. Another option was to upgrade their technology to match the promise. In order to do fully align, the brand would also need to train their employees in the new, advanced software to develop a competitive advantage against their competitors.
A Simple Take Away
The gap between the customer experience and employee experience is widening. You have an opportunity to re-engage your team, boost your culture, and design and employee experience to get excited about. These issues can seem small, but they matter. They define your brand through perception. They define your brand without speaking. And if the perception comes off as something other than what you intended, there is a misalignment.
Is your employee experience as thoughtfully designed as your customer brand experience? If not, where are the misalignments? Leave a comment and let me know.