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Employee experience is not an HR initiative

Employee experience is not an HR initiative

Two hands reaching for phone with employee profile, pink background

Employee experience is one of the biggest buzzwords in HR these days – and for good reason. Aside from making for more satisfied employees and better retention, a great experience also translates to better business results.

According to WorkHuman, organizations that score in the top 25% on employee experience report nearly 3x the return on assets (ROA) and 2x the return on sales (ROS) compared to organizations in the bottom quartile.

Experience-driven teams create environments where employees don’t just need to show up for work, they want to show up (whether in person or remotely). Some companies even have dedicated employee experience managers who typically sit within the HR team.

But if your team thinks of employee experience purely as an HR initiative, you’re missing the point – and it could cost you.

Why employee experience is not just for HR 

When employees need something, it’s not their first instinct to think in terms of teams. 

If there’s an issue on their pay stub, they don’t want to think about whether payroll, finance, or HR is responsible. They don’t want to worry about whether login issues with the HRIS is an IT or HR issue. Employees don’t want to think about which team is responsible for which issues, period. They just want the problem solved.

Even if your company gives full ownership of the employee journey to the People team, that doesn’t mean it’s just an HR responsibility.

Every interaction an employee has with the People team could be positive, but negative interactions with their direct manager or other teams could still jeopardize the overall employee experience.

Imagine this scenario: The People team is focused on managing traditional HR touchpoints – onboarding, engagement surveys, performance reviews, etc. – and making these interactions frictionless by integrating them into tools employees use on a daily basis. At the same time, other teams (such as IT, Finance, etc.) have their own preferred ways of interacting with employees. The People team can streamline processes as much as it wants, but it doesn’t control the touchpoints that are owned by other teams. 

This leads to both process and tool overload for employees and breaks the learning loop between teams. Not ideal.

HR’s role in employee experience

While ownership of the employee experience shouldn’t fall solely to HR, there are still important roles for People teams to play.

Be the employee’s advocate

HR teams are in the best position to truly understand employee needs and ensure the company isn’t saving (aka cost cutting) in the wrong place. 

Since HR has regular interaction with employees and facilitates much of the feedback (both positive and negative), these professionals are better equipped to advocate for what employees need – whether they were willing to say it publicly or not. HR can also use this knowledge to ensure the organization doesn’t cut costs in an area that would drastically impact the employee journey in a negative way.

Orchestrate teams

If the employee experience is an initiative for multiple teams, then think of HR as the director of that orchestra. The orchestra could have the best brass, string, and percussion sections in the world, but without a great director (i.e., HR), the audience won’t have a good time. 

In other words: All the different teams and team members involved in creating (and improving) the employee experience should be able to look to HR to pull together all the moving pieces.

Help managers be better managers

Managers have a huge impact on the employee experience, more than any other team or person in the organization. HR teams should ensure managers are equipped to manage their employees effectively – in ways that will add to the employee journey, not detract from it.

IT’s role in employee experience

HR isn’t the only experience-driven team. IT is the other essential team for furthering an organization’s employee experience initiatives. To optimize this, IT teams can:

  • Manage the HR technology architecture and help securely integrate new systems
  • Provide understandable documentation so employees of any level can use those tools
  • Help with IT issues (this increases in importance the more tools employees use)

Employee Experience is a company-wide initiative

Outside of HR and IT, other relevant teams that should be experience-driven include office and workplace teams, procurement, finance, payroll, and others. Basically, any back-office or support function influences the employee experience.

Here’s the most important piece: Someone – whether it’s a member of the People team, the Chief of Staff, or even an Employee Experience team or committee – should be thinking about the employee experience holistically and tying the knots together. This is the only way to have a truly seamless employee experience.

As you map out your employee experience and decide who has ownership over which aspects, consider checking out our Employee Experience Canvas. We developed this framework to help you clarify moments that matter to employees and come up with solutions to create a frictionless experience. Download the template here.

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