Work the way we live | Human Capital | Deloitte Netherlands


Work the way we live

Building a better experience

Employees experience (EX) matters because it is time to work the way we live. We expect more personalized and interactive experiences at work, but we see that many organisations are struggling to live up to these expectations. In this blog we will explain how organisations can build better experiences for employees by looking at the human, organisational, physical and digital lens.

Floor Claessens | Mark Stol - May 18, 2020

Experience is everything. It can leave us with a lasting positive impression or create an instant negative memory. In our daily lives, we are able to share ideas and information faster than ever before. We can use any device at any time, stay connected to everyone and be productive anywhere. Companies go out of their way to deliver the best customer experience possible. But when at work, we leave this magic behind. Based on our experience, we see that organisations are struggling to live up to the consumer grade experience that employees expect at their work. We believe that it is key to minimize this disconnect if organisations want to be seen as an attractive employer that cares about the wellbeing and productivity of employees. Organisations can only unlock this true value if they take a holistic approach to build better experiences for their employees. It’s time to work the way we live.

Let's start by defining employee experience

Just like our customer experience is influenced by multiple factors, such as brand reputation and delivery channels, the employee experience is not determined by a single aspect. At Deloitte, we define employee experience as “all interactions between an employee and the organisation that lie at the intersection of the human, organisational, physical and digital environment”. The figure below visualizes this definition and shows that employee experience can be holistically designed by looking through four experiential lenses; human, organisational, physical, and digital. Let’s take a look at how organisations can use each of these lenses to build a better employee experience.

Human lens on experience

All humans have an innate desire to feel connected with others and to be part of something bigger than themselves. We notice this especially during these turbulent times in the COVID-19 crisis. Employee needs have tumbled down the Maslow pyramid from a focus on self-actualization and individual development towards more basic needs such as safety and connection. In these times, these needs are valued most by employees and their satisfaction about work is mostly determined by the organisational effort to enhance the human experience.
To understand what connectivity and purpose in work can do for the experience, we have to look at the human lens of our EX model. This lens is focused on personal connections, purpose and meaning between workers and the organisation. The most compelling experiences are the ones that make people feel personally successful and allow them to see how their work contributes to organisational goals. Personal connections, purpose and meaningful work are aspirational drivers that cannot easily be pushed by organisations, because an employee will ultimately decide if something is meaningful or purposeful. However, we have seen some concrete examples of how organisations try to drive this.

Many powerful examples are related to organisations that enable their workforce to empathize and connect with customers, which leads to a meaningful connection between the worker, their work and the purpose of the organisation. In a study conducted by Wharton management professor Adam Grant, call center employees were 171 percent more productive when they had the opportunity to learn how their work was having a meaningful, positive impact on the end customer. For instance, putting a face to the name or meeting the end users in person helps to create meaning in an otherwise routine job. At the same time, meaning also derives from the day-to-day work: Am I using my strengths and capabilities in my work? Another example is to be explicit about the desired impact on society an organisation is striving for and the possibility for employees to individually contribute to this. An example of this is the Deloitte Impact Foundation, as this allows every Deloitte professional to apply his or her knowledge, energy and talents to make an impact on society. This opportunity is provided by an internal platform that brings together the supply and demand of societal projects.

Organisational lens on experience

What do your employees say about your company? Companies that tell their story and create a clear sense of mission and purpose accomplish 30% more innovation and enjoy 40% higher rates of employee retention. A person’s experience at work is deeply influenced by the connection between the company purpose and the work that person does. This highlights the relevance of looking at the organisational lens on experience. This lens focuses on setting a purpose-based foundation that is reflected in the organisational set-up and the everyday behaviour of leaders and workers resulting in a positive, engaging work environment in which individuals can thrive. It includes aspects such as values, culture, leadership, governance, ways of working, communications, talent management and rewards.

Recently, the notion of a four-day work week has been gaining traction among organisations as it advocates potential benefits in reducing stress and preventing overwork. Microsoft found for instance that implementing a four-day work week led to a 40% boost in productivity. This experiment was focused on improving the work-life balance and the impact on productivity and creativity. Microsoft isn’t the only company highlighting the benefits of a four-day work week, also firms closer to home, such as Achmea, Loyals and HTM, are successfully experimenting with shorter work weeks. These experiments are great examples of how you can offer a more humane work environment that promotes the work-life balance of employees. While these examples work in the companies as stated, the most important thing you can do is listen to your employees’ needs and co-design appropriate solutions that fulfil their needs in the context of your business.

Physical lens on experience

The purpose of place is to facilitate the productive interaction of workers. In a world of instant global connectivity, this typically involves a work environment that gives workers freedom and flexibility in when and where to work, while at the same time nourishing the human need for community. Some people may work best in a traditional office setting, whereas others are more productive in a different context. The physical lens on experience is therefore about studying and designing the workplace itself. The workforce needs to be supported by a physical or virtual workplace that enhances collaboration, promotes productive efforts and increases the sense of belonging to the organisation. Again, the COVID-19 crisis is asking for a ‘new normal’ when it comes to workplace and effective collaboration and large shift are expected. Good workplace design is informed by qualitative and quantitative data on how existing workspaces are being used, so that the design can be adjusted based on the changing type of work and corresponding needs of the workforce. Deloitte’s headquarters in Amsterdam, The Edge, is a good example of how Real Estate, IT, Facility Management and HR worked together to improve the Employee Experience. The office is developed in line with Deloitte’s vision on the Future of Work. 

Some of the features of The Edge that support a better employee experience include:

  • Full flex activity-based working: no-one has an allocated office or desk, not even the CEO. Employees can use a variety of workplaces fitting different activities and personal working style
  • Mobile application: every employee is connected to the building via a mobile app, which helps to find parking spaces, free desks or report issues to the facilities team
  • Personal workspace: via the mobile app employees can customize the temperature and lighting at desks and meeting rooms anywhere in the building
  • Data analytics: the building has 28.000 sensors that provide data about lighting, lockers, coffee machines, printers, desks, parking etc., which helps to continuously improve Deloitte’s own operations as well as the understanding of working environments in general

Digital lens on experience

Technology continues to be woven into everything we do at home and at work. However, technology in the workplace often leads to a disjointed, frustrated experience for employees. According to Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends survey in 2019, only 38 percent of the respondents indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their work-related tools and technology. In addition to that, only 42 percent of the employees feel their workplace is advanced when it comes to adopting technologies. Organisations should not only respond but accelerate towards digital to stay relevant. The role of mobile enablement of technology is crucial in this. Deloitte defines the digital experience as the combination of platforms, tools, and processes to create compelling, consumer-grade and mobile-enabled experiences that increase productivity, creativity, and foster collaboration. Integrating technologies into the working lives of employees is a delicate science and art. It is about consciously identifying the technologies and tools that help to increase workforce productivity, while at the same time building a flexible, intuitive, and user-friendly experience.

As long as people can remember, PostNL has been delivering mail to doorsteps in The Netherlands. In collaboration with Deloitte, the postal company has transformed to a company that adopts digital tools to drive productivity and experience. These digital tools include a team leader dashboard and an employee portal supported by a mobile app, which allows employees to view schedules, manage walking routes, scan parcels and raise cases / service requests. On a daily basis over 22,000 postal workers, schedulers and team leaders work with these digital tools to do their jobs better and more efficient. The use of these tools resulted in a 35% cost reduction, 80% satisfaction rate of the app, and 96.4% quality of delivery. Some critical success factors included involving the user during development, the use of pilot groups, and clear KPIs and management on adoption. We can conclude that PostNL has become digital to the core.

Taking a holistic approach

We see that many organisations consider each of the four experiential lenses as separate components, but we believe that employee experience requires a holistic approach to drive impact. Every day employees have many interactions – with technology, their colleagues, and the workspace – and each of those interactions contributes to their overall employee experience. Therefore, we recognize that the most impactful efforts are focused on an approach that combines the four different experiential lenses. This holistic approach includes intensive collaboration across departments, such as IT, HR, Real Estate and the business. With the blurring lines between our personal and professional lives, it is about time that organisations close the experience gap and live up to the expectations at work. It’s time to work the way we live.

More information?

For more information please contact Mark Stol via the contact details below.

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