Humanising the Future of Work podcast

Episode 4: Being human first – gearing up to deliver experience

What is human experience (Hx)? Why is it becoming more emotive and important in the world today? As we re-imagine the way we engage with tech and what work is, businesses are becoming human-centred in their design. Andy Sandoz, Chief Creative Director at Deloitte and Richard Evans, Director within our Human Capital Practice and Employee Experience Lead, discuss all things Hx - from brand impact, to customer experience and the impact on society as a whole.

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Andrew Sandoz
Consulting, Technology, Products & Applications

Andy Sandoz is a partner and UK chief creative officer (CCO) of the firm’s creative digital consultancy, Deloitte Digital. Andy leads Deloitte Digital’s full-range of creative services for clients in the UK, which includes oversight of those within Acne and Market Gravity. Andy specialises in blending creativity with emerging technologies to change the way business operates. He has experience across a wide-range of industries.

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Richard Evans
Human Capital Practice and Employee Experience Lead

As the Director leading the Employee Experience Advisory group at Deloitte UK, Richard helps clients drive an employee centric mindset within their organisations to truly unlock the value of digital, driving productivity and supporting the ever-evolving needs and challenges of the workforce.

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Host: Daniel Hind, Manager within the Human Capital practice, Deloitte

Speakers: Andy Sandoz, Chief Creative Director at Deloitte and Richard Evans, Director within our Human Capital Practice and Employee Experience Lead

DH: How do you see the future of work impacting your customer, your organisation, or your future workforce? This is Deloitte’s Humanising the Future of Work Podcast, the show where we explore the big questions around the future of work and what this means for you.

In each episode, we speak to experts from across Deloitte about how organisations can reimagine the way in which work is carried out. And while technology is often a key driver of disruption, we will discuss the why and the how organisations can ensure the human experience is at the heart of any transformation.

In this digital world, you won’t venture far without hearing about the importance of your experience with an organisation, either as a customer or as an employee. The human experience is a key trend facing all organisations, but why? How does this topic called human experience set companies apart from their competitors? And most importantly, what does it mean for you and me, as customers or employees?

I’m your host, Daniel Hind, and today I’m in conversation with Andy Sandoz, Chief Creative Officer, and Richard Evans, Director within our human capital practice and our employee experience lead. Welcome.

DH: Hi, so a big question to start. What is human experience?

AS: Just an easy one to start.

DH: It’s small, right?

AS: Small, what is human experience? So it’s everything, anything. In the context of the way we’re talking about, sensibly, it’s experiences that really understand and are created for real lives, real people, real moments. So they’re experiences that are empathetic to human values, contexts, moments in time, what really matters at that point, really, and so whether that’s in a marketing sense or in a workday sense, or in any sense, really.

It’s just creating experiences from a human-centric point of view so that they really resonate, both logically and emotionally, with us as human beings.

RE: Yes, and I think that’s a really key point because I think we are all, at heart, humans, whether we’re a customer, whether we’re an employee. Whatever it is, whatever guise we’re working in, we’re a human at the heart of it. And I think it’s something that organisations now are starting to wake up to, that we really need to drive something around the human experience.

AS: Which is remarkable, isn’t it, that organisations are waking up to it? And if you look at it, you go, wouldn’t it be logical that everything was human-centric, but it isn’t. That’s a real… that’s the bulk of digital transformation, is driving human centricity, and you’re thinking, what did we have before that, you know?

DH: So if you think about a frictionless experience for a consumer, how do you create that? And similarly, then, how do you have your employee group that sit behind that, engaged productive, efficient, proficient, quickly to support that frictionless experience? And I’m thinking about then one organisation cross-selling through multiple organisations. How do you make that easy and simple for a customer?

AS: I think when you see retail that’s managed to blur the line between employee experience, and there’s a few examples out there.

DH: And how successful they’ve become.

AS: And you can quite easily see that the employees are having a good time. They’re engaged, they’re happy to be there, and it creates the energy with the customers and back and forth. And there’s that sense of bring yourself to work, work the way we live. They’re proud to be part of it.

RE: And they take that home.

AS: But what are the key drivers of that, then, just practically? It’s a culture that allows personalisation and humans to bring themselves to work and to have ideas and do that. It’s technology that releases them, great technology that makes them more productive, happier, that work the way we live through tech.

RE: Enables a more simplistic… absolutely.

AS: What other triggers are in there? There’s the digital transformation point, that technology can really bring out the best in humans. Then there’s the cultural point about creating permissions within that culture for us to be the best that we can be. There’s maybe that enhanced intelligence point from AI as well, isn’t there?

RE: And there’s the agility as well, to be able to work across the organisation, so that…

DH: Yes, I’ve got a brilliant example. So a certain technology company, I went into one of their stores to finally upgrade my personal mobile phone. Chatting with the sales assistant in the store, no pressure, took me through all of the benefits of upgrading.

I then went home to think about it, went online, look at their website, very easy to flow through. Decided I would buy. I bought using their finance package because I bought the unit itself, it wasn’t going through a mobile carrier. Then could have picked up the phone that evening in the store, but decided to go the following day.

They set it up for me, and I’ve obviously been with this particular technology company for a while. All my backup was on the cloud. It was all done in store, and then five days later, I had a follow-up call, where they took me through some of the new functionality of the phone. Seamless.

RE: Yes, so beautiful, seamless, great experience. And if you can think about that, then, being flipped internally for them as an employee, changing the world. What people are caring about now, when they go to work, is very different than potentially what we had many a moon ago, where I think organisations, and I think the relationship between employees and organisations has been broken to date. I think almost the monetary bribe that we come to work to work with, we’re paid, and there’s an end result.

AS: Is it broken or just not enlightened, in the sense that it was transactional?

DH: I think so.

AS: And then the… even just the term employee is an interesting one going forward, because as talent, you’re human resources. You’re a resource to the business and the business is all power. And I think that cultural shift has been fascinating and we’re in the early days of that, and who knows where it tracks. But the business is not all powerful. The business can be taken down by an individual, and that’s all new territory for all new businesses.

RE: Yes, agreed.

AS: But also the fact that that business is there to sell something. It needs to engage its customers and its customers are looking at the behaviour of the business.

RE: I think people genuinely now want to engage with business in a very different way. It’s not just about that monetary reward. It is very much about bringing my whole self to work, and is my organisation caring for me? Am I taking… what I’m taking home, is that reflected in my home life?

So being able to empathise with individuals but giving them the ability to personalise their experience with a business, I think, leads undoubtedly to more engaged, healthier employees that really outdrive the value that a business can bring to the marketplace. And I think we know that it’s intrinsically linked to value outcomes for a business, it’s intrinsically linked to a better, healthier employee, which will inevitably drive productivity and efficiency for that business.

AS: So it’s not just good, as in it’s a good thing to do. It’s good for business.

RE: No, it genuinely has benefit, better benefits to the bottom line. Obviously not that we should be focusing directly on the bottom line, but intrinsically, it’s linked.

AS: But it’s the same. You talk about purpose. You talk about profit and purpose and the triple bottom line and it’s all linked. And it seems very much the same here, that if you look at your business from a human perspective, then you start to look at the future of your business with better returns because of that.

RE: I personally, and I’m quite passionate about it because I want to bring myself to work, working with people and an organisation that genuinely cares about others and the individual, and making their experiences of work better for them. So whether they’re at home, whether they’re in their working life, that we are, as an organisation and businesses, doing the most we can for society at large.

Also, generating revenue, also driving money for us and those individuals, but really thinking about society and our impact upon them. I think we should hold that light up to a lot of organisations.

DH: Picking up on your point earlier, Andy, most people would associate the human experience as an output of digital transformation. But we’re saying it’s much wider than that.

AS: I think it’s a consequence of digital transformation, like many things, in a way. Digital has… it’s changing the way we work and it’s changing what it means to work, and so if you take the former, then it’s through technologies, changing how we connect. It’s not rocket science. I’m not going to hit you with a load of insight here that’s going to knock your socks off. It’s just changing how we connect, and because of that, it’s changing what we understand and how we talk.

It’s allowing businesses to get closer to their customers, to their people. It’s also allowing people and their customers to tell the business what they think of them publicly, and that’s damaging or not, depending on where the business is. So suddenly, it’s impossible to ignore the human experience from a customer centricity point, either because it’s promising great returns for digital transformation and impactful cultural change in your business.

Or it’s that if you don’t do it, then you’re not actually transparent and open as a business, and therefore your reputation is at risk because of that. And all that really… so some of it, some of the transformation is businesses being nice and being more human. Some of it is because it’s a threat if you don’t operate in this way and the thing that always amazes me about digital technology is it promises transparency and it creates opacity.

And so it promises that we’ll all know what everyone’s thinking. We’ll have an open and nice thing, and then it just goes really dark. You’ve got fake news, and who knows if that story is true. So all businesses are using these tools of connection to really rethink how they connect with people, and I think it’s having resonant waves into the leadership of businesses, who are human.

It’s easy to forget that businesses are boxes full of humans, and so as it comes back and you start to think about that, for most people, empathetic principles kick in and you start to think, I need to do this. But if you think about treating your talent differently, that’s not just because you think it’s nice. You should do it. It’s because it has a commercial imperative. It has an impact on your sales. It has an impact on your productivity.

There’s all kinds of... so it’s actually quite a strong commercial spine in why we are becoming more empathetic and human. And then, obviously, so I don’t rant for ten minutes on the subject...

DH: It’s a very good rant, though.

AS: The robots are coming, right? So there’s a sense of what are we, as humans, in work. So there’s definitely a humming resonant machine in the background.

RE: Yes, and I think what’s really interesting about this is thinking about an experience, like when you book a holiday or you stay in a hotel, what do you do? Do you go and speak to the hotel? Is that where you start? No, you start with other people’s experiences, and that’s how you then choose where you go on holiday, where you then book that hotel.

And theme parks did this an age ago, where they geared up the entire journey in a theme park through a specific experience that they wanted you to have. So this is old-school thinking, and I think what we’re seeing now is that transition, or the intersect, I guess, of CX, UX, and EX, flipping internally within organisations.

So as an individual, I have all those amazing experiences across businesses as a customer. Why am I not able to do that internally? Why am I not able to work the way that I live, and have that experience with work? Why is everything so difficult? Why is booking expenses so darn hard? Why is booking time so difficult?

AS: But also, if you think about it, if you get a productivity bump from that, you also get a… how would I put it, an energy bubble, like a happiness that comes with it. There’s a fulfilment in your job. We’re better when we’re happy, when we’re collaborating more, and so what is fascinating about that is technology can deliver that. It can deliver those benefits, and that’s maybe why it ties to digital transformation.

RE: And I think that’s where it’s intrinsically linked to how do we support businesses grow, and look at the way they can leverage the human experience to really accelerate their growth. Because fundamentally, productivity and quality are intrinsically linked to energised and happier individuals, who are collaborating across the business, bringing that bottom-line revenue bump.

AS: I’m only talking now because Dan’s been trying to get a word in for about five minutes.

AS: I was just going to chip over. I was thinking I was going to let him go in but now I’m just keeping him out. Dan, what would you like to say?

DH: I was just going to say that the brick wall that was there for years between employer brand and customer brand has completely vanished through social media.

AS: Yes, good point.

DH: And now, actually, what you present to your customer, fundamentally, your customers could be your employees or vice versa.

AS: Well, they are both, and often your best advocates as well, and advocacy and marketing is certainly a huge area through digital tech. For me, that’s one of the most exciting parts of it, and one of the reasons why, as a creative director, I work at Deloitte. Mostly because I believe if you take the idea out of marketing and put it in the centre of the business, it’s more powerful. And so if you think that the big idea, which is that the main productivity of a creative business is to create an idea that can tell stories for the business in many forms.

If you elevate that to put it in the business, not only will it do the marketing and advertising, it will do the employee experience. It will do the supply chain, it will have an impact on governance and behaviours and decisions that the business makes. And so for me, brand is becoming more important, that central idea to what a business stands for, the north star, call it purpose or mission, or there’s many structures you can use.

That central thought about what a business is and isn’t that allows people to gravitate around it, and can tell multiple stories of it, is becoming really important. I think it’s a really exciting area to think about customer experience and my employee experience together for the same story.

RE: Yes, I agree, and I think that now, for businesses, this is the argument, where does the employee experience sit? Is it a human-capital, owned kind of entity? Because it’s so big, because it’s so grand, it sits across the entire organisation, but I think it’s a real opportunity for human capital to really showcase their wares, to show them as that strategic partner to the rest of the business, really driving that experience forward.

And if you think back to Andy’s point around the intersect around CX and EX now, the brand that your business has within the market is so important to attracting that right talent, to getting those people into that recruitment process, into onboarding. Shying away from it, ignoring it, is just going to be catastrophic for businesses in the future. So I just think, as a fundamental thing that businesses need to look at, is how that intersect works for them.

What are people saying about their business who are present employees versus ex-employees, versus potential employees? And I think understanding that that all has a bearing on your business… are they doing enough to support you in that experience? Massively agree.

DH: Just picking up on your earlier point, the machines are coming. Automation, we’ve discussed this in previous podcasts. But thinking about visibility and brand and culture and pushing the value of humans up the value chain, giving them a more worthwhile work experience, is there a consideration for organisations moving forwards, maybe about actually truly embedding people and tech together to get the best out of each other?

So I suppose where I’m going with this is there’s a lot of headlines at the moment around the machines are coming. Everyone’s going to be unemployed and the machines will do everything. But actually, the reality is that machines can’t do everything, and by truly getting some of these new technologies to complement human skills will bring the best value to your customer and, fundamentally, to your employee.

But if the machines are coming and we just wholesale out certain activities, isn’t there a risk to that brand, the image of that organisation in the marketplace? Because it is so visible now, the line between.

AS: I think that you hit on the most human of human points in that, about… I don’t know how old The Matrix is now, but old enough.

DH: Favourite film.

AS: Yes, you go back to cyberpunk and the books and go back to sci-fi. The thing that always strikes me about sci-fi is none of its happened and it’s old. So it’s all in the future and it hasn’t happened yet but it’s old. It’s a very strange medium for me, sci-fi, now, because it takes me back 50 years and forward 50 years at the same time.

It’s disorientating, but at the heart of that was a point for me that it’s how organisations are considered in how they move forward in the relationship of technology and humanity to allow the best for that. And I find it very positive that we’re so focused on the human aspect of that, like my pithy response about technology is, I don’t think it’ll replace me. I think it’ll release me.

And I think… but I also recognise that I am marginally sophisticated in my understanding of technology. I wouldn’t say a lot. There’s plenty of people much further down the line in their comprehension of what tech can do than I, but there’s also plenty of people who are less sophisticated in their comprehension of what technology’s going to do.

And I think because of the messages we have been given from culture about technology and the potential threat, they’re very scary things to jobs. And you are seeing and you will see the loss of employment through AI because of what it’s doing. So it’s on those businesses, it’s on our business, to retrain and think about the people impacted to… certainly when I think about me as someone who writes stories for businesses.

How you articulate change is really important in the business, about why this change is coming, what it means. And I find that if you educate people around it, you can create some confidence. If you include, you can get more trust, and if you excite, you can get productivity. So a story can do that. It can engage people and it can include people, so one of the things around technologies is talking to people about what your technological future looks like and where you’re going and why and what impacts you would expect to see.

And where there are negative impacts on the human workforce, what you’re going to do to mitigate that, to train, to move forward, to change the business. And so there’s a higher degree of transparency and narrative for me that understands that. But then also to create this positive viewpoint that says, this is what it can look like when we have humans with technology and that connected point that says it’s about the with. Together with AI, what can we achieve when we are enhanced by that.

DH: Is it the book Sapiens, where he talks about the power of storytelling and why we’ve advanced as a species?

RE: Because of it?

DH: Because of it.

RE: Yes, it’s interesting. I think what’s most interesting about the technology, AI question, there’s two things. I think one is, how are we going to leverage to augment, to build businesses based on the technology inputs that we’ve got? I think that’s a very interesting conversation because it’s about rescaling and I think it’s about augmenting. I don’t think it’s about replacing. I think elements of it will be replaced, but I think that’s the core, menial tasks that are easily repeatable, that can push people up the value chain.

And then I really like the idea of back to HR, thinking more about the roles that they have in place today. So marketing, for example, the way in which they build that narrative, the way in which they are going to help and support the business move forward, whether it be with technology or through the narrative, or through marketing, which I think today is something that generally HR don’t necessarily have as a role specifically within that HR department.

But they do need to recognise that that is something that from, whether it be the experience, whether it be the service delivery model, it all needs to be underpinned by somebody that can build that narrative, that can market it in the right way to support people on that journey of change.

AS: The creativity angle in there is interesting also, in that I’ve got a vague hope that the output of work is going to get weirder because humans are going to get freer in what they do. Because technology’s doing a lot of other stuff so humans can be more human, and we are weird. We’re bags of chemicals that come off at weird angles at different times of the day, and all kinds of stuff.

RE: I’m all for a shorter working week, though. Like if we can work two days a week and they pick up the rest of the slack. I mean, two days of optimum output, obviously.

AS: Two days of weirdness and then they can just…

RE: Yes, I mean, that works. That totally works.

AS: But I think, if I project that way, then it’s all going to get more entertaining, which I like the idea of that because it’s about human stories and where we go. But slightly more… I am slightly serious about that but more seriously, I think, is that businesses are going to embrace creativity because humans are going to have ideas and we’re going to want to take those ideas forward. We’re going to invent and innovate and the more that we encourage that in all workforces, and the more that we skill for that, then the more productive the businesses will be.

The more productive the businesses will be in what they can create, and so empowering your workforce to be creative, in the broader sense of the word, I think is key for all businesses. And I think that’s really exciting, that all businesses are becoming creative businesses.

RE: Yes, and I think fundamentally as well, if you think about an experience, that is… if you think about drilling down into how can I create the perfect experience, something that is simple but that is meaningful, that I can personalise but to Andy’s point, that allows me to work in that way. So that I can be innovative, that I can collaborate, that I can bring the very best of me to work to create that end goal or end output for the business.

AS: Any business can have a culture that says, if someone has an idea in this business, we can back that idea if it’s the right idea, or we can prototype that idea to see it. And to just know that you work in a place, any place, in any job, that if you have an innovation that will improve the way that business works, the business encourages you to speak up and then rewards you appropriately, in whatever way is appropriate for the impact of that innovation you create for that business. For me, that’s what work culture should be about for everybody.

DH: What is success in the future? The whole automation piece is going to completely change what productivity looks like in the workplace and that’s sustainability. So what does success look like in the future? Picking up on your point, actually, it’s not getting 20 widgets out of the door. It’s actually a more engaging experience for the customer that may not obviously look like it’s giving an immediate revenue stream. But actually, longer term...

AS: We haven’t really touched on sustainability and the impact of that with… but I think the next transformational wave for us, that currently we’re in a technological transformation wave. And I used to think creativity would be the next wave, and part of me wants to, but I think it’ll be sustainability is. For a business like ours, that works in partnership with our clients around change for the future, how we, as businesses, get fit for a sustainable business future, it’s going to be… it’s already a very pressing question.

It’s only going to get more pressing if you look at the world around us, and a lot of the employee experience and the way people work, how we travel to work, how we work remotely, how we travel around work, all of that is going to change. And there’s going to be dramatic changes, I think, that need to be taken into fact. And that will factor what businesses create. They will factor who works in businesses over what we do.

And so I think… when you try and predict the future, sometimes you do grand predictions and nothing really changes. There’s a couple of little things, but I do really think that there are ideas here down the line that we don’t really know, the great unknown unknowns. And there are things that are going to come quickly through AI, through sustainability, that could radically change the way we work and what it means to work, and what we want from work.

And I think that’s very exciting. It’s that second beat, really. The first one is, technology is changing what we do at work or what a business does. But it’s changing how business works and how we work. And for me, that’s exciting, unpredictable territory.

RE: Can I throw something a little bit provocative out there?

DH: Yes.

RE: Wellbeing.

AS: Yes. Wait.

RE: I’ll tell you what it is and then you can decide.

AS: Why is wellbeing provocative?

RE: You’ll see.

AS: What kind of evil world are you coming from?

RE: Wait to see what comes next. So I see a lot of organisations spending a lot of money on wellbeing programmes, like a lot of money. Most of those programmes, I think, lead to people working longer hours to sustain and…

AS: Interesting, they’re counterintuitive.

RE: Personally, I feel they are slightly counterproductive.

AS: Counterintuitive, yes.

RE: And actually, people don’t seem to be spending the time with employees to really understand what wellbeing is to them and what experiences they want at work, or from the businesses, to support that wellbeing.

AS: That’s an interesting point.

RE: And I like the idea of just ripping up what we’re doing in wellbeing right now, and just reassessing, actually, is this really having the impact we desired.

AS: But is it because a lot of… when I look about, so we have in our marketing point of view, we have a phrase, elevate the human experience. That says, elevate that human experience, understand what really matters in people’s lives, and then shape the business around them. And the reason we do it that way is because it’s customer-centric. Actually go and ask them questions about what people actually want before you tell them what they want.

And it seems like maybe there’s assumptions made about what wellbeing is before we actually go and prototype and experiment and ask people really what wellbeing means. And maybe, it’s a question humans can’t answer, because you say, what does wellbeing mean? And you’re like, wealthy?

RE: Yes, you’re well.

AS: It’s taxing, so maybe you’ve got to live with it a bit, prototype it a bit, and it needs to be more experimental and iterative to actually discover what it is before we answer what it is.

RE: Yes, I think applying that agile mentality to actually, let’s spend some time piloting whether wearing a watch that calculates my heartbeat and whether I’m happy and standing at the right time, is a good thing. Let’s pilot it. Let’s see. Let’s bring some graduates in. Let’s test it with them. Let’s see if it fundamentally changes the way in which those individuals interact with the organisation.

AS: That’s a good way to transform any business, though, right? Iterative, prototype, move with empathy and understanding for what you’re finding.

RE: Absolutely.

AS: From the facts rather than just jumping in.

RE: I think businesses too quickly jump the gun and say, actually, this sounds good. It sounds good for our brand. Let’s put it in there.

AS: And I was going to say, do they jump the gun because you can get the message out quick?

RE: I think so. Yes, I think it’s that.

AS: But I think it’s comfortable to get the message that we are trying. We are moving. I don’t need, we’ve done it, or we’re doing it. I want momentum. I want, we’re exploring this, and I don’t think you have to create a message that we have achieved our goal in this, which businesses always want to do.

RE: I agree.

AS: We’ve hit the KPIs, we’ve delivered the things. The outcome is achieved, let’s move. It’s not that, is it? It’s iterative development into the unknown of this digital future, this transformational future, that’s changing work. How do you have momentum?

And again, stories help that because stories can be consistent when the outputs can change. Going back to what I do again, always be closing.

RE: But I think that’s right. Whether it be a good or bad narrative, I think.

AS: Good, always good.

RE: Always good, but I think people want to hear what is happening and what you’re trying and what you’re testing and what are you doing to shift the dial.

AS: And what works and what doesn’t.

RE: And what does and doesn’t work. Not just to be told, I’ve got this great wellbeing piece in place. You should join my organisation or come and work here because we’ve got this huge chunky thing. We don’t actually know whether it works or not, but…

AS: Is it bespoke, then, from organisation to organisation? Because certainly the narratives are for me, because brand is, in some ways, very tangible, but mostly an intangible narrative that is bespoke to that business at that time in culture. One of the things about purpose, actually, that I think we get wrong is we call it brand purpose, when I like to call it business purpose, where the brand is an expression of a business purpose.

And I think we’ll get more out of purpose when we bring it back into the business and do more with it. But it’s interesting to think that the journey and the narrative of each organisation is to some degree unique, which means your wellness journey or your employee experience is equally unique, which strengthens that brand distinction. Which helps you retain staff, gain talent, and tell individual stories. So each journey is… where I’m getting to, I guess, is each journey is unique.

RE: Absolutely, and I think there’s this whole age-old debate around the personalisation of an experience. But I think it’s allowing people to work within that experience to personalise for themselves. It’s not, you have to make an experience for every individual, but it’s allowing that individual to bring their own personality and the way in which they [overtalking].

AS: So you don’t make a path, you make a platform.

RE: Precisely.

AS: And you allow people to interpret that platform for their career and where they want to go.

RE: Absolutely.

AS: And then you just hang on and hope they’re going to good places.

RE: It’s handrails, so you give them guidance and you give them the ability to succeed across that journey, but without being counterintuitive and telling them that you have to go in this way or that way or that way because that’s how we like it.

AS: And is that a distinctive different management style from more traditional management structures in business?

RE: I think so because businesses typically like to say, here is a process. I can see a start and a finish, and I can deploy that and I can drive my efficiencies and productivities because there is my process. Whereas I think what we should actually be doing is ripping that up a little bit and saying, actually, it’s about creating something that’s bespoke to the individual.

AS: Here’s a promise.

RE: Absolutely. Again, it’s back to the whole narrative and how we plug that in.

AS: Yes, softer skills.

RE: Yes, and I think that’s the mistake that a lot of organisations make, is that experiences are just something that I can template and take from one organisation to the next, and I can say it’s onboarding or… and I think you can. I think you can ultimately say there are moments that matter within onboarding or the recruitment process from organisation to organisation. But the way in which that moment matters to that individual, whether you be an engineer or a retailer.

AS: The way they do onboarding and the way that person receives an onboarding experience.

RE: Yes, could be fundamentally different, and I think it’s recognising that.

AS: It’s interesting. I think there are probably some fundamentals that we all share and then there are some individual points that make you you, and I think that will be the same with everyone. I think that’s the point you’re making, that in these programmes, there will be some fundamentals.

RE: There has to be.

AS: Like new talent coming in as onboarding, so you can probably identify a baseline of experiences within a business that are consistent. But then what you want to do is make sure that the talent in your business, a, is unique to that business, so they stay and they get something out of that brand and that experience that’s more. And then this personalisation thing is that there’s enough gift in it that the individual can make it their own, which is how you bring your full self to work.

And those things that traditionally at work may have left them at home, bring those to work, because that’s what makes you great. That’s what makes you who you are. That’s what the business needs, actually, because certainly, in my angle, yes, diversity is the right thing to do for business, but it’s also the most productive thing that we can do for business.

Because if we can create a culture of diverse ideas, those ideas are better for the way they build together.

RE: Exactly. To that point, I think, building on Andy’s point, I think it’s about the narrative that surrounds your brand in the marketplace. So who are you attracting to your business? And the only way you can do that is by fundamentally making those experiences available to people, and whether that be a humanised experience, an experience that really matters to a certain individual.

It might not matter to anyone else, but you have to, as a business, understand what your narrative is. And then you have to get into the market and you have to talk about what that narrative is.

AS: Yes, it’s a core narrative with a mix for every single person. You should be able to take a narrative and tell your lens on it, what it means to you. It should resonate with you, but it doesn’t define you. Like in a sense, you define it. You are the example, the co-author of anything like that. Because what you do in the business every day writes that story, and I think that ownership needs to be there.

DH: So Richard, we’re coming to the end of the podcast, so as our employee experience lead, how would you bring all this together?

RE: I guess, to close, I think it’s really about thinking about the benefits that employee experience and the human experience can bring to a business. But I think this really starts with understanding the contributions to society and the individual that organisations can make. And I think in the context of the future of work, I think this begins with a healthier relationship between employees and organisations, and this being reciprocated between the two.

Whereas previously, before, I don’t think that was really apparent. But I think this fundamentally starts with leadership and changing the way in which they experience work, the things that they do at work, and bringing their whole selves to the working environment to really shift that culture. Undoubtedly, this leads to more engaged, healthier employees, that really do nothing but drive additional value for organisations and society at large.

DH: We could keep going for hours, I suspect.

RE: Probably could.

DH: But that is it for this week. I would like to thank you both for a very engaging conversation.

AS: Thank you.

RE: You’re very welcome.

DH: And yes, we’ll see you again at some point in the future. That’s it for this week. If you did like the podcast, please follow us or subscribe. If you have any ideas for a future topic, please contact our future of work team. Details are listed on the podcast channel. Thank you.

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