I was thrilled to recently attend the inaugural Employee Experience event run by Benefex, the Employee Engagement Awards and the Employee Engagement Alliance.

Here are a few of the trends and tips I picked up from the great speakers that day. It was exciting to be amongst a packed house of people. All with a binding interest to make workplace experience the best it can be to help organisations and people flourish.

Victoria Entwistle, director, H+K Strategies’ people and purpose team (@ventwistle)

  • Make the employee experience simple: complexity is the enemy

Matt Waller from Benefex shared that the average employee must deal with 27 logins to just get through their organisation’s internal systems. He said: “Employees are overloaded in and outside of work so make things super simple”.  This frustration was later echoed later by Lucy Adams, CEO, Disruptive HR, who provided her thoughts on how much we ask of our people while expecting them to battle on with incredibly complex structures and outdated procedures.

A top tip from Matt: map your employee experience touchpoints and lay it out horizontally on a wall, end-to-end. Look at it constructively. Critique it to truly test what’s working and what isn’t.

  • Emulate external experiential trends because experience is the new economy

James Wallman, futurist and author of stuffocation, shared his views on the experience economy. He said: “We are seeing a value shift for people driven by living in an age of connected living”. We want to share our experiences through imagery and story, and we want to be challenged. More people than ever are climbing mountains, doing ultra-marathons, challenging themselves. This way of thinking should be reflected into workplace culture.

A top tip from James: He outlined three models to bring a more experiential approach to work, and shared examples of companies living them.

  • Hotel California: Companies that have a culture campus, with a balance of work and wellbeing at their root. A Warwick Business School study showed happier people are more productive by 12%.
    • James cited a media company where they work five-hour days and five-day weeks in winter, and in summer 4-day weeks. They also welcome dogs and kids at work (in no preferred order!)
    • Outdoor brand Patagonia has super creches so good that 100% of women who leave come back.
  • Start-up thinking: Cultures that advocate autonomy and entrepreneurialism. At Vodafone no one has a desk – it’s all hot desking – from CEO down. In Google, people are given 20% of their work time to think entrepreneurially and create. At Adobe you are given pitch days to gestate, create and pitch an idea. To encourage innovation, you are given a credit card pre-billed to create a protype.
  • Green working: plants decorate life in Amazon, while BP in the US give its staff fitbits. Studies show plants increase productivity by 15%!
  • We are not just heading into culture change; it’s culture acceleration

Pete Trainor, author of Hippo, the human-focused digital book talked about how for him, human experience is everything. Put plainly he says: “a poor employee experience means your business can’t do what it’s meant to”.

He talked about technology evolution and the benefits of AI in that it can help you offer a more personalised employee experience. You don’t need to treat people as buckets anymore.

A top tip from Peter: Don’t fear AI – it’s just a code. Use developments in technology to treat human beings as individuals and create the experiences that enable people to think in different ways.

Ben Whitter, CEO, World Employee Experience Institute

He sees the growth in experience across key areas:

  1. Workplace experience
  2. Digital experience
  3. Leadership experience
  4. Community experience

To improve employee experience, Ben talked about the need for insight; for greater organisational integrity and employee voice. He discussed the opportunities for organisations to connect their people more through memorable experiences and what he called “moments of meaning” – and which I’ve always called magic moments!

He gave a clear 3C employee experience framework to follow:

  1. Context
  2. Connection
  3. Community

And cited several companies who he felt were leading the pack in this space: Brewdog; Adobe, which has united its customer and employee experience. Alibaba.com has embedded values deep into employee experience; Starbucks has enabled one brand across many communities; Spotify.com has excelled at translating complex policies into ones that are ‘beautifully branded’; and Airbnb has redesigned their HR function and hired a global head of employee experience to oversee and connect everything to do with their “workplace as an experience” vision.

A top tip from Ben: To optimise the employee experience, ask yourself if you’re being authentic, are you leveraging everything at your disposal? Are you creating a sense of belonging?

As I said, a great event. Thank you Benefex, Employee Engagement Awards and Employee Engagement Alliance.

I’ve plenty more notes so look out for more! Ps don’t for get to enter the employee engagement awards!

At H+K People and Purpose we help organisations with their employee experience through our understanding of behavioural science, which we believe can help to create more meaningful moments and experiences for employees.