The Strategic Employee Experience Virtual Summit – Day One Summary

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With the first day of The Strategic Employee Experience Virtual Summit in the books, let’s take a quick look back at some of the main themes, topics, and ideas from today – and what sessions you can expect tomorrow!

Why does HR continue to have to justify a focus on and investment in EX?

At the risk of sounding redundant, it’s best to keep this point direct. It’s not a new concept to say that a great EX is important for business success or is desired by employees. In fact, this has been well known for many years and has been researched in some depth.

Why then does HR continue to have to justify an increased mental, physical, and monetary focus on building a better EX? We think it’s simple. The business case in 2020 is clear and demonstrable – the contentions arise mostly about how to get moving, conceptual confusions over what’s essential, and then, ensuring that the scope of building a better EX doesn’t blow out of proportion.

So what then should HR and business leaders focus on if they want to build a better EX? Here are just a few of the ideas proposed during the summit’s first day. This isn’t an exhaustive list, but hopefully a snapshot of some key themes intended for upcoming conversations.

Well-being isn’t just a ‘soft’ dimension of EX

As organisations around the world begin to emerge from the social and economic chaos of the Covid-19 outbreak, there has been a renewed focus on well-being. This has meant that many companies have consciously begun to create an EX strategy based on ensuring physical and mental well-being for the workforce is upheld or improved.

On an obvious level – this means there needs to be a focus on protecting employees from physical illness, and ensuring that work can take place with reasonable precautions. But it also means establishing protocols to help employees with mental health, fitness, diet, work-life matters, burnout, and any of the myriad of issues people face relating to social isolation.

Well-being today is as much about promoting sustainable business (both in the human and economic senses) as any business continuity plan. By defining a well-being strategy with a clear global/local/personal ownership model, clarifying stereotypical perceptions about such practices, and making the measuring of any progress a part of HR’s domain, well-being should never be considered a ‘soft’ focus area again.

Listen, listen, and listen some more

One of the cornerstones of a great EX at scale is the ability to listen to the sentiments of the workforce. By being active listeners, HR professionals can put themselves in a much better position to gauge the mood and well-being of the organisation. And while this may appear obvious, it requires both consistent and flexible adaptation to implement effectively.

Continuous listening should be led by HR on both a global and local scale, with a focus on ensuring that in today’s VUCA environment, listening happens when it’s needed most. Some of the effective means of listening include; pulse surveys, one-on-one interviews with a group of representative employees, focus groups, impromptu discussions, and by connecting with colleagues in social settings that also provide learning options (for example, language exchanges).

What remains most critical is that HR takes qualitative and quantitative feedback into consideration when designing and co-creating new aspects of their EX operational model. Giving people ownership of how the organisation’s EX is crafted will ultimately reflect in better performance, trust levels, and will likely ease some transition pressures on the organisation.

Continuous (adaptive) learning is essential

Today, it’s increasingly clear that learning and personal adaptation is essential to keeping engaged and content at work. This is nothing new of course, but a great EX owes a lot to the quality of the learning practices and principles within the given organisation. As such, HR leaders are ultimately responsible for crafting an adaptive learning environment that works for that particular organisation’s needs.

Moving from traditional training models to an adaptive learning system typically entails building the digital capacity to manage up-skilling. This of course will vary in scope and function for all organisations, but some principles remain the same. New learning approaches must be customisable, feature a great UX, provide feedback and data insights–and perhaps most importantly–blend the best of digital learning with the fundamental human interactions that make the lives of employees meaningful.

Now, building and improving such a system while working remotely is a relatively new challenge and may require some trial and error. But the good news is that there are plenty of ways to learn and remain socially engaged remotely. Whether it’s an in-house solution, a third party one, or an existing open enterprise tool – there are many options to consider. Adaptive learning today is therefore increasingly attainable with a blended focus on tech, personal learning methods, and on the fundamentals of good people management.

Keep things relevant, safe, and simple in the post Covid-19 world

A recurring theme throughout the day was the need to keep things simple – particularly in the era following the Covid-19 primary outbreak. The reason is clear. Simplified processes, clear communication, open collaboration, transparency, and trust in leadership are essential elements in helping employees makes sense of the world around them.

When dramatic shifts happens, such as the huge shift to remote work, complicating communication and work processes is bound to cause friction. HR leaders need to nurture an EX that features globally standardised and simplified processes, along with local ‘bottom-up’ approaches. This enables seamless operations on the global scale, with the potential for simple, easy-going local attitudes to flavour the every-day challenges people face.

When it comes to safety, well-being, and primary workforce stability concerns, simple is almost always the best bet. Listen to the challenges, concerns, experiences, and desires of employees as the crisis progresses, and adapt your EX practices accordingly.

Want more insights? Read the summary of day two here!

The HexaSpirit team is hard at work developing a range of upcoming virtual events, including The Culture and Organisation Virtual Summit on July 29-30. Read more about our new virtual event portfolio here!

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