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Building a humanistic workforce experience

April 18, 2019

More than half of all workers may be thinking about leaving their jobs … and easily can if they have the right capabilities and skills.1 This alarming statistic opened the Day 2 IMPACT session on building a humanistic workforce experience (WX), laying the groundwork for a discussion of how organizations can put humans back at the center of the workplace.

Christina Rasieleski, lead advisor, workforce experience and rewards, Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP, painted a sobering picture of the crisis facing workers and organizations. The pace of work, life, and technology is making employees feel more overwhelmed than ever before—and they’re not taking sufficient time off to regenerate. Since 2000, US workers have lost an entire week of vacation—not because they don’t have it, but because they feel guilty about taking time off.2 Workers are feeling more like resources and less like humans.

This has serious implications for companies as the talent war rages on. In a highly competitive labor market, employees are tempted to pursue new opportunities, contributing to higher attrition rates. Hiring and training new workers is expensive and time-consuming, but many organizations struggle with the internal mobility processes that would help retain and redeploy current workers into open positions.

How can organizations address these challenges? Matthew Deruntz, senior analyst, Bersin™, Deloitte Consulting LLP, shared new data from Bersin’s forthcoming High-Impact Workforce Experience study. It illuminates the gaps and barriers facing organizations as they work toward building a productive, engaging, and meaningful work experience.

Who are organizations involving as part of WX?The definition of the worker has changed, and many organizations are not addressing their needs.

  • 29 percent do not take the worker into consideration when designing how work gets done.
  • 35 percent are aware of the needs of nontraditional workers but have yet to address them.

Do they understand what WX is? Organizations that cannot define WX cannot create a meaningful experience.

  • 61 percent lack a connection between daily processes / procedures and overall worker experience.
  • 53 percent lack a clear definition of workforce experience.

How are they capturing it? Organizations are missing the opportunity to not only measure WX but also link it to the customer experience.

  • 25 percent are not measuring worker experience.
  • 57 percent do not link customer experience with workforce experience.

What is a great workplace experience, and how can you design it?

WX includes all of the connections between individuals and their colleagues, leaders, and employer, encompassing personal, physical, digital, and organizational elements. These four considerations can help guide the WX design that is right for an organization and its workforce.

  1. People are not pets.

Intrinsic motivation is the best predictor of high-quality achievement.

Referring to a recent New York Times3 article. Rasieleski explained that individuals’ motivation comes from more than just a collection of activities and trinkets. Free food and ping pong tables don’t drive long-term success and productivity; they could actually lead to a lack of engagement. But WX is not just engagement, either. Those organizations that can define workforce experience holistically and connect it to daily activities are able to have a bigger impact on their workforce. While workers overall rate their current employee experience a negative-5 on the Net Promoter Score, that same score for high-performing organizations is positive-42. On the flip side, the score for low-performing organizations is negative-39. What score would your employees give your organization?

  1. Can I get a connection?

WX is all about connections—between workers and their work, their teams, and even the enabling technology.

Bersin’s High-Impact Workforce Experience study shows that 93 percent of high-performing WX organizations take the worker into consideration when designing how work gets done. Organizations can accomplish through a few activities.

  • Direct input. Collecting worker input is not just conducting a survey. It’s connecting workers to the problems, involving them in the iterative process, and enabling them to work in teams and with managers to build agile solutions.
  • Solutions that simplify. Organizations have to reduce the red tape and burdensome processes that are barriers to productivity and meaningful work. Learning and performance management are key to creating an agile WX that makes resources available at the click of a button and are incorporated into the flow of work and life.
  • Collaborative technologies. High-performing organizations are 4.5 times more likely to use collaborative and participatory platforms. The tools of the work environment should enhance the work and processes themselves, bringing people together and connecting with the human side of work.
  1. What does it spark?

Cherish the needs of the organization and the worker.

Workers are human and have human needs. One of those primary needs is meaning and purpose to help employees connect their day-to-day work with the goals and values of the company. Others include worker-centric design across all stages of work and moments that matter; and flexibility and predictability in the design of environments to offer workers greater control over the choices they need to make to get work done.

  1. Everyone has a carry-on.

Perspectives of culture are influenced by a number of different factors—all of them unique.

All employees bring their own “baggage” to the workplace, and this shapes how workers interpret the culture of the organization and how they engage with it. Accountable and trustworthy leaders foster authenticity in the workforce experience. Our study revealed that high-performing organizations are 5.7 times more likely to hold leaders accountable for their workers’ experience and 7.1 times more likely to create compelling day-to-day moments around transparency in leadership communication. It’s time for organizations to rethink what leadership means and how it is developed.

Even with these guiding considerations, getting WX right is no small challenge. Bersin recently launched the Workforce Experience (WX) Framework to help organizations:

  • Adopt a worker-centric approach to the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job, based in agile iteration, design thinking, an outside-in perspective, and treating the workforce like customers
  • Embrace the WX and combine it with HR and workplace technology to drive transformation, performance, and compelling experiences in the organization now and into the future
  • Actively cultivate an organizational culture of trust, inclusion, and accountability to help organizations and their workers thrive in an environment of disruptive and rapid change

Regardless of the framework an organization uses to design a humanistic workforce experience, the process must start with and stay centered on the worker. Organizations need to listen to their workers, be empathetic, and build a deep understanding of their work and what they need from the organization to enable success.

Stay tuned for more Insights from IMPACT 2019 all week, and follow the conference conversations on our Twitter handle: @Bersin.

1 Are you overlooking your greatest source of talent?Deloitte Insights / Robin Erickson, Denise Moulton, and Bill Cleary, 2018.

2 The State of American Vacation 2018, Project: Time Off, 2018, https://www.projecttimeoff.com/state-american-vacation-2018.

3 “Science Confirms It: People Are Not Pets,” The New York Times/ Alfie Kohn, October 27, 2018, https://www.nytimes.com/2018/10/27/opinion/sunday/science-rewards-behavior.html.

Originally published at Capital H blog