Why is the poor employee an afterthought in the process ?

Employee experience

Living in a world where customer experience is the ultimate goal I sometimes wonder whether organizations lose a bit of internal focus and forget about the employee experience.

Going from good to great to pretty shocking

I’ve been involved in many changes programmes where the directive from on high is to increase cost efficiency, process automation and performance in the name of improving the customer experience but sadly this is normally to the detriment of the employee who is often regarded as just the button pusher to make a manual process happen in the middle. With the mantra of ‘good to great’ being thrown around by many companies and consultancies it seems it’s the exact opposite in the employee experience.

Humanize resource processes

But it’s not just on the customer service side where an organization’s front-end processes can impact and create a negative image if it all goes wrong. Consider the experience of new employees coming onboard for the first time. You would think that HR would want to make a process as slick as possible to create the impression that ‘this is the company you want to work for’, ‘here we value your potential and look forward to welcoming you onboard’. Unfortunately, because HR is not as exciting as all that social media stuff and the customer service world more often than not  it’s given a passing thought when it comes to process improvement. A SAP project for example is not an HR improvement exercise but sadly most deem it so.

I’ve heard of stories of employees being interviewed whilst the interviewer was watching TV, or how important contract negotiations were conducted while the person in HR was feeding their baby in the background on the call. That to me suggests that if they don’t really care to pay attention to your needs just think how they listen to a customers.

An employee is a customer too

You are about to offer a role to someone who has actively sought you out, who wants to contribute to your success and yet you expose them to perhaps the clunkiest, most inefficient processes of all. Employees are your most important asset and their experience in the company is as important as the customers, from start to finish.

And it’s in those moments with your future employee and how they have experienced their first interactions with your organization that gives an insight into how you really treat and value your customers.

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Categories: Customer Service, Human Resources, Process Management

Author:Theo Priestley

"I had more creative ideas from Theo in 6 months than I have had in 6 years from most people." Theo Priestley is one of the most recognised independent technology industry influencers and evangelists, ranking in the Top 100 thought leaders across Virtual/ Augmented Reality, FinTech, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, Internet of Things and future trends. Theo has written insights for Forbes, Wired, The European Magazine, Venturebeat to name a few, and has been interviewed for many online publications including the BBC on his thoughts on technology and the future. A regular paid keynote speaker and panelist at conferences and events, Theo is engaged for his forthright views and isn't afraid to challenge conventional thinking and the marketing hype surrounding the industry when presenting, never pulling punches to get the message across on how technology can be applied to improve business and the customer experience. He has also successfully organised and run TEDx and Ignite events. Highly active across social networks, he sits in the Top 1% for social media engagement on Kred and Klout and is constantly sharing articles and his analysis that he feels his audience would be interested in. Theo is also active in the startup community, mentoring within UK and US accelerators and sits on a number of advisory boards. Former VP and Chief Technology Evangelist at a Top 25 European enterprise software company with a career spanning both innovation strategy and delivery of software and business change in Financial Services, and as an independent technology industry analyst. Follow Theo on Twitter @tprstly or connect here directly for constant insights on tech and marketing trends. • Top 1% Influencer on Kred (915) • Top 1% Influencer on Klout (70+) • 12,000+ Followers on LinkedIn • 13,000+ Followers on Twitter • Recognised Top Influencer in AI, Virtual/ Augmented Reality, Fintech, IOT and Wearable Tech, Big Data and Analytics.

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2 Comments on “Why is the poor employee an afterthought in the process ?”

  1. March 11, 2013 at 1:30 pm #

    Theo,

    You’ve done an excellent job of making a point that is apparently overlooked. You mention Good to Great being used internally as well as marketing from consultancies. Unfortunately, I think that book has been disproved (by Blue Ocean Strategy).

    Breaking news: the customer doesn’t care how efficient or automated you are and 99.997% of their interaction with your company only involves your product. “..To increase cost efficiency, process automation and performance in the name of improving the customer experience” is simply misguided.

    It is often said that employees are the biggest asset of a company. I believe that is true even though Good to Great seems to indicate otherwise. Unfortunately these asset mvp’s are treated poorly by ERP as you said: “A SAP project for example is not an HR improvement exercise but sadly most deem it so.”

    I’m not sure how HR gets the blame for bad processes dictated by worse software. I do agree that how your employee works has dramatic impact on many factors including the most important one: improved customer VALUE. All you have to do is unlock the process from the ERP so that how work is done can be leveraged by Operations, HR, Marketing, Sales and IT to deliver top line and bottom line growth. The greatest asset already knows where vast and disruptive latent opportunities lie: as an ice breaker, ask to see their spreadsheets. If they trust you, despite being poorly treated, then you will see Blue Oceans of opportunity from employee led expertise.

  2. Scott Ives
    March 12, 2013 at 7:50 pm #

    I will disagree on one point, Steve, that the customer doesn’t care how efficient or automated you are. If I can cut a cycle time from hours down to minutes or even seconds, while reducing defects from 30% down to less than 1%, while my competitors perform at my “old” level, customers can and do notice.

    As for the topic, I often see project charters where the employee isn’t represented as a “real” stakeholder. In order to justify the time and expense of the project, we cull the the objectives that can’t easily be measured and focus on things like cost savings and cycle time reductions. That’s just to get the initial funding. Even if we did include measure like increasing employee satisfaction, do we ever have the time to track that in a meaningful way after implementation or do we just race on to the next project/program?

    As for HR processes, it’s remarkable to see two things. First, how much time is wasted in a fragmented on-boarding process that delays knowledge transfers (“we’ll cover that once you get your sign-on”) and decreases morale (“Only 3 weeks to get set up? It took me 2 months and they still didn’t get it right….”). The same executives who trumpet initiatives to improve customer experience seem all to willing to turn a blind eye to the negative employee experience. Shouldn’t we want our new employees as productive and engaged as quickly as possible? Instead, we seem to let them languish since we really can’t make the time to do the on-boarding properly anyway.

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