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The Three M's Needed For A Comprehensive Employee Experience Strategy

The employee experience (EX) market is estimated at over $300 billion and incorporates training, development, performance management, employee well-being and support, communication, engagement tools and a lot of technology to support, manage and house all of the above. What is most startling, beyond the $300 billion price tag, is the fact that a lot of that investment is being done with little strategy in mind. Today, many companies, often via their human resource (HR) departments, are responding and reacting to employee needs and wants with little consideration for an overarching employee experience strategy to bring all of this together to ensure the desired outcome. I have been advising organizations for the past 10 years on EX strategies, and in an effort to help companies with their upcoming investments, I offer the three M's of EX strategy to be considered now. The three M's of your EX strategy stand for moments, mechanisms and manager. I have done a lot of work on customer experience (CX) strategy, where the goal is to develop memories that create an emotional connection between a customer and a brand. It is the same for an employee with a company. If we create positive memories in key moments through various mechanisms and manager interactions, the employee will feel good about what they do and who they do it for. When many employees feel this way, you create a positive workplace culture. Moments refer to the key moments in an employee's day, week, month, year or career. The emphasis on moments is developed from the work of psychologist Daniel Kahneman, who has provided tremendous insights into how to deliver great customer experiences. For me, his most influential work around peak-end theory and the way humans experience the world around them is necessary reading for every business delivering great customer experiences. His work suggests that humans relive experiences as snapshots, not videos, and so when we work on CX strategies or EX strategies, we must begin by understanding the key moments that will define the experience. I have been studying employee moments for the past 10 years and have identified 30 key moments that are fundamental in developing memories and defining an employee's experience. Moments like the interview arrival, the employee's first day, a performance review, an anniversary date and birthday, how a manager reacts when they do something well or make a mistake and whether or not someone acknowledges their contribution at the end of the day all determine how the employee feels about that day, what they do, who they do it for and their career. If you are serious about culture and really serious about improving your employees' experience, then you need to understand and map out the employee journey and the key moments that will impact their experience.

My recent work has identified the key moments in an employee's day and determined there are eight moments, or a total of 12 minutes in an eight-hour day, that will determine how the employee feels about their day. By being aware of these moments, managers can be much more intentional with their actions, words and time to ensure an employee feels good about their day. Once the moments are identified, then you need to focus on the mechanisms and managers delivering that moment. My team has been refreshing or building mechanisms for HR teams for the past 10 years. I wrote about many of these mechanisms in my book, Culture Hacker. Again, companies need to understand that there are certain mechanisms that need an emotional lift, such as the interview process, an employee's first day, department onboarding, recognition, the discipline process, communication and whether or not employees are aware of and involved in strategic thinking and planning, to name a few. When companies pay attention and focus on building emotional connection through these mechanisms, they are far more likely to build a great company culture. However, I still see too many of these core mechanisms delivered without consideration, emotional intent and the necessary brand alignment to make these moments and events connect with the employee.

The final M is for managers. While I refer to managers, I'm really talking about leadership. I see management and leadership as two sides of the same coin. They are not the same but must go hand in hand for a business to be successful. For our team, management is the ability to ensure compliance, safety, consistency, accuracy and efficiency in the operation. Leadership is a manager's ability to inspire their employees' hearts and minds to want to do what they want them to do, do something they may not want to do and perform at their best. Leadership is more focused on emotions, which is an important aspect of any employee experience and critical to company culture. Leadership is about inspiring hearts and minds, which can seem a tiring and endless goal. However, when considered in terms of moments, managers can be coached to bring their emotional energy at certain times of the day, week or month, rather than having to always be on or always having to inspire. After all, there is an operation to take care of. I have been teaching managers about the skills, habits and actions that can really create a difference in these moments, creating a legacy of leadership, and I would argue that this type of leadership development and training is most critical to culture and business success. Leaders do not have to be born, but they need guidance and coaching to be made. So, as you plan your company's investment in employee experience, consider these three M's before spending a cent and ensure that any monies spent are delivering the necessary results, a great employee experience and a really strong company culture.

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