“You can never step into the same river; for new waters are always flowing on you. No man ever steps into the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he is not the same man.” — Heraclitus
We seem to have evolved with the perception that change is something that’s managed over a course of events; that has a beginning and an end, and once we’ve gone through it, we’ll somehow return to normal.
This may have been a reasonable assumption in the pre-digital age, but change is now in an always-on state, particularly for employers. Companies that embrace this acceleration are the ones that understand how to capitalize on the energy that change creates. Having a truly strategic and agile approach to the employee experience (EX) can help them do it.
Harnessing the power of employee experience
Developing a strong employee experience helps make the organization more resilient to change. If it’s approached with deep strategic intent, it also helps future-proof the talent agenda. The increasing interest in EX to attract digital talent is a great example of this. The influence that an EX-centric approach has on constantly challenging the organization to be more responsive to employees’ emotional commitment to the brand is becoming more central to the value proposition.
And it can be argued this is because organizations have realized that EX should directly reflect their consumer experience. Candidates and employees are both consumers of their brand, and participants in what they stand for and how they work. Externally companies must continually evolve to meet their consumers’ ever-changing demands – so naturally EX must have the same rate of change and agility.
In committing to this approach, by putting employee experience at the heart of the talent value proposition, employers are able to focus effort on talent with more meaning and relevance. Programs align. HR’s role becomes more central and more strategic.
Creating an employee experience advantage
To achieve this higher-state of being, organizations need EX to be the lens through which all people activity is viewed. It means that EX should be treated as the organizing principle of the people strategy of any organization. And, because it must reflect the consumer experience, there’s an imperative for EX itself to continually improve and evolve.
Making a stronger emotional connection between employees and alignment to brand also helps to build trust, a vital element for any organization to be able to navigate change well. So change can and should become the normal continual state. Consequently EX allows the organization to thrive from change rather than suffer from it.
The key to using employee experience as a way to truly embrace continual change as a positive thing does require a change in attitude. It requires a development of outlook. Like Heraclitus and the river, you can choose to change the way you see the world and that choice can make all the difference.
As an example, the U.K. Special Forces training has a final grueling phase that all candidates must pass—jungle survival—which is the toughest phase, physically and psychologically. Veterans of this process say the key to getting through it is to learn to love the jungle. To embrace its wonder and beauty and become more a part of it. EX can help the organization embrace change in a similar way, enabling the talent proposition to become super connected to the customer proposition, going much more with the flow of the business. When employee experience becomes the continual driver of the people strategy it can be argued employers are able to work with change as an energizing factor.
Previously in this series: Why meaning and purpose should be central to the employee experience (Part 1 in series)
Richard Veal is a Global Leader in Communication and Change Management at Willis Towers Watson.