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Posted on March 10, 2017

The Employee Experience Summit Recap

employee experience

Last week, I had the pleasure of chairing the Advanced Learning Institute’s Employee Experience Summit here in New York. It was tremendously energizing to step away from my daily work and spend a few days with so many super-smart people who care so deeply about creating meaningful employee experiences. When you consider that the average worker spends about 90,000 hours at work over their lifetime, it’s no surprise that companies care an awful lot about making those hours as rewarding and engaging as possible. What’s clear to me after this Summit is that many companies CARE about improving their employees experience, but they’re still working out exactly HOW to do that.

 

Thankfully, the outstanding speakers and participants had lots of ideas to share. Here are just a few of the many insights and trends I picked up:

 

  • A major shift is underway when it comes to performance management. Many folks I spoke with said they are in the midst of overhauling their performance management systems, moving away from once-a-year, ratings-based reviews to more frequent, less formal discussions. For example, at Regeneron, performance management discussions happen at more frequent intervals (30 minutes every 30 days) and are driven by employees.

 

  • In general, people are sick of hearing about “Millennials.” After a few years of talking non-stop about the challenges of engaging this seemingly alien employee population, it seems we’ve all grown a little tired of the label. That’s not to say that folks are ready to ignore this generation all together – but would rather focus on how the workplace has evolved, and what younger employees want and need to feel successful there. According to Meredith Ferguson, Managing Director of TMI, younger employees want regular feedback, to do meaningful work, and to have fun. Isn’t that what we all want?

 

  • The employee/employer contract seems to be shifting to a more balanced equation. Over the past several years, we’ve seen a move toward companies defining and emphasizing their Employee Value Proposition (EVP) to current and prospective employees alike. And while this continues to be important, it’s not all about what the company can do for you. Several speakers spoke about “hiring tough” and ensuring that prospective employees understand not only what they stand to gain but also what’s expected of them. Lee Crawford, AVP of Employee Experiences for TD Bank explained that his company’s EVP “summarizes both what we’re giving to you AND what you’re giving to us.”

 

  • Smaller companies are fighting just as hard to preserve their cultures.  It was refreshing to hear from a number of smaller, fast-growing companies like Red Hat and Buzzfeed and the very intentional steps they are taking to define and preserve their cultures. Creating outstanding employee experiences is not just something for large, well-resourced companies. Rather, it’s those companies who have created something truly special on their journey of growth that realize how important it is to define and capture their culture in order to maintain it when growing rapidly. I was so impressed to learn about how Kim Jokisch and the team at Red Hat is identifying and tapping into its most enthusiastic employee ambassadors, while Regis Courtemanche and the Buzzfeed team has built a unique and robust onboarding program to help new people connect to the company’s culture.

 

  • Everyone owns the Employee Experience. As soon as the Summit participants began introducing themselves and sharing their titles, it was obvious that the way companies think about and approach employee engagement is changing. I was immediately impressed by how many people had “Employee Experience” right in their titles! While the Summit was focused on leaders in HR roles, there were several speakers and participants from other parts of the organization, including internal communications and even marketing/branding. It’s clear that companies are increasingly recognizing the importance of creating outstanding employee experiences, and the benefits of taking a holistic approach to do so. The employee experience is no longer “owned” by HR, marketing or internal comms on their own – rather, it’s a hybrid, highly collaborative responsibility.

 

How do these trends align with what you’re seeing in your own organization? Tweet us @brilliantink and let’s keep the conversation going!

Ann Melinger