Shaking hands has been a way of greeting one another for thousands of years. Yes, we’ve had other ways – the high-five, the fist bump, the elbow bump – but no matter the delivery, the outcome is the same. It’s a way to exchange a greeting. However, these days the handshake is also transmitting COVID-19, and it’s hard to do an elbow bump from 6 feet away. We need a new way to exchange pleasantries. Perhaps we will start tipping our hats or bowing. We’ll see. But for now, I know this: we need a new handshake.
The Handshake Needs an Overhaul
The handshake needs a complete overhaul, and it needs to happen now. The employee experience has been around as long as that handshake. With the very first apprentice came the first employee experience and the need for onboarding – the need to develop new skills and adopt new cultural norms. No matter the employee experience, good or bad, the outcome was the actually same – the customers’ experience can and will never exceed your employees’ experience.
Right now you’re seeing the needs of your customers change dramatically. And so, the needs of your operations are changing as you to try to meet those demands. Along with this change, your employee experience needs to change too. This isn’t a temporary change. No. This is about reinvention for the long term. It’s time to ask, “How relevant will my old employee experience be in a reinvented world?” Just like the need to reinvent the handshake, you will need to reinvent your employee experience.
Employee Experience “Must Haves”
Over the past month or so, I’ve heard from many organizations about the changes and challenges they’re facing. From these conversations, three common themes in regard to a new employee experience have emerged:
Flexibility. Your employees want a say in how they work, where they work, and how they get their work done. They want this now and moving forward.
Humanity. Many people are experiencing an integration of home and work life. While it’s not without its challenges, there’s a new level of fluidity between home and work.
People are feeling very connected to work and, because of social distancing, disconnected from their other communities. However, when social isolation is lifted, people want to dig in and contribute even more to the other areas of their community.
Right now, companies are spending more time checking in on their people, trying harder than ever to understand people’s specific and individual needs. Well, people like having their company know and understand them – and they want this to continue.
Accessibility. During this crisis, there has been a strain in access to some of the things that are very important to your employees. Moving forward, we have to make sure the employee experience includes – and this may seem basic, but it’s been difficult these days – access to the tools they need to do their jobs and do it well. And this includes access to the right people to give them the answers they need to meet the needs of the marketplace and customer. All of this must be enabled by technology, and employees need to be given time, support, and guidance to learn how to operate this technology.
Preparing to Deliver a New Employee Experience
Now that we understand that people want a new employee experience – with a focus on flexibility, humanity, and accessibility – it’s time to tell them a new, compelling story. You must honor the past and acknowledge that the old way got you this far. But, today is a new time. Leaders must show compassion and honesty around the present. They must work to inspire and motivate people – capturing their hearts, minds, and discretionary efforts – to embrace a new, shared future.
If you’re curious as to how prepared your company is to deliver a reinvented employee experience, click this link to take a short assessment. If your scores are great, kudos! Have a gap you need to bridge? Reach out; let’s talk it through.