“Customer experience management”, “customer journey framework”, “customer personas” are terms that have now become very familiar in the business world.The importance of customer experience (CX) has accelerated in the past several years in almost every industry from retail to telecom. Ironically, employee experience (EX), the twin sister of CX has neither received the same amount of attention nor a vigorous adoption across the board by companies. Yet, without an engaged and motivated workforce, companies will struggle to deliver outstanding customer experiences. The most well-managed and brand-led companies know the secret that CX and EX go hand in hand.

EX will never be more important than now. In a world that has been turned upside down by the ravaging effects of Covid-19, employees in every organization face uncertain futures as they show up every morning to work from home. Will I lose my job? Will I get paid? Will I be asked to work for more at a reduced salary? When can I take my leave? Fear and insecurity loom large. 

How companies act in these moments will greatly enhance or dent their reputations in the years to come. Your employees will remember how you made them feel during this vulnerable time. 

An excellent starting point to address and manage employee concerns is to actively shape the experience of your employees. This is an approach similar to customer experience management but is laser focused on employee needs, feelings, beliefs. You can easily use CX thinking and apply it to develop employee personas, empathize with employee needs, map employee journeys and determine key actions to take. To keep things simple, look at two groups for now: employees that go and those that stay.

Departing Employees

Plot the needs of employees who lose their jobs. You can do this by convening a few virtual employee focus groups. They will seek transparency – why them? They will want to be treated with the utmost humanity, respect and care. How is the news communicated to them? What is the procedure for leaving? They will want help in finding a new job. Is there anything you can do to connect them to new opportunities? Using the employee journey map, you can determine the critical touch points that you can influence to ensure your employer brand shows up in the most caring manner. Think carefully of the language and approach of each of these touch points whether it is a Town Hall or a layoff letter. 

One of the companies that has demonstrated a very thoughtful, business-like yet human approach is Carta, a San Francisco-based service private company equity platform, which laid off 161 people (16 percent of its workforce). Henry Ward, the CEO, has publicly shared the memo he read out to employees at the all hands meeting that announced the layoffs. 

Henry talks about the moral conflict between taking a shareholder perspective and an employee perspective. He goes on to share the methodology used for determining the layoff list and says that he personally signed off on every person and employees should hold him and only him responsible. What’s most amazing are the benefits the company worked out to departing employees including three-months pay without tenure, health insurance till the end of the year and the creation of the Carta Alumni network on Slack so that when the business recovers and new job opportunities open, Carta’s ex-employees can be hired again. He ends his memo by saying a sincere sorry that his employees have to go through this and a thank you for their service.

Carta’s thoughtful actions are a gold standard for how employer brands can shine. Carta’s thoughtful actions are a gold standard for how employee brands can shine. Put yourselves in the shoes of departing employees and shape your actions in a way that maintain the reputation of the organization despite any inevitable business actions.

Retained Employees

Employees who survive layoffs will be grateful to retain their jobs. However, keeping them focused, motivated and engaged remains a herculean task. 

India’s top corporates from TCS and Axis Bank to new age companies like Ola and Flipkart have been doing a remarkable job of putting their employees’ wellbeing ahead of productivity in these tough times. In a matter of weeks, these companies have rolled out a whole slew of initiatives from virtual morning meetings to stay connected to live musical concerts for teams to enjoy. Doctors on call, counselling, upskilling sessions, meditations sessions are other popular offers. 

Ally Financial in the US has led the way for companies to truly take care of their people during the times of the pandemic. Ally’s approach teaches us five lessons to apply: focus on mental health, offer financial assistance, encourage virtual workouts, host a gratitude challenge, stay connected. 

Will The Scales Balance More In Favor Of EX?

What’s really interesting is to see companies so busy designing creative, heartfelt and truly kind approaches to employee engagement, not something they normally engage in when it is business as usual.

Might this be the turning point for EX to finally take-off? 

I believe that the time for a thoughtful and rigorous approach to employee experience management is finally here. Companies that fuse EX and CX will emerge stronger, more resilient and ready to turbocharge growth once COVID-19 is over. Remember, this situation will go away but your employees are here to stay.