Ford Motor Co., with an employee strength of nearly 200,000 employees across 40 countries recently developed a new people strategy. The HR team deployed a company wide polling process which acted as a platform for employees to share their ideas, experiences and opinions about HR products and services.
As a result of this open and broad feedback collecting initiative, the HR team is learning about what employees really want and what the actual problems are. The understanding was that a better look at these problems through an employee lens will help HR focus on how to create effective solutions for them.
And this worked. When Ford dived deeper into this analysis, they found that many employees felt that people processes were overly administrative, mundane, complex and not always useful in finishing tasks. People leaders also felt that HR business partners were always stuck with overtly administrative and operational work, which never leaves them with any time to focus on core HR issues.
To address these issues, the HR team at Ford is now developing products and services with an aim to solve these issues, without shifting the focus from ensuring a positive employee experience. Ford has now adopted tools that are more intelligent and user friendly, systems that allow employees to interact with HR through multiple channels. These initiatives are not just aimed at simplifying tasks for HR, but also at improving the overall employee experience.
This is one example of design thinking that has entered the HR world as a key strategy for employee engagement. The focus has shifted from customers to employees as a strong employee experience also drives a string customer experience.
There are several such examples of category leaders that are experimenting with the way they create employee engagement strategies. This is because the older ways aren’t working anymore. A recent study by Deloitte completed with Facebook found that only 14% of companies believed that they internal processed for collaboration and decision making are working well. Productivity is also seeing a gradual decline as per reports. This makes it even more important for organizations to make employee experience a priority for HR leaders, and get HR departments out of the silos of administrative work.
What is important to note here is that the answer to ensuring a great employee experience sure lies in technology, but it is not the only answer. The first step is to understand employees at a fundamental level through regular feedback.
The last few years have seen technology advance at an unprecedented rate. Artificial intelligence, mobile platforms, sensors, social collaboration tools dominate the tech space. These tools have changed the way we live, work and communicate, and also made employees and organizations feel “overwhelmed.” We do not want to complicate it further but the aim should be to make existing processes simpler.
Employees expect not only a better designed and thought out experience but also newer models of delivery. After all, employees do manage a majority of their lives on a handful of mobile applications. This is why they also prefer and expect every element of their employee experience, be it their work, their goals, communication or rewards, to be accessible and easy to use on their mobile devices.
Employee feedback is one of the best ways to start this process. Because only through such a process will organizations understand what their employees are actually feeling. As a result of this, a new breed of pulse survey tools and performance management tools have entered the market. However, not many organizations are adopting feedback as a regular process as 79% of organizations survey employees annually or less (As per Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report, 2017). Such neglect of regular employee feedback explains why organizations are failing in ensuring an enriching all round experience for their employees.
Organizations need to learn from experiments like Ford & Co. so that they can overcome their shortcomings in driving culture and purpose for their employees in organizations. There are many tools coming up that are moving beyond traditional email to improve productivity. Feedback tools, pulse survey tools, wellness and fitness apps are coming up that are enabling organizations measure and enhance employee productivity levels. It will be exciting to see the turn that organizations take with the help of these tools in the coming years to come. The definite lesson is to ensure a system of continuous and quality feedback.