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Measuring Employee Experience | S3 E1

First published: 18 January, 2022

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Engaging Internal Comms Series 3
Engaging Internal Comms Series 3
Measuring Employee Experience | S3 E1
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As an author and award-winning communicator, Nicholas Wardle is an expert in measuring the employee experience, and he is the first guest to get behind the microphone for Series 3 of the Engaging Internal Comms Podcast. His passion for employee engagement and internal communications is there for all to see when looking at his previous experiences.

Nicholas is the Co-author of ‘Monetising the Employee Experience’ which was released in 2021 and he is also currently a member of the Engage for Success Steering Committee and the IoIC London Committee. The latter has recognised his contributions to the sector, as he was named 2020 IoIC Internal Communicator of the Year and 2019 IoIC Manager/Leader of the Year.

Currently he works as Head of Employee Experience and Communications at non-profit organisation One Housing, which helps provide high quality homes and care across London and the South East.

In this episode, he and Craig Smith discuss why the employee experience has been overlooked by leaders and the work Nicholas is doing to help change this to the benefit of organisations.

Episode 1 will explore the ‘How are we doing?’ question of the Big Picture Connections Framework, focusing on what measures can be put in place to see how well employees understand your organisation’s change.

This is just one of six questions that all communicators need to be able to answer when it comes to communicating change. To help organisations see how well they rank in line with this, The Big Picture People have launched a free Pulse Check assessment tool.

Click here to take the short survey and see how well your employees understand your organisation’s vision and purpose.

An appetite for internal comms

Nicholas has worked in the comms and engagement sector for 15 years now and has developed a range of skills and experiences in this time. He admits that the internal comms and employee engagement professions are still young, stating that the majority of progress here has been made in the last 25 years.

His passion for moving the profession forward started when he attended an event about effectively engaging an organisation’s frontline staff. That day he felt he had not learned much and had not been shown any solutions.

After catching up with his fellow co-author Mike Sharples after the event, he shared his frustrations with him. They both agreed that employees are often forgotten when it comes to their experiences, and they wanted to do something to change that.

The pair then got in touch with IoIC Chief Executive Jennifer Sproul who agreed with their idea of producing new ideas to show organisations the value of looking after employees, which eventually lead to the creation of their 2021 book ‘Monetising the Employee Experience’.

Employee experience opportunity

Nicholas and his colleagues had suspected for some time that employee experience was an area that was being neglected by many organisations, which led them to look for further evidence for this.

For this, they created the Employee Experience Opportunity (EXO) survey which received around 2,000 responses. Questions on employee experience and other areas such as leadership, change and internal comms were asked, and they drew some interesting responses.

Nicholas highlighted a headline figure to Craig, which was that only 48% of respondents said their organisation was committed to providing a good employee experience.

This indicated that there was an issue, with the results going on to be published alongside recommendations from Nicholas and his colleagues. They went on to build a tool kit which has been used for helping people build a business case and show them how to create a strong employee experience.

Defining employee experience

Nicholas says he often links the employee experience to the customer experience when describing it to people. He sees it as the umbrella term for anything related to an organisation’s employees, which is happening all the time.

No organisation would allow its customer experience to take its own course and many are obsessed with shaping it. Nicholas wants to see this obsession replicated for employees.

He then went on to highlight some other figures from his research which explain more about what is needed to create a strong employee experience:

  • Only 59% think feedback is taken seriously by leadership
  • Only 58% said their organisation has a recognition culture
  • Only 51% said their leaders communicate their organisation’s vision and values
  • Only 49% kept up to date with what their customers think
  • Only 51% said their manager has successfully communicated what is expected of them

The impact of internal comms teams since the start of the pandemic is something Nicholas recognises, which led him to alter his research to address this. He mentioned the influence on change within organisations and went on to explain some other statistics he gathered around this area:

  • Only 29% thought their organisation managed change well
  • Only 36% thought their organisation communicates change well
  • Only 40% said they had a say in organisational change

Nicholas said these results suggest that internal comms teams can do more to improve employee experience, but stated the elevated influence of IC (gained from their activity during the pandemic) should provide an opportunity to do this.

Craig mentions how the topic of internal communicators not understating their role when it comes to organisational change is a subject which has repeatedly been discussed on the podcast. Many feel they are simply supporting the change teams rather than getting involved with them, something Nicholas agrees with.

Nicholas goes on to explain how the role of a communicator has changed, saying they are no longer simply broadcasting other employee’s messages. They need to be involved with any project that is to be communicated right from the very start, particularly when it comes to change.

He suggests that communicators should be involved in weekly catch-ups with leaders and other departments, influencing the start of these conversations rather than being brought in at the end.

This links back to the employee experience as Nicholas goes on to mention there are similarities when it comes to communicating this and change. He says that when organisations go silent on something, it can leave employees making their own minds up. Making a conscious effort to communicate how a change will benefit an organisation’s employees is something that should always be considered.

Calculating a return on investment (ROI) for employee experience

One of the tools that has been crucial to Nicholas’ work is the return on investment for employee experience calculator he has helped develop. He explains how many communicators are often caught up in the numbers their work can generate without focusing on what they want people to do from it.

Nicholas spoke about how he and Mike Sharples often say that if an organisation can have both a strong culture and productivity, then it will usually have a very positive employee experience. However, they also believe that one of the reasons this hasn’t been fully appreciated is because the numbers aren’t there to back it up.

“If you get your culture and your productivity right, you will have a very good employee experience as they are the things we work towards,” Nicholas said. “But one of the reasons we think the employee experience hasn’t had the funding yet is because the business case for it has not been made.”

He encourages any communicators to use the calculator (linked below) themselves to see how their organisation ranks.

The metrics used for the calculator are something which can be overlooked by communicators. According to Nicholas, who states that although it is obvious, many can forget that any organisation needs to gain more revenue from their employees than they pay them in salaries and benefits. These are then end goals that senior leaders think about, which means internal comms professionals should too.

When it comes to measuring productivity, motivation is at the heart of this. Research shows that the two are heavily linked. For the calculator, people can use a motivation score produced by a tool named Mojo or using the scores from their last employee survey.

Once all the numbers are put into the calculator, users can see a how much their employees are contributing to the organisation based on their motivation and productivity. Nicholas emphasises that the calculator shows how drastically a loss or gain in revenue can arise from just a slight change in motivation, especially for large organisations.

“Just a two or three percent change in the motivation, and productivity figures can be millions depending on the size of an organisation,” Nicholas said. “The senior leaders we have shown this to can have a ‘eureka’ moment as it really brings home the wider importance of motivation and productivity.”

The fact this can be quantified into economic data is one of the most important factors for getting senior managers onboard with employee experience and Nicholas says people should at the very least use this tool to see how their organisation ranks.

Monetising the employee experience

The ROI calculator is a key part to Nicholas and Mike’s book which helps to explain the figures behind the employee experience. They also look at the different influences on productivity while also discussing how this links to things like wellbeing and emotion, which have gained more recognition and awareness during the pandemic.

The working environment is also explored in the book, while they also look at the tools people can use to make this work. This is ultimately good for the customers as they end up being served by happy employees.

The resources mentioned earlier are discussed in the book in more detail and the tool kits needed to create things like employee journey mapping, ‘moments that matter’ and stop-start change are also introduced.

Practical tips for creating a strong employee experience

Besides using the ROI calculator and his previous research, Nicholas shared some other ideas of what communicators can do to improve their employee experience.

  1. Don’t be passive

Often employee experience is seen as an afterthought with no clear ownership. He says that by default, this is something for HR to deal with but more people in an organisation should look to take the lead on owning it.

  1. Build the case for investment

Those in internal comms and employee engagement should look to take the employee experience to managers and leaders and show them why it is important. It is a great career development opportunity for them.

  1. Get involved

If someone in your organisation has begun to work on improving the employee experience, communicators should look to help them from a comms perspective. Nicholas says helping motivate and inspire colleagues is exciting work and something that comms professionals should look to actively take part in.

Nicholas is also involved in several courses with the IoIC which explain the why and the how of employee experience and how there can be an ROI from this. These look at how integral it is to any workforce and the links to access these courses are below.

Useful links:

The Employee Experience Opportunity – https://www.brandexperiences.com/exo/the-mission/

The ROI calculator – https://www.brandexperiences.com/exo/the-roi/

IoIC Courses:

The ROI of Employee Experience: Virtual Learning – https://www.ioic.org.uk/bbc191121

The Employee Lifecycle: Creating Moments That Matter: Virtual Learning – https://www.ioic.org.uk/d-d031221

LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/nicholaswardle/

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