An Empowered Workforce Needs a Culture of Engagement

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An empowered workforce is the foundation of a company’s success, with 53 percent of respondents to a recent West Monroe Partners survey of customer experience professionals saying that a motivated and equipped workforce is critical for their company to succeed in customer experience. In the survey, 50 percent say the same for business agility, and 49 percent cite digital transformation. 

The report asserts that an empowered workforce comes from cultivating a culture of engagement, intentionally designing employee experiences, and supplying employees with the digital tools needed to do their jobs.

Engaging employees, the report says, is about developing their emotional commitment to the organization. The report outlines three practices to cultivate employee engagement. 

The first is developing a company purpose that goes beyond products and services. An example cited in the report is USAA, which it says aims to serve military families with the same level of dedication that they had when serving their country. 

The second is for leaders to model the right behaviors. An example in the report is Southwest Airlines, whose CEO, Gary Kelly, flies as an average passenger. 

The third is to listen to employees and monitor their sentiment in real time. The report suggests tools from Qualtrics, Medallia, Confirmit, and Tiny Pulse that encourage real-time feedback.

Employee experience is defined in the report as the perception employees derive from their interactions with their company. West Monroe proposes five practices for cultivating a positive employee experience: 

  1. Implement employee journey maps. Akin to customer journey maps, these aim to illuminate how employees experience the processes and tools they use for their jobs. 
  2. Involve employees in design processes, both in creation and prototyping. 
  3. Eliminate policies that hamper employees. The report cites HootSuite, Vail Resorts, and TD Bank as companies that do this actively via contests to identify “worst practices” and do away with them. 
  4. Reimagine milestones, such as life events, career progression, and relocation, and start by creating a welcoming experience for an employee’s first day. 
  5. Provide employees with some measure of freedom to make decisions related to their work. The report gives the example of introducing cross-functional teams to overcome organizational silos.

The report defines employee enablement as providing employees with the technology and data they need to improve their impact on business conditions, and it lays out five practices for doing so: 

  1. Provide employees with technology that complements their strengths. The report states that a common pitfall is to automate wherever possible, leaving humans to fill in the gaps, which it says results in processes that are painstaking and fail to promote human attributes such as creativity. 
  2. Emphasize transformation investment over technology investment. More specifically, this means communicating how new tools and processes work and produce outcomes. 
  3. Automate mundane tasks, freeing employees to do more meaningful and impactful work. 
  4. Ensure that employees have the right information at the right time. The report notes that this involves making data throughout the organization organized, accessible, and accurate. 
  5. Enable continuous learning. The report cites Lowe’s Innovation Labs’ Holoroom How To: Red Vest, a training platform that uses virtual reality to teach employees how to use in-store equipment, as an example. 

“There’s something powerful not just about a talented person, but someone who is engaged and motivated and willing to go above and beyond,” says Paul Hagen, senior principal at West Monroe Partners and author of the report. “The engagement piece is really about capturing the hearts and minds of people around some sort of vision and exciting them to perform higher than they would perform if they were not excited.” 

The experience-design piece gets into the step-by-step process employees encounter to get work done, something that Hagen says “can be mind-boggling.”

“Finally, there are all kinds of technologies,” Hagen argues. “How do you marry those technologies…with an experience-design process and engage [employees] around that together?” 

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