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Time For Zimbabwean HR To Venture Into Employee Experience

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Employee experience is the latest trend taking over the world of HR. There have been a number of new roles emerging around this trend, such as global chief employee experience officer or head of employee experience.

Here in Zimbabwe employee experience sounds like a new sophisticated concept, but the only difference is terminology, emphasis and extra mile organizations are willing to pursue it.

Employee experience borrows its tenets from customer experience which focuses on a customer’s know-how with a brand or product. Customer experience is the creation of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the period of their association.

This interaction is made up of the customer journey, the brand touch points the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences (including digital environment) during their experience. A good customer experience means that the individual’s experience during all points of contact matches the individual’s expectation.

Deductively the same applies to employee experience, which is a culmination of what an employee goes through in their interaction with the employer during their career that affect their cognition, affection and particular behaviors towards the employer. Employee experience is made up of collective perceptions employees have about their contact with the organization in which they work.

A good employee experience is signified by a happy journey from the hiring process to the termination of the employment relationship. Though the journey may be laden with ups and downs, this journey should encompass beneficial exchanges that result in the fulfillment of expectations.

The principle in employee experience derived from marketing and customer services, is that of the customer is king. Customers are the kingmakers of businesses and are treated with utmost care, hence the same should apply to employees who are behind the daily operations of organizations.

The common saying in human capital is that employees are the organization’s greatest assets for competitive advantage hence they should be treated with great care and diligence.

Leading organizations across the world have embraced the concept of employee experience. They have implemented a paradigm shift in their HR signified by a change of titles whereby Human Resources is replaced with Employee Experience, for example Human Resources Manager to Employee Experience Manager.

An American multinational conglomerate corporation General Electric recently appointed a Head of Employee Experience responsible for developing strategies relating to employee experience which takes into account the physical environment employees’ work in, the tools and technologies that enable their productivity, and learning to achieve their best at work.

Airbnb, an online marketplace and hospitality service in the UK has also created an Employee Experience Department which aims to drive the company’s health and happiness through providing employees with the latest technology and ensuring that building spaces are for an optimal work environment.

In our local context which has been signified by numerous challenges in the employment relationship ranging from economic to technological the burden falls on HR practitioners within their constrained environment to extract gold out of melting rocks.

Jeanne Meister a partner at The Future Workplace suggested in a Forbes article that the next journey for HR leaders will be to apply a consumer and a digital lens to the HR function through consumerization of HR, creating a consumer-style experience for employees that mirrors their best customer experience.

HR as custodians of employees who work and move the organization in a certain direction, have the duty to develop themselves into Employee Experience champions. Their mandate will be to influence employees to develop a positive set of perceptions about their experiences in response to their interactions with the organization. This is done through offering a conducive working environment and exciting culture which positively affects employees’ intellectual and emotional connection in an exceptional manner reserved for customers.

The role of employee experience in an organization comes in to create an environment where employees are genuinely enthusiastic about work. It comes in as an antithesis of the Monday blues where the thought of going to work is frightening. Above all it comes with doing away with the terrifying nature of bosses who strike fear in subordinates instead of engaging them.

When employee experience is great and exciting, employees automatically develop into brand ambassadors of the organization because the battle for the hearts and minds of employees is played out daily through their workplace experiences. Employee experience also allows employees to invest more of their whole selves into the workplace.

A point to note in employee experience is that employees may be satisfied with their salary, benefits and hours at work but still be uninterested in the direction the organization is taking, that is, its vision and goals. This is generally true when the day to day experience at work is uninspiring. Day to day experiences are a critical factor in determining how motivated employees help drive the long term success of the company.

Though our reality in terms of employee experience is way different from Asian and Western economies which are advanced, the crux of the whole fad in our local set up is hinged upon the willingness of organizations to adapt and implement changes.

Despite the constraints in meeting employee expectations, it is no doubt that employee experience is the future of work. Colleges and universities that teach the profession should morph their modules or syllabuses to adjust to this whole new trend in order to mold future HR practitioners.

Moreover organizations which are places where people work, have the duty to adjust their practices to match future requirements of modern day employees.

Freemen Pasurai writes in his personal capacity. He is passionate about people management and customer services. freemenpasurai01@gmail.com

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