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Don’t mess with your X: Anyone can manage HR! But what about designing HX?

Employee Experience begins with empathy. If a company’s talent managers really want to understand what experiences people make in the course of their professional life, they have to try putting themselves in their position as best as possible. To feel what they feel. To understand their needs. Only then can they design products that create positive experiences in connection with working in the company.

Wait a second, “Products”?? But employees aren’t customers! Or are they?

Yes and no. The relationship between a company and its employees goes far beyond the relationship between a company and its customers:

  • The connection is tighter and more long-term.
  • In a company, everyone should be seen and heard, but it is never just about the individual. Companies are social constructs. Cultural aspects and interpersonal relationships must always be considered.
  • The employer-employee relationship is much more than a trade-off. It is also about a personal identification with the job and the need for a purpose.

But the similarities to the “Customer Journey” exist and they help to understand how perspectives, roles and tasks shift in employee development – leaving behind classic Human Resources Management (HRM) and looking towards Human Experience Management (HXM).

As often is the case, TV delivers the best explanation. The Baby Boomers might recall a time when in Germany there was only one TV station that would bring the world into our living rooms for a few hours a day. At the time, the world still seemed very small, because television should – according to the makers – only provide education. In the early 60s, when a second station was created, entertainment became part of the program. For the first time the producers asked themselves what people might like, what the viewers want to see. The viewers’ wide variety of interests wasn’t truly displayed until private television was introduced in the 80s.

Action Dramas on one station, Wheel of Fortune on the next and Celebrity Gossip on another. The dependence on viewing rates made TV producers of private stations look very closely at what the mass audience wanted to see. In any case, the basic principle still applied: A handful of people made the decision about what millions of people should and could watch and at what time – and what not.

“In the olden days, when I was your age, we had to be sitting in front of the TV at 8:15 pm sharp if we wanted to watch a movie.”

To the Gen Z this sounds like a story from another era. Because the digitization brought countless new opportunities to consume moving images – and thus the “customer experience” came into play. Suddenly, providers have to deal not only with technology, but also with people’s lifestyles. And you can be pretty sure that the younger generations are not sitting in front of a television at 8:15 p.m. Everything is accessible on demand, by recommendation, through matching. Successful platforms, such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, cater to their customers based on their needs and preferences:

  • watch content tailored to personal interests,
  • when, where and on the device of your choice
  • with friends or alone,
  • with friends on the other side of the world or alone (Remote Watch Parties),
  • be notified when season 3 of your favorite series is available,
  • Start – pause – restart,
  • Download content and watch offline

and so on.

And companies? Are still managing HR like private television.

They have a colorful bouquet of application and development opportunities in their program, regularly check their performance numbers (KPIs) and hope for stable income. Unlike television, which (still) benefits from an aging society, companies will run into problems if they try to recruit young Netflixers with old company structures. Because they don’t want prefabricated offers designed on the drawing board by the management. They want “products” – onboarding, development opportunities, learning opportunities, career options, etc. – that meet their needs, that they help to shape, and that they can access “on demand” according to their skills and interests. They don’t want an “8:15 pm or never” environment, they want one that values both their individuality but also their role in a social structure – in the work context and beyond. A good employee experience does exactly that. It is not based on offers that have been thought through to the end, but on open structure and opportunities for participation for those they serve.

Employee Experience vs. Employer Branding

That’s what differentiates the Employer Experience from Employer Branding: While Employer Branding highlights the company perspective and focuses on the external impact (“We want things to work a certain way”), the X-approach takes the users perspective and directs the view inward (“How is it really going?”). HX managers immerse themselves in the experiences of (potential) employees, define critical points on the “Employee Journey” and co-design them with the people they want to bind to the company long-term.

This shift of perspective is also consequential for the data that decisions in HR / HX management are based on. The mere quota in the form of classic KPIs – number of applications, cost per hire, completed training courses, terminations etc. – is no longer sufficient to measure the ability of organizations to act. In addition to asking “What happened?”, companies also need answers to the question “Why did it happen?”. What thoughts, feelings or motivations prompted employees to apply to or reject a position, start a training, network, leave the company? At which point along your employee experience did we inspire you, motivate you or lose you?

In the upcoming weeks we will take you along for our “Tandemploy Ride: Employee Experience” where we will dive deeper into the topics surrounding HX Management. In each part of the blog series, we will focus on a critical Touchpoint of the employee journey:

Part 2: Touchpoint Onboarding

Part 3: Touchpoint Life Phases / Generations / Further Development

Part 4: Touchpoint leaving the company

For every Touchpoint you will receive

  • content for orientation,
  • questions with which you can verify your very own status quo,
  • methods for simple implementation and
  • insights into our Best Practices at Tandemploy.


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