I read a few articles recently regarding how leading ICT organisations address employee experience. One that especially intrigued me outlined the very considered thinking, (not to mention money) that went into the design of an amazing office renovation. Which I have to say, WAS impressive. While there were many other reasons why someone would want to work for this organisation, they all took a back seat to the visual impression (in the article, at least).
First impressions, the job advertisement.
First impressions do count. For us employees, the employee experience (and first impressions) starts with the job application, followed by the interview process. If successful, only then then does the rubber hit the road. Therefore, I continue to be amazed, not to mention dismayed, by the ‘stating the bleeding obvious’ style non-specific language found in job adverts. Who hasn’t seen “skills” described like this in a job advertisement:
- Strong technical problem-solving ability
- Strong communication skills
- A motivation to grow and develop your IT career
- Happy working within a team environment and supporting your colleagues
I look forward to the day when I see this ?
- Inability to solve problems highly recommended
- Poor communication skills with a preference for complete silence
- We expect you to take it easy and cruise through your career without much interest
- Loners who prefers to avoid team situations at all cost preferred
And then, when recognising that many positions are over-subscribed with hundreds of applications, surely a common courtesy would be to advise (even automatically) when a candidate will not be forwarded for an interview. Far too many organisations use the lazy “if you don’t hear from us etc…..”. This includes IT organisations that pride themselves on their processes and compliance.
A succinct and more scientific matching of a person to the required skills would surely make it easier to respond with specific information. This would help an applicant understand, in a totally unbiased way, why they were not a good match for the job.
Time to make an impression – the interview.
And then, hopefully to the interview. A great opportunity for the applicant and potential employer to get to know each other. Again, more specific matching criteria can help but this is another good example of first impressions, from both sides.
The ‘best’ and most memorable interview I have attended (back in the 80’s) was after hours at a pub over a pint with just the CIO. Obviously, wouldn’t happen these days and I should point out the job was for a brewery, so to some extent it was a work environment ?. However, I’m sure Mike the CIO found out more about me and I about him in that 30 minutes than at a round table back in the IT dept (which happened later).
But even back then, Mike had a very specific list of ‘non-generic’ skills to discuss AND much more importantly, questioning whether I actually had the applied experience of them?
Now consider the following.
Unfortunately, the following wasn’t available at time of the above interview, but I’d like you to consider these two definitions:
- “Your ability to work collaboratively will ensure our senior managers and their people are supported, yet accountable for living our values daily, driving culture at every opportunity and demonstrating high performance in everything they do. A passionate people leader, with strong stakeholder management. In addition to proven experience in a similar HR and executive leadership role you will demonstrate a strong operational skill-set with a true passion for building Strategy and thrive in a fast-paced, high-performing work environment.”
- “Manages individuals and groups. Allocates responsibilities and/or packages of work, including supervisory responsibilities. Delegates responsibilities as appropriate. Sets performance targets, and monitors progress against agreed quality and performance criteria. Provides effective feedback, throughout the performance management cycle, to ensure optimum performance. Proactively works to ensure effective working relationships within the team and with those whom the team interacts with. Provides support and guidance as required, in line with individuals’ abilities. Advises individuals on career paths and encourages pro-active development of skills and capabilities and provides mentoring to support professional development. Provides input in to formal processes such as compensation negotiations and disciplinary procedures.”
I, for one, would understand much better what is expected of me reading the second definition. And, the really cool thing is, this definition has already been written and made available to the industry as a common language (SFIA), in this case for a performance management skill.
The workplace experience.
The phases above all form part of the employees’ experience and their first impressions. Of course, once in the workplace the environment then becomes a major factor (assuming you work from an office). I recently visited a university ICT department and was immediately ‘uplifted’ just because the aesthetics of workplace were stunning. Starting with a carved wooden archway that marked the threshold into the workplace. Just as importantly, this organisation had also started the investment in ‘real’ skills management. They were giving the workforce visibility and empowerment over their career paths. They are in fact, improving the employee experience. The image to the left is our Employee Experience dashboard showing overall EX as real-time metrics!
So, whilst it’s great to have a good coffee machine, a bowl of fruit and maybe an office game or two (ping pong and pool seem to be current favourites) it is also critical to ‘see’ the future from a career perspective.
If I know what my skill gaps are, then how much better if I could:
- Attend training courses knowing that the knowledge I acquire will immediately be applicable in my day-to-day work.
- Be able to continually track my skill profile in relation to what is expected of me and to plan for the next phase, rather than the annual appraisal approach
- As well as have ALL my relevant (and possibly latent) skills visible and available for matching
Making my employment much more engaging, improving retention, and therefore the employee experience.
More than games, fruit, free coffee and cool lighting.
What if I told you that, from experience, when employees match their current job profile by 75%, then many will already be looking for their next challenge. Very few organisations are able to even put a number on that match and therefore, the employee search has already started (externally) before the current employer has any idea they are even looking.
And, what if their unused (latent) skills were readily visible, providing the opportunity for them to be put to good use before the employer starts looking elsewhere?
So, in conclusion, Yes, while the work environment and operating model have a huge impact on an employees’ experience, don’t forget that career empowerment and transparency (see this blog) are just as important, if not more so.
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