A blog about the future of work, workspace, and working lifestyle by Ola Sundell.


The age of employee experience

Underneath the dust and rubble caused by digitalisation, uberisation, and the startup boom, we can already see the phenomenon of employee experience take clear shapes. Surely employee happiness has always been around, but this one will turn things around and the key driver here is, perhaps rather surprisingly, productivity. To improve work productivity, we have to stop interfering with it, not try so hard to cage the people that perform it.

Ultimately, employee experience means that the work has to fit your lifestyle, not the other way around. Winning workplaces already see this, embrace it, and see their profits soar; but once this gets into the mainstream, we’ll have a lot of empty shells for corporations and institutions that didn’t know what hit them. The key metric for winning organisations is talent acquisition, so you must ask yourself whether you are cultivating a work culture around experience or just sugarcoating outdated control. If the answer to that question is the latter, be wary of the magnitude of error you’re making.

The core of employee experience is that it’s something personal and that the employee has the freedom to make work her own unique experience. No doubt this would put a lot of pressure on the leadership and management and you can’t magically introduce such profound changes from zero. Even here you have to take logical steps, test, improve, and see what works for your team. There aren’t any template solutions, as the essence of culture is that it’s genuine. However clumsy or minuscule it may be, it must be created by you.

It is easy to be mistaken here, but the most important principle of employee experience is workflow. As a company you should be focused and do everything in your power to ensure that your employees can focus, too. Employee experience and workflow have a lot to do with workspace as well. A lot of criticism is given to the open office strategy and perhaps for a good reason, but going back to the cages is not an option. The good thing about coworking is that even though a lot of it is in open space, coworking spaces are not social clubs like ordinary workplaces. With coworking you get the dynamic feel of people around you in an open space without the constant interruptions of colleagues and meetings – a bit like a café but in a professional office environment.

Start building your employee experience vision and make productivity part of it. You’d be surprised, but people crave to be productive as a lot of the unhappiness with work is actually about how little people get done. Employee experience is an opportunity to take a leap of productivity and is not about making work fun and entertaining. Anybody who thinks so will most likely not fit in a class A team and deserves to be moving towards the exit hall. From a business point of view, it’s ok to start selfishly and link employee experience to money. Employee experience has to give value back to the employer, as a clear give-and-take on both sides is essential. Empower your people by choosing an employee experience ambassador whose job is to strike a balance.

In the end, it’s the small things that matter, not trying to turn work into a spectacle or a circus. Part of employee experience is the workspace experience (more on that in the next blog post). A tiny hint of it is hidden in the name of the blog series itself. 😉


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