Designing the customer experience is no longer optional in a highly competitive global economy. User Experience (UX) and the tools of Human Centered Design are also useful on another business front: creating a rewarding professional experience for your team in order to retain and gain talent.
The user experience must be a strategic priority for most businesses today: investing in a positive experience is a key competitive differentiator. Human beings are predisposed to react to experiences. It is this concept that has been instrumental in the rise of companies such as Amazon and Netflix and the clear-cut dominance of their competitors. Similarly, the war on attracting talent and highly skilled workers is intensified, as it is also a strategic competitive activity. More and more companies are beginning to recognise the need to focus on and improve employees’ experiences in the workplace.
At Antreem, we too have been thinking about the Employee Experience to offer our employees and the whole process: we decided to focus more on the first phase of onboarding… Because first impressions are what count!
Bringing a new employee into the company can be a critical point in the professional life cycle. A sound and consistent programme, designed to accommodate him/her in the best possible way, not only closes the gap between the selection phase and the employee experience, but acts as a catalyst for satisfaction and long term employment.
Why think about applying UX to the employee’s work experience?
Many companies take the following three factors into account, giving different priority to each of them.
One of the issues to be addressed is cost. The costs incurred in correcting an error found after the release of a product is significantly higher than the costs of correcting an error already during the design process. We might try to apply this axiom from the world of design to the experience of an employee within their company context. In practical terms, if a newly trained employee is lost because he or she was not immediately comfortable, a cost ranging from 5.8% to 213% of the employee’s salary is added to cover his or her job role. Consequently, even in this case, preventive action would have been more advantageous than subsequent correction. Obviously, the more specialised the task, the more effort is required (source “Center for American Progress”). Therefore it is clear that losses of trained staff should be avoided as much as possible. This is possible if you study the work experience of each employee, applying the principles of the UX.
Another element is the value of the brand. Creating a meaningful positive experience for a customer leads to increasing the value of the corporate brand. Similarly, it can be said that designing the employee’s experience in the company – especially the recruitment phase and the first days of work – in a way that is in line with the company’s values, helps the employee to take them on board. Some of the values that distinguish Antreem are the centrality of the person, collaboration and creativity. The working environment and onboarding experience must therefore be in line with them. The employees, who enjoy the benefits of the values themselves, will become the first brand ambassadors, proud to pass on the company’s values to their customers and to the outside world.
Lastly, it is impossible not to mention business competitiveness, already introduced in the previous paragraphs. In a global economy with increasing competition from emerging countries, a recent study by Mercer found that demand for new talent far outstrips supply in many areas of the world, especially for skills such as analytical thinking, motivational leadership and global thinking.
How to apply Human Centered Design methodologies to the employee’s work experience?
Using our design process: research + design + validation.
Our study focused in particular on the phase of entry into the company of a new employee. We went over our first day of work and those immediately before it in our memories.
In the research phase, we created the journey map of the new colleague. The macro-steps were the recruitment, joining the team, training, setting personal and project goals and objectives. Creating proto-personas allowed us to correctly categorise the different types of colleagues ready to join the company, distinguishing them not only by role or seniority, but also by the values we hold dear.
We have spent time building a rich and precise induction process, because we know that this is the best way to create a relationship with new employees right away. An effective onboarding consists of planning the welcome programme in advance, thinking about it from the new employee’s point of view. The induction process does not end on the first day, but starts at the beginning of the recruitment process and ends when the new employee is fully employed in their role.
Each step of the design process was taken care of by those who usually design experiences involving all relevant stakeholders such as HR, colleagues from administration and colleagues from design and development departments.
During the various brainstorming sessions, six key points emerged that guided us in defining the process:
- Align the message: you need to identify and clarify the impression you want to leave on new employees about your culture and working environment. In doing so, you have to make sure that your messaging is consistent and aligned with your objectives.
- Plan the first day: it means providing an environment in which the employees feel comfortable, and also responding to their need to understand their role and responsibilities.
- Support the person’s genuine strengths: new recruits should be given the opportunity to reflect on their strengths and find a way to apply them as much as possible to their work. This will give them more satisfaction and motivation.
- Focus on social relationships: onboarding should be fun and inclusive. Social connections make the experience both relevant and fun and improve loyalty.
- Establish the mentor: the role of the mentor contributes to and simplifies new recruitment: he or she becomes the reference point for new recruits on the organisation and their role.
- Gather feedback: to improve the onboarding programme we use different ways to collect feedback: online surveys, discussions with participants.
In the testing phases, the need emerged to structure the experience by defining the journeys of all the people involved, impacting on certain work processes in order to meet the needs of the new colleague.
There were new touchpoints designed that were necessary for the administrative flow, but also tangible contact points between the company and the new colleague.
Why create a welcome kit
In order to make new employees feel welcome and to establish a clear profile of what is expected during the early days, both for new employees and mentors, we chose to create something tangible to help ensure a first-class onboarding process.
Creating a welcome kit can be useful to:
- Help to be productive immediately: before we arrived at Antreem, many of us experienced a less-than-ideal first day at work: after having been introduced to everyone and been given the key to the office, you sit down at your desk, unsure of what to do next. Not receiving directions for the first day can be frustrating. The welcome kit provides the employee with useful support in order to feel welcome and familiarise with the new working tools right from the start.
- Communicate clearly and simply: we created a welcome email explaining in a clear and simple way how the internal communication channels work, in particular Skype and WApp. In addition, the mentor will always be there to help the new employee to use these tools in a functional way.
- Setting expectations: the office rules were outlined in the welcome kit, through the employee handbook, both those of the specific department and those shared by all. This includes planning the first day of work.
Antreem Welcome Kit
The introduction of these tools and methodologies applied to the onboarding experience of a new colleague has ensured that those who arrive at Antreem are immediately in contact with the rest of the team and at ease in the office. We are in favour of continuous feedback, right from the beginning. Thanks to the contribution of the newcomers, we have collected positive opinions and applied some suggestions. All this confirmed that the work had certainly paid off, not only in terms of production, but also in terms of the well-being of the new recruits. We intend to keep these good practices alive and implement them on a day-to-day basis, as we believe that onboarding is an initiative to be continued in the long term.