The Rise of Colleague Experience
Luke McKinney and Ruth Watson, two of our Senior Service Designers presented at a BIMA Breakfast Briefing in Edinburgh on the rising new discipline within service design, ‘Colleague Experience’. We’ve shared the presentation slides from the session.
The colleague experience is an evolution of customer experience and a key service Nile is practicing for our clients.
Requests to deliver colleague centric design continues to grow in Nile’s client base. It’s to think customer experience and colleague experience is just plug and play but we’ve found differences in the two disciplines.
Companies putting colleagues at the heart of their values is Virgin Media & Air BnB, as example.
Here’s seven tips, tricks or things to be aware of that we’d like to share with you on colleague experience.
Apply the same approach when designing for colleagues as customers. This means using insight and co-design to get traction with new workplace initiatives and concepts. It’s easy to assume the same approaches but this is not always the case…
Unlike designing for customers, it’s not about pleasing everyone like Marmite or mullets. As a company, you want to be discerning about the people you hire, looking for the best fit for the company culture the right attitudes and values.
The experiences you design for colleagues are as much about turning the wrong people away, as attracting the right people.
Part of this is the shift from HR team as administrative to functionaries. Internal brand and external brand are not always the same thing. It’s important for there to be consistency between the brand and every day experiences at work. Not transactions, colleagues are embedded.
Bottom-up means figuring out customers needs in order to design the strategy. Colleague experience can’t be completely bottom-up and therefore driven by pleasing everyone in an organisation. The best use of bottom-up colleague experience is identifying people who represent the brand values and using them to drive the strategy. One point to note is designing only for your current employees risks stagnations and stops a business evolving.
Top-down strategic direction means using where the company is going and the values to take us there. Thus to create a successful colleague experience it must be a combination of bottom-up and top-down.
An unengaged candidate is not aligned to brand or values making them the wrong talent (not matter how talented) for the company. Your brand has to appeal to the candidate as much as they appeal to the company.
Tackling assumptions means being naturally collaborative and diversity focused. Different departments have vastly different needs but they all work in the office and are subject to the same environment and face the same issues.
For example, “we have 24 departments in this company, across 12 communities, we must design for a different solution for each of them.” ..?
This attitude leads to information overload; by trying to design for everyone’s tiny needs would be like trying to boil the ocean. Personas and archetypes help get around this as it helps focus teams in designing for the most important differences in people, in the most efficient and viable way.
HR teams tend to be really good with people and have the ability to understand the details of employee behaviours and pain points. When mixed with empathy and storytelling the HR department is well placed to convince others of the needs of people.
A lack of a design process in empathy will tend to give people what they want, however, it can be driven by process and perception of what is possible.
HR is rarely structured to deliver a colleague design solution on top of current duties. Often the HR department or even the company will have no internal design support. It is still early days in most sectors for trying to prove the value of investing in design internally.
The HR department won’t have remit to control other parts of the business they rely on for delivery and HR can’t design standalone services without input from other parts of the business. Often internal IT and transformation teams don’t see HR in a fluid way, there’s a business perception of HR as an admin function. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
On the upside, HR has reach across all business areas, is well connected and extremely good at engaging key people to drive excitement, traction with new ideas.
Empathy comes into play again whilst relating the colleague experience to everyone’s own experience. Generate consensus through personalisation and change behaviours with stakeholder influence. ‘The Crying Seats’.
It’s great to engage with so many stakeholders throughout a project, however, things move rapidly. The challenges are:
- Keeping people engaged in the ever-changing project story - there needs to be some consistency in the story being communicated e.g. no crossed-wires or miscommunications.
- Ensuring that the discussions with wider teams are taken on board - teams need feel part of the outputs which will, in turn, create advocates to make the implementation process and changes much smoother.
If anyone is a Sherlock fan you’ll be familiar with the concept of a mind palace. However, in this context, it’s about having a visual, physical space to create a shared understanding. As the project moves rapidly the mind palace becomes the shared brain to document, keep consistency, people engaged and includes wider teams in the project story and their placement in outputs.
Employees want something more meaningful from work than pay packages.
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