It’s all about the Experience!

Here we go again. Yet another article on company culture and employee experience. Why? Because, it’s important! Really important! I don’t know about you, but for me, the experience I get, the emotions and feelings that comes with that experience is everything.

What are we talking about here? Let’s take a step back and think. Everything we do in life, the experience we get, we feel something about it. Did we like it? Or, did we not? Are we angry? Or, are we sad? From a behavioural perspective, how we channel that emotion and feeling that comes with the experience that you’re having in that moment in time, will have a direct effect on our actions.

While we all can agree that once you take away the “willingness” or “motivation” in anyone, the performance goes down, however trying to decipher the secret behind how an individual experience an organization or even a company’s brand is a complex and multi-dimensional journey.

When you “experience” an organization as an employee, there are many factors at play. Just to name a few:

  • The overall culture, and the department, team culture.
  • The people you work with
  • The physical office space, your work station, the pantry, meeting rooms and maybe even that famous office slide!
  • Technology? Did you get an old cranky laptop or that latest mac or surface pro? Is the network slow? Are there technologies that help enable collaboration?
  • The work itself, too little? Too much? Too easy? Too tough? Does it have meaning? Did you see yourself as the janitor or someone that is helping put a man on the moon?
  • Is everyone treated equal? Or are there certain groups or individuals that are more equal than others?

There are many different things that contributes to how an employee experience an organization. However, that’s not all. There are other dimensions to this. A simple example would be the employment stage in with you are experiencing the organization. Before you became an employee, as a candidate. And even, after you left the organization, and maybe considering rejoining the organization much later in life. At the different stages, you would look and interact with the organization in different ways. As a candidate, you take reference from the interviewers that you’ve met, information from public domains, such as Linkedin, Glassdoor, and social media. After leaving the organization, ex-colleagues and such.

All this contributes to your overall experience of the organization. And it does stop there. Your role at that point in time also influence the way you experience the organization. Were you also a consumer or customer? Were you impressed with the customer service while you were a customer? Did you come to know about the organization during a career fair in school while you were a student. Or were you a vendor that’s providing a service to the organization? What about family and friends? A lot of candidates and employees first experienced the organization hearing about it from family or friends. Don’t underestimate the influence these stories shared over casual dinner conversations. These are usually one of the most powerful impressions you can leave with someone who’s experiencing the organization for the very first time.

I don’t think that there is a magic bullet in solving for experience. Organizations that are committed to creating wonderful experiences all around have something in common. They pay attention to tiny details, listens with an intention to do better. We don’t have to list these organizations out, I’m sure you’ll be able to experience it for yourself as you come by these really wonderful companies.

Here’s one of my recent experience with a team of highly talented and passionate entrepreneurs from WorkbondAmir Palmén and Ryan Cohn. And I thought that they’ve done something really amazing with the platform that they’ve built which might help many organizations create a fun social experience for all their employees.

They’ve approached employee engagement by taking a simple desire in all human beings to want to connect and interact socially and building a platform enabling employees from all over the world to connect with one and other over common interests.

While we can all say, that’s not too hard to do. After all, we all have emails and instant messengers. We know how to talk to one another right? What we often overlook is that these conversations don’t often happen spontaneously in a workplace. Even if it does, it stays as watercooler talks and on the few occasions develop into full blown activities. One of my clients recently wanted to hire someone with part of the job scope to organize employee engagement activates.

What Workbond provided was a platform created with an intention for employees to gather around interest and get together to bond, lowering the barrier to organizing activities. And that’s what many organizations had been doing with the mostly HR led activities created to foster togetherness. I had the privilege to participate and experience the interaction myself, and I have to say, it was fascinating! (I was part of the San Jose Sharks channel – oh boy, it was fun!)

While the focus of a platform like Workbond is around an interest centric platform for employees to bond, and I guess that how many of us would had described it. What we may not had realized is that, with the interaction between employees across departments and regions, comes the benefit of a more tightly knitted organization, allowing an organization to form a strong identity.

An organization’s identity is a direct product of the people that forms that organization, and there is absolutely no way you can “write that identity into a policy”. By creating a social network within an organization might just serve as that large mixing bowl for the different personalities to come together and forge one unique identify.

In my short experience with team from Workbond, I have to say, that I can clearly see a unique organization culture and identity on their internal social network. It felt like being invited to their “virtual workplace online” and feeling the culture real time. If they’re hiring, this would be an organization I would love to be a part of! And that’s the power of creating an amazing experience.

Do you have a story about your experience with your organization? Or an organization that you’ve interacted with that’s left you a deep impression? Do share that via the comments below!

Eric Wong is the Managing Consultant from The Talent Shark and the CHRO forIntel Wise. His experience spans across the various human resource functions such as HR Information Systems, Business Partnering and Talent Management. Eric currently sits on the Advisory Board of the Management Development Institute of Singapore (MDIS). Connect with him on Linkedin or follow him on Twitter @ErickyWong.