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.

Redefining success and how we we measure performance!

One of the things that you hear me talk about quite frequently is the importance and need for work life balance. Over time, its evolved to become “work life integration” and maybe something else now.

However, I think all of us would agree that it means pretty much the same thing, our well-being. By this, I don’t just mean physical well-being, but also our mental well-being.

Our life is made of many different facets and work-life is just one of the many. There’s our family-life, social-life and personal-life. The list goes on and definitions may overlap, but when we place emphasis on one over the other, that’s where the imbalance and tension (stress) kicks in.

The word “Stress” has become one of the most commonly used word in the work place. Whether in jest or for real, the presence of work stress is becoming so common that it is now a part of life.

While some may argue that there are good stress and bad stress, let’s focus on the issue of stress and anxiety in the workplace.

The issue of burnout in employees is very real. The irony of the matter is we all know know to give our machines a rest, and that it’ll breakdown if it’s made to work nonstop. The parts wear out and is due for replacement, or that we need to send the car for servicing after clocking a certain mileage.

Somehow, we’ve all become superheroes when it comes to our own bodies. (My team would be giggling right now as there’s a picture of the Avengers in our office with our names against each of the superhero!)

Personally, I feel that the issue is partly self-inflicted. The availability of technology and the globalized nature of work probably played a part in making us all feel like superheroes. The ability to connect and stay connected feeds into this continuous flow of demand, making all of us feel the need to respond and engage immediately.

I will not argue that while this is the case for some professions, but I’ve also noticed that there are ways to mitigate this demand. Take for example, the doctors in the emergency room, they do go on shifts. Our family doctor’s got a stand-in when she goes on vacation.

I am fortunate to be working in and had worked for world-class organizations who have the same values as I in employees well-being.

Even so, i remember the conversation I had with a new hire many years ago in a company I used to work for. She joined us from an organization that in her words “doesn’t value work life balance”, and that was one of the things that attracted her in wanting to join us.

She was a superstar, her performance and work ethics was acknowledged by her manager just months into her new job. She was relentless in learning and had an insatiable appetite to take on new projects. Her capacity for work is just enormous!
After a year in her role, she’s back to working long hours with an enormous list of deliverable and feeling rather exhausted.

Some of us walk into roles with with load as high as Everest, while some of us have an internal magnet and desire to take on the world. We need to remember that it takes two hands to clap, and only we know how much is too much.

As an employee myself, I am sometime guilty of thinking I’m invincible and is capable of superhuman feats. As a father to two young children, I’ve come to appreciate how fast they’ve grown and if you’ve missed their early years, it’s not coming back. (And that’s a perfect excuse to invest in a good camera too).

I’m glad that I was able to make time for the kids and for my eldest, attend his every performance in school. Trust me, he does look forward to seeing his parents there. (He can be quite persistent in reminding me!)

As a manager, I made it a point to cultivate a “family first” culture in my team and support them in balancing their work and family life. We reinforce the message with a “no questions” asked policy within the team for family-related urgent time off.

I am half way through a very interesting book “Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder” by Arianna Huffington. Arianna raised some really strong and passionate points about how we define success and the drive to achieving this.

I agree with her that there is a need to re-look at how we measure success and performance in organizations. A lot of organizations are already on board with making sure that their employees’ well-being are taken care of, and I’m proud to be to working for one such organization.

At a more macro level, I feel that this is a journey and evolution where organizations and managers undertake by being more aware, and translating that awareness to action.

What are some of the ideas you have on improving organization and employee well being? Have you put those ideas to work? What’s stopping?

Do share some of your thoughts below!


Opinions expressed are solely my own and do not express the views or opinions of my employer.

Eric Wong is ASEAN Talent Acquisition Leader at Johnson & Johnson. 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.

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