People Experience: What HR Needs to Know

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People Experience: What HR Needs to Know

Providing a good people experience to your workforce enables your organization to perform and serve your customers better. What exactly is people experience, how does it differ from employee experience, and how can you improve people experience at your organization? Let’s dig in.

What is people experience?
Why is a good people experience important?
How to improve people experience at your organization

What is people experience?

Business practices and who carries them out are persistently evolving. Organizations that want to compete for and retain talent must adopt a new mindset about who makes up their staff and how they should be treated.

People experience is an expansion of employee experience to accommodate a complex workforce, also taking into consideration how people’s work circumstances may impact life outside of their jobs. It’s a more holistic approach to affecting how people feel about working at your organization.

People Experience

Access to an abundance of work opportunities online has completely changed the employment marketplace. Individuals have more job mobility and power over their careers than ever before. They also seek deeper meaning from their jobs beyond simply being good at their responsibilities. They view their work-life from a consumer’s perspective and will inevitably rate their experience the same way they would review a restaurant or “like” a social media post. 

Additionally, there are more categories of individuals who now serve organizations. Workplaces are no longer comprised of just traditional full-time and part-time employees but also gig workers, independent contractors, leased employees, etc. People experience accounts for all of these, as well as candidates who will not become your employees and staff who have left the organization.

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The schema below illustrates how complex workforce can get nowadays and in the near future:

Employee Classification

Companies like Google, Siemens, and Gitlab have People Experience teams. Google refers to its HR function as the People Operations team. This department’s mantra is “find them, grow them, keep them.” 

A people experience approach treats workers like people, not just employees. This means striving for more human-centric interactions that focus on what matters most to individuals, providing a positive work experience for everyone. 

Why is a good people experience important?

People have increasingly high expectations for what they want out of work and expect it to mirror the way they live their personal lives. In addition to enjoying the tasks of a job, they value the meaningful, interpersonal aspects. Individuals also want to feel appreciated by their employer and have a sense of belonging and purpose within the company. 

Organizations that show consideration for their people and offer an inclusive work environment that appeals to all types of workers will elevate progress and reap the rewards of a satisfied workforce. 

Improving employee engagement by developing a great people experience can offer valuable payoffs, such as:

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  • Attracting and retaining the best talent.
  • Experiencing more innovation and productivity.
  • Delivering better customer service for higher customer satisfaction.
  • Ending up with a better bottom line.

How to improve people experience at your organization

You want your workers to feel like they’re being understood as humans and not just employees. When they sense this type of acceptance, they will be willing to make a more meaningful contribution to the organization.

Here are seven suggestions for bettering your organization’s people experience:

1. Get leadership involved

While the HR/People (Experience) team plays a big role in designing and shaping the people experience or even owns it, it is essentially the responsibility of the wider organization. 

Senior managers have to approve and commit to the strategy and resources for advancing your people experience. They, along with other leaders, also have tremendous influence over the workforce. Business leaders can set any initiative up for success by expressing their confidence and support for it.

Here are a few ideas for encouraging leadership buy-in for people experience:

  • Identify some specific issues your business faces and how these efforts will make a difference. 
  • Explain the tangible benefits for the organization, as well as what workers will gain.
  • Seek their input, listen to their ideas, and address their concerns.

2. Consider your candidates and alumni

In the current labor market, candidates have plenty of choices for where to work. Companies have to present an employee value proposition with an experience that distinguishes them from other employers to attract top talent.

Employees, leased employees, freelancers, and contract or gig workers all want to be engaged with something meaningful they can grow with. This means you have to offer the right kind of setting and atmosphere in addition to a good salary and benefits.

How someone perceives your organization begins with their first impression as a job seeker, and their perception follows them after they’ve left. Their insights make up your overall people experience. Don’t overlook candidates and alumni when mapping your “employee journey“. They can become an important part of your organization’s reputation and talent pool. 

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3. Focus on the onboarding experience

Although candidates get their first impression of your organization during the hiring process, onboarding influences their perception even more. This applies to regular employees as well as other people who work for you. A solid onboarding experience helps you set your talent up for a commitment to the role and long-term success.

The onboarding process begins right when you make an employment offer and extends until the person is fully functioning in their role. This period is when the worker settles in and decides whether they’ve made the right decision or are already plotting a search for their next job. 

Tailoring your onboarding methods to the specific audiences of your different categories of workers will help everyone feel like a part of the organization and help them be productive. 

Using various techniques will help individuals learn what they need to know to perform successfully in their new position. These may include the following: 

  • Explanation of your company mission, organizational culture and processes and the important role they will play in it.
  • A personalized message from or interaction with senior management. 
  • Video of what a typical day in the role will look like.
  • Workplace communication guidelines.
  • A variety of online training videos, including an overview of the policies and procedures applicable to their position.
  • Methods for providing their feedback about onboarding or other issues.

4. Customize experiences

Keeping a diverse talent mix satisfied requires employers to meet varied demands within the workplace. The consumer mentality of having “what we want, when we want it” has crept into work life. Personalization is the key to creating an appealing and relevant environment for everyone to do their best work.

You shouldn’t make assumptions or generalizations about what employees want or what motivates them. Ask them not only about what kinds of tools and environment they need to succeed but also what they value from their work. Then really listen to what they have to say and find ways to make it happen.

An organization’s people experience cannot be separated from workers’ day-to-day responsibilities. How they do their work is central to how they feel about the company. A convenient workspace and the right tools make people’s jobs easier, contributing to their overall satisfaction with their employer. 

You’ll need to take into account that various types of workers will have different needs that you need to accommodate. For example, your deskless workers need a distinct kind of flexibility and technology from what your office employees require. Deskless workers may desire flexible self-scheduling and mobile-friendly, handheld devices. Meanwhile, your office employees are probably looking for remote work options and a home office setup with a second screen.

5. Utilize technology

Is your organization meeting the technological needs of your workforce? You need to implement and use various kinds of technology to create seamless digital experiences for all your workers. Again, focus on the needs of different parts of your workforce. Your gig workers might need a reliable system to log their hours, while your full-time employees would benefit from a user-friendly benefits management platform.

Technology can also improve communication and collaboration to provide a better experience, even if your people are distributed. Video conferencing provides the face-to-face interaction people need to feel a greater connection with each other. Also, enhancing real-time feedback opportunities with tools that allow people to share ideas and opinions, with or without anonymity, leads to more meaningful, two-way discussions and employees feeling heard. 

Be sure you take your whole workforce into account when building your HR tech stack. In addition to your active workforce, don’t forget about potential new hires and your ex-workforce. For instance, you can implement a corporate alumni platform to engage your former employees.

6. Promote your organizational values

Make organizational values a part of your onboarding process and readily available for access for your employees and other workers. However, they must be more than just statements on company materials. Bring them to life. Company values that are actively modeled help everyone understand how they translate to behaviors. Then they can envision how to embody the values themselves.

Senior management should lead by example. When leaders express how organizational values have influenced business decisions, your workforce can see that the values are not just words but tied directly to company activities.

Let’s say you’re an e-commerce business and innovation is one of your company values. Submitting an idea to rehaul your checkout flow to increase conversions and improve customer experience to your idea board would be an example of how the value translates into a concrete behavior.

Don’t let the desired behaviors you are promoting go unnoticed. Take time to gather examples of people demonstrating the values and reward them. This will encourage others who are already living out the principles and motivate others to follow suit.

7. Collect and analyze data

The right data can give you valuable insight to improve your organization’s people experience. Regularly gathering feedback will measure the current sentiment of your workforce and help you predict future needs and motivations. 

When gathering feedback, don’t only ask your full-time team members but also other types of workers about how they experience working at your organization. Also, a candidate experience survey will help you gauge your candidates’ views.

Instead of trying to collect comprehensive data on a wide range of areas, use pulse and topic-specific surveys to assess worker needs and attitudes. Analyze the survey results per group (e.g., demographic, by department) and create targeted strategies for how to address issues for each group.

That way, you can come up with concrete plans on what you can do better in your people strategy and how to shape your people experience going forward.

Final remarks

How people truly feel about their jobs and work environment has never had a more significant impact on an organization’s success than it does today. Now is the time for HR to be more deliberate about tapping into everyone’s outlook on the company. 

Looking at your workforce holistically and recognizing the different needs the people within and close to your organization have will help you ensure that you’re empowering everyone to be their best selves at work.

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