What if the employer-employee dialogue became a continuous process? Would it allow companies to both reap opportunities and mitigate risks faster and more efficiently? Would it tighten the bond, improve happiness and enhance performance? As a matter of fact it does all of that. Can any company start with it? Yes, says Yannick Valles of Terumo Europe: “Start small, think big”.
How EX deepens relations between employers and employees, to the benefit of both.
When the pandemic hit the world, a lot of things changed very quickly. At Terumo Europe, a medical device company producing a variety of products such as needles and syringes, stents, catheters and perfusion systems – part of a critical sector – factory workers kept production going. Sales reps couldn’t access hospitals anymore, so they had to find a remote rhythm. Office staff started working from home overnight.
It also resulted in a long hard look at the yearly HR survey about to be sent out. Did it still make sense in this unprecedented context? Would it tell management what it really wanted to know, or allow employees to speak their mind right there and then?
The employee lifecycle
Out went the one-off survey and in came a more frequent, tailormade polling tool from Qualtrics and SAP. The start of a more continuous take on employer engagement. But also the seed for Terumo Europe’s EMEA-wide People Experience Team, headed by Yannick Valles: “Even before the pandemic hit, we started thinking about how digitisation could help us gain a deeper understanding of the way our people look at things. Not just today, but from the day they apply until the day they retire, so to speak.”
Inge Van Gils, Sales Manager at Qualtrics, explains how Employee Experience (EX) goes beyond engagement: “EX typically includes annual and / or pulse surveys as a valuable source of information. But it doesn’t stop there: it looks at the employee lifecycle and builds in feedback or coaching moments around key moments - like onboarding, changes in personal life or a new role after a promotion. When you put that information together with data from core HR platforms such as SuccessFactors, meaningful insights emerge. This allows you to make well-founded strategic decisions. But studies also show that these key moments have a demonstrable impact on performance, business results and of course retention. So it’s extremely important to manage them and to manage them well."
Why employees are (like) customers
Léon Peeman, Senior Customer Engagement & Success Manager at SAP, speaks of ‘Belonging!’: “Happy people are more productive people and vice versa. If you feel good in your day-to-day job, it will show. This happiness can be linked to a lot of parameters such as: your colleagues, customers, the work that you do, the way leadership communicates and much more. It's as much about the now as it is about the long term. Why do companies want to optimise customer experiences? Because of the long value chains. It’s similar. Good employee experiences make for long, healthy and productive careers. This is something boards are sensitive to. Just as much as they want to know their people feel OK.”
Yannick: “Two core values of Terumo are ‘care’ and ‘respect’. And with this approach we give our managers a lever to genuinely ask our people how they are doing and what they think of certain issues. For instance, we want to foster debate around diversity and inclusion. I can pull data from SAP SuccessFactors to chart how we are doing on certain parameters, but I can’t get inside the head of employees. Using this technology, we can now create a trajectory using frequent check-ins. And then it’s up to our managers to design actions. And they are eager to use it. They also ask us to design surveys for their teams about learning habits and ambitions, which growth opportunities they wish for, and so on.”
Inge: “Diversity and inclusion is a very good example of why employee engagement also matters for recruitment. Making progress on diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) is emerging as a key differentiator, reports show. But these reports also show a significant gap between how sufficient action on DEIB is perceived by senior leaders and by their employees.”
Start small, think big
There’s this famous quote about the law: justice must not only be done, it must also be seen to be done. It’s a bit like that, adds Léon: “Experience management in itself is not an action. It’s a continuous process, it should lead to decisive and swift action based on relevant information, captured in the moment, when it matters. But the feedback is just as important. As it’s a continuous process you need to close the loop. Talk about the action taken in a newsletter, referring to it in public articles or in your next town hall meeting. That’s how you show that you mean business. You have to weave it into the corporate culture and make it everyone’s responsibility.”
Yannick: “We see how the feedback-and-action loop already leads to more openness and better team meetings. But we’re just getting started. We would like to be even more proactive, do even more data analysis to get fact-based info to our team leaders. But we’re doing it one step at a time. That’s the best way for an enterprise with the scale and structure of Terumo Europe. Start small, think big.”
Léon: “AI and machine learning are indeed interesting features. You can analyse answers to open questions automatically surfaced to you by the AI capabilities, and discover hidden correlations from underlying data in for instance SAP SuccessFactors. You can think of it as landing an aeroplane. With each deeper level, you get a more detailed view of the surface, allowing you to make ever more relevant observations and enabling you to make more impactful decisions.”
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