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Ogilvy UK: Why employee experience matters

Organisations should apply the same level of insight and expertise to cater to their own people as they do to optimising the customer experience, says Helen Matthews, chief people officer at Ogilvy UK.

Helen Matthews, chief people officer, Ogilvy UK
Helen Matthews, chief people officer, Ogilvy UK

It may be stating the obvious to say that employers should heed what employees want. Your organisation may boast a comprehensive bells-and-whistles benefits package, or free snacks and a beer fridge - all well intentioned, but are they truly enriching the employee experience?

The voice of the customer

As an industry, we invest in getting to understand our client’s audiences so we can develop innovative, impactful creative ideas that cut through the noise. But do we truly apply this to our own employees?

We’re facing greater competition for the best talent than ever as they demand more from their career paths and seek opportunities for new experiences. We have a fight for talent as new kids on the block enter our playground. We don’t want to share our ball, thanks - let alone lose our talent to them. Repent at leisure if the end to end experience is just too difficult. Your talent will vote with their feet.

We face our own challenges here, just as many other organisations do. Evolving systems and processes are hard work. Working with our people to figure out how we can make a difference, and finding people processes and systems which are intuitive and easy to navigate, is an important part of the jigsaw to make it easy for staff to do a brilliant job. Nobody enters their career in HR with a hunger for the norm. Great HR departments are challenging themselves daily in how to add value, demonstrate commercial acumen, and how to make the employee experience great.

Employee experience and customer experience should be inextricably linked. Companies leading in customer experience have 60% more engaged employees, and companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competitors by 147% overall. With that kind of potential, we should all be clamouring to make our workplaces and the overall experience, from the moment they engage with us to their last day – elegant, creative, and rewarding for our employees.

Businesses can do better than bunting in the breakout area

All too often, leadership teams make sweeping assumptions about what their people want. That’s where the mistakes happen. At Ogilvy UK, we’ve joined up with some of our experience design experts to actually begin to understand what our employees’ needs and wants are. While you can get a sense of overall sentiment from surveys, and conversations in pockets of a business, harnessing the expertise and brainpower of people who are immersed in customer experience was a no-brainer for us.

Through focus groups, one-to-one sessions, and open spaces, we can widen perspectives on what determines an enriching employee journey, and co-create our best employee experience with the people it affects. It unlocks the potential to be able to design and consider a wider range of thoughts and considerations than ever before.

With this research, we are currently developing employee personas, enabling us to identify patterns and the moments that truly matter to our people and their different needs from Ogilvy. We need to stop with the stereotypes.

Put people at the heart of it all

Investing in the employee experience in a meaningful way can allow us to authentically connect with what people want and need. With us spending such a significant portion of our lives at work, it’s important to cater to all – whether it be new parents returning to work, talent starting in the industry, or those at a career crossroads.

Until companies are willing to do real ground work to understand their employees with the same depth as they aspire to understand external users or customers, you can’t unlock a productive and inclusive employee experience. After all, it’s well recognised that there are key components to building meaningful experiences at work – culture, environment and tech.

Get your insights, dig into your data, and you can find the right path to navigate all three. We do it for our clients; why on earth not apply that expertise to our own people experience?

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