In today’s information age, a great user experience and digital transformation are becoming critical to an organisation’s success and ability to remain competitive. 

In a recent study by IDC, “84 percent of respondents are already digitally transforming or planning to digitally transform their business.”

However, of that 84 percent, 12 percent report that their “organisation has completed its digital transformation” which is contradictory in itself.

Digital transformation is a continual process with iterations so that continuous feedback can be analysed at the design stage for the next iteration.

So whilst a phase may be completed, the process is ongoing and therefore every business area needs to understand how they contribute to the delivery and success of digital experiences.

HR needs to also support the enabling of a culture of agility and adaptability, as managing change should also be an ongoing process and not seen as a one-off to facilitate a change that may often be perceived as negative.

To measure how successful the user experience for a product, system or process is, typically factors such as usability, accessibility, value, and desirability amongst others are applied.

Metrics are then linked to these criteria so quantitative and qualitative data such as time spent doing an activity, engagement rates, and conversion rates can be assessed.

There are also various models such as Google’s HEART framework which support assessing user experience, but there are no universal standards in place. This makes sense as user experience metrics may need to vary as each product or system could require tailored criteria even if based around common principles.

The same applies in both customer experience (CX) and employee experience (EX) in relation to there being no formalised set of assessment criteria to analyse success.

There are common methodologies which are used but no universal standards for comparison. However, an interesting trend is the creation of CX or EX indexes by consultancies which rate where organisations fit according to the index they have created.

This allows for a consultancy to ‘benchmark’ companies that wish to use their services in terms of the criteria they have set.

This may seem contradictory, however, to the whole user-centric approach. Shouldn’t the users be assessing whether an experience is great against standards which are agreed by an independent body that can verify the data if indexes are to be used? Also, shouldn’t we be combining CX and EX if we are going to rate what great experiences look like?

If a company were to score high on CX and low on EX or vice versa, it would suggest that the great experience is unsustainable due to the inter-dependent relationship between CX and EX. Delivering a great employee experience is often linked to criteria such as meaningful, authentic, and engaging whilst being measured through metrics such as satisfaction, retention, and absence levels. However, these stem from our more traditional HR metrics and perhaps we should start challenging how relevant these are in the modern organisation.

Many employees see their employment with their current organisation as one touch-point in their whole career journey and therefore, is retention really an indicator of a great employee experience?

Perhaps viewing advocacy post-employment over retention is a better metric because if our talent is advocating working for their previous employer to their connections, it may offer more value than trying to retain talent from leaving.

With this in mind, before you can even start delivering great experiences, you need to start with the design of your organisation to allow the right environment for great experiences and understand what the criteria and metrics should be.

The organisation design should be human-centred if experiences are our focus so we can understand how critical factors impact the experiences in order to shape the organisation to deliver the desired behaviours and in turn, great experiences. Therefore, should we approach organisational design the way we design user experience in order to get the best employee and customer experiences?

The CIPD defines organisation design as “the process and the outcome of shaping an organisation structure, to align it with the purpose of the business and the context in which the organisation exists. To be effective, it requires familiarity with the external environment and the business needs, as well as an understanding of people behaviours and people processes”.

We have developed this model with Professor Karen Cham of the University of Brighton to incorporate elements from both HR and UX disciplines. Within user experience methodology, the design process is collaborative and human-centred.

Employees and customers need to be emotionally connected to the brand, purpose, and values, which is why they should be central to the human experience within an organisation. This means that they need to be embedded into an individual’s interactions with the organisation in order for them to feel engaged.

The design phase should seek input from around the business and the various stakeholders. The development phase would then look to test, gather evidence and feedback, and then modify for the next iteration.

In the digital era, the key drivers for effective organisation design are enabling structures to allow the most efficient flow of information and communication as well as processes that will create the most effective emotive responses so the desired behaviours can be realised.

The Human-Centred Org Design model is not focused on hierarchies or silo departments, but rather the critical components that will allow for innovation, growth, satisfaction, and collaboration for both the user and the organisation.

In today’s modern environment, boundaries in the workplace are not confined to the same principles from years ago due to the capability of technology and the external environment which allows and necessitates us to work differently.

The IDC report on Future Business found that culture is the number one barrier to digital transformation followed by talent retention and leadership.

If HR understands that change management is continual, leadership understands the importance of putting its people at the centre, and the business is focused on delivering great experiences rather than being targeted on revenue and profit, would the capacity for innovation and growth go beyond expectations based on current output?

You don’t have to be one of the big tech giants with large budgets or a small, agile start-up to change and adapt.

References:
2017 Stratis, A, Lykkegaard, B, van Vonno, J and Budd, N; Future Business: Unleashing Your Talent, IDC sponsored by Cornerstone OnDemand
2017 CIPD Organisation Design Factsheet, https://www.cipd.co.uk/knowledge/strategy/organisational-development/design-factsheet
2017 Cham, K.L., ‘Consumer as Producer; Value Mechanics in Digital Transformation Design, Process, Practice and Outcomes in ‘Cultural Policy, Innovation and the Creative Economy, Creative Collaborations in Arts and Humanities Research’, Editors: Shiach, Morag, Virani, Tarek (Eds.) Palgrave McMillan
The opinions and views published are my own and are not representative of my employer.

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About The Author

Head of HR at FDM Group

Currently reporting directly to the Board and responsible for the overall successful delivery of strategic and operational HR for FDM, both in the UK and internationally. Highly passionate about HR and the value it offers whilst developing an effective team to meet business needs and support our workforce of over 2000 employees.