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Employee Engagement #2: Be Relevant

Modern companies are creating increasingly well-crafted experiences for their customers and, through their external focus, excel at engaging their users through their products and services. Often, though, they tend to forget their other most important user group: their own employees. Creating amazing user experiences for the people making their product or delivering their services allows companies to really stand out in this employee driven market. Employees are often an overlooked asset. Having invested a lot of time and money to educate them, they have an abundance of knowledge and experience that is difficult to reproduce. To get the same value in a new employee - if you can even find them -  takes thousands of dollars and years of investment. Retaining these heroes is key. It is time to start looking in. 

In this three-part blog series, we want to explore what designing for employee experience really means and how our expertise and experience in the best UX can impact workplaces all around the world. In this second blog, we will tell you more about how to be relevant. By reading the first blog, you get to learn more about being there and in the third blog we will tell you more about being quick.

be relevant

What if we customize employee experiences to fit different needs?

In our previous blog we discussed how listening and understanding the needs, pains & gains of your employees will lead to insights that will allow you to improve the employee experience. We also talked about how empowering teams can create a sense of family, where people are actively having a conversation with each other and making their daily experience better in a more intimate context. 

All employees.. ehm... people are looking for purpose; there is no question about that. They all want a very good reason to go to that office every morning of the week and not stay in bed and read a book with a large cup of coffee. It can be because of the work that they do, the environment that they work in or something else altogether. There needs to be a reason. You are that reason. Whether or not you are in a management position or a direct colleague, creating an awesome workplace experience is a joint effort that everybody should be a part of. Let’s explore how to make this happen. 

The next step to really creating customer-grade employee experiences is being relevant. After listening, now it is time to actually do something with the insights gathered from your employees. For us, the best way to create an impressive employee experience is to approach it as you would a customer or user experience. What is needed to make your employees interact with your product/service (in this case the work environment and work itself) in the most engaging way and how can you make this experience magical? That is what we are going to find out.

There are many ways to create an engaging and sometimes even addictive environment. Looking at games, for instance, we see many mechanics that make players return with anticipation to the respective game. Sometimes, dark patterns are actively exploited to make players who are sensitive to addiction spend time and money on the game, but there are many examples where intrinsically valuable mechanics are at the core of what people love about a game. In organisations, this can be the shared vision, a great lunch or parties with colleagues. Everything that gives a feeling of happiness will make people actively search to relive this feeling. That is why they will be coming back.

There are many similarities in game mechanics to increase engagement that can also be used in employee loyalty. For this we use the game mechanics framework, to be more precise, the Octalysis complete gamification framework. The triggers in this framework are positive or negative aspects that influence the player, in this case employee. 

Gamifaction

  1. Accomplishment
    Having the feeling that you have accomplished something and are rewarded for this. This accomplishment should always be preceded by a challenge. It is something that you have worked hard for. 
  2. Meaning
    Giving a meaning to your work and the work that your company does. There is a higher goal to be a part of. 
  3. Empowerment
    Give employees an autonomy and responsibility to make decisions on their own, of course to a certain degree. It allows for a faster decision making process within the organisation and gives employees the feeling that they have influence in their own work. 
  4. Social influence
    Stop thinking about Instagram, this is about the social influence in the organisation. Mentoring of colleagues, giving and receiving feedback, but also some healthy rivalry to become as good as your colleague, who is awesome at that specific thing.
  5. Ownership
    Feeling ownership within a company, department or even a platform gives employees more engagement. If an employee feels like they owns a piece of the organisation he will go through great lengths to contribute to make it even better.
  6. Unpredictability
    What will happen next? Stay tuned! This together with curiosity are big drivers for keeping an employee engaged. This doesn’t mean that you should keep crucial information from them, you can reward people on unexpected moments with unexpected things. 
  7. Avoidance
    This is a trigger that is based on avoiding something negative. You do something to make sure that something negative doesn’t happen. 
  8. Scarcity
    I want this! Why? Because I can’t have it (yet)! Scarcity or difficulty to get something makes that you want it more. Also if only a few people can have it, you want to be the one that has it. 

The same triggers don’t work for everyone though. Some people can be activated and motivated due to an active work environment, where physical exercise is encouraged and social gatherings are in abundance. Others appreciate a slow-moving, quiet environment with enough opportunities for solitude and focus. Listening to employees is key to finding out what works for whom, but acting on it in dialogue with them will really make the difference.

With this information you are able to define what drives them and which triggers have the most (positive) effect on your employees. It’s important to note that the above mentioned triggers are meant to positively influence someone, it is not meant to manipulate someone into doing something that they do not want to do, or are not equipped to do.

At Merkle we did this for a client by creating an employee engagement ecosystem where the employee was able to join campaigns and missions that rewarded them the way that they wanted to be rewarded. It gave the company a mountain of information and opened up the possibility to evolve the employee and nurture the altruistic side as well as the egoistical side. This resulted in happier and more engaged employees. 

Want to see how we can do this for your company? We will trade you, for one parking spot and one hour of your time we will analyse your company and define the best next steps to take your employee engagement to the next level. We will do this in just one morning. 

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