Person of the Year: Employees

Every year, in either the 4th quarter or the 1st quarter, we all get the prognosis of the crystal ball view from the “futurist” as to what either the industry, profession etc.

Even Time Magazine does the Person of the Year to both good choice or horrible choice.

The year or decade of the transition

However I came across this gem the other day in an article titled “2019: The Year of the Customer”:

By now, it’s clear that customer experience is the battleground for brands to take victory in their respective markets. As we enter 2019, this philosophy is truer than ever, and marketing professionals are beginning to recognize the impact of customer experience on brand loyalty and the overall success of an organization. In fact, a recent Gartner study found that 81% of marketers expect customer experience to be the single greatest factor determining their brand’s market competition by 2020.

“In order to remain competitive in today’s world of increasingly personalized experiences, marketers first need to recognize where they fall short when it comes to delivering the best customer experiences, and then put in place the necessary steps required to adequately shift their focus back to the customer.”

In the driver’s seat

Now as a little exercise, change “customer experience” to “employee experience.” Replace “marketers” with “organizations” and you will see that Time’s Person of the Year (or decade) would be the employee.

The pendulum has swung and the employee is in the driver’s seat and will be behind the wheel of success or failure from this point forward. Some companies are getting on board with the new driver. Others are headed for the wall with the same drivers, tone deaf in this new era.

Strategy without people

I marvel as I read business articles that speak of strategy, customer experience, data analytics and all the parts of the organizational puzzle. Far and few between do I see articles about getting the employee experience in order first. It is like they are striving to build the ultimate skyscraper without thought to the foundation or anchor of this big project. If the foundation is not strong, at some point the building will fall in on itself.

When you consider engagement scores and you look at leadership development I think there is a connection here. Engagement , for the most part, is built from the employee experience and that experience is tied to the leadership of the organization from the C-suite down. Another connecting point is that one of the main reasons employees leave an organization is because of bad managers. These points have to be aligned in order to create this cocoon or greenhouse effect

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The new dynamic: Employee experience

Until we face up to the new dynamics inside our organizations, we will continue to tread water and wonder why.

We require a laser focus on the employee experience of the same level of intensity now paid to the customer experience. Get the employee experience in snyc and that will cascade down to your customer.

It is said that now everything within the organization must be filtered through the organization’s strategy. However, the vast majority of the employee base does not have a clue as to where the organization is headed or how their role is intertwined within that pursuit.

So my advice is: Spend time trying to understand the employee experience; your company culture. Get that understanding, connect to your employees and get the employee experience on the agenda.

Remember make the employee experience the guiding force within your organization and the strategy will fall in place. It really is not complicated.

Ron Thomas is Managing Director, Strategy Focused Group DWC LLC, based in Dubai. He is also a senior faculty member and representative of the Human Capital Institute covering the MENA/Asia Pacific region.

He was formerly CEO of Great Place to Work-Gulf and former CHRO based in Riyadh. He holds certifications from the Human Capital Institute as Global Human Capital Strategist, Master Human Capital Strategist, and Strategic Workforce Planner.

He's been cited by CIPD as one of the top 5 HR Thinkers in the Middle East. He received the Outstanding Leadership Award for Global HR Excellence at the World Human Resources Development Congress in Mumbai, and was named as one of the 50 Most Talented Global HR Leaders in Asia

Ron's prior roles included senior HR positions with Xerox HR services, IBM, and Martha Stewart Living.

Board memberships include the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, McKinsey Quarterly's Executive Online Panel, and HCI's Expert Advisory Council on Talent Management Strategy.

His work has been featured in the Wall Street Journal, Inc. Magazine, Workforce Management and numerous international HR magazines covering Africa, India and the Middle East.

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