HR Santa Clauses focus on the Employee Experience

Whether you like it or not, the Christmas season really starts the second Halloween is over.  I walked into Target a few minutes after it opened on November 1st (like at 8:01 a.m. because we were out of dog food and the dog was hungry) and it had been transformed into a Christmas shopping wonderland. Where has Thanksgiving gone?

With Christmas marketing screaming at all of us to buy a lot of stuff, most of which we don’t need, I’m beginning to think about how to make Christmas meaningful for my almost six and two and a half year old without turning them into materialistic hoarders.

In thinking about this, I’m drawn to a concept that I’ve been hearing a lot about in HR circles, and that is the importance of the employee experience. Many people in human resources and talent management are seeking to shift the conversation about employee engagement to one that is centered on employee experience.

At work, this means focusing on meaningful, positive and memorable experiences for employees. Whether it is the company picnic or how the employee logs on to his or her 401K portal to view their assets, it should be an experience. It can be seen from the experience generated when someone requests time off to how that person’s immediate supervisor interacts with them.  As these examples illustrate, the focus on experience encompasses the mundane HR relevant tasks (and let’s face it, sometimes those “experiences” are the most frustrating, which can decrease satisfaction in a hurry) to the key leadership decisions and behaviors that drive an organization to be considered a best place to work.

Whereas I’m somewhat thinking the whole focus experience instead of engagement is really just a different word to describe the same thing, I’m beginning to see through the value in a focusing on experience in order to make Christmas meaningful for my children. Maybe experience is what drives the engagement.  And focusing on those interactions or experiences is the means, which leads to the end- aka- engagement.

So, this year, as my husband and I prep to make Christmas magical without turning our kids into entitled brats, we plan to have a gift for each of them under the tree that then ties to a more important experience for them.  And a personalized experience at that.  For example, my son loves Legos, so his gift and experience is shaping up to look like a new Lego set with a “gift certificate” to Lego world in Atlanta for us to experience as a family.  My guess is he will remember the trip to Lego world far longer than he will remember the set of blocks given to him under the tree. Just like his time at Lego camp, which uses Legos to focus kids in STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math-learning at school once a week will shape him more than the actual physical toy and will help him to more fully enjoy and engage in school and learning.

And maybe focusing on experiences will help us all put some thanksgiving back in the holiday season by avoiding the time spent shopping for stuff.  And just maybe, some thanksgiving can be restored in your organization by a higher level of employee engagement through focusing on the employee experience.

What one HR process do you need to view from the lens of the experience it creates for employees?  Does the way you do it now lead to a more or less engaged staff?

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Mary Ila Ward