Life Events are an often forgotten element in Employee Experience design. As we engage in the design of the Employee Journeys that are at the basis of Employee Experience, we need to identify what really are the Moment that Matters. We have already discussed this definitely pivotal step in EX mapping. We will then end up with a map of all the Moments of Truth that matter most for our organisation. If we have designed our Personas correctly, we will have the appropriate diversity and variety. However, at this stage, we need to focus and we should narrow down the number of these moments to something that is of a manageable size.
Several companies that have practised with EX implementation, have noticed however that a distinctive portion of these Moments of Truth is valued differently by the employee depending on the situation. My Goal Setting meeting is an important moment, but probably it will be worth more if it’s the first time I do it with my new manager.
There’s however another layer of complexity, which was mentioned during the recent HR Congress I attended in Nice. In the presentation of the Vodafone case by Catalina Schveninger. In framing Employee Experience correctly we need also to map and understand the events that happen in the lives of our employees, and that can affect the way they interact with the work environment.
Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.John Lennon
Thinking in terms of Life Events
The idea of reasoning in terms of Life Events is not new, and it was already introduced as a way to simplify service delivery to employees. For example, in a project I managed when I was at Deloitte, we organised the HR Portal around Employee and Organisation Life Events. For example, an employee could find all content related to Maternity in one place, independently from the process, or functional ownership. Workflows had been simplified to go across different organisational silos, exactly recognizing the fact that people don’t reason in terms of HR processes, but based on what is happening to them.
During onboarding, I can for sure flip through the HR policy book. But surely I will not concentrate on the bereavement policy until a rather sad moment hits my personal life. This is one of the possible Life Moment that can profoundly impact my perception of the organisation.
Many of these events are really emotionally loaded. Some can take months if not years to see an end (just think of a divorce), yet we often only grasp the surface of them through merely administrative process steps. Sure, again managers have an important duty of listening to their team members. But these events cannot be managed only through exceptions.
Some companies have already put these Life Events as relevant touchpoints. KennedyFitch reports for example that GE has used Life Events as one of the key areas to base Employee Experience design. In certain cases, some of these aspects might be more relevant for some categories of employees. For example in my work in Retail, I’ve identified “Economic Difficulties” as a highly emotional event for many store associates. With low hours and basic wages, these people are more subject do economic difficulties, and we had realized we did not have any process in place to support.
Designing for Life Events
Let’s think for one moment at a positive life event such as having a baby, as suggested by our cover photo. Most companies will have a Maternity Policy. Many nowadays also grant Paternity leaves. However, during this period, your employee might not just be concerned with taking time off. Broader work flexibility might be required, different communication with the manager and the team needed (how do you keep the connection for example during the maternity leave?). Different tools (if I need to work from home more often, maybe I require a mobile phone) and so on. Answers on topics I might have overlooked in the past (health insurance, other benefits etc.). It’s easy to see how these moments can become “complicated” if not streamlined correctly.
But exactly how many Life Events should we consider? The list can be seriously long. However, it doesn’t make sense to map all of these together. You need to prioritize depending on your population. For example, if your average age is 40, probably you don’t have to start from the “I Retire” event. Plus, many of these events are (luckily) rare, especially the more negative ones. These are the cases where having team members that have autonomy in how they approach different situations, is probably the best options. And then learn from each case managed.
Thinking with these aspects in mind is a key component of Human Centric Design. It does not necessarily need to be in your first POC, but it needs to be on your radar. Very often is at these moments that the Emotional Energy of the worker is at its highest (or lowest) level, thus correctly answering their needs in line with expectations, will have proportionally higher results. Reasoning in terms of Life Events and Employee Experience is therefore crucial for you EX maturity.
What about your companies? Are you already thinking in terms of Life Events?