Employee Experience After COVID: Our 3 Biggest Learnings from EDGE APAC

Posted in Thoughts & Culture

by alicia

By now our quarterly EDGE event series is firmly on your radar, right? Here’s a recap of the best bits and hottest takes from the APAC event.

Over two value-packed, insight-jammed days, we’ve heard from HR leaders and Experience Driven Geniuses (see what we did there?) from some of the most innovative, people-first businesses around the world.

Our APAC EDGE event saw us host three incredible sessions and two thought-provoking panel discussions, discussing everything from empowering resilience to experience design best-practices to championing an EX-centric return to work.

In this recap, we’ll run you through our three core takeaways – although there’s loads more to unpack, so make sure you catch up on the full sessions.

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#1 This is the moment of truth  

“This is a moment of truth – how we treat people is absolutely critical” was a powerful nugget from Pritho Saxena, and it’s resoundingly true. We’ve been saying since the start of all this, there’ll be winners and losers once the dust settles.

The sheer scale of COVID-19 has presented a mammoth, once-in-a-lifetime challenge – but equally, an opportunity to impact the entire workforce at once.

Some businesses – like PepsiCo, with their global people-first reboarding efforts – are doing a fantastic job. They’re consistently showing up for their people, delivering compassionate, personalized, empathetic HR support even as employees’ needs vary wildly and change rapidly.

Read more: These companies are nailing their COVID HR response. Here’s how.

For others though, the pandemic has shone a spotlight on flaws in their processes and in how their organization functions. And for those businesses, the long-term cost for engagement and retention could be extortionate.

Now’s the time for businesses to accelerate change, and make the investment and commitment they should’ve made years ago. Because doing nothing could cost everything.

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#2 We're humans, dammit! 

“When we truly know who our employees are, what drives them, what makes them feel threatened, what makes them feel rewarded, this is when we truly unlock human potential.” -  Alana Bennett.

This idea cropped up time and again in various formats throughout EDGE, about the need to empower people to express their authentic selves in the workplace. Embracing people’s individuality, their multi-dimensionality; rather than asking people – or allowing people – to shut down aspects of themselves at work.

The principle of empowering authenticity is a core philosophy driving Enboarder, by the way. The whole concept of engagement onboarding is about unlocking individuality from day one, to create stronger connections, better work, increased loyalty, less emotional burnout and increased job satisfaction.

This division between work-self and home-self is a recipe for disconnection, burnout and ultimately disassociation from work. Not great drivers of engagement, productivity, collaboration, morale, and so on.

Instead, we need to harness emotional intelligence to create better employee experiences that integrate employees’ true, whole selves. Because people will always remember how you made them feel.

(And on that note… here are 40 ideas for a kick-ass remote employee wellbeing program). 

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#3 Great managers drive great experiences

You might’ve noticed how much content we’ve been writing recently helping managers ask good questions, manage remote teams, communicate better, handle hybrid teams, and so on.

Luckily, EDGE totally validated our philosophy that good employee experiences can’t happen without good managers on-board. (That’s why manager engagement is crucial to experience-driven onboarding).

However onboard HR professionals are with employee experience initiatives, the real challenge is getting managers onboard too.

Influencing managers to consistently create great moments on the frontline, where HR can’t easily reach. Educating managers about what those great moments look (and feel!) like.

Many companies still have a culture that prioritizes manager productivity – i.e. doing their day job – over people management capabilities. Businesses can’t expect to become genuinely people-first until their inherent structures prioritize people too.

Read more: The only way forward is putting people first

Dom Price’s talk shared some ideas around what that might look like – and it was a great opportunity to hear from someone outside HR, with hands-on experience in those frontline people leadership positions.

One powerful idea was around embedding true listening skills. Quoting Dan Pink, Dom talked about the importance of “argue[ing] like you’re right, but listen[ing] like you’re wrong” – teaching managers to back ideas with passion but also learning to park their ego, to foster collaboration and respect.

That’s an idea we can get behind!

Our recaps can’t do these amazing learning sessions justice, so don’t forget you can catch-up yourself in our on-demand resource center anytime. 

Our quarterly EDGE event series has been thought-provoking, inspiring and sometimes challenging – but we’re so proud to be part of this experience-centric community. And excited too, to see our colleagues, customers and friends achieving such incredible things!

Keep watching this space… the employee experience revolution is happening as we speak 👀🤫