Moments that Matter: A New Approach to Employee Experience Design That’s Changing Everything

Posted in Best Practice Research Thoughts & Culture

The working world is waking up to an important truth. Employees aren't so different to customers. 

A fantastic customer experience fuels loyalty and increases engagement, which drives sales and retention, increasing customer lifetime value. All of which builds your brand, making future acquisitions easier too.

In parallel, a fantastic employee experience also fuels loyalty and increases employee engagement, which drives retention and increases productivity.

Which circles back to driving sales, because unhappy employees rarely create fantastic customer experiences. And again, builds your employer brand, making future recruitment easier too.

The point is, designing customer experiences and employee experiences follow the same principles. And that brings us to the idea of moments.


Moments of Truth; Moments that Matter

Customer and employee experiences aren't one cohesive narrative – they're made up of a series of discrete moments.

Like how you might talk about 'travelling to New York' as shorthand for driving to the airport, walking from the car, a bus transfer, flying, then a train downtown, then a taxi to your hotel.

And what you really remember, when you talk about 'a nightmare journey' was the final traffic jam when you were tired and hungry; not the previous several hours when everything was fine.

(That's because our memory's selective, which is how we can all function without our brain exploding!).

In customer experience design, we call these moments of truth. The distinct instances throughout the customer lifecycle where customers form an impression of your brand. Positive or negative.

These moments can be exceptionally powerful. And hard to overcome.

One bad moment can taint a customer's entire outlook on a brand, but one great moment can do the opposite.

Like, Anne orders a dress online but the brand's unusually busy and it is several days late. That could be a profoundly negative moment of truth – maybe she was planning to wear the dress to her office party and instead went feeling uncomfortable and lacking confidence because she had nothing to wear.

But what if the brand email her as soon as they know they're experiencing delays, to say they've automatically refunded 10% back into her account as a sincere apology.

Sure, she still doesn't have the dress – but delays happen. The important thing is, she feels respected and empathised with. And because empathy is one of the five major ingredients for a successful apology, that's a positive moment of truth. (This actually happened – the brand was fashion retailer AllSaints 👏👏).

The key idea is, experiences are actually a series of moments.

The same's true in employee experiences – but instead of moments of truth, we call them moments that matter.


Start with the Moments that Matter Most

Only 16% of HR teams are currently experimenting with a 'moments that matter' approach, Gartner say, although 56% are interested. That means there is huge opportunity to differentiate and boost your employer brand if you take action now.

But knowing where to start can feel overwhelming.

The end game is a completely consistent, seamless employee experience from pre-hire to retire, where every interaction at every touchpoint is on-brand (or on-employer-brand).

The HR function will leverage employee data and smart tech to understand and react to employee needs on a by-employee basis, in real-time, at scale. (In marketing, there's the personalization conversation that's making waves right now).

But look too far ahead and the journey seems so overwhelming you stall.

Instead, take an incremental approach, starting with the moments that matter most.

That way, you maximize the engagement bang you get for your time/money/effort buck. And have a disproportionate impact on the employee experience, faster.

So, what are the moments that matter most?


Great Onboarding has a Disproportionate Impact

There's pretty much global consensus at this point: the first few months of an employees' tenure is make-or-break for their long-term impact on your business. (Just check out the stats.)

Create magical moments during those first few months, and you typically get more engaged people who are more productive for longer. People contribute more to your culture, which increases morale, which increases engagement and productivity across your team, which improves financial performance.

It's a positive snowball effect.

Create miserable moments and you risk the opposite. People who abandon ship early, sinking their recruitment costs and forcing you back to the drawing board. Or worse, people who stay. But they're unproductive, disengaged and have a negative impact on morale, engagement and team productivity.

That's why the cost of a single bad hire can be so eye-wateringly high.

The upshot is, onboarding is packed full of moments that matter – not only to the employee but to the business too.

And the exciting news is, only 12% of employees reckon their business does a great job with onboarding. Which means you've got loads of space to make a positive difference if you take action.


Create Empathetic Onboarding Moments

Empathy is the key. The golden question you should be asking to guide every people-decision is this:

How does this moment make this person feel?

And if the answer doesn't align with your overarching employer brand proposition, something needs to give.

Say one of your major values is inclusivity. But in Gem's first week, her team leave for an external client meeting so she's left working solo. Maybe even sitting solo, depending on your office layout. And then when they come back, they're all happily chatting and working together on post-meeting action points.

Their behaviour is not intended as exclusionary. It was a pre-arranged meeting and they didn't want to plunge Gem into the deep end. But Gem probably feels excluded, isolated and forgotten about.

Imagine instead that her team briefed and debriefed her on the meeting, email-intro'd her to the client, gave her a clear project for while they were out, then got her involved in the post-meeting deliverables as a team.

That's a moment that matters a whole lot for Gem. And in those early days, it's a moment that plays a momentous role in forming her long-term opinion of your company.


Designing Onboarding Moments that Matter

Start by bringing your HR team together to brainstorm the new hire journey, from contract onwards.

Grab a marker and a flip chart and map the journey moment-by-moment. Then flesh out the details with the golden question – how does this moment make new hires feel?

Read more: How to build your onboarding program in one afternoon.

Create a story for each new hire persona, to get everyone's empathy cylinders firing.

  • What concerns might Developer Dani have compared to Maternity Cover Mandi?
  • How's Returnee Richard feeling after his long-term absence?
  • How could you make LGBTQ Larry's life easier?

When you dig in, you'll notice there are way more moments that matter than you might've originally thought. And way more people involved than just HR – like IT, hiring managers, team leaders and mentors.

Creating a great onboarding experience means empathetically designing moments that matter – then executing them successfully, by bringing together all the moving parts consistently.

(That's where Enboarder comes in, making it super simple to design then automate personalized new hire journeys. Check it out!)

What's great is, your approach naturally grows in maturity without much effort from your side, as you gather more data and improve as you go.

If you're using Enboarder, for example, the platform ingests data constantly behind the scenes, then feeds those learnings forward to suggest improvements.

So you can see which precise moments matter most for specific employees, and react in real-time. And start to intelligently pre-empt which moments will matter for future new hires. (Learn more.)


Turn Moments That Matter into a Brilliant Cohesive Experience

A 'moments that matter' approach recognizes the fundamental truth: employees are customers. Employee experience and business revenue are inseperable; if you're not an employee-centric business, you can't be a customer-centric one.

And onboarding's a really smart place to start.

Enboarder is the world's first experience-driven onboarding platform, helping you create moments that matter for every employee, every time. Here's how it works.