An engaged employee is someone who exhibits high performance, is a “good corporate citizen,” stays with his or her organization longer than average, and recommends it to others. It’s therefore key to a successful business; unfortunately, according to Gallup’s ongoing employee engagement research, most employees are not engaged.
Employee experience is a related term. In a Forbes article, author and consultant Denise Lee Yohn called it “the next competitive frontier” and defined it as “the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization” – the means to the end goal of employee engagement. Recent research by Jacob Morgan, author of “The Employee Experience Advantage,” found that organizations that invest in employee experience are four times as profitable as those that don’t, outperforming them in employee growth, employee pay, average revenue and average profit, and revenue and profit per employee. Morgan concluded based on his research that organizations should shift their focus “away from those fickle engagement numbers” and toward the daily experience of their employees. “This means,” he wrote, “moving away from putting people into outdated workplaces, and redesigning workplaces and practices around your employees.”
According to YouEarnedIt, the employee experience “results from the connection, meaning, impact, and appreciation employees find in their jobs.” The company, founded in 2013, last month received a strategic investment from Vista Equity Partners, along with funding from existing investors Ridge Ventures and Silverton Partners. YouEarnedIt’s platform seeks to help companies create an employee experience that positively impacts not just employee engagement but business results. Based on what co-founders Autumn Manning and Kenny Tomlin believe are the four pillars of the employee experience – connection, meaning, impact and appreciation – YouEarnedIt also enables real-time recognition and feedback as well as “actionable insights,” according to Manning.
Humu is another company attempting to redesign the employee experience. The company was founded last year by Google alums Laszlo Bock, Wayne Crosby and Jessie Wisdom based on their “belief that the application of the latest scientific studies, machine learning capabilities and basic human kindness can improve the experience of work, for everyone, everywhere,” according to the website.
Humu is still in “stealth mode” – in fact, while Bock announced Humu in 2017, no details were released until the end of last month, when Crosby announced $40 million in Series A (led by Index Ventures) and Series B (led by IVP) funding, and Bock began sharing a few details of the company’s work so far with the press – including TrainingIndustry.com.
“We spend more time working than we do anything else,” he says. “That experience should be meaningful, impactful, productive. We all have good days and bad days, but what would work be like if every day were like our best days? Imagine what we could achieve. That’s why we created Humu.”
Thus far, Humu’s pilot users have reported “positive changes within their organizations.” Although Bock won’t say yet what those changes are, he did share that Humu is heavily focused on productivity, employee happiness and employee retention as outcomes. “Our biggest differentiator,” Bock says, “is the breadth and expertise of our team, which allows us to marry behavioral psychology … with machine learning and analytics in entirely new ways.” In light of that approach, Humu plans on using its new funding to build the team (“We have pretty ambitious hiring goals”) and partnering with companies “across a diverse cross-section of industries, job types, locations, languages and more.”
“At Humu,” Bock continues, “we’re spiritually descended from [Google’s] rigor and insight, including what makes a great team, how to make better managers, and how to make people systems more fair and less biased.” His team is focused not on engagement but on happiness, believing based on their experience at Google that “happiness drives outcomes ranging from organizational commitment to intrinsic motivation, as well as more tangible things like the ability and willingness to work long hours without burnout.” Their approach is seemingly to take what sounds like a soft metric – happiness – and translate it into hard ones.
“Employees continue to leave at record rates,” says Manning. “Engagement metrics are stagnant and declining in some industries, yet companies are spending more money and time trying to solve this problem.” She says it’s important for leaders to understand and recognize the positive behaviors and successful projects inside their organizations, increase cross-departmental collaboration, and use people analytics “to measure employee engagement and improve the employee experience.” Partnering with a company like YouEarnedIt, she says, can streamline these activities and make engagement efforts more efficient. In fact, YouEarnedIt customers report a 30-percent decrease in the cost of employee rewards programs and 50-percent growth in engagement programs.
Happy, engaged employees are productive employees. To ensure your employees connect with each other and participate fully in organizational life, create an employee experience that goes beyond buzzwords to achieve actual impact. It may mean the difference between financial success and losing people to your competitors.