The Human Chain – Delivering The Experience

The Human Chain – Delivering The Experience

If we really have passed Peak Stuff , it is now incumbent on producers of product and service to offer more.

Offering more, meeting very human desires for a more fulfilling experience, means considering the people whose job it is to deliver it.  Advertising has long sold us the potential of products to bring us joy.  Now we’re demanding it.

The central character of Fight Club, Tyler Durden, perhaps called it right – expressing his frustration and a need for an ‘experience’ to make him feel alive:

“Advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we buy shit we don’t need”

If what we really crave is a great experience, is it going to be delivered by a workforce doing a job that they hate?

Employee engagement has always been an important consideration, but we’re seeing some significant shifts in employers investing in the workplace experience.   This derives value in two areas:

  1. Employees having a positive workplace experience are more likely to be productive and more likely to stay longer
  2. Employees who are positively engaged with the product and service they are working with are more likely to deliver a positive experience for the customer who consumes it

In the past many businesses have been constrained by a narrow definition of productivity per square metre.  Every available space being utilised to produce ‘work’.

Now we are seeing businesses giving over dedicated spaces for employees to work differently.  Open plan, flexible places for employees to work creatively.  Ad-hoc meeting spaces to encourage collaboration.

We are even seeing space and materials given over to employee well-being.  Increasingly businesses are creating workplaces and work environments that fit non-traditional office hours and habits.   On-site gyms are more prevalent – as are ‘chill’ or lounge areas with sofas and TVs.  Wellbeing rooms and in some cases Isolation Pods.

In the same way as consumers are craving ‘experiences’, so too are employees.  As the millennial generation comes of age (and increasingly generation Z – who behave like millennials only more so!) employees see everything that happens at work as an integrated experience.

The new generations are very interested in what impacts their life in and outside work – including overall physical, emotional, professional and financial well-being.   This leads to employees demanding a holistic, end-to-end experience from their employers – and this drives a radical change of emphasis.   Where employees are demanding meaningful work they also have a conscience – they want to know that they are making a positive impact.

Many Business School lectures have emphasised the simplistic formula where Employee Satisfaction drives Customer Satisfaction – which in turn drives retention, cost-to-serve and profit.

One such model is the Service-Profit Chain, a theory and business model evolved by a group of Harvard University researchers in the 1990s.  The service-profit chain establishes relationships between profitability, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction, loyalty, and productivity – illustrated below:

The Service Profit Chain (reproduced from https://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/service-profit-chain-works-care-01639838)

Internal Services Quality creates some interesting considerations for procurement and sourcing:

  • Workplace design – ensuring that space and layout is conducive to engagement
  • Employee well-being – beyond people as a fixed resource, putting in place support measures to maintain physical and mental well-being
  • Tools for the job – considering the user experience of machines and software and their impact on not just an employees ability to do the job, but their engagement with the job

In a post ‘Peak Stuff’ economy where experience is the differentiator, the winners will need to deliver an inside out model.