HRO Today talked to Zoe Peterson-Ward, chief customer officer at Workhuman, at Workhuman Live about how a positive customer experience can drive a positive employee experience. 

By Maggie Mancini

Fostering positive employee experiences is foundational to workplace success. When workers feel supported, understood, and connected to their organizations, they are more productive, engaged, and prepared to tackle challenges than those who feel disconnected from both their work and their employer. While there are plenty of strategies HR leaders can leverage to improve the employee experience, HRO Today recently sat down with Zoe Peterson-Ward, chief customer officer at Workhuman, at Workhuman Live to discuss how positive customer experiences can create positive employee experiences.  

HRO Today: Customer and employee experience are often seen as separate, distinct entities, but when it comes to building positive workplace experiences across the board, how do you think that customer experience informs employee experience? 

Zoe Peterson-Ward: We all own the customer experience. It doesn’t matter if you’re an engineer in software or never see a customer because everything you do is impacting the customer experience and what goes into the product. If you’re in finance, you might never speak directly with a customer, but the decisions you’re making and the time it takes to get approval for something impacts their customer experience. At Workhuman, we’ve been really intentional this year about planning for our big strategic initiatives and the specific KPIs that we target. We have elevated some of our important customer metrics like net promoter score into many areas of our strategy board, so I’m not the only one working in customer experience. I’m not solely responsible for that metric. It’s everybody’s responsibility to make sure that everything we’re doing is positively impacting the customer experience.  

Sometimes that can be stressful. Employees need to know that they are connected to something that’s important to the company. Are they connected to the values? Are they connected to the strategic initiatives in the organization? For me, this is a very big intersection. Everyone needs to understand that what they do ultimately has some impact on how we show up for the customer. We want to make sure that we’re considering how we work to be able to show up for the customer and make it easier for our employees to do the things they need. This helps create a much better employee experience that drives customer experience.  

HRO Today: In what way can having a robust recognition program help improve the employee experience?  

Peterson-Ward: We as humans are all destined to want to have some level of gratification, of appreciation. From the time you’re an infant to the time you’re in school and beyond, in every aspect of our life, we’re always looking for feedback. 

The recognition program creates a really strong foundation within an organization to enable people to freely recognize and acknowledge the good work that’s happening, whether it’s someone on your team or someone from another organization, we believe in that really strongly here at Workhuman, and we’ve proven it through all of the evidence that there is a strong correlation to the work that we do.  

If you feel seen and appreciated for the work that you’re doing, you feel more engaged. When that recognition is connected to your company’s values, you begin to create that understanding and that correlation between yourself, your work, and your company’s values. It’s making a difference for your team, for this project, and for the company and for the customers that you serve.  

HRO Today: Just as open communication and transparent communication is beneficial on the customer end of things, what advice would you give HR leaders looking to improve their employee communication and, in turn, their employee experience?  

Peterson-Ward: You need to have a strategy and a plan for how you’re going to communicate. The best communicators in the world don’t necessarily have to have the same preferences. Every person and every team has a different way that they appreciate being communicated with. Some like email, some like more asynchronous communication through things like Teams or Slack. So, it’s important to ask employees what they care about and what they want to hear more about. And then figure out how those things are serving their needs. After that, build a plan around how you’re going to get those messages out.  

There’s never going to be a single answer for every person. Even if you think that you’ve been intentional with the right messages at the right time for the right people, lots of times people need to hear it from different voices and then different ways for them to really make the connection. You might have a thoughtful executive-level summary of something, but employees can’t connect the dots on how it specifically impacts them.  

It’s also important to tailor communications to what the organization needs at that moment. For global workforces, an all-hands call out of the United States may not be the most effective. While employees want to hear from their business leaders, they also want to hear from local team members on issues that are important to them.   

HRO Today: Customer experience management relies heavily on data and analytics to evolve and continuously change. How can HR leaders effectively leverage their people data—as well as employee feedback—to culture positive employee experiences?    

Peterson-Ward: It’s important to tap into what your employees are telling you and understand what’s working well and what’s missing, and then leveraging that data to make decisions. There’s so much information that’s out there. We have established a lot of unique, organic information from our recognition systems, and one of the things that we look at all the time as leaders is how to harness the information provided through the recognition program.  

Workhuman iQ is a platform that we provide a lot of insights so any manager can see who is participating throughout the organization and where pockets of inequality might be presenting themselves if the same person is routinely being rewarded. If that’s the case, it’s important for leaders to ask themselves what’s being missed and whether that discrepancy is a sign of low performance or low engagement.  

If you marry your employee engagement data together with the results of your recognition program, the type of insights you can pull together are really telling.  

Tags: Current Features

Recent Articles