Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, joins me for a chat about employee experience equation and how does service management fit into it.
Pasi Nikkanen: Our guest is Jacob Morgan. How nice to have you here, Jacob. Maybe a little introduction. Who are you and what are your passions?
Jacob Morgan: Sure. Thanks for having me. As you said, my name is Jacob. I'm really interested in all things related to employee experience, the future of work, and leadership, which is what my next book is going to be about. I'm just really passionate about creating organisations where employees actually want to show up to work and the reason why I'm passionate about that is because I've had terrible jobs for most of my life and so 15 years ago I had my last job in the corporate world. And ever since then, I've been working for myself, and I've been speaking and writing and advising companies and trying to help figure out how do we create organisations where employees don't have the same terrible experiences that I had? That's where all this came from.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, I think that's like our passions are so close to each other, because that's really our passion. That's why we also left the big enterprises and we started our own thing, because we really want to do something good and working with something like happiness is really quite motivating I would say.
Jacob Morgan: Yeah. That's the way to do it, for sure.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. But your earlier book, it's around two years ago now that you wrote it. It's The Employee Experience Advantage.
You referred your definition of employee experience, because we talk a lot with different people like HR, IT, and there's this employee engagement and experience and what is all that, so how do you actually define employee experience?
Jacob Morgan: Well, my definition is actually quite simple. I think of employee experience as a combination of three environments that organisations can shape and control. These are culture, technology, and physical space. That's really what employee experience is. I actually have something called the Employee Experience Equation, and I say culture times technology times physical space equals employee experience. Simple, straightforward, something that I think everybody can understand.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, that's actually the picture, like I mentioned before, we started ... I've been using it in some of my presentations, and I think it's also a good picture for the IT guys to understand that yeah, we actually need to work together with HR and also maybe to use when they talk with HR people to say, "Hey, this is not just an HR engagement thing, but it really is, it's about all these other topics as well."
Jacob Morgan: Yeah, for sure.
Pasi Nikkanen: What about because we talk a lot with people involving with service management, so the service is up there running. Those actually could be like HR and IT and finance and facilities and all kind of that, so how do you see it? When people are using tools like ServiceNow, how does that fit into equations?
Jacob Morgan: I think regardless of what the tool is that you're using, you obviously want to make sure that it's ... Well, when it comes to technology, I focus on three things. Making sure it's available to everybody, making sure that the tools are consumer grade technologies, and making sure that the tools are focused on the needs of the employees, not just the requirements of the business. As long as it fulfils those three requirements, then I think it's a good technology for organisations to use.
Pasi Nikkanen: All right, all right. What about the services as such? I mean, do you see that services, is it always part of the culture, technology space, or is it something that goes past all of this? Because there are nowadays in organisations, they set up units like business services. That is not IT or HR or such.
Jacob Morgan: When you say business services, you mean like offering what sort of things?
Pasi Nikkanen: It could be just like we offer you the, let's say, basically anything that I need as an employee. So, I ask it from somewhere, somebody to help me with something. It could be related on the business, like let's say you're an insurance company. I need to ask somewhere, "Hey, how do I handle this client, this customer that I have?" That could be like a business service.
Jacob Morgan: Got it. I think a lot of it fits into the culture side of things. Because the culture that you have will dictate the types of services that you want to offer for your employees. Whether it's coaching and mentoring, whether it's business advice, whether it's financial planning, whether it's health and wellness and wellbeing programs. A lot of that stuff starts from the type of culture that you have inside of your company.
So, those things do matter because we're starting to see more and more, organisations are realising that you're no longer just a company. You are now a financial planner, you're a catering company, you're a health and wellness facility, you're a gym. A company is no longer just a place where you show up to make money. It's now an integral part of your life, and so these services, these things that companies are offering are becoming more and more important.
Pasi Nikkanen: True, yeah. That's actually a really good topic of the culture, because I really hadn't thought about it like that, but sometimes when people ask, they're like, "Do you have an industry benchmark or how different types of companies handle these things?" I always answer that they're actually more like a cultural difference. I guess I have also thought about it, but really didn't think about it with the equation that way. For me, I thought the culture always like more of this HR engagement thing, but you are totally correct. I think part of the way you handle the services is the culture.
Jacob Morgan: Yeah. Absolutely. I mean, the culture is a big part of what makes an organisation successful, but I also think it's important for people to understand that even if you have a great corporate culture, if you provide spaces for employees that are not engaging and inspiring, that don't allow multiple workspace options, if you give employees terrible outdated technologies that don't allow them to work effectively, it doesn't matter how great your culture is, people aren't going to want to stay there.
I've talked to many employees at companies like this where they love their corporate culture, they love the spaces in which they work, but these employees have outdated technologies that literally don't allow them to work effectively. And so they can't do their jobs. As much as they love the people there and as much as they love the work environment, they can't work effectively. Over time, that starts to take a negative impact on you and eventually you don't want to be a part of that kind of a company anymore.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. How do you tackle, what would you give advice for people running this service management, like how to understand that are the people happy or not? I mean, how do you help them? How do you yeah, tackle that?
Jacob Morgan: I think probably the most important thing to understand is what your employees care about and what they value and what they want. In the business world, we spend a lot of time looking at our employees just as workers. But we really need to understand our employees as individuals. They have lives outside of work, that they have families, they have friends, and so I always talk about these moments that matter in the lives of employees. Understand the moments that matter in the lives of your people, and try to design experiences and great things around those moments.
Pasi Nikkanen: I was listening to one of your podcasts and you said nowadays one of the key topics is being data driven. Is this a trend that you have seen growing that the people actually know from the data, not just from a gut feeling, that this is what is the matter? Are companies nowadays more data driven?
Jacob Morgan: Well, most companies should be. I can't say that many companies are, but yeah, I mean the forward thinking companies, the organisations like Microsoft and Accentures and Ciscos and LinkedIns, they are very much using data. It doesn't mean that you make decisions only based on the data that you have. It's still important to have that human aspect in there, but if you don't have data, how do you really know anything?
You need to understand, for example, what makes teams effective, what makes a great leader, what do employees care about in what they value? It's one thing to say, "Oh you know, I think it's this" or, "Maybe it's this." It's another thing to say, "I actually have data to support this." You can make better, more accurate, more informed decisions when you have those data practices in place.
I think it's very important for organisations to invest in the data and the people analytics side of business.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah, and we also feel, we also always took about this, not just having the gut feeling, but also the transparency I think could be the one thing that you get with the data, so if everyone can see it, then they can trust each other and then that creates focus and cooperation.
Jacob Morgan: Yeah. Absolutely. Couldn't agree more.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. What about since you wrote the book two years ago, the whole area of employee experience, not just the technology but the whole equation, what kind of changes have you seen or shifts in the enterprises? Has it been becoming more meaningful than two years ago, or?
Jacob Morgan: Yeah. I mean, I think the book, when I wrote it, was actually a little bit early. In fact, the book is doing just as well if not better now than it was two years ago. I think it's because there's much more emphasis being placed on it, the conversation is more mainstream. We're seeing new job titles emerge inside of companies to really focus on employee experience. Overall, I think it's becoming more mainstream, more popular, and getting more attention now than it was two years ago, or two and a half years ago. I think that's very exciting to see, and I think that's only going to continue to increase.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. I wouldn't have said it better myself, because when we started it was difficult to actually understand telling people what is employee experience. "Is it this HR thing?" "No, no, no. It's this whole total different thing." And now when I was in ServiceNow Knowledge event, a few weeks ago in Las Vegas, I think 60% of all the topics there were something about experience. It's a huge shift also from our point of view.
Jacob Morgan: Exactly. I mean, it's a good thing, because it's forcing organisations to think deeper about their companies. I mean, I think it's a wonderful thing to see.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. All right. But then hey, we also have a happiness score that we gather from all our customers' data. Basically how the internal IT services are doing, so the people can compare, where are we actually? Because for example, when I was running internal services for the large enterprise, you didn't really know are we good, are we bad, or where is our strengths? I noticed that you have this Employee Experience Index, so what is that all about? Can you tell the listeners a little bit about that?
Jacob Morgan: Sure. The Employee Experience Index was my way of trying to figure out who are the organisations out there that are doing the best job when it comes to employee experience? I looked at 252 companies from around the world and basically categorised them and scored them based on those three environments of culture, technology, and physical space. It's basically a ranking, kind of like my version of a best or a great place to work. It looks at who those best companies are, who the worst companies are, when it comes to employee experience.
Pasi Nikkanen: All right. What about is it still something that you're updating currently all the time, or is it something that you did at some point, or?
Jacob Morgan: I haven't updated it in a little while, just because it takes a lot of time and resources to do it, but I've had a couple of companies interested in sponsoring an updated version of the index, so we'll see. Maybe I will do that in the coming future.
Pasi Nikkanen: Yeah. All right. Hey, if people want to learn more, so maybe find your books, find your podcast, just listen to all the insight you have, because we have a limited time here, so we can't go through all the things in your head, so where should they go? What is the best place to find more?
Jacob Morgan: I'm pretty easy to find. My website is TheFutureOrganization.com, and my email in case anybody wants to reach out to me is firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pasi Nikkanen: Okay, perfect. I'll also put that in show notes so people can find it there.
Jacob Morgan: Cool.
Pasi Nikkanen: All right. Hey, any last words? It's been really good to hear all the similar things that you have been experiencing around the whole topic. Any last words you want to share, or?
Jacob Morgan: Well, I guess last parting words would be take employee experience seriously. I think it's the next big battleground for organisations, now and in the future. And the companies who are able to master employee experience are the ones who are going to win, so make sure that you focus on it and do a good job of it.
Pasi Nikkanen: Perfect. Hey, thank you Jacob. It was a pleasure.
Jacob Morgan: My pleasure. Thank you very much.
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