Workforce & Workplace
Is ‘Employee Experience’ the New Buzz Word?
Debra Dailey
Debra Dailey
Group Vice President, Quality of Life Experience

Today’s employees are becoming benefactors of the so-to-speak ‘Experience Economy,’ urging for a ‘consumer style’ experience. This means they now have an increased capacity to extend their power at the workplace, and it is not around a request for more ping pong tables. No…they are seeking something different, much more personal, human, and emotional!

Not a revelation actually… I spoke about this notion several years ago, in Sodexo’s 2014 Workplace Trends Report “Employees: The New Benefactors in the Experience Economy.” Since then, the concept is still shaping the future of work, appearing in the latest edition of Sodexo’s 2018 Global Workplace Trends: The Emotionally Intelligent Workplace and Human Capital Management 3.0.

The good news is that HR Community is catching on, starting to create new Human Centric Employee Experiences. They are also reaching outside of their function to partner with heads of Real Estate, IT, Marketing, Communications and Sustainability. I am happy to see that also happening in my industry of facility service providers; where there is a real shift in mindset happening. Well-known, traditional actors like JLL recently announced research on “Human Experience.” ISS speaks about the importance of , “User Centered” service design; and new players like WeWork are offering life’s workspaces for employees to, “…make a life, not just a living.” 

Sodexo has been studying universal human motivations and drivers of Quality of Life, for adults at work for more than 50 years. To that extent, we invested in research to develop a unique behavioral segmentation tool called Personix™. This tool is used to gather and analyze employee attitudinal data. Using Personix™ , we have completed more than 7,000 worksite assessments with clients across more than 45 countries; in all possible work environments like corporate offices, hospitals, universities and remote locations. The results have helped us understand better, how service interventions influence key drivers of Quality of Life… an untapped component of the employee experience.

And I can tell you one thing; not everyone wants or needs an environment like GOOGLE…far from it!

Let me share a little more about what it takes to apply, in practice, a ‘consumer centric’ mindset to design experiences that really meet the needs of employees:

1.     IT IS ALL ABOUT INSIGHT… which is much more than having a bunch of data. Employee insight is about studying and identifying key patterns, motivations and drivers behind perception and loyalty.

2.    HYPER SEGMENTATION… it is about using these patterns to segment your employee population into potential ‘consumer’ types, to create tailored solutions as an end goal. And these patterns in Personix™ have been entirely refreshed in 2017 to drive more granularity; by taking into consideration the world changing and intercultural aspirations. We have successfully identified 8 consumer types, making it so much easier for organizations to define and design targeted solutions for todays’ employees.


Personix Map: Adults at work- 8 consumer profiles


As an example, a corporation with mostly networkers (whose main need is relating to others) will require specific space design conveying conviviality and connection. For a company with mainly protectors (whose main need is security); sticking to simple traditional recipes would yield far greater traction than expensive, fancy and trendy food.

My key learning here is that segmentation is powerful: it works well to apply segmentation tools that have traditionally been used by marketing professionals to design a more meaningful and targeted experience for today’s employees. However; it is equally important that these tools are validated and based on a strong psychological model that gets to motivations typically not uncovered through traditional surveys.

3. CONTEXT IS EVERYTHING. Trying to copy and paste someone else’s ‘best practice’ workplace interventions can be a recipe for failure. Employees behave differently in different environments and moments. Tailoring solutions based on cultural context, consumer types and psychographic data is much more effective.

4. NO NEED TO RE-INVENT THE WHEEL: using a proven, validated and evidence based audit tool like Personix™, makes segmentation easy for HR and other facility leaders to design and prioritize the most meaningful experiences.

So, the next time you hear about “employee experience”, ask yourself whether it’s just another buzz word, or dig deeper to find out what tools are being used to effectively design experiences across multiple types of settings and geographies.

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