Before I really dive in, I’ll assume that you know what UX is. If not, here’s a link. Then, let me define the other acronym I casually threw into the title of this article.
In the world of human resources, there’s the so-called Employee Experience (EX). This relatively new term refers to the all the continuous improvement with interactions and touch-points an employee has with the organization, specially with its corporate services (think HR services, IT services, corporate facilities, etc.) In theory, the better the employees’ experiences with these services are, the happier and more engaged they will be.
Still with me? Great.
If you think about it for a moment, these two terms have a lot in common and it’s not just the fact that they both compress the word “experience” to a letter X. No, what’s fundamentally similar is that the two concepts are about empathy, about putting people first. I like to think of them as the countermovement to the “bottom-line”. In our efforts to create efficiencies, to scale, to streamline, to standardize, and mass produce, we have forgotten about people. We create things because “that’s what the business wants”, but often fail to consider if “that’s what the customer needs”. So, given that these two concepts are fundamentally similar, what if we merged them in such a way that it is useful to address this disconnect between people and digital/organizational processes?
A framework is born
Las year I was involved in a huge website redesign project for the HR department of a large multilateral organization: the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). We knew that the website had to be migrated to a more modern CMS platform, that we needed to have a “mobile-first” approach in development, and that we needed to catch up with new HTML5 standards. That was all well. However, I wanted to go beyond improving the technological infrastructure.
I wanted to use this redesign project as an opportunity to make HR knowledge less HR-ish. You know what I mean; less paperworky, less verbose, friendlier, smoother. In an attempt to compensate for the inescapable realities of the function’s inherent bureaucracy, I thought it was time to use UX design as the philosophy powering the content and interface design strategies of the website.
And so a framework was born: Employee Experience Design. I simply merged my experience and passion for UX design with the needs and goals of the employee. This wasn’t so much a tested methodology, but a perspective shift in our daily work on the project. The framework made everything much more concrete and focused. Now our team could make informed decisions about content strategy and information architecture concerns, taking the career goals of the IDB employee into account as its primordial source of value.
The new HR intranet website has been live for just three months at the time of this publication, so we’re still iterating on the effectiveness of some of our designs. However, I’d like to share with you three lessons we learned from the process that can help you create digital experiences for employees that are more fine-tuned to their needs.