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Enhancing Employee Experience in the Era of Change and Disruption

In a rapidly changing business and technology environment, companies increasingly recognise that in order to thrive, they need to be nimble and competitive. The result? More frequent change initiatives, such as re-structuring and workflow redesign to meet the demands of changing business realities, in order to boost productivity and profitability.

What is critical to the success of these relentless changes is understanding their impact on people; since it is people, not organisations, who either ensure the changes are smoothly implemented, or resist them. A change not implemented effectively, can negatively impact morale, engagement and performance.

Thus, it is vital for us to remember that while our environment is changing, our core emotions are still the same. Where people are concerned, the three things that do not change is that they want to feel appreciated, do meaningful work and have opportunities to grow.

Progressive companies understand and focus on providing these three things, by ensuring a comprehensive employee experience. They ensure they are seeing the world through the eyes of their employees, and taking a people centred approach to their internal processes.

Here are three ways organisations can create a compelling employee experience in this era of relentless and rapid change:

1) Help people understand the value of the change Leaders often focus on the strategy and tactical approach behind the change they wish to implement. But people will only embrace any change when they see the value of it for themselves – both personally and professionally. We often forget that all of us are hard wired to seek change. Throughout our lives, we seek new milestones – a new degree, job, car, house… the list is endless. We easily lose sight of the simple fact that when we want it, we call it progress. However, when someone tells us to do it, we call it change. Essentially, change and progress are two sides of the same coin. You cannot have one without the other. When we run change management initiatives for our clients, we find that people really resonate with the message when we help them to see change as an opportunity, that they have already been handling change all their lives and have highly developed internal resources to do so. The result of this focus is people knowing that the organisation cares about them, and prioritises their feelings and growth. You will be amazed at how much more engaged, motivated and proactive people become when they understand the value of the change being implemented.

2) Recognise leadership development as the cornerstone of an enhanced employee experience Leaders play an integral role in employee experience. As the saying goes, “People leave managers, not companies.” The problem is that most of us are accidental leaders. We are promoted because we are good at what we do as individual contributors. So, an excellent sales person is promoted to a sales manager; where he is doing less selling and more managing. So, essentially, they are pulled away from what they are good at and asked to do what they may not have yet been fully trained or prepared for. Yes, the Peter Principle kicks in – people are promoted to their level of incompetence, and very often stay there. That is why, smart companies need to invest heavily in leadership development. This is what generates massive return on investment in terms of employee morale and bottom line results. They prepare new managers with leadership skills for their roles, and continuously support their experienced managers in sharpening their leadership style. Strong leaders galvanise their teams, and bring out their best, no matter what the change or how challenging the times.

3) Boost team psychological safety When we understand that employee experience is the summation of a person’s interactions at work, how people inter-relate to others in their teams, and how this shapes their emotional responses, then we realise the criticality of team psychological safety. The higher this is, the higher performing the team becomes. Google’s two year study on team performance highlights psychological safety as the top factor in determining successful teams. That’s when people feel they can take risks on their team without feeling insecure or embarrassed. When people feel safe, they are more motivated to speak up, share ideas and collaborate. They are more engaged, and forge more real connections. Hence it is imperative for companies to help people to understand team dynamics as well as how to effectively communicate and give feedback. This will build a strong foundation for positive employee experience and performance. It’s not surprising that we are asked to run our High Performing Team workshop almost twice a week, in some country or the other. In each workshop, participants gain deep insights on the seven factors that impact team psychological safety that are crucial for them to focus on. In summary, people naturally want to be engaged, productive and contributing to achieving results. Companies need to see employees as key stakeholders, equipping them with the skills and environment to do their best work. This will lay the foundation for an overall compelling employee experience. Smart companies focus as much on their employees as they do on their customers. All people matter.

By Karen Leong Director of Influence Solutions.

Karen is the director of Influence Solutions, a leading learning and development organization, headquartered in Singapore with offices in India, USA, Europe and Africa.

Influence Solutions helps organisations to be F.I.R.S.T. – Future-ready, Innovative, Relevant, Strategic and Trusted. Karen Leong is a sought-after keynote speaker and influence thought leader.

A TEDx speaker, and the author of the book ‘Win People Over’, she was featured as one of the ten influential professional speakers in Singapore by the Singapore Business Review.

Karen was also honoured with the Women Icons Award 2017 by the Business Excellence and Research group. A regular feature on television, radio and print, Karen is on Channel News Asia’s panel as an Influence and Body Language expert; notably she analysed the last US Presidential Debates “live” in the studio.

She has been profiled on Channel U’s CEO series and in the media as one of the “10 Fearless Singaporean entrepreneurs who made it happen”. In leading organizational development projects,

Karen builds upon her decade long corporate career specializing in audit, consulting and IPO projects with KPMG in Singapore, Hong Kong and China.