The HX Academy is an educational hub created by Adoreboard to bring together human experience leaders and enthusiasts. Those who see the significance of good customer and employee experience. This month we had the chance to interview “Mr Employee Experience” Ben Whitter to find out more about his new book: Employee Experience: Develop a Happy, Productive and Supported Workforce for Exceptional Individual and Business Performance.
Ben Whitter is recognised as one of the world’s leading figures within HR and employee experience; he is a leader in EX transformation and has travelled globally to help organisations define, design and deliver truly exceptional employee experiences that elevate business performance.
So, lets get to the questions…
Tell us about yourself and what sparked your interest in the world of Employee Experience?
I’ve always been fascinated by people and their experiences at work. After sampling a range of roles early in my work life, it became clear that there were significant issues and gaps between companies and employees. Gaps that hindered growth and held people back. I couldn’t let this be and wanted to do something positive about it. This led to an interest in the HR profession where, after a good grounding as a generalist, I started to specialize in the OD field across different sectors. With some decent successes under my belt, I began questioning and researching everything about the world of work to deliver better results. Indeed, we completed a multi-year study into the foundational elements of the employee experience, which was fascinating. The outcome of all this was my dedication to help people and companies deliver better business and human outcomes through a model I created called the holistic employee experience (HEX).
What inspired you to write your book “Employee Experience: Develop a happy, productive and supported workforce for exceptional individual and business performance?”
I started speaking across Asia about our research into employee experience in 2014 and since then I have spoken in over 17 countries about the concept. People were always surprised that I didn’t have a book because I get invited to speak so much! I decided I needed to do something about that, but I wanted to ensure my message was ready, fully-formed, and I could contribute something meaningful to business life. I was offered book deals after my viral article, Bye Bye HR?, but opted to go deeper into and immerse myself into employee experience to present some original and fresh thinking about what EX really is. I’m happy with that decision given the positive response to my book and the HEX model. It was the #1 best-selling new HR book in the USA, which makes the wait worth it.
How did you find the book writing process? Any learnings along the way?
As most authors find, the process is not an easy one. It challenges you on multiple levels to clarify your thinking, to question some of your beliefs, and to communicate your ideas effectively to your audience based on the evidence you see and the experiences you’ve had. You also find out a lot about yourself during the writing process. A big part of employee experience is discovering the truth (purpose, mission and values) about a business and installing that into the HEX. It’s much the same for people too. I had to really challenge myself to find my truth within the writing process and ensure I reflected that throughout every aspect of the book. The book doesn’t stand alone in the marketplace, you must take a stand with it to effectively spread its core message. Cups of tea help a lot too during the writing phase!
What key learnings do you want your readers to take away from your book?
Primarily, I’d like them effectively use the holistic employee experience (HEX) lens to develop positive business and human outcomes for the people they serve. With the HEX and the underpinning EX principles, we can make a profound impact on the people and communities around us. HR, as a key function within EX, has a major role to play as do leaders within an organization. It would be nice if colleagues lived the point that businesses are all about people, and people are human.
What is your view on the link between employee experience and customer experience? Do you think they impact each other?
From my research, there is clear, demonstrable and powerful evidence that connects EX and CX. They reflect each other and should be developed together. They are often viewed as separate, but that thinking is changing. In fact, we are now seeing a much more integrated approach to developing the CX and EX simultaneously. The major factor that unities them is human-centricity. Let’s build and lead with that in mind to benefit all stakeholders within and outside our brands.
What is one bit of advice you would give EX professionals or those looking to transform their employee experience?
The easiest place to start is with human-centricity. With this at the forefront of our thinking, we can start to create positive experiences at all the touchpoints that are directly under our control or sphere of influence. This can have an immediate and demonstrable impact on the products, services, and environments that employees interact with, and get the EX approach started in the best possible way. It’s also accessible for any leader to apply in whatever context or circumstances they find themselves in.
What do you think the future holds for the employee experience space?
Big things. It’s the hottest topic in the business world right now and will only get bigger. I believe it will continue to rise and become the significant force in business and it will continue to up-end how professionals and business leaders develop their organisations on the inside to affect results on the outside. What’s exciting is that this is still just the start of brand new discipline that empowers all employee-facing professionals, leaders, and employees themselves to co-create exceptional business and human outcomes.
What is your most-used productivity hack?
A cup of tea. There is nothing like a good brew to recharge the batteries and unlock some deeper creativity away from the desk or computer. Hiking has also proved to be immensely valuable to maintain high energy levels and positive wellbeing, which are critical factors on the path to productivity.
What publications, websites or thought-leaders do you go to for engaging content? business or entertainment!
I enjoy a broad range and don’t really favour any one publication or source. I like to experience a range of views, ideas and concepts. I do explore both sides of the story because I think the truth can be found somewhere in the middle.
Thanks Ben! You can find more content from Ben or order his book using the links below.
This is the first in a series of HX expert interviews coming to the HX Academy. If you would like to contribute or be interviewed yourself please get in touch.