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In 2015 we published a blog post on the concept of the Chief Employee Experience Officer (CEEO). As it turned out, days before, Airbnb had announced their own new CEEO and the article resonated deeply with audiences across the globe.

Since that article, we’ve seen a steady march towards increased focus on employee experience at both large and small companies. Forbes recently noted employee experience at the top of 2017 HR trends and just last month intranet consultant James Robertson blogged about how employee experience is at the heart of the digital workplace.

But how do we go from these excellent ideas to implementing high-value employee digital experience projects? Start by ensuring you have a team with all the right capabilities and the correct mindset.

Starting point: user experience

Improving the digital experiences of employees starts with a rabid obsession with user experience design. From there, teams need a range of skills to deliver digital solutions. Solutions can be as simple as overhauling on-page content, or as sophisticated as building new interfaces driven by custom tools and complex integration from dozens of systems.

Some would call this from-the-start focus on user experience “design thinking”. That’s cool. But no matter what, obsessing over the overall employee experience is what leads to the big, transformational value.

Full stack of abilities to deliver the right content, tools, change

Employee experience strike forces (“tiger teams”, call them what you will) need to be able to understand user needs, to assess current systems and processes, to design the new stuff, to integrate and/or build new tools and to manage the change to new tools and processes.

Any one project may only require some of the below skills, but all of the skills are required for a fully capable team. This list doesn’t represent different roles. Many of the competencies can be rolled into the scope for individual team members. But if we’re missing any of these abilities on our employee experience teams we may be in trouble.

14 competencies for employee experience digital strike forces

1. Product management / programme management

  • What should we build?
  • How do we know it’s the right thing to build?
  • What should be included in the MVP (minimum viable product) scope?
  • What’s the value proposition?
  • How do we measure impact on target outcomes?
  • What do we add next?
  • How do we manage and improve this new service?
  1. Project management / agile development management:
  • What work systems do we need to deliver the target product/content/service?
  • What are our resources and timelines?
  • How do we plan for interdependencies and maintain our work velocity?
  • What’s the most important next piece of work?
  1. Communications / change management:
  • How do we engage stakeholders?
  • How do we connect with and message to users?
  • How do we leverage available channels to roll out changes effectively?
  1. Content strategy / management:
  • What types of content do our solutions need?
  • What does good look like for the content we need?
  • How do we create, maintain and improve it?
  1. Instructional design / training:
  • What training do everyday employees and super-users need for new tools?
  • What “how-to” reference material is needed and now should it be presented?
  1. Visual design:
  • How do we align content, interfaces and products with the brand?
  • How do we ensure a modern, inviting look and feel to what employees see and use?
  1. Video production and animation:
  • How do we support communications and content with video material?
  • How do we produce compelling, right-sized videos efficiently?
  1. User experience design / research:
  • How do we know what the key user needs are?
  • What are their current pain points?
  • What do we think will address their needs?
  • How do we know we’re addressing those needs properly?
  • How do we know content is organized intuitively?
  • How do we know interfaces work well for the tasks at hand?
  • How do we improve content, workflows and interfaces?
  1. Business analysis / process improvement:
  • What are the current workflows for delivering material and services to employees today?
  • How can we improve them?
  • What are users’ and stakeholders’ requirements?
  1. Analytics and reporting:
  • What does current usage data tell us?
  • How will we collect data going forward on new tools and interfaces?
  • What’s the right data to collect and how should we analyze it?
  • How do we make sure we’re collecting actionable data?
  • How can we tie data collection back to target outcomes?
  1. Web / UI development:
  • How do we render needed designs, layouts, workflows and content?
  • How do we scale the UI to different screens/interfaces?
  1. Software development:
  • How do we build the code to drive needed functionality?
  • How do we build and programme the APIs that share data between systems?
  • How do we build the services that keep tools running properly?
  1. Systems integration:
  • How do we get back-end systems talking to each other?
  • How do we make sure the right data is flowing in the right directions, to the right places?
  • How do we ensure each piece of the system processes the needed data properly?
  1. Network and infosec:
  • How do we tie tools into our directory and credentialling services?
  • How do we position tools within secure networks?
  • How do we make tools available over the internet?
  • How do we ensure safe, private access to tools?
  • How do we track down security issues?

An internal consultancy?

One approach to effective employee experience strike forces: design them like mini internal consultancies. The team can be brought in by central functions and lines of business to assess problems, understand users’ needs, and collaborate on delivering right-sized solutions.

Am I missing any?

The list here just describes what I’ve seen needed in the past. I’m sure it’s incomplete or categorized in a sub-optimal way. How would you change/improve this list?

Related research and resources

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About the author

Ephraim FreedEphraim Freed is an employee experience strategist and leader who has spent the last decade working on the cutting edge of internal communications and intranets. He has developed digital platforms and communications programs within innovative global organizations including Riot Games and Oxfam America. As a marketing manager and consultant he has helped industry-leading firms such as the Digital Workplace Group and ThoughtFarmer drive change at client organizations.

Ephraim combines user experience design and strategic change management to deliver purposeful technology, communications channels and content. In his spare time Ephraim is an empowering father to his two young daughters, goes trail running and barbeques over charcoal every Saturday night.

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