For our latest episode of #HRTechChat, my guest was Theresa Harkins-Schulz, senior vice president of customer experience at Inspirus. And this is where our conversation began, with Theresa’s sharing of her philosophy around the customer journey. Because of its customer-centered connotations, she prefers the term customer experience over customer success and other monikers denoting the realm of activities organizations carry out in tending to their customers.
From there, our discussion expanded to ponder comparisons between the customer experience and the employee experience and to what extent organizations can approach both similarly, look at them through the same lens, or even coordinate their efforts. A member of the 3Sixty Insights Global Executive Advisory Council and long-time board member (and past president and past education chair) for Recognition Professionals International, Theresa has trained her focus on the art and practice of employee recognition for much of her career — several years ago designing an employee recognition program for Delta Airlines.
Following is a short elaboration on just three of the many additional ideas we explored:
- Campfire Girls: HR can get so wrapped up in planning and throwing great events for employees — kind of like being “campfire girls” — that they confuse this for the practice of giving employees recognition, which is an attitude. This aligns nicely with an idea, discussed in a previous episode of #HRTechChat, that providing pizza and beer on Friday does not equate to cultivating employer culture. It’s nice to do nice things like this for employees, but it is not a substitute for the hard work.
- The Components of Good Employer Culture: What are they? It’s a challenging question. Unequivocally, Theresa believes trust is the essential, bedrock ingredient. Other fundamental components of employer culture are purpose and an understanding of the job that needs to be done. You can’t really argue with any of these, which provide as good of a calculus as any to sussing out what underlies a good employer culture. “Some of this really goes back to […] Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, and establishing that psychological safety in the workplace,” according to Theresa.
- Pandemic, Hierarchies, Speed, and HCM Technology: The pandemic has laid bare the need for agility in working together and in catering to employees’ needs. Hierarchies that have settled into existence over long periods of time slow this down. So does old, bad or no technology. There is a demand for immediacy, and there’s a symbiosis to the flexible of an organizational structure and the technology in place to facilitate cooperation and promote a positive culture. Today , this need for flexibility to deliver on immediacy is exponentially more pressing than it was ahead of the pandemic, and it will only increase in importance as the future of work continues to become the present.
There was much, much more to our conversation. Click on the video to watch.
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