Over the last few years my work in Lean and HR has focused on value from the point of view of the employee.  Optimizing the employee experience and their individual success and happiness is paramount to the overall success of the organization. 

If your people aren’t happy, your organization probably isn’t reaching its full potential. 

The most direct measurable improvements of employee optimization should be seen in retention, engagement, and even overall well being.  As these leading metrics improve, so will the lagging indicators such as revenue, reduced expenses and better overall profitability. 

How can leadership foster an environment that optimizes the employee experience?

If experience is something we want to optimize, we need to understand how people experience things from their viewpoint and then determine how HR can better encompass that. Perhaps the most well-known illustration of people’s inherent needs, both in the workforce and their personal lives, is Maslow’s Hierarchy which shows what people need and the order in which they need it. 

Once you understand that growth is affected by meeting these needs, it is easy to see HR’s impact on overall employee experience and happiness. Just think how people’s experiences would be impacted if HR had a greater awareness about how needs affect happiness and used this as a compass for their efforts!  

So how can HR meet the higher needs of their people?

If you’re constantly told what to do, how to do it, and when to do it, you have less autonomy and little motivation for growth. But, if we look for ways to increase the choices that people are given, they will have more opportunities to drive their own development.

For example, people are typically given a simple description of their roles within an organization, which include their basic job duties and accountabilities. A different approach to this would be what is referred to as job crafting, or finding ways to amend the job to better suit people’s interests and talents.

When I first heard this concept, I was skeptical as to how people can craft their own jobs and still get their work done. But remarkably we find that people can exercise personal choice while still getting their jobs done and even improving their overall performance. We need to let go of our old ways of looking at work and job roles and leave more room for individual choice. 

So here’s what this might look like in the real world:

John currently works in a process engineering role and is also a part of a new products team. Through a company-sponsored personal reflection exercise, it becomes clear to John that he would most like to advance a particular technology. 

In this same special session, John develops some ideas for how he can take his interest in this technology and use it to enhance his work, including volunteering for a similar project on the horizon. John quickly realizes that the project management will also assist him in supporting his future interests and goals. 

How much more motivated could your team members be if they are free to match their life interests with their job roles? The answer is a lot! 

Here are three tips to consider for optimizing your people’s growth:

  1. How can we help team members better understand what they’re good at and what they like to do?
  2. How can we create ways for people to connect what they like to do with their work?
  3. What are some options for people to design their own roles and improve overall happiness?

If you are looking for motivation on how to structure programs that optimize employee experience and happiness, send me an email at Cheryl@leanleadershipcenter.com

Works Cited

Berg, Justin, and Jane Dutton. From the Center for Positive Organizational Scholarship THEORY-TO-PRACTICE BRIEFING What Is Job Crafting and Why Does It Matter?= = Associate Professor of Organizational Behavior -Yale School of Management = = = = = = = = =. 2007.

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