Interview with Felicitas von Kyaw, People Vice-President and HR & Labour Relations Managing Director at Coca-Cola European Partners, and Leon Jacob, Senior Manager of hkp/// group, on experiences with the agile, on-trend topic of employee experience.

Ms. von Kyaw, Mr. Jacob, the buzzwords ‘employee experience’ and ‘moments that matter’ have been bandied about with increasing frequency recently. Are these just new trendy phrases, or is there more to them?

Felicitas von Kyaw: There’s definitely more to them. In my experience, many HR professionals are facing similar challenges, in that newly developed HR tools aren’t going down well with employees, despite high development and implementation costs. Of course, tried and tested processes cannot always be transformed as quickly as would be necessary. The key challenge is to ensure that the employees' perspective plays the role we want it to play.
Leon Jacob: And that’s exactly what the phrase ‘employee experience’ is all about. It’s a helpful tool for waving goodbye to being purely focused on processes in companies and to striking out on the path where the focus is on the customer. Employee experience stands for a changed fundamental attitude in HR. After all, employees are internal customers and HR work is structured in such a way that employees have a positive experience.

And what does the employer get out of all this? Would I be right in saying you’d be hard pushed to find a company that’d invest in employee experience exclusively for the benefit of its employees?

Felicitas von Kyaw: It’s really very simple: the employees become their employer’s fans. Allow me to give you an example. Today, merely having a good product is no longer enough to inspire customers in the long term. Instead, product development and marketing nowadays are all about providing customers with an experience – emotionally enthralling them! Customers’ loyalty can be fostered if they associate a positive emotion with the provider or the product. And it’s precisely this approach that can be applied in HR work, since the aim of ensuring long-term employee loyalty to the company rings true here too.
Leon Jacob: What’s more, when companies create a positive employee experience and employees are happier in their company, this in turn leads to the company achieving more. This is reflected in the likes of lower termination rates, less sick leave or higher motivation levels.

Let’s suppose I’d like to work on my employee experience as an organization. Where do I start?

Felicitas von Kyaw: If you’d like to improve your employees’ experiences in the workplace and achieve quick results at the same time, employee experience design (known as ‘EX design’ for short) is absolutely unavoidable. EX design uses design thinking methods, such as the creation of personas, journey maps or system maps. These agile methods help companies to identify their employees’ moments that matter – in other words, everything that particularly moves and occupies them in the context of their work.
Leon Jacob: But it’s also important not just to know what EX design is and what it can achieve. The special aspects have to be taken into account during application too. On the one hand, it’s vital to ask the right questions to get the information you really want. In this regard, moving away from the need to acquire all the knowledge in the world and to exploit every source of information is essential. On the other hand, prototypes should be developed in a short space of time during EX design, then tested in practice as quickly as possible.

Is EX design only a tool for HR experts? Who else can use it?
Leon Jacob: EX design is interesting for anyone who’s keen to create a positive employee experience. Such individuals could be HR specialists, or CEOs, executives, project managers and other key players. EX design is the perfect tool for anyone who’d like to develop their organization in such a way that employees become their company’s fans.

In 2018, the German Association of Human Resources Managers (Bundesverband für Personalmanager, or BPM for short) held the first employee experience design challenge in cooperation with hkp/// group. What were the top issues you dealt with here?
Felicitas von Kyaw: At our first event of this kind, we asked the attendees what their employees’ top concerns were. We clustered all the input we received here and used it as a basis to quickly identify three particularly important topics: professional development, recognition in everyday working life and the compatibility of one’s professional and family life.
Leon Jacob: We went through an EX design cycle on all three topics as part of the event and developed exciting solutions by doing so. However, it’s also been shown that the employee experience starting points can exist almost everywhere in the employee lifecycle. Starting with recruitment, and even extending to employee departure.

Will it be possible to get into EX design with practical input in the near future too? Where can I find out more about the topic?
Leon Jacob: If you’d like to take a deeper dive into the topic, you can attend a three-day EX design bootcamp from October 14 to 16 in Frankfurt am Main. At this event, attendees can look forward to examining the right attitude, being taught the most important methods and using the EX design approach to help overcome the biggest challenge in their own organizations!

Ms. von Kyaw, Mr. Jacob, thank you very much for this interview!