Let’s finish high with a quick skip through several examples of how experiences can improve performance and engagement in various areas.
AIRBNB EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE
We’re big fans of the Airbnb brand, but what really thrills us isn’t the experience they facilitate for their customers, but the ones they design for their people.
Rated by Forbes and Glassdoor as the top company to work for in 2016, and a CEO approval rating of 97%; engagement surveys with 90% recommending it as a great place to work; a job offer acceptance rate of around 80% for engineers, and over 90% in other departments… these are the figures most companies harbour fantasies about.
Then, there’s the employee reviews: “This company is mission driven with an incredible culture and one where you are encouraged to be yourself.” “Airbnb creates meaningful experiences, whether it is the candidate experience, travel experience or website experience.” And, “I am in my 50’s and I work for Airbnb. And this is by far the best job I have ever had. Airbnb is creating something that touches people: experience memories, relationships, who else does that?”
No coincidence these same themes repeating: culture; engagement — experiences.
The emphasis Airbnb places on experiences is evident in a recent transition from a Human Resources to Employee Experience department. It’s a hybrid that blurs the lines between traditional Marketing, Communications, Real Estate, Social Responsibility, and People & Culture departments.
But it’s the connection between experiences and the brand that’s where Airbnb really inspires: “Everything at Airbnb is a continuation of what it’s like to be a guest in somebody’s house.” No difference in delivery of the values between customers and employees. The experience is exactly the same.
In line with this ethos, Airbnb shifted from the default open space plan used by most tech start-ups to a ‘belong anywhere working environment’. This gives employees the flexibility to work from several spaces, including ‘the kitchen counter’, the ‘dining room table’, or the ‘living room’. These spaces allow individuals to work alone or in groups. It heightens productivity while fostering a strong sense of belonging that stays true to the brand.
NESTLÉ FIELD SALES SAFETY INDUCTION EXPERIENCE
Safety is often treated as a self-conscious add-on to the onboarding process. Working with Luke Byrnes, Justin Pratt, and the team at Nestlé SHE, we flipped the paradigm and turned safety into a talking point.
Focusing specifically on the prologue and beginning phases of the induction experience, together we took the mandatory induction kit containing the uniform, mobile phone, and safety manual, and redesigned it to evoke curiosity, surprise, and delight.
By putting safety front and centre, and communicating it in a completely unexpected way, we sought to change the way safety is typically experienced. The aim: increase safety skills and awareness of key risks to change behaviour, keeping Field Sales employees safer, and decreasing the overall rate of incidents.
The concept hinged on the idea that Field Sales employees are generally out on the road; in the wilds (metaphorically), and (literally) — out in the field. We extended this into a narrative that positioned Field Sales folk as brave, rugged, woodsy types surviving in hostile urban environments.
The theme continued through the induction kit and collateral. The manual referenced a field guide — traditionally an illustrated manual used to help teach essential survival skills in the wilderness. The handbook used illustration to visualise and simplify content, but not in the typical way. The unexpected humour captured people’s attention, and the increased engagement with the content and improve learning as a result. The handbook was also structured as a planner, encouraging people to carry it with them daily.
Mindfulness was also woven throughout the content as a means to change behaviour — encouraging Field Sales employees to stay in the moment, stay aware, and stay safer as a result.
VIRGIN CANDIDATE EXPERIENCE
A recent study revealed that around 60% of job applicants have had a poor candidate experience, and 72% air their feelings on employer review sites like Glassdoor.
While the impact of negative reviews on recruiting great people can be tough to quantify, Virgin discovered that their poor candidate experience had a definite dollar value. Out of the thousands of job applicants who weren’t hired, not only were many leaving poor reviews, but many candidates who were also existing customers were cancelling their contracts. They calculated this loss in revenue to be around seven million dollars annually. Not ideal.
By redesigning their candidate experience, Virgin ensured that even unsuccessful applicants were left with a positive memory of the experience, and were less likely to cancel their contracts spitefully as a result.
PEPSICO EHS SUMMIT EXPERIENCE
Working with Jasmine Omar, Heather Rude, and the PepsiCo Global EHS team, we worked to take an event that was already an annual highlight and push it into a truly memorable experience.
We began by mapping a typical conference experience. Then we took several of the particularly boring touchpoints and turned them on their head.
To build anticipation and curiosity during the prologue phase, we created a series of short teaser videos with a random fact about the location (Cork, Ireland), each tied loosely to one of the four conference themes. These videos framed the event as different from the beginning, and built excitement around travelling to Cork.
Travelling to an unfamiliar city or country can be disorientating. We worked with Cork-based PepsiCo representatives to share a local perspective — a shortlist of favourite restaurants, shopping, and sightseeing locations. These curated recommendations were included in the summit handbook to create highlights peripheral to the summit, but inherently linked to it when attendees remembered the event.
Another challenge, especially for introverts, is the inevitable social component. We took a little of the awkwardness out of networking… by making it more awkward. Every attendee had their face integrated into local banknotes, creating networking money. Surprisingly, what was initially intended to remove friction from a necessary touchpoint turned into an unexpected peak moment for attendees.