Pandora’s box of employee experience


I have the chance to work more this year on HR Innovation with the students of the Ciffop International Master HRM, at Paris II University. They are excited about the subject and they are on their way of becoming great HR innovators themselves. As the year progresses, students share interesting market HRM innovation practices with the class and I want to pay tribute to their work by sharing one of them today.

Pandora is a free internet radio streaming and recommendation service which has launched Employee Resource Groups (ERGs). Put simply, an ERG is a group of employees in an organization who share common interests, characteristics or affinities. The objective of this initiative is to make employees connect around a subject and reinforce networking, collaboration and engagement. Although companies proposing ERG often decide the subjects (eg. diversity) and the funding themselves, at Pandora things are a bit different: they give total control to employees. Indeed, any Pandora employee can create a PERG (Pandora Employee Resource Group) by finding at least 4 other employees who share the interest in a given subject and the company will sponsor the ERG up to $1,000 a year.

There are currently over 400 PERG in the company, focusing both on professional topics, such as data analytics and leadership, and more personal hobbies and interests going from meditation and running to brewing beer and flying drones. The company’s aim is to create more opportunities of new connections among employees and encourage more moments of cooperation, learning and fun. This is only one example of Pandora’s “box” of employee experience initiatives used to strengthen the engagement and sense of belonging of their staff.

Other companies leveraging on ERGs use them for cultural assimilation (Johnson and Johnson), diversity (Macy’s) or product development (Cisco). Check references below to go further.

According to Jeanne Meister, best-selling author and Fortune 1000 companies’ consultant, ERGs and more broadly rethinking the employee experience in the workplace are part of a larger trend called the “Consumerization of HR”, which “refers to creating a social, mobile, and consumer-style experience for employees inside the company”. According to her, the lines are blurring between HR and other fields like marketing, communication or IT, and therefore “the new objective is to create one employer brand which provides a seamless experience for current employees, potential employees, and consumers”. Others call this, the “symmetry of attentions”, that is, treating equally well your employees and your clients.

In all cases, following the Design Thinking philosophy, employee experience is becoming more and more central in HRM, which has not been the case traditionally. Organizations therefore need to accept the difficult but critical challenge of rethinking their HR policies and practices in order to put the individual right back to the center of all its activities. Food for thought…

Reference articles:

“How Pandora Created A Culture of Purpose Driven Music Geeks ”:

“Creating a Great Employee Experience – Lessons from Pandora”:

“Employee resource groups (ERG) that drive business“:

“Consumerization Of HR: 10 Trends Companies Will Follow In 2016”: