Pandora’s box of employee experience

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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 ”:

http://chicagocreativespace.com/how-pandora-created-a-culture-of-purpose-driven-music-geeks/

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

 https://thefutureorganization.com/creating-a-great-employee-experience-lesson-from-pandora/

“Employee resource groups (ERG) that drive business“:  http://www.cisco.com/c/dam/en_us/about/ac49/ac55/docs/ERGreportEXTERNAL.pdf

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

http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2016/01/07/consumerization-of-hr-10-trends-innovative-companies-will-follow-in-2016/#2918cb31247d

 

H(önsbä)R Innovation @ IKEA

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IKEA has often received “great place to work”-type awards from various institutions and its turnover happens to be much lower than its competitors. A part of this success is explained by the company by their flat organizational structure that encourages personal initiatives and employee empowerment. IKEA is also well known for having a strong culture that promotes work-life balance, work flexibility, diversity and creativity, which also reinforces their recognition as employer. The company also has a very innovative approach to HR management that contributes to their success, but some of its HR innovative practices are a bit less known out of the company. Let me share a few examples of inspiring and fun HR innovations that the company has implemented…

– Talent attraction field: « Fit quiz »:  Would you fit in the IKEA culture? An interactive online quiz allows external applicants to assess in real time to which extent their personal values resonate with IKEA’s ones, and therefore how likely they would be to be happy and succeed in that company. How does it work? You are proposed 10 multiple-choice questions such as “If I was a car designer, I would want to be known for making cars that…” or “I’ve got a great idea for a big project… I typically…”. You can earn a virtual IKEA piece of furniture after each answer which is in line with company values and step by step you furnish a virtual room representing the likelihood to succeed with them… so, would YOU fit in the IKEA culture? Don’t hesitate to give it a try by clicking here!

– Career Management field: « I want your job » philosophy: IKEA staff is allowed to identify a desired future position in the company and ask for coaching and advice by the person who has this job. This formalized “entrepreneurial approach” to career management breaks silos, opens new career perspectives for staff and boosts internal mobility. « Paddle Your Own Canoe » approach: With the support of their managers, IKEA workers can use a self-assessment tool to identify their strengths and weaknesses, figure out the ideal career path and establish an action plan including training and development elements.

– Employee empowerment and engagement: « Why sayers » program: IKEA employees are encouraged to give ideas to improve the IKEA stores and organization. Best ideas are tested is some stores and the most successful ones are made standard practices globally. On top of the business improvements and innovations that this program brings, it is also said to reinforce employee engagement, as they feel they can have a direct impact on the way a huge company like theirs works. And actually, this message is so strong that a recruitment campaign was built around the “we are looking for Why sayers” idea some time ago.

– Recruitment: “Assemble your career” campaign: why invest in an expensive recruitment campaign when you can leverage on your products to do the HR marketing for you? To watch a short and fun video about how the company implemented a very effective HR innovation idea in Australia, please click here (IKEA career instructions video).

And by the way, yes, Hönsbär is a real IKEA product!