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Getting Insight into the Real Experience of your Employees

with Weston Morris, Director of Global Strategy for Digital Workplace Services at Unisys

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Weston Morris

Episode 13

“You really have to be careful about what you’re measuring and what you’re inferring from that. Make sure you’re measuring the right stuff and have a holistic picture.”

Weston Morris is the Director of Global Strategy for Digital Workplace Services at Unisys. He is responsible for leading the global strategy for emerging technologies that impact digital worker productivity – including Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Merged Reality, Virtualization and IoT. In this episode, he talks about experience level agreements or XLAs, micro personalization as the future of employee experience, and getting an accurate picture of what employees are really experiencing at your company. 

”About 45% of employees that are working from home are installing software that they know is not approved by corporate IT in their home environment. They just needed it. [They think,] ‘You’re not meeting my experience needs, and guess what? I’m going to bypass security and hopefully nothing bad happens as a result.’ And yet the corporation thinks that everything’s fine. That is a jarring disconnect. It’s something that every IT department really needs to be looking at closely.”

Listen in to hear

  • How to differentiate tech support for varied employee needs and preference
  • How to get the most out of XLAs
  • Balancing digital tools with human interaction for the best digital employee experience

“During the early days of the pandemic, productivity was up. But the reality was, we weren’t able to do anything else. [Employees had] already binge watched Seinfeld or The Office, and they couldn’t go to restaurants or sports events. So they just stayed home and worked, and worked some more. And so that’s what showed that productivity was up, but that is not sustainable. You need to have two way communication to understand what the real experience is of your employees.”

 

Weston Morris

Weston Morris

Director of Global Strategy for Digital Workplace Services | Unisys

Weston Morris is the Director of Global Strategy for Digital Workplace Services at Unisys. He leads the global strategy for emerging technologies that impact digital productivity. He has been with Unisys since 1988, having previously served as Chief Architect for Microsoft Strategic Programs; Manager of the Microsoft Consulting (U.S. Western Region and Solution Architect for several Unisys clients. He has more than 30 years of experience in solution architecture, system integration and software engineering, having delivered solutions to clients in public sector, consumer packaged goods and finance.

Episode Transcript

Narrator: Do you know what your employee experience is like? I mean, do you really know? Like if you were to put yourself in the place of someone in, say, sales, what’s their day-to-day like? What’s their workflow like? Do they have the tools they need? Do those tools work well? Are their processes seamless or do they find themselves troubleshooting a lot of the time? Weston Morris finds himself asking questions like these often.  

Weston Morris: I like to quote the, uh, the founder of XLA TV, Allen Nance, at least once a month, he tells me, ‘They won’t remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel.’ And, and so that kind of guides me, uh, you know, whoever’s thinking they’re responsible for experience that there’s really a couple of components. There’s the individual transactions. In other words, how did I feel the last interaction I had with the company, with IT, with the service desk, with field services, or if you have a tech cafe. Um, if I’m being onboarded as a new employee, the technician that was helping me with that, uh, even a chat bot, not a person. If I’m interacting with a chat bot, how did that transaction make me feel? Did I feel listened to? Did I feel cared for? It Was I understood? Or did I end up being frustrated? 

Narrator: It’s in asking these questions that Weston can learn how to fine tune the employee experience. Weston is the Director of Global Strategy for Digital Workplace Services at Unisys. He’s responsible for leading the global strategy for emerging technologies that impact digital worker productivity. So, things like Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, Automation, Merged Reality, IoT and Virtualization. And with these new technologies, Weston has to constantly have honest communication from employees about what works and doesn’t. Because he wants to know about the real experience employees are having at Unisys, no sugar coating. And he’s sharing with us how to do just that. So grab your neck pillow and rolling luggage, because we’re about to learn how to get insights into the real experience of your employees.

On Cruising Altitude, we talk about employee experience lessons from leaders at companies with over 30k employees. A lot like reaching Cruising Altitude at 30k feet, things look a little different when you’re managing 30,000 people. On this podcast, we bring you insights from the leaders who inhabit that rarefied air. Today’s episode features an interview with Weston Morris.  But first, a word from our sponsor.

Weston Morris: Honestly, my job is a blast. On one side I get to listen to clients who described the challenges they’re facing. Like right now, it’s all about coming out of the pandemic, hybrid office. Um, people are looking for a great experience for their employees, and they’re also looking for great productivity and, and trying to sneak security in at the same time. And then on the other side, um, I’m listening to really some of the smartest people in the industry who are working on innovations that in theory should be helping us achieve some of those things, they’re bringing in like AI and automation, bots, and chatbots and cloud tools and collaboration tools and, and things like that. And then I sit down with that in hand with the, the Vice President, the Senior Vice President of Digital Workplace Solutions at Unisys. That’s, Mike McGarvey and Leon Gilbert. And then brainstorm with them ideas as to which technologies are going to make a difference.

Narrator: While we taxi to the runway, let’s get to know more about Unisys and Weston’s industry overall in The Flight Plan.

Weston Morris: I worked for 145 year old IT company. And I know that sounds crazy. I mean, I just saw an MSN news where I think last year, over 2200 technology startups were formed. I mean, that was just in 2021 alone. And here I am working for a company that started when I think Ulysses S Grant was president. I mean, the cool technology at that time was adding machines. Um, fast forward a bit to 70 years, 1951. The cool technology is now computers. Uh, I mean, Unisys was there. We created the UNIVAC, the first commercial computer. Uh, it was used in the U.S. Census. So cool, cool technology in 1951 meant having 1K of memory. And so fast forward to today. I mean, we’re, we’re now using, uh, artificial intelligence and automation, mobile tools, cloud tools, and then packaging that up so that people can work wherever we are. And, and during the pandemic, that meant transforming the way people worked. You know, if they were used to working in an office, a physical office, having a conference room where everybody got together or water cooler where they interacted, to now trying to replicate some of those things, but while doing it at home. And now as we’re coming into this hybrid office mode, some people being at home, some people being in the office. So, I mean, looking back, uh, we, we helped about 12 million people to be able to work from home. Uh, we kept about 5,000 ATM machines running and, um, about 3,800 grocery stores open. And I feel pretty good to be part of that. I mean, my mom lives alone. And knowing that during the pandemic that her grocery store could stay open in part because of, some small way the work I do. I mean, that just makes me smile.

When I started work, only certain roles had access to a computer and you had to have that in the office. And now today, I mean, computing technology is just everywhere. I mean, it’s needed for every single job. I mean, whether you’re in fast food or healthcare, you know, finance or manufacturing, farming, you know, even. The technology is there are drones and, and bots being used, uh, and due to the pandemic, we, you know, many of the jobs that used to be in the office are not anymore. So I’m answering that question in that context, that, that, uh, there is a big change in the personas. 

Unisys focuses on a very select group of, of industries, Finance and banking, uh, government, public sector, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, uh, manufacturing, uh, consumer packaged goods, um, in the medium to large size client space. And one of the things that I found is it’s almost contrasting. There is such a difference in needs, and yet there is a common set of needs that, you know, they all think they’re unique and different, but it turns out that in many cases, uh, how you actually collect experience and what you do with it, that process is going to be the same.

Narrator: Weston has truly seen the evolution of Unisys. And they continue to push the envelope of what a digital employee experience could look like. This means they’re testing the bounds of new technologies and navigating through some challenges along the way.

Weston Morris: I would say I’m seeing about three different technology challenges and one non technology challenge. Uh, so the technology challenge I’m seeing is first of all, with the different personas that are out there, how do I know what devices, what apps, you know what technology to give each employee. And then when things break, how do I make sure that they get the support, the right support, you know, so that they are kept productive, especially now what I may not be in, in an office. And yeah, well, how do I do all of that while, uh, maintaining security, the corporate security, which is not, you know, high of mind of most employees. So the non-technology challenge that I’m seeing is, let’s say I’m great at that. I give you all the perfect technology for your role. You know, you are somebody that’s working from home, doing podcasts. One of your colleagues is, is perhaps, um, you know, in HR someone’s in sales, they’re on the road and I’d figured out how to give the right technology to each of those different roles. But I don’t provide any guidance or training in how to use those technologies. Like, let’s say everybody now has a collaboration tool. Um, but, but no one is trained on how to connect with people or find people or to communicate with them. Then your experience is going to be bad. And if you are servicing your customer, you know, directly, then your customer experience is going to be bad and that’s bad for your business. So despite all that investment in the technology, the productivity and the business results will be poor.

Narrator: So it does take a team, or a dedicated group, to support employees, it’s not just one person who addresses employee experience.

Weston Morris:  When I look at our customers as well, I see the employee experience really being a marriage of multiple areas. Uh, HR is there. They have to be there obviously. Uh, IT plays a very important role and the business, and I will say even individual employees, we, we share a responsibility in our own experience. Um, I like to quote the, uh, the founder of XLA TV, Allen Nance, at least once a month, he tells me they won’t remember what you did, but they will remember how you made them feel. And, and so that kind of guides me, uh, you know, whoever’s thinking they’re responsible for experience that there’s really a couple of components. There’s the individual transactions. In other words, how did I feel the last interaction I had with the company, with IT, with the service desk, with field services, or if you have a tech cafe. Um, if I’m being onboarded as a new employee, the technician that was helping me with that, uh, even a chat bot, not a person. If I’m interacting with a chat bot, how did that transaction make me feel? Did I feel listened to? Did I feel cared for? It Was I understood? Or what I did I end up being frustrated? And then there’s another level. And that is the experience of the entire group or groups, groups of individuals in a company. And we’re seeing this with this new focus on XLA is experience level agreements that are coming into place in contracts. So at Unisys, we have a dedicated group, an experience management organization, and their role is to actually measure experience. You know, collect data from different data points and come up with this magic number. Here is the experience of the sales team. Here’s the experience of people that are working in Germany, you know, either by region or by business unit. And then analyzing the results. And then making decisions about how to improve it. So, uh, that could be, uh, discovering that I need to fix somebody’s problem. It could be, I need to make a bigger change to the service that you’re, that you’re getting as a group. Um, and then ideally even insights about what’s going on with your employee experience that you give back to the business. So they may make corporate decisions about their direction and strategy, hiring and things like that. All based on data that we’re collecting at the XLA level.

Narrator: XLAs are how Unisys is measuring how IT is performing based on the end-user experience. And speaking of, Unisys is producing XLA. TV, or video series featuring thought leaders discussing the experience economy and their experience management journey.

Weston Morris: The number of channels has grown since I first started with them. There’s four different hosts. I’m one of them. Um, there’s a channel called The Climb. Uh, that is where we interview, uh, experts in the field that are providing new technologies that help measure experience, or, uh, capture it or evaluate in some way. There’s a channel called the, uh, The Alchemists. And that is the people that are using this experience level type technology, trying to build an XLA and do it, you know, in their organization. So how has it actually landing on the road? What are the lessons learned? Um, there’s an ‘Aha’ Moments, uh, channel where very short people post a very quickly, ah, my ‘aha’ moment with an XLA or experience was this, there’s a channel on, um, The New World of Work. So looking very specifically at, you know, this, this hybrid office and the new world of work, where you have a mixture of people in the office and, and away, um, what exactly, uh, is happening with their experience and what do we need to do to resolve that? And then lastly, the newest channel is called XLA Plus, or XLA ampersand, where we’re looking at the idea that XLAs by themselves are great. But when you marry them with other initiatives that you have going on in your organization, like service management or, uh, Siam or a customer experience or HR programs or OCM, organizational change management, if you bring those together, then both or all of them become better together. And we give examples as to how people are successfully doing that. So it’s pretty exciting. It’s a great place to really find out what’s going on with the XLAs in a very honest environment.

Narrator: Along with offering employees a great resource like XLA.TV, they have some other best practices to create a VIP experience for staff. Let’s dim the lights of your private luxury air suite while Weston shares how Unisys offers a First Class employee experience.

Unisys started building the employee experience from the customer up. 

Weston Morris: So one of the things that, um, I’ve come to realize is, when we started looking at experience in talking with our customers, first, we’re saying, ‘Hey, let’s, let’s focus on your employee experience. What are they not happy with?’ That turned out not to be very successful. Instead, when we look at the business goals or even what is the customer experience. So what does the customer even mean? If I’m a healthcare system, that’s very different. That’s a patient, right? It’s life or death, as opposed to consumer packaged goods, you know, they’re providing, you know, mayonnaise and toilet paper and things like that. Um, or a bank where you’re doing financial transactions. So what is the customer experience that you’re, as a company, trying to provide, or a government, and then working backwards and saying, who are the employees? What are the roles that impact that customer experience directly and then even indirectly. And once you categorize those, now you can finally begin to talk about employee experience. You can say, okay, if I’ve got a sales organization or if I’ve got a call center organization and they’re providing support to my customers, what do they need? What are the tools that they need? Are they mobile? Do they need a desktop, do they need a tablet? What type of collaboration tools do they need? Who else in the company do they need to interact with? Do they need to interact with somebody outside of the company? Do they need to collaborate with them? Um, would they benefit from automation to make their job more efficient? Uh, you know, an intelligent bot that’s kind of looking over their shoulder and guiding things or automation they could take advantage of. And then what are the security needs of each of those? So now, as you see, we work backwards, starting with the business goals, the customer experience, working back to employee experience. And now we can talk about the workplace, the technologies, and then give those people, those personas, the right set of tools and equipment that they need to do their job. And if nothing ever breaks, we’re done. Right? But as we all know, there’s constant, uh, changes to, to our workplace environment, even just working here at home as well. Right? I mean, there’s patches, there’s updates, a device upgrades, uh, swapping out equipment, uh, moving to, to newer technology. And so people need help when stuff breaks or stuff is confusing. So what we’re seeing is, this is a big part of experience. And for many people, it’s what they think of and experiences, you know, how the type of support and help they get. So what we’re seeing is this move from the days of the shoulder tap, you know, where in the office you went down and talked to your favorite, you know, Sally or Tom, whoever was the expert that would just help you, um, or even calling the service desk and spending 30 minutes on the phone while they walked through stuff with you. Uh, there is this move to, uh, using AI to automatically diagnose the problem and, and better yet. Um, let let’s say, uh, I have, uh, a crash with, with zoom or whatever technology we’re using and it happened three times last week. Wouldn’t it be great if IT detected that, they didn’t wait for me to call. They automatically detect it and fix it. And I will say even better than that, when IT saw that I had this crash three times and they found a way of fixing it, go out and look and see who else is either having that same problem suffering in silence, or is potentially going to have the problem and proactively prevent it. This isn’t done by just a single tool. You don’t just deploy a single chat bot or something and make this work. I mean, what I just described to you might involve service now, a digital experience monitoring tool, like 1E Tachyon, uh, an intelligent virtual agent that can have a conversation with me about what’s happening, and people that are looking at this data and making sense of it.

Narrator: To go back to XLAs for a moment, they’re a big part of how Unisys measures whether employee experience initiatives are going well or not.

Weston Morris: This is really the big focus of XLA TV is kind of pulling away the veil, uh, peeking behind the curtain, whatever analogy you want to use as to what is an XLA and, and how does it work? I mean, it might need to take a step back and first compare them with another set of measures we’ve been using for decades, SLAs, you know, service level agreements and CSATS, or customer surveys. But those things have measured transactions, they measure things like, uh, for example, service desk, first call fix, you know, how many of my, uh, calls to the service desk are fixed the very first call, or how many have to go to a second call or third call? Uh, what’s my average handle time? How much time do I spend on the phone with somebody as I’m, you know, resolving their problem? Uh, or the C-SAT, the survey? Uh, what’s my score on a one to five of my last call to the service desk? And, and those have been very useful, but the problem with these measures is they only measure a small part, a very narrow part of my IT experience, the service desk. And, and very specifically the transaction there as well. Um, and, and let me just give you an example of how it doesn’t work. Let’s say I have to call the service desk and I have to get three calls back. And it’s just so frustrating. It took two days, right? The third person that got to me, you know, the level three person was so nice and so helpful and they fixed my problem. And then I get the survey at the end that says, how was your experience you know, with the last person? You go, ‘Well, I love the last person. I’m not going to give them a one. They fixed my problem. They were very friendly, but I have no way of telling them that the whole process was horrible, you know, getting up to that.’ Right? So, you know, they talk about the watermelon effect. It’s green on the outside, all the numbers are green, but you look inside and it’s red, uh, you know, kind of an overused illustration, but that’s, what’s happening with SLAs. And CSATs. So how is my overall experience?

 

Narrator: So Weston is trying to get a more holistic, authentic view of the employee experience, and they’re using data to do that.

Weston Morris: So one of the things that we do is we look at, uh, four different data points. One is, and I call them these happinesses. One is your PC happiness. How happy is your PC? Because if your PC is having a bad day, or your mobile, your tablet’s having a bad day, uh, you know, you’re having a bad day as well. So can we monitor, you know, the CPU usage, crashes, uh, boot time, things like that. And these are all numeric things are very, you know, data driven, uh, uh, components of an XLA. Then people happiness. Actually ask me, how am I doing? And ask broader questions than just, you know, what was my experience with the last call to the service desk? What do I feel about IT overall? Or even ask me about my onboarding. You know, bigger, bigger pictures. And then, uh, based on how I answer use intelligent surveys that, you know, don’t ask me a hundred questions, ask me four or five, but, but the survey evolves depending on what, how I answered the first question, so the people happiness. And where, where do we spend most of our time, these days? It’s in collaboration tools Or you were making a Slack call earlier today. How is my unified communication and collaboration tool experience? Am I having a good experience there? Is the quality good? Is it easy to use? Were there dropped calls? Was the video good? Was I able to share? Were people able to connect properly? So measuring that as well. Again, another true data point. And then lastly is digital adoption. As a company rolls out a new technology. Let’s say, if you went from, you know, voice to having a chat bot, how, over time, are all the employees of the company using that? So say for example, um, you start measuring it, you see that they’re using the phone, they’re using the phone, using the phone. Oh, now they’re using the chat bot, chat bot, chat bot, phone, phone, phone. That tells you that they weren’t happy with the chat bot. No other survey data was given or anything like that, but that digital adoption sequence tells you that something’s wrong there as well. So all of these data points, we, we bring them all together and roll them up to this magic number, this XLA, that says tada, sales is at six, HR is at seven, manufacturing’s at four. And let me just say, that by itself is of no use. Who cares. Who cares what that number is? This is where the real work begins. Um, as Bill Barrett of XLA co-lab says you need to ask two questions: ‘So what?’ And then ‘What now?’ So once you see that data, uh, you, you want to look at the trends. For example, at the individual level, if your engineers were at six and now they’re at seven, uh, why is that? Uh, you want it, you want to dig into that. That was an improvement. Was there something we did, or you may find out that there was some training that was given about how they use Slack. And they’re really excited about that. And now you realize, ‘Okay, I’m going to take that information and I’m going to make a change to my service. I’m going to give everyone that type of training tailored for, how they work and what their business role is. Um, I want to perhaps, uh, look at things on the individual level. Let’s say, for example, if HR was at eight and now they’re down at seven, you know, they’re trending down, again, you want to ask why. What, what happened there? When you drill down, you might find something like the survey data, uh, is showing that a new patch is causing a problem. Windows is causing a problem with their HR software, with Workday. So you fix that and then you add a testing step to prevent that in the future. So now I fixed, you know, two different things. I fix things at the individual level with HR, fix things at the service level, I made an improvement there for the engineers, with the training. And the last is the business level. If you can use this XLA data to give insights back to the business, uh, for example, um, frontline workers, this is really the, the big, the big thing, is you want to see what’s happening with your frontline workers and see positive and negative trends that are affecting their service, whether they’re in, uh, uh, you know, retail or whether they’re in healthcare, they’re the ones, they’re the face of your business. And if they’re trending up or down, you can tell very quickly that the customer experience is going to trend up or down. And you can provide that information to them and they can make some decisions. Is it organizational change? Is it, um, you know, contracting? Is it hiring? Is it an HR thing? You know, these are things outside of IT, XLA gives you a hint as what’s happening and the business can act on it.

 Narrator: One way Unisys offers a great digital experience is by playing to employee preference, especially when it comes to tech support.

Weston Morris: I’d say there’s probably three different levels of personalization. For example, um, air France KLM. One of the things that we recognize with them is their flight crews do not like calling the service desk. Why? Uh, if they contact the service desk and they have to get a call back, well, where are they 30 minutes later? They’re probably at 30,000 feet, calling to the service desk, it’s not going to be effective for them. So what we did is we set up a tech cafe, a different experience, right outside of the flight briefing room. They walk by the flight brief out of the flight briefing room. They walked by the tech cafe. And, ‘Oh, oh yeah, I got a problem on my mobile device here. Let me just pop in here real quick.’ They pop in, and get it taken care of no call to the service desk. They love that. So that was, that’s an example of personalization for a business role. What we’re looking at next is the next level of personalization. Um, I interviewed Sami Kallio, he’s the CEO of Happy Signals. That’s a really interesting company from Finland. And what they do is they survey all the employees and they identify how you like to consume support. Maybe when you call the service desk, you want them to explain every step. You want to understand it. You know, you may not have the understanding coming in, but you want to understand it coming out, even if you never have to do it again. Someone else may be contact the service desk, ‘Just fix it, reduce my time as much as possible.’ Uh, somebody else, uh, might have already looked up, you know, and Bing our Google, all, you know, five or six things that they could do to fix the problem. And when they call the service desk, the last thing they want is the service desk to walk through, you know, the, the first 10 basic steps. ‘Did you try turning it on and off again? Blah, blah, blah.’ Skip that, go straight to step 10 or the resolver group, you know, get me to the next level immediately. So that’s another level of personalization, which I just, I think is really fascinating, you know, uh, how, how to consume support based on your personality, not your business role necessarily. And what’s coming next is, uh, micro personalization. I’m really excited about that. We’re not seeing that truly available, uh, as much as it’s going to be coming. I mean, that requires, there’s a balance there between looking over my shoulder and spying on me to know what I want and need, and, and allowing and giving me the freedom to make changes to how I consume support, or how I interact with others, or how I use my tools or even the devices I use.

Narrator: Another project Weston works on as a learning tool for employees is a podcast called the Digital Workplace Deep Dive. On it, Weston discusses topics like OCM, how security practices impact employee experience, and tips on collaborating in a hybrid office.

Weston Morris:  I tell you the digital workplace deep dive is I’m going to call it a guilty pleasure. I’m just so glad that my company lets me do it. It is just so much fun. I’m very collaborative. I love to share what I’m learning. And so the podcast is just a great way to put that out, to put information out available to, to others about what they’re doing, what their challenges are with the digital workplace, um, whether they are the ones creating new technology or the ones consuming. It’s great to see that balance, balance back and forth. Um, the recent podcast that I’ve just completed, uh, are all, all been security related. We just completed a study. It’s been, I think, the longest running a security related study to see, what are the trends in how people view security, both from an employer, you know, the leaders side of things and the employee side of things, and the contrasts, uh, the disconnects that that exposes, uh, and that was true that with the security study, because it was done in the context of the pandemic. How has the pandemic impacted security? What is the perception of leaders about how secure working from home is as an example and how, what are the actual practices? What are people actually doing? And one of the things that jumped out at me was it revealed that a about 45% of employees that are working from home are installing software that they know, they know is not approved by corporate IT. In their home environment, they just needed it. W Which shows a disconnect, right? You’re not meeting my experience needs, and guess what? I’m going to bypass security and hopefully nothing bad happens as a result. And yet the corporation thinks that that everything’s fine. Um, that, that is a jarring disconnect. It’s, it’s, it’s something that, uh, I think, um, every IT department really needs to be looking at closely. Is how do you do that? I mean, a home network, uh, one of the things we discovered is how many people have the default password on their router? Who else is on the network? One of the cool things that, that I really liked that I saw coming out at our company this last a couple of years is, is phishing training. How to identify phishing email, what’s, uh, a tricky email, but then our CISO starts sending out fake phishing emails to us. And we have a button on our, on our outlook where we can report phishing. And th the, the idea is to be sensitive to it, to train us. And if we see something we think is a phishing email, we just click that button. It goes off to an AI bot that does some initial checks, and then if needed, it goes to a real human, and then you get notified. ‘Yeah, that that was a phishing email. Good job. You protected us. We’re going to now mass that from everybody.’ But then we get these fake emails. Like for example, a bonus time last year, it was around bonus time. An email pops up, you know, it had bonuses in the headline and I immediately clicked on it. And up pops a message that says, ‘Hey, this was a phishing email test. You failed. Here’s what you should have looked for.’ You know, ‘Hover over the URL. You should have seen this. You should’ve seen this misspelled word,’ and, and the training that way is just way, way, way, way more effective than just having, you know, the training videos. So something like that is I think something that all enterprises should consider.

Narrator: We’ve been cruising right along here, but there’s stormy weather ahead. Weston is about to share his perspective on the more turbulent side of employee experience.

Let’s talk about what most negatively affects the employee experience. 

Weston Morris: You know, just poor decision by leaders. They have the biggest impact on experience. Even though we, as employees have a responsibility as well. Uh, you see sometimes top-down mandating of a change without explaining why the change is happening or giving feedback, or even beforehand. Um, my most recent podcast was with, um, two organizational change management experts, OCM experts, Mike Levine, and Jillian Oaks. And they shared an experience. A Jillian was talking about a one client where the client said, yeah, I know we’re rolling out something new, but we don’t think training is needed. It’s just never been needed before. We don’t need it now. But during the course of discovery, Gillian discovered that, uh, at this company, all tickets were being entered by these PAs, these assistants, uh, personal assistants. There was about 80 of them. They, you know, your average employee isn’t entering in a ticket for help or anything where we make service requests. It’s done by proxy by these PA’s. And nobody had paid attention that they were not aware of this change that was coming, that they now had to use a new technology, they had to use a new process. So fortunately they caught that ahead of time and they were able to provide the training. Um, they, they, they realized the mistake that training is, is now a very important part of the process.

Narrator: Another mistake as an EX leader can be misreading data.

Weston Morris: You really have to be careful about what you’re measuring and what you’re inferring from that. Uh, as we look back at the last two years, uh, you know, during the early days of the pandemic, I think there’s a lot of panic. It’s like, oh my goodness, how are we going to get all these people working from home? And people realize in many places we had the technology, we had mobile, we had laptops, we had cloud-based tools, collaboration tools. It was just a matter of kind of packaging those up differently and getting them, getting them in the home office. So there was a bit of euphoria after that. They were measuring productivity. Right. And they go, ‘Productivity is up. This is awesome.’ But the reality was, you know, we weren’t able to do anything else. Right? They’ve already binge watched it, you know, Seinfeld or the office or whatever. And they couldn’t go to restaurants or sports events or anything. So they just stayed home and worked and worked some more. And so that’s, that’s what showed that productivity was up, but that is not sustainable. And that’s now led to, what’s been called this great resignation. So I think the lesson for me is you really need to make sure you’re measuring the right stuff and have a holistic picture. And you need to have two way communication to understand what the real experience is of your employees.

Narrator: And sometimes it’s hard to know what tech tools will be useful for employees.

Weston Morris: There’s been times, I’ll be honest, where we thought, ‘Okay, we’ll just deploy the technology, build it, they will come.’ Uh, that rarely works. I Here’s where it does work is where the technology is already being used in the consumer environment. Like you’ve been using it at home. Um, you know, we’ve all gotten used to Siri and Cortana and Alexa and Google. So when that comes into the office, people aren’t as surprised by it. But maybe how you’re using it and the limitations on it. I could do this with it at home, but now I can’t do that at work? Hmm, uh, why? So I go back to this org organizational change management, um, it’s needed you, you need to explain what’s changing, why it’s changing, what my role is in that change. And then, if it doesn’t work right, where do I go to get help? If you can answer those questions, I’m going to feel good about it. And I’m going to mostly support, uh, or maybe even be an, an ambassador for it, for this change as it’s coming.

Narrator: And even well-meaning initiatives can have unintended consequences.

Weston Morris: Well, kind of going back to XLAs and SLAs, at one of the, the things I’ve noticed about SLAs is they do have unintended consequences. We talked about some of the measures in an SLA, one might be in a service desk, your average handle time. You know, the thinking was ‘Okay, let’s reduce that, keep the, the amount of time that your, your, uh, service desk spends on the phone as short as possible, because that should make your employees happier and it should cost us less, right? It should be less expensive.’ But the reality is that actually decreased experience. That forced the behavior. You probably experienced it. You can tell when that’s how they’re being measured, you’re on the phone with them. And it’s like, ‘Okay, I’m either going to hand you off to somebody or we’ve fixed it, right? You know, and you’re going to give me, uh, a five on, on the, on the score there.’ So that kind of forces a behavior of not really giving the caller the best experience. You know, uh, allowing people to spend as much time as is needed within reason to to solve the problem when they can. We find out that people want to help solve the problem and, and experience is better rather than to have, uh, you know, be handed off to someone else.

Narrator: And when something doesn’t work, or doesn’t work as planned, how do you course correct?

Weston Morris:  I think anytime that there’s a failure, it’s kind of easy to get into the trap of finger-pointing. But the reality is not all changes work. Uh, where I’ve seen it really work well is when you try to fail fast and move on, dot not to allow the failure to linger and take forever to be discovered. And, um, you know, it’s hard to do if you, as a leader are discouraged. So, uh, one of the things I do is, is try to focus on my own attitude first. And my wife is really great at this. She’ll point out, ‘Hey, you know, what you said was okay. But how you said it, you kind of sounded snarky.’ Um, so I think it’s good to have someone with you who is going to be honest about, you know, what you’re doing and how it’s affecting others.

Weston Morris:  I find that my, my current leader is really, really, really good at that. I mean, he’s looking at what’s going on with the organization, how everybody is functioning. And you don’t often find that in a leader because, you know, there’s just an, a built in, um, inability to, or a fear of communicating or being totally honest. But when you can create an environment like that, it really makes a difference.

Narrator: It’s clear Weston is working to create that environment of open and respectful communication that he learned from his mentor. And with all that we’ve learned from Weston today, he has one more parting thought.

Weston Morris: Don’t be quick to, to judge somebody or put them in the box. A lot of times that first impression is not, you know, not quite right. And, and realizing that everyone, everyone you meet is going to be smarter or better than you at something. You know, if you can find out that is an extract that gem from that other person, it’s just going to help you. Um, and then the flip side is be ready to collaborate and share. Yeah, I, I say better together at least once a week. And I know my colleagues when they hear that they go, oh, he didn’t get through the podcast without saying better together, but that is so true. I feel like if you have one good thing and another good thing, bringing them together, in many cases, is going to provide maybe a whole new thing that that is just awesome. Um, or at least make each of them incrementally better.

Narrator: Finding what someone is best at is like extracting a gem from them. If you can find what each team member is best at and harness it to your advantage, the whole team will not only be stronger, but each person will feel a greater sense of purpose in their work. And it’s by establishing a flow of communication with employees that you can not only discover their strength, but get a handle on what their experience at the company is really like. So ask the questions, change what isn’t working, and you, too, can fine tune your employee experience.

Thank you for listening to this episode of Cruising Altitude. This episode is brought to you by Firstup, the company that is redefining the digital employee experience to put people first and lift companies up by connecting every worker, everywhere with the information that helps them do their best work. Firstup has helped over 40% of the Fortune 100 companies like Amazon, AB InBev, Ford and Pfizer stay agile and keep transforming. Learn more at firstup.io

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Cruising Altitude

Lessons from companies over 30,000 employees

In this podcast, we will talk to leaders who are designing the best digital employee experiences in the world – from the front lines to the back office. Life is different over 30,000. Welcome to Cruising Altitude.

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