EXPERT CONVOS: With Employee Experience Expert Jacob Morgan

I learned about Author, Speaker and Thought Leader, Jacob Morgan just about 2 years ago from a friend of mine in the Human Resources space. Since then I have not only followed Jacob on Twitter (@jacobm), I have listened to his podcasts and read his books. If you are interested in company culture, employee experience and/or the future of work (hint: as a Founder/CEO you should be), I highly recommend doing the same.

Jacob is also one of the people at the top of my list to interview since I started my blog and newsletter. Needless to say, I super excited he agreed to speak with me so I can bring his insights to the Founder Forward Community.


Since I first learned about Employee Experience or “EX” from you, I’d love to have you define it. What exactly does EX cover and how is it different from employee engagement?

JM: It's about redesigning the core workplace practices of your organization around your people. It's focused on three environments, which are culture, technology, and physical space. Employee engagement has become this idea of investing in perks and benefits to distract employees from what it's really like to work there! Experience is the cause of something and engagement is the outcome.

In your experience, where is it that companies most often get EX wrong?

JM: They confuse engagement with experience and they spend a lot of time and energy in trying to measure and create an outcome without understanding the cause. We get very obsessed with doing the "easy" stuff of perks and benefits and we don't spend enough time doing the hard stuff of actually changing work.

When I talk about EX with the startups I work with, many are hearing about it for the first time.  That is likely because startups wait so long (too long) to hire HR, and even then that person is mostly dedicated to recruiting.  Any words of wisdom - or perhaps anecdotal or statistical evidence from your work  -  that might compel founders to prioritize designing and evolving EX from the earliest of days?

JM: I have studied 252 companies around the world and the ones that invest in employee experience have a superior stock performance, are more profitable have lower turnover, higher customer satisfaction, and much higher levels of productivity, so that's a good start!

Employee experience is something that should be designed with rather than for employees. Any best practices for doing this effectively?

JM: The question is the answer! Don't do things for people do things with them. Create digital and in-person feedback mechanisms so that employees and leadership can have constant dialogue around what they care about and value. I call this the employee experience design loop and have an image in my book which visualizes it.

Let’s talk Future of Work. What are the core differences you see between work today and work 5 or 10 years from now?

JM: I think we have seen quite a lot of change just in the sheer number of organizations around the world that are making investments in their people. Employee experience is now a concept that is global and every company wants to know how to do this effectively. 5-10 years ago we didn't really hear much about this so it's great to see this change. Of course, along with this, we see new conversations emerging around leadership, technology, and work in general!

You talk a lot about how the role of management is changing.  Can you tell us more about that?

I have a graphic I created called the evolution of the manager which became quite popular. I outlined a few things in that graphic such as the new focus on earning leadership, coaching and mentoring, embracing soft skills like vulnerability, and others. Basically, the role of managers is to help make other people more successful than them!

Same question for teams. How will the structure of teams be different in the future?

JM: More diversity across the board for sure and also smaller more nimble and cross- functional teams.

Many founders I work with lament how difficult collaboration and culture become when you hire remote workers.  Any tips or tools for easing their pain?

 JM: I work with a remote team so I get it, but I haven't actually found it to be that difficult. We use technologies to communicate on a regular basis such as Skype and Asana. We stay organized and we have set times to catch up on stuff. Easiest things you can do is make use of technology and be structured!

What haven’t I asked you about the Future of Work that you think is particularly relevant for startups?

JM: I think we have covered quite a lot! Can't think of anything else. I just want to encourage people to think about the future of work as something they create and build versus something that happens to them.

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