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Why Experience Matters to Today’s Workforce

By Nishith Jain

A better experience depends on redesigning core workplace practices to center on employees and on creating curated experiences that will help them in moments that matter. 

I believe all of the organizations today are asking this very question: “What should companies focus on to bring out their workers’ best talents and energies?” Based on my personal experience, the answer lies in whether we embrace the essence of ‘experience’ in the workplace or not.

Steve Jobs once said this: “Technology alone is not enough—it is technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.” The world of work is transforming, and we need to understand the underlying forces shaping this change. One of the major forces is our rapid movement into an era of experience.

A century ago, companies were focused on utility-based models, and basic tools were provided to employees to get the job done. The next wave was driven by productivity, and companies focused on making their employees work harder and faster, in order to make their processes more efficient.

Then came the concept of putting the customer first, in the era of customer satisfaction. However, soon came to a realization that employees are just as important as customers and usually have a deeper and more enduring relationship with their organizations than customers do. This epiphany resulted in the age of engagement, paying more attention to the employees’ well-being.

Surprisingly, these engagement scores have recently started to level off. Research in fact clearly highlights that the most critical factor for employees is the work itself. Employees care about how their work can bring out their own best talents, how it can shape their careers, how they can derive meaning from what they do, and how it can serve a larger purpose. The future of work will thus revolve around the experience of work.

A recent research project by MIT concludes that employee experience is a good predictor of business performance. The study shows that employee experience has the potential to achieve greater innovation, customer satisfaction, and profitability, twice more.

A better experience depends on redesigning core workplace practices to center on employees and on creating curated experiences that will help them in moments that matter.

Such a transformation should make the work itself simpler and more intuitive. An experience-centered work model has three dimensions:

(a) developing technology in the service of humans, and not just for the sake of creating “cool” technologies;

(b) expanding our concept of workplaces to include both physical and digital spaces, and nurturing spaces where employees can be their authentic selves;

(c) bringing culture to the core of business by putting people at its heart and infusing a sense of belonging.

This excerpt is from Nishith Jain’s chapter, “The Future of Work is Transforming—Are You?,” from The Center for Asia Leadership’s Rethinking Asia 7 – The Future of Work: How To Prepare For It. To learn more, please visit https://asialeadership.org/publication/.

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