Ep. 13: Employee Experience = Employer of Choice


5 min read

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Speaker 1: Welcome to the Inclusive Growth Show with Toby Mildon, future-proofing your business by creating a diverse work place.


Toby Mildon: Hello and welcome to this episode of The Inclusive Growth Show, I'm Toby Mildon. And I'm joined by a brilliant guest today, his name is Miles Skelton, and he is the founder of MVMNT. Miles welcome to the show.


Miles Skelton: Thanks for having me Toby, you're too kind.


Toby Mildon: Excellent. So, Miles what is MVMNT and what do you do and how did you set up your business?


Miles Skelton: Well, my career sort of took two paths. I first got involved with recruitment in the late 90s with one of the pioneers of the time, they were called Taps.com, and it was known as new media back then, which seems like such an old phrase now. And then I got involved with a CV matching company called MatchWork and launched them over into the UK. And again, they were one of the pioneers, and at the same time, I was lucky enough for my career to be... Meaning that I was working my way up into leadership roles, and latterly, I was the managing director of a creative recruitment company. And at the same time, I think I've become fascinated with the people side of things, Toby. How building teams that interact well with each other and all the components that go with that, means that you get more creativity and productivity, and how inclusive working cultures can lead to better things. Making lots of mistakes as I went along, which I still do today, but hopefully just making the once.


Miles Skelton: And then if you add to that the experience of my wife going back to work after her mat leave about 10 years ago and being very much excluded from her role in a major organization, everything started coming together for the idea of MVMNT and what we want to do. And I guess we explain ourselves by saying, look after the people you've already got and be more attractive to those you want. So that's inclusion, diversity strategies, EVP and employer branch, I know we're gonna talk about a bit more today, and looking at culture and the psychology behind culture and offering some training on that as well.


Toby Mildon: That's brilliant. Your consultancy is excellent, and you're right, one of the things that we're gonna be talking about on this episode is EVP, which is employee value proposition say. So, let's begin with that question, what is an EVP?


Miles Skelton: I think EVP in its simplest form is the reasons why somebody should work for you as opposed to somebody else. We like to think of it as your story as an employer as told by the beating heart of your organization, your people. We've got a slight issue. Issues maybe a too strong a word, but with the words EVP, employee, value, proposition, because it appears very much a HR term and probably means very little to the people that are working in an organization. So the first thing, so if you're gonna be inclusive and involve them all, which of course you should, we suggest for leadership teams to perhaps refer to it as employee experience, it's just something that's a little more palatable, and when you send out communication to your people, they'll probably be able to understand a little bit better what you're trying to do. We're trying to capture our employee experience, so we can attract the best people, but also make it better for the people that are working here currently. And then your brand is how you all bring it to life externally.


Miles Skelton: I'd also like to say, I think that EVP or employ experience, EX for short, isn't a document, it's not a piece of paper that states this or that, it's a collection of things that builds together why you're an employer of choice. And in the past, it's perhaps centred quite a lot on benefits and rewards, the what's in it for me part. But, yeah, the contractual bits but not the bits that maybe make you different or unique as an employer.


Toby Mildon: I'm glad that you've talked about EVP being a HR term because I've worked in HR departments, and it is a term that we throw around the office, and when I wrote my book Inclusive Growth, the central chapter I called a Colleague Experience in Design. And it was all about removing speed humps and road blocks that prevent employees from completing a journey. So you could look at your recruitment journey, for example, and you might be using an inaccessible careers website, so somebody who's blind, that's using a screen reader is unable to submit their job application to you. And the whole thing is about creating those more inclusive employee experiences, and it's not about fixing individuals, but about fixing the business structures that are holding people back.


Miles Skelton: I agree, and if you think of the words value proposition as well, it very much lends itself to, how am I going to be rewarded? Or an EVP should also cover things like the working environment, have you got all the tools that you need in order to do your job effectively? Which for some groups, of course, it's gonna be more obvious than for others. And then what opportunities that are available in an organization, what learning and development, what chances are there to progress? Can I see other role models progressing as well? What's the organization's roadmap, where are they heading? What support am I gonna get from leadership and management? And then the crucial bit, the culture and the safety, the belonging part, the bit that will bring out the shared purpose. So, yeah, I think it's a lot more than this proposition. You're right, it's an employee, it's an experience, and as I mentioned before about making you an employer of choice.


Toby Mildon: Yeah, and like you say it's not a document which...


Miles Skelton: Yeah, absolutely.


Toby Mildon: Which can sometimes be a bit dull and boring. It's a lived experience for employees.


Miles Skelton: Yeah, and it's something that's fluid as well, it's continually changing. You can add to it and it you should move as the business moves, and as your strategy moves within a business your employee experience will adapt to that as well.


Toby Mildon: So when you are working with clients and you're helping them to craft their EVP...


Miles Skelton: Yeah.


Toby Mildon: What do you see organizations often missing out of their experiences?


Miles Skelton: I think the first thing that leaders often think about when they're thinking of employee experiences is purely something that will be used for recruiting. We can say all these great things about our organization, which will encourage us to get many more applications, but a well-crafted employee experience should actually speak to the people that are currently there as much as perspective new hires. So, it should help your retention. And for most businesses, there's nothing more frustrating than spending a lot of cash on hiring people only for them to bugger off at the first available opportunity, because it's not what they expected. So, it's worth delving into a little bit more. I think putting an EVP together is similar to putting together an inclusion strategy. And we'll very often work with people side... On these two things side-by-side for that simple reason. It's led by the people that work there. And if you advertise your organization as somewhere totally different from the place that your current people are experiencing, you're gonna have a team who don't believe what you're saying, which is going to affect your culture, your inclusion.


Miles Skelton: But similarly if you explain your organization as a place where we have shared purpose and your new hires arrive and find an entirely different place, they're gonna feel cheated. And you won't get back after that initial shock of it being somewhere different than they thought it was. So, I think the keyword here is that your EVP has to be authentic, it has to be something that captures the mood of your people, but has to have that bit of aspiration in it, so that they'll want to stay and come along for the ride. And I think it's totally okay in an EVP to say that this is us at the moment, this is what we're great at, this is where we could perhaps improve, and these are the steps that we're going to take in order to try and get there.


Toby Mildon: Excellent. I mean, so what does a really good EVP look like, particularly if an organization wants to make sure that it's an inclusive experience for its employees?


Miles Skelton: I think EVP and the employee experience should be, by nature, inclusive. It's the story of you as told by your people. So, they have to be heavily involved in putting it together. So, this means that everybody needs to be represented. And one thing we always work on with clients is to make sure that they understand all of the different communities that exist in their organization in order to get their voice. An example of that, we worked with a client recently, and it became very apparent through some workshops that we did with their staff that some communities were feeling a little bit misunderstood. They said it was their nature not to be so involved, not to be the first person with a hand up, and not to get so into discussions, and that was perceived perhaps as them not caring so much or being indifferent when it was just their nature through their heritage. And as you will well know as well, Toby, some of the communities are more easily identifiable. So, it's easy just to focus on the perceived underrepresented groups and gender ethnicity, where those other communities can sometimes be forgotten, especially those with hidden traits.


Miles Skelton: So, if we move away from the recognized areas of diversion inclusion, an organization could have tens of groups of communities. People who cycle to work is a community, or people who don't drink, or people who like fitness is another community. So, you're inclusive EVP has to appeal and relate to everybody. And it's so connected, I guess, with being your true self and with belonging. If we look at the current situation that we're in, it's been taken a stage further with COVID, because we've got so many people that are attempting to work from home. I don't really use the phrase work from home, because I think it's the a case of just trying to function reasonably and getting through an enforced situation. But loads of new communities are being formed. People who have to share a bedroom with a partner in order to be able to work or people who are on their own. So, your employee experience has to appeal and be inclusive to all these different people so, you can understand who they are, the extra pressures that they're under, and how it can maybe be made better. So, it goes back to authenticity, and as an employer, how empathetic you are to those groups.


Toby Mildon: If the person listening to this episode wants to create their inclusive EVP or perhaps they've got an EVP that they want to refresh, how would they go about doing that?


Miles Skelton: I think I've touched on this already, but it begins with their people. Perhaps a step before is to set out very clear objectives, what are you trying to achieve by this, what are the key issues that you have at the moment and that you want addressing, and what will the outcome look like? It might be that you're losing lots of people, your staff turnover is huge. Are you struggling to recruit? It might be that your company is merging with somebody else. So, yeah, what is the reason that you're putting this together or refreshing. Then it's time to talk to your people. We do something that we call the three views in order to get a really rounded view of what's going on in an organization. The first view would be the view from above, senior leadership team, and what are their aspirations, what's their strategy, what's their vision, and I guess their take on the culture of an organization. Then the second view is the people that are gonna shape it. How do your communities feel about working at the organization? This might be an initial survey followed up by group workshops.


Miles Skelton: So, I know it can be a bit death by survey, so this is where initial communication will really, really help. We want your help, that bit of vulnerability from leadership as well. We want your help in explaining your experience, so we can make it better for you. Will you be involved in our employee experience project? The data, of course, that you'll get from this is gold, and then any specific points or issues or good bits and bad bits that arise can be discussed further in workshops. But that's the core of what you want to do.


Miles Skelton: And then the third view that we do is the view from outside, and that's how an organization is perceived by others and also by the communication that they're putting out themselves. So that could be across social channels, across their website, the language that they use. We put everything into a mixer and stir it up and have a look at what pops out the other side. The good, the bad, and the bits that you can improve on. But the key throughout, which you will have gathered, is to involve your people, giving them that voice in something that they will feel part of. And then I think you can be sure that they're gonna be ambassadors for it, when it gets rolled out.


Toby Mildon: So this is the Inclusive Growth Show, and I'm wondering what inclusive growth means for you at MVMNT and the clients that you work with?


Miles Skelton: There's a couple of parts, probably in my mind, most of the people that we work with have one challenge, which is sort of bigger or more accentuated than another. It might be, as I mentioned before, that they're about to grow massively, they've lost a little bit of track of who they are. Gone from start-up to grown up very often, if they're growing quickly. They might have merged, they could be losing their best people and are unsure why. Or maybe just under achieving, lacking a little bit of creativity. So in order for that to be rectified, to be able to meet the challenges that are coming up and move forward in the best way, they're going to need their people on side, need them as a strong unit in a space where everyone feels like they can be themselves and that they belong. And where differences, I guess, are encouraged and celebrated and people aren't getting left behind, people feel like they've got a voice, this shared purpose in helping an organization achieve their goals. So that for me is inclusive growth.


Miles Skelton: Second part, I guess, is the new world in which we find ourselves in now. With the challenges that we're currently facing and are gonna face in the coming months, through COVID. We've heard that the new normal being spoken about quite a lot. At MVMNT, we said that we're not gonna use this phrase, we prefer to talk about new beginnings. And companies that maybe haven't got everything right before, have got a wonderful opportunity now to hit the reset button and to craft new strategies that include all of their people, all of their communities, at the heart of these new strategies. So now more than ever before, it probably feels easier to feel like you don't belong in an organization. You're remote, not just physically. So yeah, inclusive growth for us feels like it's a chance to understand and hearing your people, appreciating the differences, coming together and create something really special for all of them. And for some that will be rebuilding, but you'll need to do it with the help of your people, for others it will be pivoting and re-imagining what your business can look like. But, yeah, everyone coming together in a shared direction and new beginnings feels quite an apt way to explain that at the moment.


Toby Mildon: So, Miles thank you ever so much for joining me on this episode of the Inclusive Growth Show. I've really enjoyed our conversation. If the person listening to this episode wants to get in touch with you, what's the best way of doing that?


Miles Skelton: Best way you can visit my LinkedIn profile Miles Skelton, there aren't too many of us, Toby, so I normally get found. And our website is, This Is MVMNT. And Movement is spelt, M-V-M-N-T. We think vowels are overrated, dot com. Drop us a message there, and we'd love to have a chat and hear more about what's going on with you.


Toby Mildon: Fantastic. Miles, thank you ever so much for joining me on today's episode. And thank you for tuning into this episode of the Inclusive Growth Show, I hope to see you on the next one that's coming up shortly. Until then, goodbye.


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Speaker 1: Thank you for listening to the Inclusive Growth Show, for further information and resources from Toby and his team, head on over to our website at mildon.co.uk.