Pharma is slowly but surely realizing that enhancing their customer experience can help reap a rich harvest by maximizing the business Return on Investments (ROI), significantly. However, the key architects behind creating a roadmap for the same are employees of the organization, at various levels of the hierarchy. They ferret out the cutting-edge and data-based inputs. This may, therefore, prompt a very pertinent question for many – what could then be the key drivers for enhancing the customer experience?
A Gartner research paper on ‘customer experience’ found, two-thirds of the drivers for customer satisfaction are related to “feel factors,” or how customers feel during and about their experience. It suggested that ‘leaders should take a similar approach to employee experience, focusing on influencing and improving employees’ feelings about their overall experience through the use of psychological, motivational and social principles. Improving the way the experience feels, can lead to a boost in employee engagement and support a positive company culture.’
Consequently, better the employee experience with the organization, more productive is expected to be the customer experience with the Company’s brands and services.
Against the above backdrop for the pharma industry, this article, besides exploring further developments in this area on a contemporary critical need of today’s pharma leaders. This, I reckon, is - focus on enhancing the employee experience for enhancing the customer experience.
Enhancing employee experience - more important in the new normal:
A recent McKinsey & Company article on employee experience, published on September 30, 2021 – nearly two years after the workplace upheaval by the Covid-19ew pandemic, echoed the same. It reiterated: ‘In an era of workplace upheaval, companies that create tailored, authentic experiences strengthen employee purpose, ignite energy, and elevate organization-wide performance.’
McKinsey research also found, while most people have felt supported by their organizations throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, many have struggled. This continues to linger as some companies are exploring hybrid working models, while many are expecting a full return to the office. Consequently, a gap is getting created between employees’ new concerns and employers’ expectations from them. Some of the major concerns and related expectations of many employees in the new normal, need to be addressed, expeditiously.
Some major ‘employee expectations’:
The McKinsey survey to assess employee views on work and how it has changed, commenced since the Covid-19 disrupted the world, included almost 1,000 individuals. The experience of most respondents was personal in nature and specific to an individual. However, there were several common threads, which include employees’:
- Desire clear responsibilities and opportunities to learn and grow
- Expect their personal sense of purpose to align with that of their organization.
- Want an appropriate physical and digital environment that gives them the flexibility to achieve that elusive work–life balance.
The challenge, therefore, is how do leaders create a win-win situation between an employee’s new expectations and the business interest of the organization while creating a new pathway for business excellence? The researchers opined, this process would provide the leaders a unique opportunity to listen to employees on an ongoing basis and engage them on what matters most for organizational excellence—both near and long term.
Employee experience to occupy the center stage as the pandemic fades:
Based on emerging data, many experts now believe – continuously enhancing the employee experience is a prerequisite to continuously enhancing customer experience, for any sustainable business excellence in the new normal. Thus, organizational focus on the quality of employee experience is expected to occupy the center stage as the pandemic fades.
Several research findings have even gone a step forward. For instance, the Harvard Business Reviewarticle, published on January 14, 2021, on – trends that will shape the work in the new normal, pointed to an interesting area. It said: ‘Employers will shift from managing the employee experience to managing the life experience of their employees.’
Elaborating this point the author reiterated, the Covid-19 pandemic has given the business leaders significantly more visibility in the personal lives of their employees. Particularly in the last two years, as they navigate through unprecedented personal and professional challenges. The study also emphasized: ‘It’s become clear that supporting employees in their personal lives more effectively enables employees to not only have better lives, but also to perform at a higher level.’
Obviously, the question that will follow: Is there any tangible evidence to establish that enhancing the employee experience will improve organizational performance?
Focus on enhancing employee experience improves business performance:
Among studies in this area. I shall quote here a study that was conducted amid the Covid-19 pandemic. This one is Gartner’s 2020 ReimagineHR Employee Survey, which found, among others:
- When employers develop deeper relationships with their employees there is a 23% increase in the number of employees reporting better mental health and a 17% increase in the number of employees reporting better physical health.
- Employers who support their employees more holistically realize a 21% increase in high performers.
- At typical organizations where employees work a standard 40 hours per week in the office, only 36% of employees were high performers. When organizations shift from this environment to one of radical flexibility where employees have a choice over where, when, and how much they work, 55% of employees were high performers.
- The researchers concluded: “Offering employees more choices, over when, where and how many hours they work, is not only better for employees, but also better for employers who end up with more high-performing employees as a result.”
Positive employee experience creates 16 times more engagement level:
Another McKinsey survey noted, enhancing employee experience would basically entail what they value in the life stages they are. Different propositions may attract different people. Thus, an organization needs to ascertain by talking to them on an ongoing basis, how they view their employee journeys, for delivering well-tailored interventions to maximize satisfaction, performance, and productivity. It’s worth noting that some employees now may be happier feeling a powerful sense of being able to influence outcomes that matter to them—allied with a strong sense of identity and belonging.
It also found, people with a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience, and that they are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company.
Another article - ‘The future of work after COVID-19’, published by the same Company, on February 18, 2021, reported something that’s worth pondering. It said, ‘that jobs in work arenas with higher levels of physical proximity are likely to see greater transformation after the pandemic, triggering knock-on effects in other work arenas as business models shift in response.’ Many pharma marketing related activities will fall in this category.
Hence, the bottom-line is, enhancing the customer experience by enhancing employee experience, will be imperative for business excellence in the new normal. However, successful accomplishment of this task on the ground by pharma leadership may not be a piece of cake. They need to walk the talk, jettisoning the traditional top-down model in most organizations of the industry.
By: Tapan J. Ray
Disclaimer: The views/opinions expressed in this article are entirely my own, written in my individual and personal capacity. I do not represent any other person or organization for this opinion.