As Courtney Branson writes for HR Daily Advisor, the role of HR is undergoing a transformation. That probably doesn’t come as a surprise to those serving in HR roles—it’s a profession that has been impacted significantly over the past few years by technology, as well as the economy and other forces.
“Where HR traditionally focused on compliance and risk management, over the past few decades, with the growth of culture-forward companies, it’s evolved to encompass the entire experience. HR managers are now, arguably, also designers and keepers of company culture,” Branson writes.
This new role is that of an “experience designer”—a sharp contrast to the perceived role of HR professionals as “policy cops.” Moving into the role of experience designer requires some shifts in approaches, though. In her article, Branson explains some steps she’s used to help create strong cultures at two tech companies; Match.com and Square Root.
Creating a strong culture requires back-and-forth communication with employees—those actually experiencing the culture. “Just like any product worth its salt, culture would be nothing without user feedback,” Branson writes. “Working at technology companies, I’ve learned how crucial user feedback is to the product development process. And yet, my first foray into culture development at Match.com neglected the user—our team.”
Branson recommends starting the process of culture creation by asking questions of employees. What do they like about the current culture? What do they expect from the organization? What workplace cultural elements have they heard about at other organizations that they would like to have implemented at your organization? What do they flat out just not like about your current culture?
With something as subjective and fluid as culture, you’re not likely to get it perfectly correct on the first try. It’s necessary to iterate—implementing gradual improvements and working off of continuous feedback and input from your stakeholders.
“Much like with product design,” says Branson, “when building a culture, failure often happens along the path to success. Every failure offers a great learning opportunity.”
The role of HR is changing, and that is often seen as a positive for HR professionals who find the role of the experience designer to be rewarding.
Designing an employee experience is a much different function than engagement in compliance and risk management. It involves a greater level of back-and-forth communication with employees and can require a bit more trial and error as well.