Latest corporate buzzword? Or the new kind of “superhuman role” in organizations, judging by the list of (huge) responsibilities of a workplace experience manager: to make sure that employees get everything they need to work effectively. To make them feel happy and safe at work AND motivated. To…
A workplace experience specialist is actually any forward-thinking organization’s response to hybrid working demands.
The one shaping the new hybrid workplaces since:
“Work has become a thing that you do, rather than a place where you go,” Founder and CEO of IWG.
But let’s see exactly what a workplace manager does and why you need one to help you shape and optimize the hybrid workplace in your organization.
What Is a Workplace Experience Manager?
A workplace experience manager is the person in the organization who collaborates closely with HR, facilities, and IT to craft and implement the best workplace solutions for the employees.
To create a workplace that people enjoy coming to, working in, and which motivates them to grow:
“The number one reason people change jobs today is “career growth opportunities”. (Gallup)
A workplace that supports people’s needs. And a seamless hybrid experience, as well.
So, the workplace experience manager will always be operating with this trio — people, technology, and space — to create the best workplace experience.
This means that his/her day-to-day responsibilities go from:
- making sure that the office space — with all its facilities — meets the employees’ needs
- to putting together a digital community for them to share their ideas
- participating in crafting those policies that shape the company culture
- crafting wellness programs
- to… ergonomics and air quality
But let’s take a closer look at some of the most common responsibilities of a workplace experience manager.
What Do Workplace Experience Managers Do?
It looks like a workplace experience coordinator’s main job is to… keep employees satisfied. Throughout their entire employee lifecycles.
Now that’s no easy mission. But one that calls for quite a few hats that the employee experience specialist would need to wear.
Here are some of their most common responsibilities (or “hats to wear”):
1. They Make Employee’s Voices Heard at Top Management Level
An office experience manager will make sure executives are aware of all the different challenges that employees are facing.
And they initiate solutions for solving them, in close collaboration with the HR, IT departments, and the facility manager.
2. They’re the Voice of the Staff When Major Workplace Investments Are Being Considered
Or when new collaborative IT tools — particularly crucial in a hybrid setting — are being selected.
In other words, an employee experience specialist is that person in the organization “pulling a string or two” so that corporate resources are being invested with the employee experience as a top priority.
3. They See That Organizations Get the Most Out of Their Real Estate Investments
And out of their workplace tech investments, too.
“Getting the most out of” the physical office here means creating those workplace experiences that boost employees' engagement and productivity. Which reflects in the company’s overall business success.
That’s what an “efficient workplace” is in the eyes of a workplace experience manager.
4. They See that All the Employees Have Access to the Opportunities and Resources Available
This responsibility becomes particularly critical in a hybrid or remote work model. When the in-person experiences need to be recreated in the online environment.
So a workplace experience specialist will need to make sure that everybody in the company has equal access to the communication tools available. To all the files and other resources.
That they all benefit from the remote-friendly company policies in place.
5. They’re Constantly Looking for Solutions that Drive Employees to Do (and Be) Their Best At Work
These solutions can range from:
- better ergonomics
- to putting together the best well-being and wellness programs
- better air solutions
- organizing coffee tastings
- coming up with a workplace benefit like “pop-up car wash at the office building’s parking lot
- COVID-19 safety
- to organizing “bring your family to work” days
In other words, a dedicated office experience manager will be constantly seeking new solutions that:
- meet employees needs
- give them the opportunity to do meaningful work
- connect them with one another in a way that’s both productive and rewarding
- reduce any friction that might pop up in the workplace
- create experiences that matter
Top Qualities Workplace Experience Manager
Keeping employees engaged, being their voice in top management meetings, connecting/match-making people, developing various programs, coaching both employees and management, collaborating with leaders to identify those high potential employees in the company, amplifying employees’ purpose (bringing their “why’s” into the workplace), seeking the best-integrated design solutions for the workspace, …surprising and delighting.
And the list is almost endless, for there sure is a whole lot on a workplace experience specialist’s plate.
This calls for a handful of qualities, ranging from turning data into business insights to creativity, to relationship-building skills to empathy...
Let’s take a closer look at some of the top qualities that all excellent workplace managers have in common.
They’re Excellent Communicators
A must-have quality considering that they need to advocate for meeting the employees’ needs to the company’s leaders.
And that they then need to translate all the top management’s decisions back to the employees.
Being able to convey complex issues clearly and concisely is a skill no workplace experience coordinator can do his work without.
They’re Able to Solve Problems and Make Good Decisions
A good workplace experience manager will be able to solve recurring problems. On the spot.
But an exceptional one is able to solve totally new and unexpected problems… where there’s no “manual” or past experience to guide them through.
All experience managers are curious, but only the best ones are innovative. Meaning that they go beyond their curiosity level and… take action.
They turn their initiatives into creative workplace solutions.
They have the courage to try new technologies. And they dare to shape and implement groundbreaking employee programs, new processes, and new ways of working.
They’re Organized and Good at Planning and Project Management
For juggling with massive tasks like organizing the company’s annual teambuilding, developing innovative wellbeing programs, and putting together a new competitive benefits program, does require above-the-average organizational skills.
And this is where top workplace experience specialists set themself apart from… the rest.
They’re Agile Leaders
They need to be or they get caught up in all the ever-changing employee needs and challenges of a hybrid workplace.
It’s crucial for workplace experience managers to keep their calm as new employee needs are being identified or openly expressed, new (hybrid) workplace challenges arise or obstacles in the collaboration with HR and IT teams, with the facility manager or the executives arise and overall difficult situations come up.
Creating and managing experiences at work is a cross-functional role by definition.
So, it goes without saying that an employee experience specialist should be able to manage cross-functional teams and break down departmental silos.
A necessary skill if you consider that a workplace experience manager recommends investing in and helps to choose the best workplace technology. Along with the IT department.
This being said, it’s crucial for him/her to understand how that tech impacts employees’ experience.
And to be able to troubleshoot the problems that might arise once incorporated into the workplace.
They’re Good Listeners and Have Great People Skills
They’re people experience specialists, so they’re equipped with great people skills.
All directors of workplace experience have warm and friendly personalities that make others feel comfortable telling them their needs and the challenges they’re facing at work.
This takes us to another essential skill of a dedicated employee experience specialist: to be good listeners.
Fo, how else could they identify people’s needs if they don’t… listen to them?
Why Should Companies Invest in Hiring a Workplace Experience Manager?
For (at least) 2 good reasons:
Reason #1: They Want to Attract (and Keep) Talented Staff
Which has become increasingly difficult:
“75% of the brightest talent are leaving their organizations inside 2 years, sighting being disillusioned with the caliber of management and frustrated with their unproductive, poorly optimized workplace design”(Quora Consulting)
Long gone are the days when attracting new, highly qualified candidates was strictly the HR department’s role.
When it was all about the recruitment process. With a much lesser focus on retention.
And retention comes down to creating the best workplace experiences for the employees. And continuing to improve and adjust them after they’ve been recruited.
By bringing in the right digital tools, creating the physical environment that meets their needs, and promoting those managerial practices that enhance people’s growth.
And this is where a workplace experience coordinator comes in: to help the company deliver the best experiences for its employees.
If people love what they do, if their performance is managed in a way that drives them to do their best work, not only will they be loyal to the brand/company. But they’ll become its most valuable advocates.
All thanks to a dedicated workplace experience manager, who understands that:
“Employees are the consumers of the workplace (Gallup)”.
That delivering the best customer experiences AND the best employee experiences is equally important.
Reason #2: They Want Their Hybrid Workplaces to Support Their Employees’ Needs
The pandemic has somehow forced companies to adopt the hybrid model of work.
And with it came the challenges of a more fluid workplace: how to translate the in-person experience from the physical offices, into the virtual workplace?
How do you make sure the “new type of workplace” — with some employees working from the office, and others remotely — meets all employee’s needs?
You bring in a workplace experience manager.
This person will be responsible for shaping the best workplace experiences within a “hub-and-spoke” work model. His/her major challenge will be to see that these “corporate hubs” are set up and properly optimized to support collaboration and enhance creativity.
They’ll also be the ones in charge of negotiating with workspace providers for more flexible deals. And those making sure that the corporate offices/chosen co-working spaces are properly located and equipped.
5. Is Having a Workplace Experience Manager Enough to Create a Great Employee Experience?
The answer to this question comes down to the very difference between a bad and a good employee experience: the level of employee engagement.
Companies (even small ones) that put the time and effort needed to create meaningful and collaborative workplace experiences will have a high(er) level of employee engagement.
While those that follow a “pre-established formula” to create the most effective workplace experiences without giving considerate thought (and time) to it — without taking the time to listen to their own employees, their needs, and challenges — will see a lower employee engagement level.
Irrespective of the budget they invest in creating those workplace experiences...
As is the case with welcoming a workplace experience manager on board: it is not enough, by itself, to guarantee a great employee experience throughout the organization.
It will still depend on an array of factors:
How dedicated this person is
How many of the must-have skills listed here he/she has
- How open is the top management to listen to and daring to try this specialist’s solutions?
Now the question that arises is: are you ready to welcome a workplace experience manager into your team? Do you think you need to fill in this new role in your company?