employee experience and reality television

Employee experience lessons you can learn from reality TV

Written by guest blogger Matt Sullivan, Regional Director – West at Akumina

Over the weird chunk of time between Christmas and New Year’s, I found myself with little guidance of what media to consume. For better or worse, my wife had HOURS of DVR to catch-up on, mostly being some flavor of “Real Housewives.” 

The gravitational pull of my couch was too much to fight and I found myself being bludgeoned with this content to the point that I started to actually say things like, “Wait, let’s do one more episode. I need to see what Tamra does.” 

Thankfully, I was able to escape back to the office, but I also started to realize that there were some lessons from reality television that could be applied to Employee Experience. It may be a bumpy ride, but stay with me on this one.  

Everything Depends on Clear Communication 

If bad news travels fast, fake news flies First Class. In any season of Real Housewives there is a rumor about someone doing something. There may be a kernel of truth, but no one is letting the facts get in the way of a good story. By the end of an episode, the story has branched and taken on a life of its own, often spiraling away from any shred of the original truth.  

The person at the center of the rumor runs damage control and often is confronting other cast members what was said and to whom. The individuals that were party to the dissemination find themselves backtracking, apologizing, and confronting every person that was downstream from their gossip.  

A single and concise way of sharing information and communication is key. Just as the Housewives twist details in subsequent retellings, employees are often playing a game of telephone if there isn’t a centralized method of communication in an organization. Leveraging a central communications platform will help save a lot of mascara.  

Connect Everything 

Usually there’s some big event coming up that is of personal interest to one cast member. Then others get involved, someone has a business or charity they want to involve, more people are invited, and now this event is a story arc over several episodes. In the best of cases, all this integration of other organizations and people leads to result being greater than the sum of all parts. In the worst case it leads to an epic fight and meltdown, which is still a win for the audience.  

Thankfully, in business, connecting your resources and tools will lead to the former happening. As integration happens between people and systems, there is an opportunity to scale effective work and communications. If I can see relevant documents from my OneDrive based on a Salesforce opportunity, plus I can now send messages to my teammates all in one screen, I save time. Furthermore, this level of integration starts to surface information for multiple systems that I may never have realized had relevance. By streamlining my access to data from multiple systems, I can focus on my job instead of searching for the resources.  

Own the Brand 

Understanding that the final product that we see on the screen is heavily produced and edited, we still need to realize that each cast member is fitting into a role. They own their brand from “Lovable Debutante” to “Manipulative Heel.” Furthermore, most reality television stars do an amazing job of parlaying their image into endorsements and other projects outside of the show. How many servers from Vanderpump Rules now have books and other projects? The biggest reality TV breakouts are the ones that realize that their value all comes from their brand.  

An employee experience needs to use the brand value of the organization (like this one Church’s Chicken built). Giving employees a generic intranet-in-a-box portal is a disservice to the company. Employees want to buy-in to a brand and vision of their organization, and a great digital employee experience needs to also have this brand. Just as you devote resources into your customer facing website, the intranet needs to have design, user experience, and cohesive branding in place.  

Ultimately, a positive digital experience for your employees means delivering what they need, when they need it, and in a method that improves their ability to work. Many solutions related to work have amazing functionality, but rarely do they enable a worker to operate more effectively. At some point all these tools start to demand attention and employees don’t know where to focus.  

Take digital engagement for employees as seriously as customer experience, and you won’t need Andy Cohen to help you. 

Read More