Chief Human Resources Officer

PayPal's Global Head of Employee Engagement on Reimagining the Employee Experience

Aimie Aronica, Global Head of Employee Engagement, PayPal, examined what it takes to reinvent the employee experience in her keynote address to Argyle’s CHRO membership at the 2017 Human Capital Forum: Employee Experience in the Digital Era in San Francisco on March 22. In her presentation, “How PayPal Is Reimagining the Employee Experience,” Aronica described some of the ways that her organization is using HR initiatives as “people products.”

According to Aronica, meeting with an HR professional sometimes can be difficult. In many instances, HR professionals will want to help employees and support them in any way they can. Unfortunately, HR professionals frequently deliver subpar employee experiences that can resonate across an organization.

“It feels like you have to go to the doctor when you interact with HR,” Aronica noted.

In addition, HR professionals may offer training programs to provide employees with helpful tips and skills that they can use to foster career growth. At the same time, HR professionals rarely, if ever, use these training programs to drive employee engagement.

“The quality is not there because people are in a hurry to get [the training] done,” Aronica stated. “[The training] feels very compliant.”

Perhaps worst of all, many HR professionals provide employees with a broad range of technologies that they can use to connect with one another. On the other hand, HR professionals often fail to teach employees how to use assorted technologies effectively.

“[Technology] feels very complicated. What tool do I use for what? … [Technology should be] about making things less complicated,” Aronica said.

Ultimately, HR professionals need to reimagine the way they perform day-to-day tasks. With an employee-first approach, HR professionals may be able to transform an ordinary employee experience into an unforgettable one.

“We want employees to get excited about working with HR and ask for help.”

Aronica pointed out that HR professionals should strive to deliver a “spa-like experience” when they interact with employees.

At a spa, a guest will receive unprecedented support. Moreover, guests want to visit spas because they know they can enjoy an outstanding experience at any time.

“When you go to the spa, you know what you’re going to get,” Aronica indicated. “You know that someone’s going to take care of you and welcome you with a smile and be happy to see you. And you know that is going to be an amazing experience.”

For HR professionals, it is important to learn about the employee experience. These professionals should allocate the necessary time and resources to understand how employees feel about a company, its culture and their everyday activities. That way, HR professionals can gain valuable insights to drive meaningful business improvements.

“What if HR wanted to come and work with you and get advice about what they could do for you to help their employee get what they wanted. Isn’t that the experience that we want? We want employees to get excited about working with HR and ask for help,” Aronica said.

Technology enablement can play an important role in the success of managers and employees as well.

“Managers and employees are moving so quickly and being asked to do so much. We need to look at what are the things that we can take off of them through technology.”

HR professionals should provide managers and employees with reliable, user-friendly technology that drives engagement. With the right technologies in place, managers and employees can streamline everyday processes and become more productive and efficient.

“Managers and employees are moving so quickly and being asked to do so much,” Aronica pointed out. “We need to look at what are the things that we can take off of them through technology.”

Also, getting the pulse of a workforce requires HR professionals to work directly with employees.

An organization may use “proxies” to accelerate the process of collecting employee feedback. However, these proxies cannot serve as viable alternatives to working directly with employees and learning from them.

“Our HR business partners were being used as proxies for our employees,” Aronica stated. “We weren’t really going and talking to our employees. But we thought our proxies were going and talking to our employees. And therefore, they were the voice of our employees. And this could not be further from the truth.”

How HR professionals approach the employee experience can have far-flung effects on an organization.

If HR professionals interact with employees and try to learn from them consistently, they may be able to uncover innovative ways to help a business improve its day-to-day operations. Conversely, HR professionals who focus exclusively on bottom-line results are unlikely to build trust with employees – something that may do more harm than good for an organization.

The employee experience should remain an ongoing priority for HR professionals. Meanwhile, HR professionals who are driven to enhance the employee experience may help an organization boost employee engagement and retention levels and gain a competitive advantage over its rivals.

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