2024 Preview of the 7th Annual HX of Work Survey


We have launched our 7th annual survey. Here is a first look at the research we will share, focusing on the rapid growth of HX roles, and what companies and HX Leaders are doing to build new capabilities and support a transformation to new, more effective ways of working.

We invite you to take the survey here & receive our report on January 1st. Our goal is to share what we all are learning & improve the Human Experience of Work.

Employee Experience (or as we prefer to call it: the Human Experience of Work or ‘HX’) is the ‘Third Wave’ of Experience disciplines, after User Experience (UX) and Customer Experience (UX). These were created to develop Consumer Technology over the past 4 decades which contributed, in turn, to the explosive growth of new products and services, markets and jobs, literally transforming our world.

Each of these presents a more human-centric approach to solving complex programs and as it has grown in practice it is being applied to more kinds of situations in the workplace, including business transformation, organization and systems design, remote and hybrid work, etc.

It has been said for these 3 Experience domains that there is both a mindset (human-centric or studying how people use our products and services, rather than starting with assumptions and solutioning) as well as a specific set of capabilities, skills, tools and methods.

These can be described in three main Pillars:

  1. Human-centered Design, which includes Design Thinking, Service Design, User Experience & Systems Thinking. These help us gain the User Perspective and identify the problems they’re trying to solve, with a prioritization of those problems
  2. Analytics -  understanding the context and environment where people work, with a balance of qualitative and quantitative Analytics helps us understand why they do what they do, their motivations, behavior, patterns and preferences, etc.
  3. We use Agile methods, working in cross-functional ‘Product Teams’. Once we know the problem(s) to solve, we prototype, plan and test our new experiences.

Our research shows that people in User Experience (UX) roles have the most training and expertise of the 3 Experience domains (UX, CX and HX) and the most certifications and university degrees in these disciplines. UX typically focuses on how people use Digital products and services.

Employee Experience, or as we prefer to call it: the Human Experience of Work (HX), really began to take hold and grow in 2017. In that year, there were fewer than 100 people on LinkedIn with the title ‘Employee Experience’ or similar. HX has grown to be a prominent role at nearly every F500 company and other organizations of all shapes and sizes. Today, there are over 135,000 people with Experience-related roles (Employee Experience, People Experience, Analytics and Agile).

This is one of the fastest growing set of roles in companies today.

Fig. 1 Over 900,000 people in the User Experience and Customer Experience roles (source: LinkedIn)

Fig. 2 At least 130,000 people are currently in HX-related roles. This makes over 1 million people in the 3 'Experience' waves of UX, CX & HX

Fig. 3 – Most people in HX roles began since 2020 and have no prior experience or expertise

The major challenge for people in this new discipline, as well as for their colleagues in organizations today is that most have little or no prior experience, skills or content knowledge e.g. in Human-Centered Design, Analytics or Agile. Over 85% of EX/HX Heads began their role since January 2020. 90% of them were doing something completely different in their previous role. Our research found that very few e.g. less than 10% list training or certification in Design Thinking, Service Design, UX/UI, Design Sprints, Scrum Master, Agile Coach, etc.

By contrast, when we look at People Analytics roles, we find the opposite is true. Nearly 90% were previously in other People Analytics positions, and they list training or university degrees in Statistics, Data Science, Machine Learning, Modeling, etc.

Naturally, for such a new discipline, there is a general lack of knowledge in HX-related skills for those who would support HX in a business e.g. HR Business Partners, heads of Talent Management, Talent Acquisition, OD, Learning and other CoE’s and for business leaders who want to be HX Champions. This creates a challenge when it comes to Stakeholder support for HX efforts.

Level of ‘HX Maturity’ in organizations

This is also reflected in the Maturity Level of companies regarding the HX of Work. First results of our research show that over half of organizations are researching and just getting started building capabilities and mapping colleague journeys. Quite a natural stage, given the recent start of most HX/EX Heads.

The big question is, what do HX/EX Heads and others in their organization need to learn? Are there certain skills that go along with HX that UX people have learned, and how can organizations quickly build and scale these skills?

Fig. 4- HX Maturity Level of organizations

The HX Playbook & Toolkit

Human-centered Design, Analytics and Agile work together as parts of what we call the ‘HX Playbook & Toolkit’. The ‘diamonds’ of the Playbook are borrowed from Human-centered Design – iterative periods of divergent and convergent thinking. We work in small cross-functional‘Product Teams’ and focus first on specific high-value experiences. Speed, good research and validation are essential as we study people in their context and develop new impactful solutions.

We ‘open up’ to take in new insights and converge as we interpret and make sense of those insights. We begin with understanding how people actually experience work, creating personas according to use patterns, behaviors, preferences and motivations, then moving on to mapping the experiences of those personas and seeking to understand their pain points and Moments that Matter and other key priorities.

The focus of HX Research is ‘Insights’. We want to know why people do what they do and their goals and the kinds of problems they are trying to solve and the environment and context in which they are trying solve them. To overcome different kinds of bias, we vary our methodology, the people we study and the people doing research. We call this approach ‘Triangulation’.

Consequently, the kinds of information we discover doing HX research is vastly more rich, accurate and insightful than what we typically do. Only when we discover the problems to solve (as well as other insights about our Users/Personas), do we move on to solutioning.

The organization of insights into our Personas into Experience or Journey Maps further helps us make critical decisions. We see their actions, pain points and problems to solve in chronological sequence and proper context. We see what they prioritize in their experience. Add to that the actions of all supporting players (managers, colleagues, processes, digital tools, etc.) and we have what is called a Service Blueprint.

Next, we ideate ways to turn their Moments that Matter into ‘Wow Moments’ and prioritize a ‘backlog’ of new experiences based on User Priorities. Then we create and test prototypes of those new experiences, planning out in detail how we want to ‘stage’ these moments with ‘props’ and front and backstage actions and processes. We ‘pitch’ our prototypes to our End Users and stakeholders and plan all the resources, tools, funding, and people who will help us implement our new Wow Moments. We are ready to launch our tested Minimum Viable Products (MVP’s).

Fig 5 - The HX Playbook & Toolkit©

Companies wanting to be more data-driven would do well to adopt the tools and methods of this playbook. They provide key data for resource planning and decision-making, so critical in these times.

What we have learned over 7 years

We have noted the following in companies furthest along in HX Maturity and Transformation over the past 7 years:

  1. Business and HR leaders learn how to ‘Champion’ the use of the Playbook, by learning about the tools and methods and how they are applied
  2. Those responsible for researching and designing experiences (‘Journey’ or ‘Product Teams’) learn how to apply the methodology to redesign the journeys for which they are responsible
  3. They create a cadre of coaches and facilitators who can support a more complete transformation to this way of thinking and working
  4. They often move people from UX/UI, UX Research, Customer Analytics and CX related roles into HX related roles because they already have the knowledge of the tools and methods and can show others how they work
  5. They use Human-centered Design to solve complex problems for a variety of business problems e.g. remote work, business transformation, integrations, operational challenges, etc.

What this survey will help us to understand

  • What is the level of maturity in creating new capabilities and the level of stakeholder support for HX methods and tools?
  • How have organizations used Human-Centered Design and Design Thinking research methods?
  • Which journeys have companies mapped in 2023 and which ones do they plan to map in 2024?
  • How are companies using HX-related research to determine their Remote and Hybrid Work policies
  • What is an example of an improved Human Experience of Work using a human centered approach?
  • What are current and past roles of HX Leaders?
  • What is the level of learning and ability of HX Leaders and how are they adding to their level of skill?

We will also feature case studies that illustrate how organizations are using Human-centered Design, Analytics and Agile at Disney, McDonalds, Credit Suisse, IBM, AkzoNobel and others.

Our goal is to help us all learn better ways to research and design the Human Experience of Work and drive better business results as well.

We invite you to participate in our survey and learn how others are doing this transformative work. We will share more results in the coming weeks, with a full report on January 1st, highlighting key trends for 2024.

About the author: Elliott Nelson is a pioneer in the Human Experience of Work with the longest-running research on Employee Experience. He founded HXWize and speaks, writes & coaches on HX Strategy with global companies.

He is a former head of Transformation, Talent Strategy & Learning at Pfizer, AkzoNobel, Novartis, Fujitsu-Siemens.

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