February 17, 2023

Everyone deserves EEMpathy

Interview:  Ana Perić and Sajra Bilajac
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Two years of the pandemic changed how companies run their businesses. Homes became the new workspace and hours lost in the daily commute became a thing of the past.

New possibilities, like the hybrid work model, positively impacted employee satisfaction, which further gave way to a new generation of workers that ranks satisfaction and happiness in the workplace at the top of their priority list.

These changes are not exclusively tied to the previous two years but are generally the result of years-long cumulative processes in the business world. What the result of these processes will be is hard to predict with 100% certainty, but it is clear that they created a need for new roles to help navigate the process, at least to a certain degree.

As the COVID-19 risks started to fade and things started going back to normal, reorganizing the work setting post-COVID brought new challenges for HR departments all over the world. Employee Experience Managers (EEM) are also involved in tackling these issues.

The good EEM elves of Klika are Ana Perić and Sajra Bilajac.

For ++MAG, they talk about the techniques and methods they employ that make Klika the company it is – a fun place to work and an amazing environment suitable for professional development.

What would be the most exact definition of an Employee Experience Manager and what is their scope of work?

Ana: As Employee Experience Managers, we participate in creating and implementing different kinds of internal initiatives that aim to ensure a unique, comfortable, motivating and positive experience for all colleagues in the company. The main mechanism we use to get there is active listening to our colleagues at all stages of their professional development and paying attention to their needs in the workplace. We put a big emphasis on regular 1-on-1 communication with all colleagues in order to identify and solve all existing and potential problems in a timely manner.
Sajra: Providing an excellent work experience to our colleagues in Klika is equally important as the experience we provide for our clients. As EEMs, we are responsible for the development, implementation and standardization of processes, like employee recognition and award systems, feedback sessions, i.e., performance reviews, onboarding, and other internal processes and programs that are important for employee satisfaction and team assimilation. Apart from that, EEMs aim to foster positive relationships within teams and help Team Leads build an environment of mutual respect, trust, and transparent and open communication.

In addition, we organize and run specialized and customized team workshops that are designed to further strengthen teams and the individuals within, as well as to build and maintain the healthiest possible environment.

What challenges did the pandemic bring along for the IT industry and how well did the industry respond?

Sajra: I would say that the pandemic brought along the same challenges to all industries. Looking globally, everyone was faced with fear, whether it was fearing losing business or losing people or relationships with close ones, but I think, the IT industry had the most suitable response compared to other industries. Switching to remote work in the beginning of the pandemic proved to be a positive shift that gave employees a sense of safety. Two years after the pandemic, we are still witnessing positive growth in IT, as networking beyond borders opened up more possibilities. Generally, I think, more doors opened to our market to globalize our services and products.

Our responsibilities also include providing support to Team Leads in leading their teams, as well as working closely with them during regular feedback sessions in which we openly talk to our colleagues about their performance and opportunities for future growth and professional development at Klika.

Even though Klika and other IT companies from BiH took distinctive steps regarding organization and operations and quality management compared to other non-IT companies, the role of an Employee Experience Manager is still relatively new. Are there any methods HR is using to clearly define EEM roles and convey their meaning to employees?

Ana: The main method we use is simple and regular communication. We promote our roles by organizing presentations and discussions at company level, as well as 1-on-1 sessions with colleagues. It is those conversations where we especially make an effort to familiarize our colleagues with what we do, emphasizing that it is our responsibility to take care of their needs and remove possible difficulties they face, and that we will try to get any obstacles out of the way with the assistance of their team leads and other colleagues. However, I believe that our everyday work on internal processes is still the best indicator of the work we do.

Is everybody capable of becoming an EMM? What are certain qualities that are essential for the EEM role?

Ana: I believe everyone can do everything, but the question is how good and what are the consequences. For the EEM role, I think it is important to have substantial knowledge in the psychology field and an understanding of the nature of business operations, along good communication skills.
Sajra: The essence of our job comes down to the relationships we build with everyone individually within the company. For me personally, no specific technique or tool is as essential as having a conversation, listening, and gaining a true understanding of the needs of our colleagues, which is vital to build honest relationships.

Does this mean that people working in HR have troubles separating business and personal relationships? How to even keep them apart?

Ana: I would not attribute the challenge of separating the job from the personal to HR. I think it is equally challenging in all areas of business. It is important to identify the boundaries we find hard to set and focus on keeping them firm with healthy habits. Also, one should consider what the pros and cons of disrupting the balance would be and ask ourselves if it is worth it.
Sajra: Often, I don’t strictly try to keep them apart. The challenges from work I leave at work, and it is a skill I have been practicing since I started working, but I am happy to create space in my personal life for the colleagues that become my friends with time. I consider myself lucky to be able to say that I have friends in my work environment with whom I can share different life experiences, and work just being one of them.

It is clear that integrating EEMs into the business world is a natural shift in order to create a positive and productive work environment. How can we accelerate this process and why invest in this kind of employee protection?

Ana: Switching to remote-first culture has been a challenge for all companies when it comes to adjusting the ways of communication we have known so far. As EEMs, we are here to overcome everyday challenges and to encourage employees to communicate their needs, desires and ideas, having us actively support their causes on a daily basis. Why try rush the process? I believe that creating a space for employees to communicate freely is the only way to build a healthy and stimulating work environment that enables us all to grow.