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Putting Focus on the Employee Experience

Interview with Brian Passon

Speaker and Facilitator | Wellness Underground and A People Movement


The employee experience is what people encounter, observe, and feel over the course of their employee journey at an organization. Brian Passon, renowned speaker and facilitator of Wellness Underground and A People Movement, shares his thoughts on why we should focus our efforts on creating meaningful wellbeing experiences to have a transformational impact on your people.

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Why should employers focus on designing transformational employee experiences?

There are many reasons, but let’s start with something personal. When I ask people about some of the most transformative moments in their lives, the answers don’t usually involve speeches they’ve heard, statistics someone told them, a flyer/poster they saw, or a meeting they attended. The answers usually involve some type of holistic experience: the sights, sounds, smells, emotions, etc… If the goal for wellbeing is to promote people to be their best selves -- and we’re encouraging people to maintain, adopt, or change their habits and lifestyle practices -- then we have to think about creating experiences worth remembering. An experience worth remembering will have a greater likelihood of inspiring and/or sustaining action. 
Transformational experiences are perceived as meaningful, memorable, and impactful by the people who were a part of it. Experiences have the power to impact what I call the “trifecta of change” - Inspiration, Aspiration, Perspiration. A well-designed experience, or workplace for that matter, is inspirational (motivates people beyond the rewards or perks), it’s aspirational (helps people establish new goals/norms/routines), and it’s perspirational (allows people to do their best work, and gives them the opportunity to do that work in a safe environment).
If you implement a bunch of programs, inevitably you may create some change, but not as much or to the extent that you could if you crafted experiences that live on within the individual or the organizational culture long after the initiative is over.

How does the employee experience impact employee wellbeing?

There is not one answer to this because it’s not a simple causational relationship. The employee experience will impact employee wellbeing. An employee’s wellbeing will impact their own experience at the organization. The wellbeing initiatives in an organization contribute to the overall employee experience. However, unfortunately, many organizations consider their “wellness programs” to also be the sum total of the employee experience and something they offer to fix an already broken employee experience or to fix the entire culture. It’s in these instances where wellbeing suffers because this means the organization does not understand what the employee experience really is. I’ve seen many a great wellness practitioners suffer in these types of organizations.

Crafting experiences takes strategic effort and work, and it’s deeper that rolling out some programs. However, with an emphasis on the experience, there is an opportunity to realign your efforts from the programmatic fluff, to instead focus on a few deeply meaningful wellbeing experiences each year. Ultimately, the effort and creativity you use to design experiences that are transformative will impact a person’s behaviors in a more significant and sustainable way, and will contribute to a positive employee experience in which people feel cared for and personally connected to. 

How can wellness practitioners position themselves as leaders in connecting employee experience and wellbeing?

Most wellness practitioners I know operate with a far more experiential mindset than any other department in an organization. Employee experience is a huge topic of interest for organizations and HR, and there are many similarities to the focus of customer experience that marketing teams strategize about. There’s definitely opportunity to bring wellbeing, HR, marketing, and other departments to collaboratively work together in their efforts to create meaningful employee experiences. To keep it simple, the employee experience is the sum of all the touchpoints an employee has within their organization. In today’s society of social media, Glass Door, and online reviews, people have the ability to impact the perceived employee experience long after they leave an employer. This is why creating meaningful experiences that contribute to peoples’ lives in and out of the workplace is so critical.
Wellbeing practitioners are oftentimes uniquely positioned to have more touchpoints and opportunities to connect and impact employees than any other department. We’ll dive into the unique opportunities and touchpoints during the Workshop!

You’ll be covering “the seven” key principles for creating transformational experiences at the WCWI Regional Workshop on November 14th. What can you share about them to give our attendees a glimpse of what they’ll learn during the workshop?

The 7 principles are not a perfect science, but in my experience the more of these 7 components that I can customize into an event or initiative, the more meaningful, memorable, and impactful the experience becomes for people. The times when I’ve managed to thoroughly apply these principles have been the most transformational for those I was working with. Alternatively, they’ve also been the experiences that have transformed me the most, too. So even though creating a great experience may take more work, it yields a better return not just for those you serve, but for yourself as a practitioner, as well.

Key takeaways:

  1. Creating an experience worth remembering will have a greater likelihood of inspiring and/or sustaining action.
  2. A well-designed experience is aspirational, inspirational, and ‘perspirational.’ 
  3. It’s critical to make meaningful wellbeing experiences that contribute positively to people’s lives in and out of the workplace.

Regional Workshop with Brian Passon
Thursday, November 14

8:30 AM – 12:30 PM
Marquette University | Milwaukee, WI
Creating Transformational Experiences: 
How to Leverage Their Power for Human Impact 
In this half-day interactive workshop, you’ll learn how to craft experiences that help people transform into their best!
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Angeline Day, MPH, CHES
Program Manager
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