An organization’s most promising competitive advantage is maintaining a meaningful employee experience (EX). The role of the modern leader is the care, protection, and preservation of meaningful everyday moments with an employee—or employee experience stewardship. We help organizations like Avēsis, a national leading insurance provider, create a strong company culture through four EX stewardship practices.
1. Define culture through employee moments.EX is the full collection of interactions between employees and leaders that happen in everyday moments, which bind an organization’s culture. From frontline supervisors to the C-suite, every leader has a critical role as a steward, delivering on the organization’s desired EX proven in the moments that matter.
Certain EX moments are more critical than others. At Avēsis, employees said the moments of high impact included when they:
- Reflected on how they were doing and the progress they’ve made
- Learned their role
- Connected with how they affect the organizational big picture
- Influenced and led peers or leaders
- Collaborated with others to accomplish work
Identifying these high-impact moments created clarity for Avēsis about where to support and develop leaders to be stewards of their culture.
2. Articulate culture through a company narrative.The Avēsis senior leadership team recognized the value of articulating the organization’s aspirational EX. Together, we crafted a company narrative that captured the truth of Avēsis at its best to serve as a compelling statement about the organization’s promise to employees.
Through the work, leaders identified opportunities to rewrite the Avēsis mission, vision, purpose, and values, which would reflect this new promise. Along with the written expression, an internal brand was established to authentically represent the values visually. The impact? Leaders at Avēsis became more aligned around who Avēsis is and aspires to be.
3. Activate culture through leaders.Aligning the modern leader to be a good EX steward is essential, but aligning on the desired experience is not the same as enabling leaders to create it. According to Gallup, the manager determines 70 percent of the variance in team engagement. To reduce this engagement variance and amp up leader commitment, Avēsis focused on three areas to better enable these cultural stewards:
- Caring for the well-being of leaders
- Communicating the leader’s role as EX stewards
- Upskilling leaders to care for their team
Leaders are employees, too, and their need for clarity, connection, and care is just as essential. To kick off the culture activation, leaders received a package containing a self-care guide and other materials that encouraged overall wellness. As leaders take the time to care for themselves, they can focus on the well-being of their team, especially in the remote work environment.
A global rise in work loneliness has also affected connectivity and a sense of belonging at Avēsis; teams work remotely and are dispersed throughout the US. To launch the experience journey for leaders, 100 leaders participated in Connect 2023, an in-person leadership summit that brought the Avēsis culture to life. In a post-summit survey, 96 percent of respondents rated their experience highly positive—and 87 percent felt ready to apply what they learned.
4. Sustain culture through collective commitment.During Connect 2023, all 100 leaders were invited to commit to an inclusive culture where all associates feel trust, belonging, and safety. Each leader chose one commitment to put these values into action that would sustain the Avēsis culture, wrote down their commitment on a leaf-shaped paper, and taped it on a canvas with a tree. This exercise demonstrated the power of collective commitment, as the bare tree blossomed to full life with every leader’s contribution.
Following Connect 2023, Avēsis leaders embarked on a four-month virtual learning journey to continue growing their EX stewardship. Leaders organized into cohorts and attended cohort sessions to delve into high-impact moments at Avēsis. During these sessions, leaders discussed crucial topics, assessed the impact of new mindsets or behaviors, and tackled their challenges with implementing the desired EX.
ConclusionAvēsis demonstrated how prioritizing EX can lead to a strong company culture built on a bedrock of belonging, trust, and collaboration. By redesigning important employee moments, creating a clear company narrative, fostering a culture of care through strong modern leaders, and collectively committing to sustaining this culture, Avēsis leaders are empowered to own their role as stewards who care for, protect, and preserve those meaningful everyday moments with an employee. This is what modern leadership looks like.
This article originally appeared in The Modern Leadership Issue of Performance Matters Magazine. Request a print or digital copy of the magazine.