Magnetic Employee Experiences: What Cloud-Native Companies Are Doing Right

Jenn Thomas

“Great talent can work anywhere,” Beth Clutterbuck, CHRO of Relativity, emphasized to attendees of IAMPHENOM 2020.
 

She should know: Her career has taken her to companies large and small in several countries. Most recently, she’s worked for smaller, cloud-native companies (like Relativity)—and she’s found that these newer, hypergrowth companies are the ones winning top talent.
 

Beth Clutterbuck presenting at IAMPHENOM


It’s the employee experience that makes the difference, she says. These companies are changing the game when it comes to what best-fit candidates expect and demand, requiring HR leaders to help their organizations shift to a talent-first mindset. Without the long-established hierarchy and infrastructure that characterize many older organizations, these companies have the freedom to construct scaffolding that supports the kind of experience that attracts and retains the best and the brightest:
 

  • A fast-paced, collaborative environment where people feel connected 

  • Decentralized information—those with skills are trusted to make decisions

  • The ability to constantly learn, grow, and add value
     

“It’s everything that makes us jump out of bed in the morning and want to go to work,” Clutterbuck said. Of course, these companies represent only a small fraction of employers. But the good news? An employee-centric approach can be embedded in any organization, regardless of size and history. 

 

4 Ways to Pivot to an Employee-First Mindset 

As curators of the employee experience, HR leaders are in an exciting position to model this forward-thinking ethos and drive adoption of the tech and tools that better enable it. Here are four ways to get your organization closer to that goal:
 

1. Unify User Experiences

In a majority of organizations, current infrastructure, processes, and systems (e.g., LMS, CMS, performance management software) were designed in siloed departments. The result is a clunky, ineffective user experience with technology that doesn’t “talk” to each other. 
 

Cloud-native companies, on the other hand, can plan for data-rich systems and tools. They leverage light-touch technology and platforms that focus on the user experience. Employees have easy access to information that helps them succeed at work, allowing them to evolve their careers and become the leader or manager they want to be. “I think HR has a lot of Marie Kondo-ing to do,” Clutterbuck said, referring to the need to evaluate what’s serving a purpose today versus what was useful in the past.
 

The Takeaway: Evaluate systems and processes from a holistic perspective, and investigate tools that facilitate a more streamlined, unified experience.
 

2. Emphasize Transparency Over Hierarchy

“CEOs and leaders are not used to standing up in front of employees and explaining the rationale of their decision-making to get everyone on board. But that’s what happens now,” Clutterbuck said. 
 

Cloud-native companies have no need for a traditional hierarchy. Instead, they’re structured around information, transparency, and community. This means there aren’t stacks of layers in place to slow the pace of communication and decision making. As a result, the focus is on immediate problem solving where feedback and collaboration rule. Instead of following a chain of command, work follows the people with the best skills to solve the problem.
 

The Takeaway: Set an example by leading with transparency. Give employees a voice, and welcome their opinions. Show that you value input from skilled employees when it comes to making decisions. Ultimately, this will promote connectedness and a sense of purpose—crucial values to a positive employee experience. 
 

3. Gear Up for Agility

At a scaling-up company where growth may be at 100%+, everything happens rapid-fire, from business reorganizations to strategy pivots. This equates to a drastically compressed decision-making timetable that requires agility.  
 

Because you’re working so quickly, you make mistakes “constantly,” Clutterbuck said. “And you have to realize that that’s ok,” she added. At cloud-native companies, people try things, learn from mistakes, and constantly iterate. Most employees enjoy the flexibility and productivity of an environment like this—even though they’re working harder than they ever have before. 


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The Takeaway: It may be difficult to effect faster change at older organizations where inertia, rather than agility and speed, characterize the pace. Set an example in your department. Have an open mind when it comes to trying new approaches, knowing that you can “rinse and repeat” until you find success.
 

4.  Prioritize Employee Development

Older organizations grew up with a company-first work culture. Start-ups focus on the employee, providing the tools and environment to nurture an upward career trajectory and strengthen internal skills and production.

Candidates—especially younger generations—expect certain characteristics when it comes to learning and career development:
 

  • Tools that are mobile and personalized

  • Microlearning delivered in bite-size chunks through user-friendly interfaces

  • Real-time feedback

  • An environment of inclusion and belonging

  • A connected experience
     

Part of the talent-first mindset is viewing people as “elastic,” Clutterbuck said—you need to expect that great employees will eventually leave. But if they’ve had a transformative experience with your company, they’ll stay part of your talent community as brand ambassadors. 
 

The Takeaway: Consider that organizations that provide a career-changing experience will be the ones to attract top talent. People want to learn from inspiring leaders, be mentored rather than “managed”, create network density, and develop both technical and life skills. 
 

“It’s never been a more exciting time to be in HR,” Clutterbuck said. “We can orchestrate a fabulous experience throughout the entire employee lifecycle. We have so many tools at our fingertips to do this.”
 


Check out Beth Clutterbuck's entire keynote session from IAMPHENOM below!