Focus on Moments That Really Matter to Employees

HR leaders who understand which unique moments are important to their employees can make smarter investments with greater impact.

On Priya’s first day at her new digital marketing job, she is greeted by her manager, is given clear expectations about what she needs to do and her PC is set up and ready to use. When Samuel arrives at his customer service company, no-one seems to know he is starting that day, he is seated in a different area than his team and he can’t get his computer to work.

The first impression of a new company is just one of many ‘moments that matter’ in an employee’s career. “These moments have significant potential to impact employee experience positively or negatively,” said Aaron McEwan, Vice President and Advisory Leader at Gartner at the Gartner ReimagineHR conference in Sydney this week.

Many experiences that affect employees at work are outside the control of the organization, such as the birth of a child or the relocation of a spouse for work. What matters is how HR handles these memorable moments when they occur.

Organizations that have used a “moments that matter” approach say it improves employee perceptions of HR

For HR leaders, working out what actually matters to employees often feels more like art — or a guessing game — than science. In a 2018 Gartner survey of 5,873 employees, only 29% agreed with the statement, “HR really understands what people like me need and want.”

Surveys are still the main method used for measuring employee engagement, but they have several limitations, including bias, frequency and lack of action on the findings.

More HR leaders are now looking at ‘moments that matter’ as a technique to help them better understand employees. Today, 16% of HR functions are experimenting with a ‘moments that matter’ approach and 56% of HR leaders are interested in identifying ‘moments that matter’ for their organization.

What are ‘moments that matter’?

The concept originated in customer experience as “moments of truth,” or points in a customer’s journey that determine if they will buy from you. In HR, ‘moments that matter’ are the moments that impact an employee’s organizational experience most significantly throughout their day, year and career.

“Moments that matter allow us to learn more about what’s really important to our people, rather than the moments that HR and leaders think matter,” said McEwan“More importantly, they enable action. When we identify the moments that matter to employees, we have clear next steps for HR to take action on to improve the employee experience.”

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Benefits of a ‘moments that matter’ approach

Organizations that have used a “moments that matter” approach say it improves delivery of the promised employee value proposition (EVP) and improves employee perceptions of and relationships with HR. It also allows more informed and targeted HR investments and drives more HR solutions that are directly relevant to employees.

Organizations must take the time to map out the moments that matter to employees and then use technology to help make these processes easier for them to navigate.

For example, when employees apply for leave, it’s often the same process, regardless of the type of leave. But some types of leave have a greater emotional investment, like parental leave, which may involve concerns about status, pay, benefits and the wider team. It needs a human touch and must be handled differently.

“In short, emotions matter,” said McEwan. “While there is no ‘magic’ moment, most moments that matter elicit a strong emotional response and have a lasting effect on employees’ opinions of their organization.”

How to get started           

As a first step, work with employees in focus groups and one-on-one interactions to elicit feedback and refine it into a set of moments. Check back over time to ensure they still matter. These employee-driven adjustments will ensure the final list captures the moments from employees’ perspective and not from HR’s.

Then dedicate a cross-functional, diverse team to each key moment. Their role is to accomplish quick wins by completing “go afters” from focus group employee feedback, then revisit how employees are experiencing those moments that matter.

HR leaders who understand which unique moments are important to their workforce can make smarter investments aimed at improving the moments that do matter and eliminating or optimizing the rest.

This article is based on insights that are part of an in-depth collection of research, tools, templates and advice available to Gartner clients.


Gartner for HR clients can read more in Moments That Matter: An Emerging Approach to Understanding Employees.

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