It's very difficult to execute a fantastic customer experience if you aren't first delivering a great employee experience
Inspired by the likes of Airbnb, Hong Kong-based airline Cathay Pacific has repositioned its HR team as an ‘employee experience’ team.
For Tony Reynolds, Cathay Pacific’s general manager of employee experience, it’s a natural part of the organisation’s evolution; in fact, it’s the only natural way forward.
“I think it would be very difficult to execute on a fantastic customer experience if you aren’t first delivering a great employee experience. In fact, I don’t think you can have one without the other,” he said.
The mandate is simple: to merge the employee experience philosophy with the customer experience philosophy. In doing so, Reynolds and his team are aiming to consider every touch point along an employee’s journey.
Underpinning it all is data and a firm belief in the power of design thinking. Reynolds, who looks after four centres of excellence – one of which is data and science analytics – said this is deeper than a rebranding of HR.
“We still need to do the traditional HR tasks like performance management, paying people on time and so forth. So we’ve retained those bits, which do have an impact on the employee experience,” he said.
“But the philosophy underpinning it is much broader and a bit different. Really how we define it is that it’s anything an employee feels about the business and the brand.”
Moreover, Cathay Pacific is clear on its value proposition to customers. “Cathay wants to win and be competitors by delivering a premium customer experience,” Reynolds said.
“We’re not just about great products or great routes; we don’t want to be a low-cost carrier, and we’re not really about attracting price-sensitive customers.”
To execute on that value proposition, Cathay has always made sophisticated use of data insights.
The organisation has been building its digital capabilities over the last two or three years in order to drive positive experiences at all the touchpoints one might expect.
This includes how people think about buying from Cathay, what they buy, the online experience, the check-in experience, security, baggage, and then after-flight service.
“The employee experience uses the same model,” said Reynolds. “What are the key touchpoints that have an impact on the employee experience? It’s about human-centred design. How do we start to do this better?”
Reynolds cited the example of the design of Cathay’s recruitment centre. A candidate will walk up to the recruitment centre, where they will be greeted by cabin crew and handed a boarding pass that includes the interview time, and then escorted to the gate where the interview will be conducted.
“We immerse people in our brand from the start,” he said. “That goes through pre-boarding and onboarding. People get a very tailored experience, depending on who they are.”