The EX Files

EX design with KPMG

The challenge

With a shortage of auditors in the UK, KPMG is finding that many of their new joiners are coming from overseas. And while moving to any new job can be disorientating, the challenges of coming to a new country raise unique additional pressures around things such as visas, immigration and re-location. 

However, KPMG were finding that many new joiners didn’t want to make a fuss, so formal feedback routes weren’t highlighting the issues they were facing. People managers and audit teams were able to offer informal support with things like bank accounts, but there wasn’t a systematic approach that addressed these distinct challenges. 

In fact, the team saw that by transforming the employee experience, it would have a significant impact on employee well-being, particularly early in the onboarding process,  increasing motivation and retaining – and attracting – the best talent from overseas.

The planning

It started by recognising the need to get a genuine understanding of employee needs and motivations. If the goal was to place people at the heart of employee experience design, then the team had to speak to the people this would impact the most. A series of workshops were planned, including key stakeholders across HR, Audit Operations and Learning and Development, but also, importantly, it drew on the lived experience of over 30 recent overseas new joiners. 

Logistically, these sessions were tailored to be both virtual and face to face, ensuring it was accessible to as wide a spectrum of the workforce as possible. They were also planned around the existing operational diary, to make sure participants were free from outside pressures and influences of deadlines or project demands, and felt more able to participate fully.

The process

The workshops are grounded in positive psychology, which explores the experiences and strengths that bring out the best in individuals and wider communities. Coupled with Appreciative Inquiry, which is weaved throughout the process, the sessions are designed to help participants to collectively work through a process which imagines an ideal, asks how to get there and then curates a set of solutions.

The three steps are divided into:

1. Scoping
2. Opportunity
Participants examine how things look now (the pain points and positive experiences), identify the ‘moments that matter’ in the employee journey, before imagining what the best approach would look like.
Using empathy maps, participants are encouraged to understand how it would feel for individuals during this process and then craft ‘how might we’ questions which help define the scope for how the employee experience they are designing can fit with these feelings.
Participants offer as many ideas as possible, which are then worked into clusters and themes. Small groups work through a concept sketch exercise which fully explores all angles on one of these ideas. These are checked against the ‘moments that matter’ and the ‘how might we’ questions from the previous stages to ensure the prospects will achieve the biggest impact. Finally, each group chooses one idea to work up together into a prototype to be tested outside of the sessions.

The creativity

From mapping on large rolls of paper to interacting with re-stickable notes, it was purposefully creative to stimulate participants’ ability to visualise the new joiner journey and thoroughly explore all aspects of their ideas.

And while at times it may have felt uncomfortable for some – particularly a group of auditors – not to immediately strive for a solution, subsequent feedback admits that by fully engaging in all stages of the process, it produced fuller and better thought-out prototypes.

The results

Prototypes delivered from the workshops were tested by the KPMG team, and are being worked up into the following deliverables:

  • Onboarding has been shifted from a programme to an experience, including a pilot for a new 12 week introduction to the business which blends formal learning with on-the-job experiences. This ensures new joiners are more confident in feeling ‘job ready’ and responds to the experiences shared during the Scoping and Opportunity stages.
  • Connections were highlighted by new joiners as being one of the most important things for their early experiences. KPMG has now formed new communities, as well as formalising the buddy system to help facilitate those networks.
  • A new role has been created (the ‘New Joiner Hyper Care Lead’) who is a single point of contact to troubleshoot any problems at pre-boarding.

The impact

The overall impact of the EX Design process has been far-ranging, even in unexpected places. The actual process has unintentionally given new joiners much more confidence in speaking about their experiences. Thanks especially to the face-to-face sessions, the process has fostered a community for current members of the team which encourages support and collaboration.
For the Learning and Development Team it’s been a fantastic learning opportunity for how future experience design can be approached, all the way from pre-planning to implementation and deliverables.
And finally, it’s enshrined a greater understanding of employee experience at KPMG, which is based on real employee insights, rather than assumptions of what good looks like.