Guest blog by Michal Matlon, User Experience Specialist, HB Reavis

A friend of mine works for a company where dinner is served at 7 o’clock. Undoubtedly, the organization will present it as a perk, a part of their employee experience program. And some might be convinced. But while being presented as a benefit meant to simplify employee life, the meal actually serves as an encouragement to stay longer at work.

The concept of a daily company dinner didn’t necessarily spring from a top hat wearing industrialist with an evil laugh. A manager who saw the employees working late might have thought that it could improve their working conditions.

Instead of patching up an existing condition (working late) with a dinner, they should have thought about tackling the real issue of employee experience. In this case, it’s setting the expectations to allow people enough time for regeneration and life beyond work.

We can call this a “deep employee experience” approach, to distinguish it from measures merely making life more pleasant, as opposed to systematic changes aimed at remaking work at your company into a humane, purposeful experience.

One of the most popular business figures who sets an example in this regard is Jason Fried, the founder and CEO of Basecamp. Although he might be using terms such as “getting real” or “no bullshit” instead, his thinking is very much similar. In its public employee handbook it details the company values, roles, rules and benefits.

For example, instead of providing perks, Basecamp focuses on helping their employees lead a good life outside of work – by paying for sabbaticals or having four-day workweeks in the summer. They also focus on making work as pleasant and efficient experience as possible, by limiting meetings, distractions and dependencies. All these things are a part of a greater business philosophy that rejects sacrificing well-being for busyness. Or as they say: “making Basecamp a calm company.”

Michal Matlon

When thinking about employee experience, ask yourself honestly – what is real and what is just an act? What makes your employees’ lives truly good and what is there to put sparkles on your hiring ads? You will realize that the most important things are a matter of culture. When you understand your culture well, creating a proper workplace will be suddenly much easier.

If we want the thousands of hours the business community puts into discussing employee experience to truly have an effect, we need to ask ourselves how to make work a part of a good, humane and purposeful life.