The Employee Journey and Why it’s Important

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Viola Brussé
Frank Sprengers

One of the leadership trends for 2022 we spotted was “The Great Employee Experience Awakening” Finally – putting people first.

In this episode we are talking to two experts – Agile coaches at Wemanity Netherlands – Viola Brussé and Frank Sprengers.

They speak about the essence of putting employees first and the employee journey.

At Management 3.0 we have long been convinced of putting employees first, something we can highlight is the Summer Summit we organized around this topic. You can find more information on But also our Agility in HR workshop where we combine the Foundation Workshop modules with additional content and ICAgile accreditation. Designed for those working in or closely with Human Resources. More information and planned workshops can be found on


*Please note that the transcript has been automatically generated and proofread for mistakes. However, it remains in spoken English and some syntax and grammar mistakes might remain.

Elisa Tuijnder: [00:00:00] One of the leadership trends for 2022, we spotted was the great employee experience awakening. Finally putting people first. In this episode, we are talking to two experts, agile coaches at Wemanity, Netherlands, Viola, and Frank. They speak about the essence of employees first and the employee journey. At Management 3.0, we have long been convinced of putting people first. Some things we can highlight is the summer summit. We recently organized in June, 202around this topic of which you can find more information on FWD summit. Dot com but also our agility in HR workshop, where we combine the foundation workshop with additional content and IC agile accreditation designed, especially for those working in or closely with human resources, more information and planned workshops can be found on [00:01:00]

Before we dive in, you are listening to the happiness at work podcast by Management 3.0 where we are getting serious about happiness. I’m your host, Elisa Tuijnder, happiness enthusiast and management. 3.0 team member. In this podcast, you will hear insights from industry experts, influencers, and thought leaders about what it takes to be happy, motivated and productive at work so that loving your job becomes the norm. And not the exception. We will be publishing every fortnight on Friday. So be sure to tune in and subscribe on Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcast. 

Welcome back to Happiness at Work, a Management 3.0 podcast. Today we have two special guests.

And we’re gonna be talking about the employee journey and why it’s so important to put the employee first. Our first guest is Viola. She’s an [00:02:00] agile transformation coach at Wemanity Netherlands. She’s learned from her various experiences that how you are treated as an employee, determines whether you want to be an advocate for your company and how sustainable your collaboration is, and whether we would like to come back to use your talents again and are a supporter for life.

So she really likes to talk about the essence of putting people first. And then we also have Frank colleague of Viola, who’s also an agile coach at Wemanity Netherlands. He has been there for three and a half years. He’s a big fan of wave surfing, which I admire a lot. And he started a career in software development in agile environments about seven years ago.

And over the years became passionate about people and their interactions. His goal in life is a great work environment where people feel energized and have a sense of belonging. Welcome to you both. Welcome Frank. Welcome Viola. How are you guys today? 

Frank Sprengers: Thanks. Thank you. Great. Doing really good. 

Elisa Tuijnder: I’m so happy that you both are here.

I’m really excited to hear about you have to [00:03:00] say, but before we dive in on employee experience and employee engagement, we always ask the same question to people. I’ll start with with Viola here. So what does happiness mean to you? Viola? Yeah, and 

Viola Brussé: happiness. And I think I wanna focus on the happiness at work because I have also in mind that we are talking about employee journeys.

So what really is, if I can combine my personal mission with the work I’m doing so really adding value for me, it’s that on the changing the way you’re working And also have my personal driver that I always want to learn something. So be in an environment where I can always learn and improve.

That is what really ticks me at work and make me happy. And therefore also being appreciated for the value that you bring. So if you know the analogy of the fish being [00:04:00] judged by climbing a tree, please do not do that. Judge him for him swimming. So really that’s experience and is what makes me happy at work.

Elisa Tuijnder: Oh, that’s great to hear. Yes. I completely agree with that. And how about you, Frank? Do you agree? Or what makes you happy? 

Frank Sprengers: Yeah, I think I have some overlap with Viola in this story, but for me, freedom is really important in if we’re talking about happiness it’s also about freedom.

So you started my introduction with surf and for me surface the ultimate freedom being in the sea being. Either alone with your friends, but at least being surrounded in an environment where you want to be. And I relate to work that you really want to your work to be a place that contributes to your personal mission as Viola said, but also surrounded by people with the same values and belief, and also.

With a lot of people that are curious, so no judgment, but be [00:05:00] curious about what’s happening. Be curious to learn. And for me that’s really important in yeah. Being happy at your work and working in a fearless organization. I read the book of Amy Evanson is really important to make sure that.

Everybody is heard in the stories and it doesn’t mean being nice all the time, but make sure that in your company that people are valued. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a really key factor feeling valued. So that is already there. That’s that brings us to the employees. So why are the employees so important in organizations?

Frank Sprengers: So also I read in the fearless organization there’s a lot of factors that are for your company. You really want to be the best in your market. So every company or every organization wants to Excel and be the best. So for example, with Pixar they saw that they really made a good movie in the nineties [00:06:00] toy story.

I can’t imagine everybody knows that. That movie great movie. Yeah. And yeah, it’s a great one youth sentiment. Indeed. And after that, those movies, pictures really are well known for delivering high quality movies. And the, one of the factors of success is that they have this brain trust group and this brain trust group is a group of people throughout the organization.

Have the ability to give early honest and some sometimes hard feedback in the early stages of the movie development. And that makes it, that their movie is in an agile way developed based on early feedback. And they pivot based on that feedback. And it’s really important that everybody in that company feels the trust to speak up, but also take the feedback and do something with it.

So that’s why. Putting your employees first is really important. A bad example could be, for example, Uber in the 2017 they became known for this [00:07:00] harassment of their women and female workers. And because there was a real culture of having short term success, it was about winning over each other.

And in the short term, it led to a great growth of Uber as you all know, but in the long term, It always will end up with declining sales or declining stock markets or unhappy people. And in the end, that’s not possible to stay in the market if you don’t have a healthy culture. And there’s so many other examples.

So for example, the Japan earthquake where the Fukushima reactor got broke down in the Columbia space shuttle in hospitals. It’s all examples that if you do not. Write a culture of feedback and make sure that people feel heard, people feel valued. People have the freedom to speak up. It’s really hard to make sure and maintain your progress as a company.

And a few days [00:08:00] ago I read a really interesting article in the Harvard business review. They said a really extensive research throughout the world throughout different organizations, types of work. And they found that people, the thing that stands out, if you look at engagement and people working for organization, they love the three things that stood out were, was I excited to work every day, last week.

Did I have a chance to use my strengths every day and at work, do I get the chance to do what I’m good and do something I love? And of course money is important. And of course it’s nice to have free lunch. And of course you want to have holidays and all kinds of nice extras, but it’s really important to make sure that you have your employees having fun at work, making sure that they do the right thing and they can use their strength.

So also within Wemanity, we really make sure these factors we have that in place because [00:09:00] we really wanna make sure to take care of our own people, because if you can’t take care take care of your own people, how can your own people take care of your customers? So that’s really important. So we always say, if we have happy weman, we have happy customers.

So that’s why for us, the employee first is like super important. And the main thing to focus.aYeah, I think we 

Elisa Tuijnder: ha we share that philosophy with our at the podcast, but also Management 3.0 worker. Happiness is central to engagement to productivity, to everything. Really. So we were talking about this EX journey or employee journey, at which point do you focus on the employee?

Where does that start? Is that throughout let’s? I don’t know. Yeah. Let’s get into that. That’s what is this journey? 

Viola Brussé: Yes. I like to get into that. Because when you’re thinking about an employee journey is the moment you as an employee enters a company, [00:10:00] but I think it starts earlier. If you’re looking at a total employee journey, you start with your orientation.

You have your experience in onboarding and so on, and eventually you exit a company. So the employee journey I think, is describing the whole sets. And if we then dive into the orientation phase. It’s really, when you think about now, maybe a nice example is why does everybody want to work with Google?

Is it because of their fancy products or is it maybe because they already branded. Their way of working. So they brand it,that there is a freedom that there is a one day a month where you can explore and experiment. And if you have found out in your sandbox, nice new things you can bring it into the [00:11:00] company.

So therefore they can change the brand itself. So you’ll have to influence. Throughout the whole company and what the company is doing. And it’s not that they’re just doing that, but they also, everybody knows about it. So their way of working is the, like their employer branding. They branded it.

So when we are thinking about Google, it’s not only about the cool products they produce, but it’s also about how they work and how they treat their employees. And I think that is really what makes a difference in your orientation phase. If you wanna work with a company or. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Absolutely. When I think of Google, I think of bouncy castles and massage chairs.

And , I’m sure the reality is very different as well. They all work very hard, but 

Frank Sprengers: It does 

Viola Brussé: help 

Elisa Tuijnder: probably one [00:12:00] chair for everybody. But yeah, no. Yeah. So that’s, basically you’re saying is the employee journey starts before you’re even getting involved with a company and. What’s next. Do you, once you I’m assuming the steps and step is the recruitment phase.

How does the employee get into that? 

Viola Brussé: Yeah. And that’s from my experience, I, at the moment I’m also recruiter for the company, Wemanity And really we get compliments about our onboarding and recruitment process. It is really on individual base and make out the process upfront, very clear what the faces are there and who they’re gonna talk to.

We don’t have very management layers, so it’s not, but you have to speak to the country lead and to your peers. And if the everything is a go, you can continue on your journey of recruiting and hopefully [00:13:00] onboarding. And also when you’re on board and don’t forget, onboarding is really one of the life changing experience because you’re entering a new company and you have no clue where yourself you’re getting into.

Although you think upfront, this is the company and, but when you’re really going on board, You experience the company itself. For example, we plan when everybody new entering our company, I have an onboarding program with them for the first week with already talks to colleagues. So that’s the.

It’s really low to reach out to them. We have a community construct that we call podss. Therefore also meet all of them. We have a chat about where is company coming from a little bit of our history and yes, we do also have the practical stuff that the [00:14:00] laptop is ready and your user ID is ready. And your we especially also sign a personal buddy that will help you.

Get to know the company and guide you through the first few weeks months. So we try to really embed them in the new company and make them feel at home. So they don’t feel lost. And eventually after a month we do evaluate this process again with them because we always like to improve and do the feedback.

If we can, on this process continue improve. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yes. We can always improve and that’s a key factor in life for everything. Yeah. I like the buddy system. I always appreciate a buddy at first to find your way, but I’m also hearing that you get to know the history. Speaks to the culture, et cetera.

And there’s some practical steps in there. There’s some larger steps in there. [00:15:00] Frank, what about after they’ve onboarded? They’re in your company? What’s what’s next in this employee 

Frank Sprengers: journey. Yeah. Thanks. And to me, yeah, this is. This is the most important part of the journey because yeah, we all see, especially in the current market right now, it’s really hard to attract new people.

We see a lot of people leaving companies, so yeah, once you. Have done so much effort, as Viola said, to get someone in it’s really important to keep them in. So the engaged phase, as we, as it’s called in the employee journey is super important. And it’s, it has a, some factors that I wanna go through.

For example, making sure you have clear goals. People might have heard about OKRs, and that’s also a system of goal setting we use within Wemanity. And every year we have a yearly cycle where we define and set our own OKRs for the whole year together with the whole company. So at the end of 2022, [00:16:00] we’re going to sit together with the whole of Wemanity and make sure that we have company goals for the next year.

That align to trends in the market and things that we see as as important, but it doesn’t stop with goal setting because it’s easy to set goals and never look at them. So we also make sure that we incorporate a system of every week going through those OKRs and making sure everybody understands what the goals of the company are, so that also people can make their own decisions on a day to day basis based on what they know as the goals are for Wemanity. So that’s really important to have the clear goals, but also making sure that people have the freedom to act within the boundaries of those goals. Secondly, it’s really important also to have the psychological safety in your company. So you want to create a culture of feedback, giving good feedback is important, but also receiving feedback is also a skill to have.

And it’s also important to sometimes be blunt and be harsh [00:17:00] because something is just not good enough but do it in a way that you really are helping someone. And that’s really important because you culture of, or. Psychological safety is not about being nice. It’s about feeling free to be hurt.

And that’s also what we do in Wemanity. We take a lot of time and spend a lot of time on the happiness survey. And one of the questions in there is I have freedom to speak up in Wemanity and feel hurt. And we really take that serious because we really wanna see if people feel that they are having the space to to say and give feedback. And if not we really want to act on that. It’s also super important to, to make sure that you have some kind of, I, I like the analogy always as a garden. So we wanna be the. The growth garden within Wemanity to make sure that people have the right facilities to to grow. And we have several things in place for that next to obviously development budget.

But we have [00:18:00] for example as Viola mentioned we have the buddy, so they also take care of personal development. Sometimes the people call it the accountability buddy, to make sure you’re accountable for your own personal develop. But next to that we are, as Viola said, we are organized in podss, which are small groups small teams and Wemanity, and they have two goals.

One is taking care of each other. So making sure people are okay and feeling good and feeling happy at Wemanity. But the second goal also is to make sure we take care of our personal development. So every quarter we make sure to with the pod sit together, review the personal development plans and give feedback and see how people can do.

Can do better. We make work fun. So we really, we have an open culture within Wemanity, but we also make sure that and this is especially hard in COVID times. We really had a hard time. We saw.I think as every company did saw a bit declining rates and happiness because people want to [00:19:00] connect and that’s what we usually do when we make sure people can connect.

So every year we have the open Wemanity day, every Friday of the month, last Friday of the month, we have the knowledge shares. We have the Christmas party. And since we’re all consultants, we are always at the customer. So we also make sure that we arrange office days, that people come in regularly to the Wemanity office to connect.

And then we have the pod events where somebody enters a new pod, you have a welcome party and stuff like that. And finally, in the engage part it’s also important part is that salary matches value. And salary setting sometimes is really about personal development and about market standards.

But we really, also want to look at, okay, so how are you developing yourself? How are you helping to develop Wemanity as a company and a culture, and how are you helping Wemanity to be a good brand? So the customers perceive [00:20:00] Wemanity as a loyal, as a good and valuable brand to work together with.

So those are the most important things in the engaged stage of the. Employee journey. Great. Yeah. I really 

Elisa Tuijnder: particularly the pod things which lean into your surfing, it almost seems like you’re, a pod of dolphins or year all it’s cooler 

Viola Brussé: than calling 

Elisa Tuijnder: it a group or a team, or so that works.

I had a quick question around the salary. So is that something A process that is discussed. Is that a process that is agreed with other colleagues as well? I think that is fairly unique. So I dunno if you wanted to elaborate a tiny bit more on that one. 

Frank Sprengers: Yeah. This is something we also had to learn.

So when I came to Wemanity, we also were doing it a bit in different ways and we evaluated, we had a pilot group that was really interested in. Okay. So how is this salary setting work? What is the market standard? What do [00:21:00] like the new. And hip companies, how are they doing their salary settings?

So we did a small experiment with a value statement set up in a small group and the group found out that there’s more to it than just, Hey, okay. So you’ve done a nice job this year, so you can get a 5% increase. And they thought they, they really did a good market research and also had conversations among themselves to see what are important factors to make sure.

Everybody’s valued, not only in, in talks, but also in, in money. And that’s where the value statement conversations come from, 

Viola Brussé: maybe to add to that Frank within your pod, it is a transparent process. You discuss in your pods, what your value has been and why you want to raise or not. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Okay.

Yeah. That’s exciting times in the office. I can imagine when that happens. Great. Yeah. [00:22:00] And that was super, super interesting. And then the last step I’m thinking is the exit. Is that the progress then? Yeah. Is that the end of the chapter the progress side or the exit side? 

Viola Brussé: Yeah, 

Frank Sprengers: definitely is not.

I think field, I will also explain a little bit about what happens after but for progress we also, so people come to a certain point where they say, okay, so I don’t feel comfortable working for Wemanity because it doesn’t really, I found a new mission in life and I really feel I need a new challenge or.

Something like that. And that’s where it gets really interesting because that’s also, again, the pod structure, which is really valuable here because within the pod, we challenge people not to stay in Wemanity, but to follow their heart. So we really want to challenge. Okay. So what are you doing now and what doesn’t make you happy?

We really try to find ways in doing something like that in [00:23:00] Wemanity. But as soon as we feel people are really on the verge of leaving Wemanity, we make sure to yeah. Have them be good leavers and follow their challenge and go to a new company or organization where they can they can yeah.

Do their best and follow their dreams. As soon as that happens and people leave, it’s really important to make sure to have a proper goodbye. And obviously you have a goodbye party, but for me also, as a consultant, you switch companies quite often. And especially in Corona times, it was really hard for me to on a Friday, my last day at a customer, I closed my laptop.

I was at home, I was on the attic working and then I went. And on Monday, I opened the same laptop for a different customer. So there’s no closing ritual and it really feels like it doesn’t feel like closing a chapter. So it’s really important if you have people leaving in your company, [00:24:00] make sure to make it some kind of a ritual that people really.

Feel the chapters closed and now they can move on to another chapter. Absolutely. And part of that is looking back also on, on their achievements. Yeah. And in, 

Elisa Tuijnder: in anthropology and in social sciences, it’s really important to mark occasions. Even just marriage or going to the next grade in school, it’s really important for us to to process them.

Yeah, I really like your emphasis on that. And especially like he said, as a consultant, it’s at the end and. 

Viola Brussé: Then there’s nothing really 

Elisa Tuijnder: afterwards. And I’m sure we’ve all have all had those horror stories of when we left. And it wasn’t really the goodbye that you assumed it was going to be exactly.

But you touched on it already a little bit Frank there that, is the journey to an end when the person leaves and you said, yeah, Viola’s gonna speak a little bit more to that, because I’m quite curious. Is that the end or do we want them to come back? Do we want them to keep in touch?

[00:25:00] What’s the idea? What are your ideas around this Viola? 

Viola Brussé: And I think that’s a little bit new when I look at the moment where they see in the market, that if you are leaving a company, the manager who you are leaving still feels, and I’m generalizing, of course, like he’s been betrayed or something or and you can never come back.

But I think at the moment, if you’re looking at communities, you want lifetime supporters, you want them to be a lifetime to supporter to your company. Because what’s who they’re talked to and what’s happening in the future. You do not know yet. Can we look at a different point of view that sometimes a person has to learn new stuff at another place and maybe bring it into in a few years back to your company.

So they’vew grown [00:26:00] and. Come back to work for you again or their in their community can recommend you as a company and in the market at the moment, it’s very difficult to find and keep people. So to be recommended is one of the major things. That you as a company need to get your new employees in. So if they have the ability to have some kind of net promotion score of you as a company to be based on your future workforce that can be really a life changing for companies.

And I think, what you can do as a company or as HR department or have some kind of meetup or knowledge share where you can mix up your old, new potential new already [00:27:00] working there, future employees altogether. And have that connection with them, have the community of people who we’ve been working with your company or are working with your company or have never heard of you, but are potential gonna be your new employees.

And I think to achieve that but Frank said. It really starts with a proper goodbye and have there a good closure for therefore you can continue maybe in following meetups of your old company. So how can it be a circle? So when you’re leaving the company, you’ll become a lifetime supporter and you’ll move back to your orientation phase back again, maybe to this company.

Elisa Tuijnder: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s so important to, don’t burn bridges but also to have those proper goodbyes so that people can flow [00:28:00] back in because they need to develop sometimes, somewhere else, like you said and come back with more knowledge or more interests. And yeah, don’t even have.

To come back. There’s always some cosmic energy that will return to you if you’ve been good to this and have ended it and with a bow on . So we’ve attracted employees. We’ve onboarded employees. We’ve developed them. We’ve progressed, reward them and exited them. There is a lot more to this employee experience than just this small overview.

But what at management report, we always want to talk about tangible practices because it’s so important that people, instead of overhauling their complete employee journey, what’s some stuff that they can start practicing tomorrow. What can they implement tomorrow? What can they talk about with their colleagues tomorrow to, improve on that employee journey?

Viola Brussé: Yeah, maybe it’s to think about what you personally find the biggest pain [00:29:00] point at the moment in your employee experience. And is that a place where you can turn things around? With your colleagues with your manager, maybe with Management 3.0 tooling, because you have very nice tooling that can really improve.

And I think it’s starting about getting the conversations on it because if you’re sending out that kind of energy things were happening in the system. So a little bit of guts. Maybe needed. 

Frank Sprengers: Yeah. What do you think? Yeah. Thanks Viola. And yeah, really. I can only add to what you’re saying, because you have the power as a listener, as an audience of this podcast, as a worker, somewhere in the organization, you have the power to change and has to start somewhere.

And if people don’t know. Change needs to happen. [00:30:00] It won’t happen. So what the said, what’s the biggest pain points. If you can make that visible, if you can be vocal about it and transparent, and people actually also listen to what you’re saying, because that’s what I said before.

Like you need to have this culture of feedback within your organization to make sure your point is heard. Change will start and it will start small and it will grow bigger over time. But if I would say, what can you do different tomorrow? If you have this pain point be vocal to your nearest colleague or indeed to your team or to your manager. That’s where the change starts. 

Elisa Tuijnder: Yes, it is very good advice, not just for employee journeys, but everything in everything in the working world. So people might have listened to you the podcast now and are getting really excited and just wanna, maybe get their hands on something more or more further reading.

Is there anything you guys have to plug? I believe you have a white paper that you’ve recently published. Where can people find that. [00:31:00] 

Viola Brussé: Definitely you can find it at the webpage of It’s in English, it’s in Dutch and you can download it. So it’s on the employee journey, some kind of HR 3.0.

And we combined in a total in the full employee journey with Management 3.0 tooling. 

Elisa Tuijnder: We are very grateful for that, because it’s helped. It’s putting our agile toolkits and spotlight as well. And it’s really combining some of these practices in the way it is intended to do. Yeah. Frank, anything that you wanted to add to that?

If people are looking for some further. 

Frank Sprengers: Yeah, I would only say use all, go visit Management 3.0 with the awesome tooling. But yeah as a reader, I really can recommend the Fearless Organization of Amy Edmonson because it really makes, yeah, it’s really about putting people first. So [00:32:00] if I would recommend anyone, anything a book that would be my choice.


Elisa Tuijnder: Fantastic. Thanks for that. I really appreciate everyone’s input on these things always. Yeah. Then I think the only thing that is left for me to do is to say thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. To come onto this podcast and talk about the employee experience and about the employee journey and give us those tangible examples from Wemanity and other companies that you’ve worked with, but also that higherlevel

of what is important nowadays and what people should be thinking about? Yes. Thank you, Frank. Thank you Viola. Thank you, 

Frank Sprengers: Elisa. No, thank you. Goodbye. Bye-bye.

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