You Don’t Have to be Apple to Create a Great Experience

What the Apple Stores Can Teach Us About Crafting a Great Employee Experience

When Apple unveiled its first Apple Stores, the company was criticized for its seemingly indulgent approach to aesthetics and for using too much space to showcase their products. The company’s former CFO hated it. He was quoted as saying, “Apple’s problem is it still believes the way to grow is serving caviar in a world that seems pretty content with cheese and crackers.”

Apple stuck to its stubborn pursuit of a better consumer experience. It sought out to create stores that were beautiful places with friendly staff and cool, new technology. It chose the Ritz-Carlton as a benchmark. Not Radio Shack. Not BestBuy. Not the Gateway stores.

The strategy paid off. Apple Stores, now over 15 years old, have greater sales figures per square foot than any other retail location, according to data from eMarketer. 

Think in 3 Dimensions

In creating their stores, Apple mastered all the dimensions of the experience: the physical space, the culture and the tools available.

Similarly, the IBM Institute for Business Value has described the employee experience in terms of three “spheres”: the social sphere, the work sphere and the physical sphere.

In his book, The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan describes three employee experience “environments”: culture, technology, and physical space.

The point is to realize that the employee experience is not abstract; it happens in the real world, in a real place around other people and over a period of time. The employee experience is also more than benefits or total rewards or work/life balance. It comprises everything the employee perceives at and about working for your organization. 

All of these dimensions need to be considered thoughtfully when designing processes throughout the employee’s journey, from recruiting through onboarding through performance management through benefits enrollment and more. 

Have a Vision

Apple wanted its stores to be like the Ritz-Carlton. That vision gave them something to aspire to and it forced them to prioritize their needs and requirements. 

Having a vision is necessary because good design begins with conscious intent. If you don’t know what you’re trying to achieve, you’ll have no basis for decisions and no foundation for agreement among your team about what’s “right.”

Morgan argues that a good overall employee experience aligns with the company’s reason for being. For more specific guidance and inspiration, refer to your company’s values, mission, vision, EVP and current business goals. 

Start Small

Enhancing the overall employee experience is a massive undertaking. It involves, literally, everyone and everything at your organization. You can start in a manageable way by focusing on a specific experience, such as onboarding, annual enrollment, the performance management process, etc.

Later, you can apply the tools you use and the lessons you learn to other processes.

What Do You Think?

Have you tried to enhance the employee experience at your organization? Do you see it differently? Are you looking for help? We’d love to hear from you.

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