Empathy Based Employee Experience Principles

Deep Mahajan

Head of People Development & Culture at Nutanix

Learning Objectives

Employee experience today has broken the realms of its classical definitions extending itself not only to the person's company/ career experience but also including their personal and human experience at their company. Leaders of People/HR function as well as business leaders need to understand this paradigm shift and design/re-design their culture, engagement processes and practices to adapt to this change. In this session learn how Nutanix used the empathy principle to understand what employees really want and then designed an employee experience including programs, processes and culture that touches the employee lives day-to-day.

Key Takeaways:

  • How to use empathy principle to understand employee needs

  • How to balance (and integrate) the needs of the organization and the needs of the employees

  • How to create/re-purpose employee programs and processes in line with empathy principles


Hello to my fellow community of leaders, builders and creators. My name is Deep Mahajan, and I’m an HR professional with 20 plus years of experience in this field on a range of corporate consulting and entrepreneurial roles. Currently, I work as the head of people development and culture with Nutanix, a public company in the business of enterprise cloud. Let me start by asking you a question. What really makes you happy? As an answer to this question, I would likely hear something on the lines of when I saw my child take the first steps, that was the happiest moment of my life. Or when I come back after the tire day of work, my dog gives me happiness, surfing, skiing, camping, even a product release, at the end of how hard working months can give you happiness. And they’re all perfectly fine answers, some of them heavy enough to give you tears of joy. Now, have you heard anyone say, I got tears in my eyes when I saw my regular monthly paycheck.

Unless it had a deeper meaning for you like it was your first paycheck, the entity of the check itself may not ignite the emotion of happiness in you, it will still make you happy because it pays for your bills. But happiness is bigger than that. The connection of a paycheck with employees experience is something similar paycheck can help you hire the best talent, but to keep them and grow them. You need a strong company culture that cares for people and gives them a great career and working experience. Now, what is a company culture? culture is what people do when nobody is looking. When there is no policy or written rule around behavior. It is the How have work that happens day to day. So what makes a strong company culture? The first pillar of a strong company culture is an environment where everyone can bring their whole self to work. Here’s another question for you. Which is the place in the world where you feel most at home? Is your home, right? Your home is filled with people and things that you prefer and lying like being with or are simply used to being with? Let’s face it, your workplace may not be like your home, because it may have people who are different from you, unknown to you. How can you create a workplace that can still make you feel comfortable, productive and engaged? Only diverse workplaces can do that? a diverse workplace operates on an inclusion principle and shows respect towards the visible and invisible differences that people bring in. Research shows that the learning innovation and resiliency quotient of these organization is much higher and proven compared to those environments that are not. It’s a no brainer, really to build and nurture organizations that are diverse and inclusive for an employee experience that is exceptional. The next pillar of a strong culture is how you’re exercising empathy while designing your people processes. How does the leadership management at HR, exercise empathy on how they define the rules and the policies and the programs? Ask yourself the question, are they really people centric? Let me show how you can tangibly show empathy as an organization. When you give your employees flexible PTO, or flexible working options, you show them trust and empathy, maternity, and paternity leaves, show them that you understand what it means to have a baby. You show empathy by thinking about how you treat those you hire. And also those you don’t hire by thinking about those who work for you, but also those who are off putting all of these little actions show the true character of a company and allows you to connect with your employees deeply using empathy. Empathy comes from listening to the needs of your employees. Empathy makes companies human. Don’t hesitate to do something new or groundbreaking if it makes your organization more empathetic, more human. The last tip that I have for you To create an extraordinary employee experience is by giving them an employee value proposition that allows them to take meaningful career journeys with you. There used to be a time that people worked for their paychecks only. today that is not the case. people follow their passions. They follow a sense of purpose and fulfillment through their jobs. Are you inviting employees to do the best work of their careers with you?

Are you working to align the career purpose with your company’s purpose? Are they allowed to make career bets with you take risks fail and then finally succeed by leaps and bounds? are more senior and experienced leaders in your company coaching and mentoring those who can gain from it? What kind of development does your company offer and development not just in terms of trainings and workshops, but in terms of the day to day learning that an employee gathers by simply being a part of your organization changes and transformations are a huge source of learning? How is your company managing changes and learning from them. So to create an employee experience that is out of the ordinary? Start by building a diverse and inclusive culture, power your processes with a deep sense of empathy for your employees, and give them an employee value proposition that allows them to build a fine career with you. Your employee experience will not only go beyond the paycheck, but it will also become an absolute source of your competitive advantage. As you go on this journey, and gather more experience. Please do share your comments with me and ask me any questions down below in the discussion forum. Thank you and goodbye.

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