Elevating Employee Experience – A Conversation with Kaiser Permanente’s Angela Howard

In this Talent Tales episode I had the honor to interview Angela Howard, Director or Talent Management & Culture at Kaiser Permanente. Angela’s creative superpower is “connecting the dots”. She likes to collaborate across functions to deliver an awesome employee experience.

During our conversation Angela shared how Kaiser Permanente is looking at the employee experience not from a traditional programmatic approach but by focusing on what the journey looks like from the employee perspective. The company has a dedicated employee experience team that ensures all HR programs connect to provide a seamless employee experience, from the minute someone learns about Kaiser Permanente to the time they leave the company.
The team not only closely collaborates within HR, but also with the business. Key partners are the Marketing and Nursing Quality teams. There is a shared understanding that providing a great employee experience will result in a great patient experience.

To Angela, design thinking and employee experience are closely connected in that they are viewed as “consumers of the workplace”. The employee experience team at Kaiser has leveraged select design thinking methods for employee experience design, such as journey maps and personas, to identify the moments that matter for an employee. Research revealed that new hire (first 90 days) turnover in certain positions at Kaiser was high so the team decided to focus on the onboarding experience as one of the first to tackle.

Here are some of Angela’s tips for how to get started with design thinking in HR:


Start with a low risk initiative or key pain point to gain buy-in.

In order to help people embrace design thinking concepts such as rapid prototyping, start with something that’s low risk or that’s a pain point for the business.


Include people who might become ambassadors for the process.

Solicit help from other departments such as Marketing or Customer Experience and position yourself as a business partner. Once people have been engaged in an initial employee experience effort, they will become raving fans and spread the word across your organization.


Connect employee experience to tangible metrics.

Show with data how enhancing a certain aspect of the employee experience has impacted key business metrics such as new hire 90 day turnover or customer satisfaction scores.

Want to find out how not to become an “askhole”? Watch the entire interview on YouTube or listen to the Podcast.