Have you ever considered the employee experience at your company? Most companies are well versed in the world of customer experience, because everyone knows that happy customers come back for more.
It’s easy to see why organisations around the world apply similar principles to all functions in their company. The tide has started to turn. Companies no longer put their customers first and their employees last.
It is now broadly accepted that if you look after your employees, they will look after your customers for you. A positive employee experience is likely to make your people feel more valued, motivated, and engaged, and they are therefore less likely to leave – another plus point for the overall productivity of your company!
Since 2018, HR trends have shifted the focus from employee engagement to employee experience. This resulted that anyone involved in people management or human resources has felt the pressure to examine the employee experience in their organisation. Companies needed to create plans and change processes to improve and optimise all aspects of an employee’s working life.
Employee Experience is still some way off becoming a mindset, and it may take some time for this attitude to really be fundamentally built into every company. Here are a few pointers to think about when implementing an employee experience overhaul or developing a strategy from scratch:
Employee Experience vs Employee Engagement
It’s easy to confuse the two, but they are not interchangeable. Employee engagement strategies tend to be implemented from the top down, with the management deciding what might boost morale, and levying this on the employees. Employee engagement should be a two-way process, where the employee and management work together to identify and resolve any areas needing improvement.
A positive employee experience works from the bottom up – and consequently improves employee engagement. It is driven by the expectations and needs of the employees, and management treat it as a form of service.
A shift in the focus on employee experience within organisations across the world signifies a transition from treating their workforce as an asset, as was the case when people strategies concentrated on employee engagement, to perceiving their employees as human beings with individual needs.
For most companies, employee experience is a results-driven decision, so you need to be aware that this is also about long-term change and cultural shift. An employee experience strategy is fuelled by leaders having an ear to the ground, and the actual discussions taking place with current and former employees to find out what’s right, what’s wrong, and what could be better.
Why is it important?
In the same way as a customer will remain loyal to a brand that offers them the experience that they want, an employee is far more likely to stay in a company where the overall experience is a positive one. As a high employee turnover rate can seriously damage bottom lines and productivity, staff retention is a key strategic goal for most companies. Hanging on to valuable employees is crucial to success – you don’t want to risk losing your top performers.
Not only this, but when word spreads about your company offering a great employee experience, you’ll start to attract top quality applicants who are aligned with your culture. These days, websites such as Glassdoor can offer deep insights from employees (current and past) of any company, and this can positively or negatively impact your employer branding. Job applicants will gather any of the information available in the public domain and this will influence their choice of potential employer.
A recent study found that companies with an employee experience strategy are six times more likely to be listed under Best Places to Work on Glassdoor.
How do you go about it?
Employee experience can be designed in the same way as your customer experience. There needs to be a process, and it needs to be informed by the opinions of current and – potentially – former employees. It is paramount that leaders are open to the prospect of changing the dictated company culture to meet the shifting needs of their employees as a result.
Every company has a unique employer situation with its own culture and goals. Different industries require different workforces. In terms of employee experience, it is therefore difficult to provide one common definition and a list of vital ingredients.
There will be no one-size-fits all template, and it won’t be as straightforward as simply offering a nice bonus, or little perks like ‘fish and chip Fridays’, or even a certain level of pay – remember, we’re diverting our attention away from the world of ‘employee engagement’. Of course, these factors will all mould an employee’s experience of a job, but the key to a successful employee experience strategy is to view things in a more holistic way.
The employee experience starts with the first point of contact that a potential employee has with your company and continues all the way through to their exit. Every part of an employee’s working day is relevant to this experience: The time they have to get up in the morning, their daily routine, their commute, the office environment and location. These factors already set the tone of the experience before we even consider the effects of their actual role and workplace relationships.
Secondly, you need to ensure that your onboarding process is thorough. New recruits that are thrown in at the deep end will start their journey on a negative note. Do your employees want more room for growth? Would they like flexible hours? Are your computers outdated and cause frustration by slowing them down? There are seemingly limitless factors and touchpoints that could be addressed, so listening and adapting to their needs is crucial, wherever possible.
Where to start?
When you start to try to find a manageable path through the maze of considerations and options, remember that at the root of all best business practice is clear communication. Irrespective of the topic, communication will be at the heart of solving any problem in the world of talent management. Embracing employee experience is no different, so start to communicate with your employees in an open-door fashion, switch yourself to ‘listening’ mode, don’t wait for annual reviews to gain information, be interested etc.
It is advisable to involve as many business functions as possible outside Human Resources. Employees come into contact with most other business functions such as Marketing, Communications, IT, Facilities, and these touchpoints will influence their employee journey. If the employee experience strategy is to work, it is paramount that it is not limited to an HR-centric effort but that all business functions buy into it.
This sounds like a lot of work, and to some extent it is. However, the pay-off is huge
Set small achievable goals rather than aiming to transform the company culture overnight. Think in terms of ‘What works here’ as opposed to overarching models of ‘What works everywhere’ and, above all, ensure that your plans are achievable. This will ensure that your employee experience strategy can be implemented – or improved – successfully and that it ultimately improves the productivity and longevity of your workforce.