Employees are the backbone of any organisation. In a sense, they are a company’s internal customers. And the experience of customers, whether external or internal, is paramount to business success.
What is employee experience?
Employee experience is the sum total of everything an employee observes and experiences during their employment. Employee experience is a culmination of all the work relationships, the work culture, the work-life balance, and how engaged the employees are with their job.
importance of employee experience
It essentially comes down to these three key areas that are important to significantly improving the organisation’s bottomline:
- Employee engagement
- Talent retention
Why Focus on employee experience?
Positive experiences trigger employees’ productivity and efficiency levels, which makes them contribute with higher levels to the organisation’s success. According to a report by IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute, companies that rank among the top 25% on the employee experience index saw twice as much return on sales, and almost three times return on assets.
This places immense importance on the improvement of work culture in companies. An enhanced work culture will create a powerful space for employees to be their empowered selves, and therefore hugely elevating the overall employee experience for everyone.
Today organisations cannot afford to ignore taking a holistic approach to enrich employee experiences, help employee thrive and drive business performance. This means simultaneously working towards developing all components that contribute to a positive employee experience.
Elevating the Employee Experience
Emulating employee experience initiatives by top companies can help organisations new to this take forward strides. Let’s look at a few key principles that can help guide your workplace employee experiences, and examples of successful implementation.
Know your people.
To create a meaningful experience for your people, the first step is to learn about them – their aspirations, preferences, individual goals, etc. Understand their pulse and understand what triggers their excitement at work. Try and develop a strong bond with your employees, which makes them feel comfortable and cared for – psychologically safe in other words. Effective employee engagement begins with understanding a truly diverse workforce. Only by knowing the workforce can the work of empowering them start.
Netflix, for example, strives to know its employees and nurtures their individuality. Independent decision making and accountability is encouraged by the employers and open communication is the norm. The employees are actively urged to be their own real selves and have candid conversations.
establish a strong company culture.
A lot has been said about the importance of creating a great company culture. Well, it is one of the most significant factors impacting the employee experience. Positive company culture often leads to a positive employee experience.
Organisations of all kinds need to foster a healthy culture where every member, irrespective of their level, is on the same page. This culture is well aligned with the company’s mission, vision, and values. A strong culture can make employees feel at home, enabling them to give work their all.
Airbnb incorporates an innovative approach where each employee is considered family. This promotes a sense of community amongst the employees, and leads to quality offerings for both customers and employees.
Promote effective communication.
According to a recent study, 33% of employees feel that a lack of open communication negatively impacts their morale. Such is the importance of transparent, free flowing communication in the workplace.
Most contemporary organisations have placed a huge emphasis on the use of technology to streamline communication. Organisations must have enough channels where employees are free to speak and feel heard. Create special platforms or forums for them to share their opinions and ideas, and also encourage participation.
Moreover, employee feedback is a great platform allowing them vent out their feelings at work. Therefore, to increase employee experience, regular feedback surveys must be rolled out from time to time to gain insight into their issues, concerns, etc.
Cargill, for example, has a culture where feedback from employees is an everyday way of work. Regular and consistent feedback brings together the workforce and the management in an incredible way. Deeper trust is established, boosting the overall employee experience.
create ongoing learning opportunities.
Employees today are eager to be stretched, and have a constant hunger for growth and learning. They look for opportunities to expand their skillsets and acquire more knowledge. According to a recent global report, 87% of millennials feel that professional development is extremely relevant for them. Another key report states that 94% of employees would stick around for longer if the company invested in their career development. The hope of growth is a powerful motivator, and one that cannot be underestimated by the management.
To enhance employee experiences, the leadership must understand each employee’s individual learning needs and career aspirations, and then design personalised employee development plans. Training sessions, workshops, seminars, etc. must be regularly conducted to promote their growth, both personal and professional. Many organisations have introduced leadership and mentorship programmes for their people, where with proper guidance and support, employees are encouraged to scale and grow upwards or sideways.
Hewlett Packard places immense value on employee growth. It supports its employees with a large number of training and development programmes, thereby helping improve their overall employee experience.
offer the right perks and benefits.
It’s not just about paychecks anymore – it is the value added that matters too. As per a report, over 70% of employees state that their companies can prevent turnover by offering the right workplace benefits.
In the current global economic climate perks and benefits create a unique win-win situation, where the employees feel valued and invested in the company and the companies reap the benefits of increased employee experience.
It is important for companies to re-visit their existing set of employee benefits and go beyond the one-size-fits-all to provide tailored benefits, offers and discounts to build a personalised connection with employees in driving higher engagement.
Facebook excels at providing the right perks and benefits. As an example, it provides four months of paid parental leave along with a “Baby Cash” bonus. Showing employees that you care about them, especially when it is needed the most, immensely elevates the employee experience.
introduce innovative financial offerings.
Many organisations enhance their employee experience by offering tax-saving benefits to their people by issuing them multi-wallet tax-saving cards for their personal use. Others have options where employees can access their earned salary before payday. In keeping with the idea of bringing people’s whole selves to the workplace, internal communities and hobby clubs are being formed to connect like-minded employees and promote a culture of fun. Social forums, where employees are free to post personal videos and pictures, are other avenues that are increasingly being created and encouraged.
Chipotle offers employees the opportunity to purse debt-free degrees in business or technology. They are expected to pay no up-front fees, which enables a massive share of the workforce to improve their on-the-job knowledge and skillsets.
Reward & recognise great work.
Timely praise and appreciation for a job well done can go a long way in fostering employee productivity and engagement. It can work wonders for an organisation. As per a study, 69% of employees state that they would work harder if their efforts were recognised. Therefore, businesses must develop a sound recognition strategy to make employees feel valued.
Google excels at its recognition programme. It has a platform in place, called “gThanks”, where employees can thank each other and receive bonuses. Rewards and recognitions are a part of the culture at Google, as reflected in their “Wall of Happy” initiative. The employees can use post-it notes to thank their peers and colleagues, to spread positive vibes around the workplace.
Workers today expect a meaningful, engaging, and enjoyable work experience. They also expect their workplaces to show that they value their people are actively invested in their growth, and overall wellbeing. As such, in today’s fast-paced and ever-changing world of work, the success of an organisation’s employee experience will determine the success of its customer experience too.
Author: Binu Jacob – EFS Content Lead and Comms Strategist