Job satisfaction is a factor that businesses cannot ignore. A disengaged, unresponsive workforce can quickly drag productivity to the ground, resulting in not-very-happy repercussions. On the other end of the spectrum, an engaged, responsive workforce is a benefit that speaks for itself, increasing productivity, and by extension, profitability, to new heights.
This raises the question of how to improve the work environment for employees, and thereby keep them focused and motivated.
The answer to that question is employee experience management.
Employee experience refers to the journey an individual employee takes through a company. Starting from initial job candidacy all the way through to eventual exit. More specifically, employee experience refers to every team member’s perception of that journey – and whether the journey was an experience they found fulfilling.
The Benefits Of A Positive Journey
There are countless benefits to a strong overall employee experience, all directly related to job satisfaction. Undoubtedly, happy employees are far more productive and motivated. This will have a direct impact on performance and quality of work.
To put it another way; the quality of a job has a far greater impact on performance than both intelligence and skill set. This makes it clear that poor performance is largely due to happiness levels, rather than an unskilled workforce.
Just one example is customer relations. Customer relations are dramatically improved when employee experience is high. The company as a whole is represented far more positively on every level. From general communication to a focused dedication to a customer’s needs, it’s all directly related to how that employee feels about their job.
Negative Impact Of A Poor Journey
Conversely, an unsatisfied employee not only dreads being at work but is far more likely to call in absent. This inevitably results in an entire team feeling the effects, which will certainly impact performance, and by extension, profits. The key here is that even a single unsatisfied team member can have far-reaching consequences. This demonstrates just how important the employee experience is in every individual case.
When it comes to customer relations, an unhappy, unfocused employee sends all the wrong messages. The company as a whole comes off looking unengaged and disinterested. This suggests to the customer that any business dealings will likewise be less than optimal. Would you want to do business with a company that sends a disinterested, unenthusiastic representative to meet potential clients?
Attracting And Retaining Talent
Beyond the existing workforce, attracting and retaining new talent is also influenced by employee experience management. Companies that get ahead comprise a strong workforce of satisfied employees, or more specifically; based around attracting and retaining talented individuals. A low employee retention rate is not only demoralising to the team but also a sign that better job satisfaction is found elsewhere.
During times of strong economic growth, when the market is competitive, a company with low job satisfaction will find itself overlooked by most top talent. Talent acquisition, therefore, becomes a challenge. By extension, the organisation’s reputation suffers.
Engagement Versus Experience
When determining how to improve the work environment for employees many managers confuse the differences between engagement and experience. Some come to the conclusion that simply keeping employees active will result in a better overall experience. Others rely on staff management software but forget the human element.
Although this is part of the sum, it isn’t the whole equation.
Relentlessly focusing on engagement while ignoring experience can often have a negative impact, with the team feeling overburdened and unsatisfied.
There are some differences in opinion as to what constitutes engagement, and what constitutes experience.
General consensus is that engagement refers to an employee being fully occupied in any given task, as well as how capable they feel in regards to completing that task. As such, improved technology and better working conditions can indeed help with improved engagement. But working conditions alone won’t contribute to that team member feeling satisfied in the long run.
Experience is overall workplace satisfaction, including everything that is seen and felt. From interactions with others, to a sense of productivity, it’s all part of the equation. Relating back to what was just said; a better workstation may help in getting a specific task done faster, but won’t necessarily contribute to that employee feeling satisfied at the end of the day. It’s rather a sense of productivity and achievement that will make a day feel worthwhile.
Creating The Experience – Workplace
The fact of the matter is that creating a positive employee experience is not something that is going to happen overnight. It is also not a challenge that gets conquered, then ceases to be a problem. Employee experience management is a long-term, ongoing commitment that requires constant attention. It must become an unending company priority. Utilising staff management software can help to keep track of progress and ensure that all employees are on the same page.
The first aspect that needs taking into account when determining how to improve the work environment for employees is the atmosphere. Teams work best when given a sense of higher purpose, encouraged to focus on values, and feel as if they are part of a mission. A team needs to feel as if each task, no matter how small, is serving the company as a whole. Individual employees must understand that if a task is performed poorly, the whole organisation, no matter how indirectly, will suffer as a result. Hence, every task serves a higher purpose.
No individual should feel as if they are doing a lesser job, or that they are not essential to the bigger picture. Instead, it needs to be understood that the team could not exist without each individual member. Leaders should not only treat all team members with equal respect but must never seemingly ignore some aspects of the company while putting disproportionate effort into others.
The workplace, and the company as a whole, must also be a place of trust. Trust must be fostered between all team members, regardless of perceived hierarchy. A leader must be approachable and attentive, seen as part of the workplace, rather than as a force that hovers over it. Any sense that a leader is somehow an entity that is feared and needs appeasing will quickly create an environment of anxiety and tension.
All employees should feel comfortable giving feedback, including feedback that could get perceived as negative. Without negative feedback, it will never come to light where the biggest conflicts in the company lie, and if left unattended those conflicts will fester into a toxic atmosphere.
Resolving conflicts or other negative factors before they fester is essential, and one of the biggest keys in keeping a workplace productive.
Senior leaders and managers, are absolutely essential when it comes to the employee experience. They need to know what the best employee experience tool is, and how to utilise it.
The biggest mistake is the perception that a leader serves to keep a team in line, rather than guiding that team in the right direction. A leader’s priority is, above all else, multi-layered performance management.
Outstanding leaders and managers understand that job satisfaction is about a bigger picture. Any job is not just about the task at hand, but just as much about long-term personal and career goals. If an employee does not have a sense that the journey is leading somewhere, individual moments quickly lose their sense of significance.
Likewise, day to day performance must also get taken into account with employee experience management. Employees seen to be losing their short-term ambition should have the opportunity to discuss their concerns and the root cause behind their lack of performance explored. If the lack of performance is ignored, the employee will ultimately feel that their efforts were never noticed in the first place, fostering an even greater loss in productivity.
Indeed, this sort of compassionate, focused approach by a leader requires a great deal of individual investment. If you know how to improve the work environment for employees and increase satisfaction—and by extension productivity—the benefits will quickly become evident.
Positive Experience Framework
A positive employee journey can be segmented into an easily understood framework.
- Recruitment – Ensure roles, scope of work, benefits, and career growth plans are communicated clearly during recruitment. Any reservations about accepting the job require exploration and resolution.
- On-boarding – Smooth assimilation into the workforce must involve meeting HR, introduction to a team, and familiarisation with the expected role. A leader or manager should also use staff management software to create a list of goals for the first week and the first month.
- Development – The new team member must have regular performance reviews via a personal meeting with his or her direct senior. Areas of improvement, and success, need acknowledgment. New, long-term goals require establishing, as well as a pathway through the company.
- Retention – Long-term goals need to be evaluated, progress monitored, and examined. The planned pathway through the company must get re-examined regularly.
- Exit meeting – If at any time, the employee decides to leave, the reasons must be clear. A personal exit meeting with a direct senior is an ideal way of determining if the experience at the company were satisfactory.
Experience, Equals Engagement, Equals Success
It’s clear that employee experience management is something that every organisation needs to prioritise and invest in as the workforce is the backbone of a business, and therefore needs to perform at its optimum.
Moreover, when a positive employee experience is created, retention gets a boost, productivity improves, and the bottom lines benefit immensely.
Author: Daniel Cruz – Editorial Member, Hourly