Employee engagement is the holy grail for companies, and right now there is much talk about ’employee experience’ being the way to best achieve it.
But is this just another buzzword, part of the latest trendy buzzphrase, or is there really something to it?
WHO CARES WINS
Companies are increasingly thinking about how they can improve the experience of their employees, devoting just as much energy to this as they have traditionally dedicated to trying to improve the customer experience.
It seems there is no denying that an improved employee experience pays dividends.
Companies in the know have seen their efforts in this area have a knock-on effect of a subsequent improvement in the customer experience and turnover. Companies, take note.
I FIND YOU VERY ATTRACTIVE
So, where does the employee experience begin? You could say the wooing begins long before the employee joins the organization – a person will need to be attracted to the organization and this happens through careful management of the reputation of a brand.
A smart company will be constantly working on its culture and credibility so it can attract the best people. Once that has been achieved, it needs to be maintained. At this stage we consider an organization to be ‘magnetic’. The next step is the interview process and then, crucially, the on-boarding.
IT’S ALL ABOUT YOU
Get the on-boarding wrong and the expensive recruitment process and training you have invested in your new hire will be a waste of time and money.
Companies need to ensure they are perfecting the on-boarding experience. If the process is not smooth and the experience is not personalized for individual employees, you run the risk of them being confused, overwhelmed and feeling unsupported in their new role.
According to an American HR consulting firm, 22% of staff turnover occurs in the first 45 days of employment. The firm also found that new employees who go through a structured on-boarding process are 58% more likely to stay with the company for more than three years. Clearly, this is not something that happens on its own.
NOW THAT I’VE GOT YOU
So, you have done all of the above and your welcome pack and orientation go incredibly well, does the employee experience stop there? Absolutely not and the employee experience must continue on to your alumni and all the while during the period of employment. In between joining and leaving, companies must work hard on cultivating goodwill and ensuring employee engagement.
It is a given that organizations need employee engagement, and the employee experience is the route to finding it.
WITHOUT TRUST, WE HAVE NOTHING
So what exactly is employee engagement? Well, it is not a colleague whose partner likes it so they put a ring on it.
Rather, there are a few definitions but a widely accepted view is that engagement occurs when an employee gives his or her best effort at work. This is also known as discretionary effort.
To improve the employee experience and drive engagement, organizations need to leverage the senior leadership teams and improve the culture.
THE LEADER OF THE PACK
On the whole, it is believed that engagement is closely linked to supervisory relationships, leadership trust, and organizational culture. To be engaged, employees must trust the leadership. This includes building a relationship of trust with immediate supervisors, of course, but it also requires trust in other organizational leaders, including those at the top.
Not surprisingly, organizational culture is largely driven by leadership but it includes a wide variety of other factors, from organizational values and norms to typical behaviors of employees.
Organisational culture has become a primary factor in a candidate’s choice of employer, and talented employees do not feel obliged to stick around and tolerate a toxic culture.
I CAN MAKE YOU FEEL GOOD
Even when the culture is not toxic, companies are beginning to understand how important it is to integrate well-being into their employee experience strategy. A good example of integrating the employee experience with wellbeing is to encourage employees to conduct meetings as they take a walk, ideally in a green space.
When thinking about the work environment, ‘Design thinking’, arguably a buzz phrase but very important nevertheless, takes aim at the heart of the issue of unnecessary workplace complexity by putting the employee experience first – helping to improve productivity by designing solutions that are at once compelling, enjoyable, and simple.
Attention to the workspace and making sure that it isn’t just the CEO who has a beautiful user-friendly office is another area in which many companies are desperately in need of some enlightenment.
Colorful, light and well-designed work and rest spaces enhance the employee experience on a much deeper level than anyone previously understood.
THIS IS HOW WE DO IT
Furthermore, new ways of teaching and experiential learning programs that begin with the individual and the context of an employee’s work are being introduced.
These programmes are also more creative in their execution compared to the classic classroom model in which the presenter is the focus. New approaches to learning programs are much more stimulating and engaging and lead to higher skills retention.
The employee experience is not a buzz phrase. It is a crucial opportunity to improve employee engagement.
Invite a consultant to give you an overview of how it could radically change the level of your employees’ engagement and appoint a ‘Chief Employee Experience Officer’, an individual who can work across departments to ensure this becomes a priority and who can take ownership of this critical work.
Or you could simply ignore it at your company’s peril.