The employee experience is as critical, if not more critical, than any other priority for leaders today.
“The employee experience includes all those things that equip and enable an employee to do his or her job,” says Chris Powell, CEO of Talmetrix. The employee experience includes how someone perceives themselves within a business given the makeup of teams, the communication styles adopted, employees’ levels of autonomy, the nature of leadership and management, the facilities, the tools, growth opportunities, and all the other entrenched norms and values that shape an organization’s culture.
“The employee experience matters because if people are not fully enabled and equipped to do their jobs in the most efficient and effective way, it has negative consequences on their ability to engage, perform, or produce whatever output it is that’s expected of them,” says Powell. No other factor impacts as many organizational strategies as the customer experience.
Given how employee experience drives performance, productivity, innovation, and retention, how do you ensure it is prioritized?
Here are 4 ways to rethink how you’re approaching the employee experience.
1. Consider the whole person.
When looking at the experience employees have within an organization, leaders need to start thinking in broader terms. A critical part of the employee experience includes alignment and person/job fit, which happens before an employee is even hired: “Are you aligned to the purpose, mission and values of the organization and do your skills, knowledge and attributes fit the role and job that we need to hire you for? All of that happens before you have even started a new role,” explains Powell.
And once someone is on one of your teams, the experience they have with your organization isn’t just what’s happening 8-5. For many people, work today is “always on,” so any snapshot of the employee experience has to start to move towards a more holistic view of an employee—not just their time spent at their desk.
Josh Bersin describes the state of many modern workforces, writing: “The work environment is highly complex—where we once worked with a team in an office, we now work 24/7 with email, instant messages, conference calls, and mobile devices that have eliminated the barriers between our work and personal lives” (1).
While it can have certain drawbacks, the enhanced connectivity and the blending of our personal and work lives can present its own opportunity for organizations. Ingage Partners, an IT and management consulting firm, celebrates “wins” for employees, including activities and milestones that happen outside of work. “We encourage employees to chase their passion, not just in a professional sense, but also in a personal sense,” says Jessica Noguera, Community Engagement Manager.
As a result, employees live out the company purpose (and business model) throughout their lives, not just at work. Over time, this work environment helps to attract the right kind of talent that is aligned with the B Corporations’s current culture.
Celebrating what employees are passionate about across their lives actually helps employees to do their best work, explains Noguera. “You see this play out in our Ripple Report,” shares Noguera. “This is a report we release each year that shows the numbers and activity about how we have made a difference in our community.”
2. Boost employees’ growth opportunities.
“If the business is growing and evolving, yet the company is not doing anything to help individuals acquire new skills to do their job better and faster, eventually two things will happen,” explains Powell. “Either that individual may start to underperform and eventually be rolled out, or that person will disengage and leave.” The costs of hiring and training a new hire can be avoided if the employee has the right growth opportunities and training to support him or her.
Any time a company is evolving or changing their strategy or work processes, it’s an ideal time to train and educate employees so that they can be equipped to do their jobs more effectively, says Powell.
Instead, what tends to happen is that during these times of transition, learning, training and development budgets are cut. “But you’ve got to invest in the people to achieve more during these times,” says Powell.
Examine how you are training and educating your people—both informally and formally, how it aligns with what skills they want to develop, and whether or not that training is meaningful, self-directed and dynamic (1). “Learning opportunities, professional development, and career progression are among the top drivers of employee satisfaction,” writes Bersin in Becoming irresistible: A new model for employee engagement. “Employees under the age of 25 rate professional development as their number one driver of engagement, and this is the number two priority for workers up to age 35” (1).
3. Reduce your blind spots.
Any time you’re invoking any type of change in your organization or any time that you have set any kind of performance expectations for people, leaders must understand all of the things that positively or negatively impact the employee experience. “Leaders need to know employees’ ability and willingness to either live through and survive and thrive through the change, or their ability to meet those performance expectations,” says Powell.
It may be a simple thing, but capturing feedback and workforce insights about the employee’s true experience can help you determine what the next steps forward are. It also gives employees a “safe space” to share honest feedback on how things are really going.
“Leaders think they’ve got a view of everything and that’s not always true,” says Powell. Once you have data and insights to help you support or challenge any beliefs you have, you’ll have a better idea of what employees think about working at your organization.
What is holding them back from being as effective and efficient as they’d like to be? What are they complaining about? What are they looking for? Digging into this data may put you on a path toward more development, better training for managers, flexibility in the workplace or other solutions.
4. Focus on your action steps.[clickToTweet tweet=”Successful brands recognize employees are their greatest asset. ” quote=”Successful brands recognize employees are their greatest asset. “]
In doing so, they know it’s about more than just getting data or mapping out the employee experience. They know they need an action plan to support the organization as it continues to grow and change.
CrossChx, a healthcare technology company, intentionally designs a culture of “humble superstars,” says Brian Rutkowski, vice president, resources. “We dedicate each month to a different core value and celebrate in various ways with activities and peer-nominated awards. We also host regularly scheduled town hall-style events with our CEO to encourage transparency and dialogue at every level of the company,” he says, describing two ways they implement efforts that add to their employee experience.
“The best thing about our culture is our sense of community,” he adds, saying that cultivating the employee experience is a priority—and it has been for leadership from the beginning. “The challenge is staying true to our values and maintaining that culture as we grow. The programs and processes we’ve put it place have empowered us to scale quickly and enrich our culture at the same time.”
Homeside Financial, a mortgage bank, consciously designed its workspace to be high energy and fuel productivity, an important part of their employee experience. It’s a culture that goes against some of the norms in their industry: “It is very open, yet functional, and our teams are able to work together to create better efficiencies,” says Dan Snyder, co-founder and managing partner.
“If you don’t get the culture and people correct, then the functional areas of your business have a hard time actually functioning…it is something my partners and I are constantly evaluating. Do our employees have a voice? Can we get better communication from our management? What worked last year might not work this year, so you have to keep up, keep listening, and adapt,” he says.
84.51°, a company that helps brands act on customer insights from data, knows that just capturing the data itself from employees isn’t enough. The real impact comes from what they do with that data, including how it is measured over time.
Mark Wilson of 84.51° explains that “just like we do for Kroger, our clients and customers, we start with the data. We’ve utilized a variety of employee surveys as well as created our own internal engagement survey that is leveraged weekly. We share the results of our engagement surveys with our people and put plans in place to act on the results,” he says. “Each business group has autonomy to customize and personalize the plans to their teams.”
Use Actionable Solutions to Improve the Employee Experience
As you look to use surveys to measure, facilitate and improve the employee experience, you’ll want to effectively implement learnings and ongoing action steps. Download the Art & Science of Employee Engagement Ebook below to uncover:
- Key questions to ask as you measure satisfaction, sentiment, inclusion, culture and the overall employee experience
- How to craft great employee survey questions based on your objectives
- How to best communicate to employees about employee feedback
- The answers to frequently asked questions from top experts, practitioners and business leaders
Talmetrix is re-inventing how talent-focused organizations and their employees work together to fuel a culture of high performance. Contact us to learn more about our innovative, action-oriented solutions.
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