Your employee experience (EX) is the sum of every touchpoint, exchange and interaction your people have with your organisation, right from their first contact with you as a potential recruit to when they end their employment. It includes pay and benefits, working environment, technology, security, performance appraisals, career path, training and development and so on. In short, employee experience is everything.
Employees expect a working experience that’s both engaging and enjoyable. And companies that respond to this reap considerable financial benefits, as happy employees are typically the most productive employees.
Businesses are becoming more and more aware of the need for an improved employee experience. According to a 2017 study by Deloitte, nearly 80% of executives rated employee experience as either very important or important. But just 22% reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience, whilst 59% of respondents said they were not ready, or only somewhat ready, to address the employee experience challenge.
So, the gap between understanding the need for good employee experience and actually doing something about it is wide. And that’s often because many organisations allow their employee experience to ‘just happen’ and don’t purposefully set out to design it in a way that creates positive engagement with employees. A great experience is not an accident and when it comes together, it’s because those responsible will have paid careful attention to how it is designed and implemented.
Improving your EX doesn’t have to be difficult or daunting. Here are four steps you can take to help ensure a great experience for your employees:
Step one – ask your employees what they want
Although this may seem like an obvious point, it is all too often overlooked. To change things for the better for people, you must first know what they think. In simple terms, this comes down to what employees feel has been poor about their experience at work in the past, and what they would like to see changed in the future.
What you learn will help you to see problems and challenges from the eyes of the employees, which is invaluable in helping you understand possible solutions and how you can put them in action.
One of the best ways to do this is through employee feedback and surveys. You need to develop mechanisms to obtain feedback at each stage of an employees journey and be able to analyse that data. You can also use “Pulse’ surveys that provide fast, simple and frequent feedback, delivered digitally every week or month. This takes the ‘pulse’ of your organisation at a point in time, can be done quickly and easily and the data aggregated to identify trends.
Once you understand the opportunities and any problems you are facing in respect to your employee experience, it’s time to examine what matters most to people and define and set your goals in terms of addressing these issues.
Obviously, budget and other constraints need to be taken in to account in this phase, so everything needs to be examined carefully. This will enable you to establish clear goals in relation to your desired employee experience, which are based on solid evidence.
You also need to tie these goals into the outcomes you want from your EX-design. So, for example, what outcomes do you want from the onboarding process? What outcomes do you want from introducing new technology? What outcomes do you want from performance reviews? Depending on the make-up of your organisation, the profile of your workforce and your competition, you may be able to do certain things better than others – but focus on your strengths.
Step three – Address your core improvement areas
To improve the employee experience in any organisation, you must centre on three core factors:
Environment: Where people actually do their job can have a massive impact on how well they do it, so your working environment is a crucial factor in a positive employee experience.
More companies are seeing that investing in the working environment pays big dividends. Airbnb, for example, has introduced a new concept where employees can choose to work on their own or with others, and in different spaces – such as specially-designed workplace kitchens and living rooms.
Culture: The workplace culture can be both positive and negative, depending on how it’s perceived by the employees. But people often don’t know or understand a company culture until they actually start work. And if they start working and discover they don’t like the culture, then it will affect their productivity, whilst their negative attitude will also drag others down.
To avoid this, it’s a good idea to illustrate your company culture with a clearly defined vision and set of values, so potential employees know what they are entering into before they take a job.
Technology: The tech that employees use to get their job done is another crucial part of your employee experience. Good tech enables, bad tech hinders.
So, try and use technology to improve life for your employees, but don’t just focus on processes for getting work done or automation. A good example is using digital communication tools and systems to enable flexible working options – meaning your staff aren’t bound by the grind of the traditional working day and commute.
‘Too often companies introduce technology to improve the way tasks are completed, rather than to enrich the experience of the employee. This is the company, rather than people-centric thinking – so this mindset change is important when designing experiences and especially when introducing technology.’
Step four – measure, monitor and evolve
To be successful, the progress of your employee experience must be measured and monitored. What exactly is making the lives of your staff better? And is there anything that is actually having a negative effect?
So, you must constantly touch base with your staff to understand what is happening – and tweak your strategy accordingly. This will allow your employee experience to evolve and prosper.
The benefits of an employee experience created by design can be huge, with companies employing highly engaged workforces reporting significant profits. A recent global study by Gallup found that companies with the highest proportion of engaged employees experienced 147% higher earnings per share (a key profitability indicator) compared with their competition.
The key building block to the ideal design is your data. As Nick Court says, ‘Your data helps you answer the fundamental question for every business. And that is Why? Why do your people come to work every day? Why do they work here? Why do they leave? It all starts and ends with your data, so you have to get that data together and you have to keep collecting and analysing it to help you build out your journey effectively.’
If you want to learn more about designing the ideal employee experience, you can watch our guest webinar with Nick Court from People Experience Hub, here.