7 Ways To Improve Employee Experience
HR Manages worldwide face many challenges. From workforce shortages to employees who are less loyal to their employer and wanting more flexibility and autonomy at work. Additionally, people want to be less and less in the office, which does not help maintain a strong corporate culture. All of these challenges are solvable by investing time and effort into creating a really, really, REALLY good employee experience. Let’s dive in!
What is employee experience?
A quick refresher, what is employee experience exactly? The employee experience is derived from the "customer journey"; a marketing concept in which you as a company map the customer journey of your target group(s) and make all touch points with your company and the customer visible. It includes everything an employee experiences, perceives, or feels about the organization during his or her employment. This overall experience reflects an overarching view of the relationship between an individual employee and the organization.
The employee experience embodies the most impactful moments for an employee within the company. Examples could be the recruitment, onboarding, training and exit processes. Employee experiences can develop over time.
Why is employee experience so important?
Strengthening your employee experience will help your employees feel appreciated and more focused at work. This also comes with numerous benefits for the company such as employee job satisfaction leading to higher profits and a better position in the market. Let’s have a look at some of the benefits:
- More productive and engaged employees
Did you know that disengaged employees can cost you serious money? A study in the U.S. on workplace engagement shows that disengaged employees costs organizations around $450-550 billion each year. This is due to repercussions such as lower productivity and profitability as well as increased absences. Engaged employees are more productive and bring many other advantages such as improved retention rates.
- Lower absenteeism rates
An unhappy employee is more likely to be absent from work. This has a negative impact on morale, productivity and your company’s finances. A lower absenteeism rate is a great outcome of a good employee experience.
- It attracts talent
A satisfied employee is more likely to promote your company as a great place to work. This could lead to more referrals for open positions and increased recruitment rates. Many job seekers rely heavily on employees' experiences about their employer and its corporate culture. A company review site - such as Glassdoor - is therefore very popular! A company with bad reviews will turn a potential employee away, whilst good reviews will draw them in. We can guess what your preference is!
- It retains talent
Apart from attracting talent, a good employee experience also helps to retain talent. In difficult times, attracting high quality talents is tricky. Worldwide there is a shortage of staff. The competition in the labor market is cutthroat and there are many hijackers on the coast. This makes it all the more important to ensure that your team sees no reason to leave your company. A study by computer giant IBM on employee experience shows that a happy employee with positive experiences is 52% less likely to intend to leave their organization.
In short, a good employee experience is a must. You can achieve this in many ways, as we wrote in our article "create a better employee experience with desk booking."
How employee experience impacts customer experience
Employees play a central role in customer experience. A single interaction with an employee can make or break a potential customer’s experience in a store, on a telephone call, emails or even via virtual interactions such as social media or newsletters. Many industry experts therefore believe that a good customer experience is intrinsically intertwined with employee experience.
A recent study by Harvard Business Review indicates that companies that perform well on employee experience metrics also tend to perform well on customer experiences metrics. The research suggests that improvements in employee satisfaction also drive improvements in customer satisfaction.
Another study by Forbes, also highlights the importance of the relationship between customer and employee experience. They found that companies that thrive at customer experience have employees who are 1.5 times more engaged! It is not surprising that these same companies also generate higher returns, outperforming their competitors by 147%.
Want to get inspired by how other companies succeeded in employee experience? Check out this video from Jacob Morgan.
7 ways to improve employee experience
Now that we have established the importance of employee experience in the work environment, let's move on to the practical part: tips to improve your employee experience! We will give you not 1, nor 2, but 7 tips!
1) Focus on every step of the employee experience
“Every step you take, every move you make..”. Our first piece of advice is not to use the song I'll be watching you by The Police as a definite source of truth. Our advice is that you, as an HR manager, look at which steps an employee goes through in his employee journey and what the average experiences are. With this information you get a good picture of the employee experience and its positive and negative points. You can feed this back to the management to create a plan of action to improve the employee experience.
Looking into the entire employee life cycle can spark questions such as:
- How are we perceived in the recruitment process? Could we improve our tone of voice or make sure to raise our response rate?
- Do employees feel welcomed during the onboarding process?
- Do my employees feel like they can grow and develop with us?
- Does our flexible workplace adequately meet our employees' hybrid work needs?
- Does my staff feel heard by the company? Are they comfortable giving feedback?
- How do my employees feel about their time with us when they leave us? And what is the reason for their goodbye?
The answers to all these questions will show you your entire work environment from an employee’s perspective and it might show where there’s room for improvement and thus create a better experience.
2) Provide flexibility and freedom
Flexibility and autonomy; two big words, but what exactly are their benefits?
Flexibility is an important tool in problem-solving. Projects run more smoothly when team members have a flexible attitude. This is because they know how to adapt to sudden changes and can respond to new circumstances without slowing down or accumulating stress. Workers who readily demonstrate their ability to intelligently respond to a changing environment are highly valued.
In consultation with the board, an HR manager can encourage a flexible work attitude among employees by offering them flexibility. For example, give them freedom in the way they work within a flexible workplace. This includes being able to create their own schedule and work location. You can support this by creating a flex office and by using a hybrid work software where employees can book a flex desk in the office whenever that suits them best. For instance, knowing when important meetings are scheduled, when their favorite colleagues are in the office or to have some focus time.
When you offer more flexibility to your employees, it also creates a greater sense of freedom, autonomy and empowerment. It is all intertwined. Giving employees freedom can lead to lower turnover. A literature research review demonstrates that employees who get freedom are happier within their job and more productive than those who are more restricted.
As an HR Manager you can focus on teaching, guidance and support and put yourself at the service of employees rather than the other way around.
Another great way to give more freedom is to ask employees to identify the policies that they believe might hinder productivity of creativity. When employees can come up with changes themselves, that will aid productivity. Of course, there might be limitations to the changes you can proactively make and, most often, management has a role to play here too.
Both giving freedom and flexibility contributes to a sense of autonomy. Several studies indicate that workplace autonomy increases an employee’s sense of job motivation, satisfaction, creativity and overall well-being. Many companies have found their employees to be productive and happy since they’ve abandoned their micromanaging ways in favor of self-governance and autonomy.
3) Set up regular check-in meetings
Workplace happiness expert Jennifer Moss recommends hosting weekly check-in meetings were you ask the following three questions:
1. Was this week particularly stressful?
2. Why or why not? And what made you feel motivated or stressed?
3. What can we do as your employer do to make this better in the future?
We understand that having check-ins on a weekly basis might be too much. This is of course optional. No matter the frequency, check-ins contribute greatly to the feeling of being heard and valued. This is important to point out, as currently, as many as 63% of employees do not feel heard by their management. This can be a major reason for a staff member to seek new employment.
4) Gather employee feedback at different touchpoints
During a full employee journey, you can collect feedback from your employees across touchpoints. For example, after an onboarding process, after meeting a deadline or when someone has their one-year anniversary within the company.
This feedback helps you become aware of their changing feelings over time. It also prevents you from relying on a static snapshot by email or in a meeting. Plus, it makes your employees feel heard (see tip #3).
5) Offer growth opportunities
According to a LinkedIn study on workplace learning in 2022, 94% of employees say they would like to stay with their employer if they could grow professionally.
When employees feel like they can learn new things and grow within the role, it creates more satisfaction within the job. There are many ways you can offer growth opportunities, for example:
- Give more responsibilities for a projet
- Increase the salary (more on this in tip #7)
- Offer a job-specific training
- Bring the employee along to important meetings with stakeholders
- Rename the position to match the responsibilities better
- Provide opportunities to travel abroad for work (if relevant)
As a company, you want forward-looking and motivated employees, and you can encourage this by offering growth opportunities. This will give employees a chance to demonstrate that they have the necessary qualities to step up.
6) Open feedback culture
Having an open feedback culture at the workplace encourages a sense of trust among employees, the company and the community. Unfortunately, the leadership style and environment in the workplace often affect an employee’s ability to communicate in an uplifting and honest way. When working in a company that does not value open feedback, employees sometimes avoid expressing opinions, disappointments and frustrations. Instead, these opinions and views may remain between colleagues themselves, creating internal frustration and gossip. This frustration can build up till an extent where the employee decides to leave the company. When all this dissatisfaction is not expressed because of a lack of honesty within the company culture, this departure may come unexpectedly to you as an HR Manager.
You can inspire confidence by being as transparent as possible about topics that matter. Whether this is an update on budgets and profits, business goals and collaborations with third parties. What if you have to share bad news? Then do so with diplomacy and transparency. Don't sugarcoat it. Also, allow your employees to ask questions and really engage in conversation.
Being honest and transparent to your staff makes them feel more connected to you as an employer, it makes them feel important and it invites them to be transparent about frustrations themselves which you can then work on together.
7) Offer benefits and compensation
It’s all about the money, money, money: right? Well... not quite, but it does play a very large role within the employee experience. Being underpaid does make one feel undervalued which can lead to them disliking their job and employer. At the end of the day you have to pay the bills. Plus a good salary feels like a reward for someone’s hard work. Therefore make sure to give your staff a fair salary. In addition, there are many other ways to reward your employees for their work.
Apart from a good salary, you can offer additional benefits to make a job with you attractive. For example a good amount of vacation days, a 13th month, discounts on memberships or corporate gifts on a regular basis. In addition, you can look at benefits related to hybrid working. For example, offer the option to work completely remote one month a year. To make hybrid working easier, you can use a hybrid desk booking software.
We hope these 7 tips will help you improve the employee experience at your company. This might of course take time to build up, but it is truly worth it! Because a happy employee makes your job as HR Manager even more impactful and fun.