Employee experience is a buzzword for organizations across industries. Increasingly, organizations are looking at their employees more as the end assets than simply as means to an end. Here, employee experience becomes their greatest tool to attract, retain and develop the best talent in the marketplace. According to a report by Deloitte, 80% of HR and business leaders believe that employee experience was “important” or “very important” to them. However, only 22% of these leaders said their organization was “excellent” at establishing a differentiated employee experience. The gap in these two figures clearly creates a case for organizations to step up their efforts with a comprehensive employee experience strategy and best practices to achieve the same.
Decoding employee experience: Meaning and definition
Before jumping into the detailed approach on how to improve employee experience, its importance and impact on different business verticals, let’s understand what employee experience is. According to Denise Lee Yohn, “EX (employee experience) is the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization.” Looking closely, this suggests that employee experience entails every encounter for an employee from the time they first interact with an organization as a potential candidate to the day they formally leave the organization. Thus, it is not a one off observation or feeling, but encapsulates everything an employee experiences at work.
Why is employee experience so important: The business impact
Why is employee experience so important or why invest in employee experience has been a question that organizations have asked for a long time. For a lot of business leaders, investing in employee experience is often a good to have, and not something pressing for organization’s sustainability and scalability. However, studies and surveys have time and again illustrated the business impact to answer why is employee experience so important.
Engagement and performance
A positive employee experience is directly linked to satisfaction, happiness and engagement at work. While these may not be directly quantifiable, their impact surely is. According to a study, happy employees are up to 20% more productive at work. On the flip side, actively disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 billion to $550 billion per year. Thus, creating a conducive experience is important to engage employees as well as augment performance and productivity.
Talent attraction and retention
Why invest in employee experience can also be answered by throwing light on its impact on talent attraction and retention. Invariably, organizations that offer a positive experience from the first step of the employee lifecycle tend to attract and retain the best talent. At the same time, poor culture and experience is what pushes top performers to look for a change. 47% of people actively looking for a new job pinpoint company culture as the main reason for wanting to leave. Therefore, employee experience is a great resource for employer branding and getting the best talent.
Profits and bottom line
Finally, employee experience focusing on satisfaction, engagement, wellbeing, belongingness, etc. has direct business repercussions. Research shows that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Thus, employee experience has a positive impact on an organization’s bottom line.
How to measure employee experience: Key milestones and employee experience metrics
On learning the business impact of employee experience, most leaders jump on to identifying an employee experience strategy and learn the best practices on how to improve employee experience. However, leaders and managers must take a pause to actually measure their experience score to identify the gaps and challenges. Here are the top employee experience survey questions that can help organizations answer the question, how to measure employee experience:
Leaders can start to measure employee experience by calculating the employee net promoter score. Like customers, organizations can understand whether their employees are willing to recommend the organization to others. Employee experience survey questions may include, on a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend our organization to your family or friends to work?
Depending on the cumulative score, organizations can have a decent understanding of the employee experience they are offering. Anything below 6 reflects poorly on the experience and above 8/9 is a good score.
While employees might display a willingness to recommend others to join, if they are actually walking the talk is one of the employee experience metrics that organizations must track. Here, tracking referrals is important. The number of quality referrals which an employee brings in which actually convert to successful hires illustrates employee satisfaction and a positive experience. It is vital to note that simply focusing on the number of referrals is not enough as they might be just a sign of incentives attached to referrals. The focus should be on successful hires.
Finally, not all employees might be vocal or open about their experience. But, that doesn’t signal a positive experience. Therefore, organizations and managers must constantly track and monitor employee rating and feedback sites like Glassdoor. Here employees anonymously share their experiences at different organizations. While managers might not get the name, however, a broad sentiment becomes clear by analyzing such surveys.
What is employee experience management?
Employee experience management at the very basic level ensures managing employee expectations and providing the right resources, support, tools, etc. to create a positive experience. Here, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs can be a foundation for employee experience management and garner a better experience. From an organizational lens, there is a clear match between the needs of individuals that Maslow states and what employees seek at work. The 5 major needs namely physiological, safety, belongingness, esteem and self- actualization all can be realized through organizational offerings to augment employee experience.
Organizations should make an extra effort to focus on employee wellbeing and ensure that the basic necessities, like food, rent, etc. are taken care of, even in the face of salary cuts. Organizations need to constantly monitor employee pulse in terms of their physiological needs and offer reassurance accordingly.
Job security has been one of the top stressors, time and again, for almost all employees and a direct threat to the second rung of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. There is a lot of anxiety about losing one’s job, which is coming in the way of creating a positive employee experience at work. Organizations can cross this bridge by facilitating transparency to the largest extent possible. It is important to keep the communication channels open and constantly educate your employees about the state of affairs, instead of hasty firing to prevent ambiguity and confusion among the employees which creates a feeling of insecurity.
Organizations must focus on fostering belongingness by helping employees gain a sense of purpose. Here helping employees realize the impact they are creating at work and giving them a purpose to strive for is important. Additionally, facilitating communication and collaboration to build strong bonds between colleagues can bridge the belongingness needs to create a worthy employee experience.
To address the esteem needs, organizations must step up their appreciation and recognition game. This involves celebrating small milestones, acknowledging even the smallest of contributions and constantly appreciating employee performance. This employee experience management practice is likely to boost motivation and, thus, create a desirable experience for all team members.
Self Actualization Needs
To contribute to the final rung in Maslow’s hierarchy and empower employees to unleash their full potential,organizations should ensure that the work being given to employees contributes to their growth and professional development. Mentoring, training, coaching and development in a personalized avatar can further actualization.
Employee experience strategy: The employee journey
Managing and fostering a positive experience requires creating a comprehensive and robust employee experience strategy which addresses each step of the employee lifecycle.
Pre-employment: Attract and hire
The first step towards creating an effective employee experience strategy starts in the pre employment phase. Here, organizations must have a seamless application and hiring process. Firstly, the application form must be easy to comprehend and relevant to the role. A cumbersome form which is difficult to access and complete will negatively impact experience. Secondly, the whole interview and hiring process must involve constant communication and touchpoints. It should be entirely employee centric and must evolve constantly based on feedback.
Employment: Onboard, engage and develop
Once the employee is in the system, onboarding is the next touchpoint. A pleasant onboarding experience can do wonders and the opposite can make blunders. According to a study by Gallup, 88% of organizations don’t onboard well. Additionally, companies lose 25% of all new employees within a year. The right onboarding experience involves proper induction, expectation setting and giving the new hore time and space to absorb all the new information. Upon successful onboarding, managers must focus on constantly engaging employees via different initiatives as well as investing in their development. Such development programs are likely to augment employee competencies, creating a win-win for all stakeholders.
Post employment: Depart
Finally, the last stage of the employee lifecycle is when they move to a new organization or retire. While they might be leaving the organization, it is very important to have them depart with a positive experience. In any scenario, it is important to have an exit survey to encourage them to share their experience and areas of improvement. At the same time, helping them depart on a positive note, with no delays, left dues, etc. are signs of a positive employee experience.
How to improve employee experience
With an understanding of a robust strategy in hand, organizations can now move to answering how to improve employee experience. Well, improving employee experience is closely related to augmenting the experience across every step of the strategy mentioned above. Here are some best practices that organizations can leverage to improve employee experience:
Organizations must start with improving their internal communication. This has multiple layers to it. Firstly, communication must be clear to ensure that expectations are clear and employees understand every word. At the same time, managers and leaders must practice active listening to ensure two-way communication to improve employee experience. According to research, 85% of employees are most motivated when internal communications are effective. A robust communication strategy is likely to augment collaboration, decrease conflict and, thus, increase belongingness and augment experience.
Any answer on how to improve employee experience will definitely focus on appreciation and recognition. Research shows that recognition is the most important motivator for 37% of employees. Leaders and managers must appreciate and recognize employee contribution to organizational success. At the same time, encouraging peer-to-peer recognition can be effective. When work is acknowledged, employees tend to believe that they are making a difference which is being recognized and, thus, adds to a positive experience.
Most organizations overlook the impact of technology in improving employee experience. Right from recruitment to departure, technology has the potential to augment every employee experience touch point. Within technology, leveraging gamification to facilitate performance and experience is most important. According to sources, 90% of employees are more productive with gamification, with 72% of them reporting it inspiring them to work harder and 95% enjoying it. At the same time, use of technology to promote seamless collaboration and communication, automation, etc. add to the betterment of employee experience.
Organizations need to focus on building a thriving and inclusive work culture which aligns with employee expectations. Here, offering flexibility and autonomy to employees to experiment and innovation, ensuring all voices are heard and a culture of respect, fairness and transparency are vital. According to a survey, companies with a thriving corporate culture achieve over 4x higher revenue growth. Therefore, to improve employee experience, the very fabric of the organizational culture must become employee centric.
A critical part of employee experience is the holistic development of the workforce. Organizations must understand the unique developmental aspirations for each employee and align its learning and development efforts towards the same. A balanced combination of training, upskilling, mentoring, coaching, etc. can go a long way into creating a positive employee experience. However, according to SHRM, only 29% of employees are “very satisfied” with their available career advancement opportunities. Thus, organizations need to focus more on the professional development opportunities they can offer.
For most organizations, feedback is a way of performance reviews, given to employees by their managers and leaders. However, it is time that organizations invest in employee experience surveys to gauge feedback from the workforce and understand their opinions, sentiments and perspectives. Some of the top employee experience survey questions include:
- On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend the organization to your friends and family?
- Do you enjoy your work?
- How would you rate the company culture on empathy, inclusivity, collaboration, etc.?
- Do you feel that the organization is open to change and feedback?
- Do you feel valued for your contributions?
- How would you rate the communication across the organization?
- How would you rate the engagement efforts led by the organization?
How employee experience impacts customer experience
Employee experience and customer experience are intrinsically linked. On the face of it, organizations dismiss this thought and suggest that employee experience and customer experience are mutually exclusive. However, research shows that companies with excellent customer experience have 1.5x more engaged employees than others. Let us quickly explore how employee experience impacts customer experience:
People connect with people
While automation and digital transformation is on the rise, customers always desire human connection. This connection they get from your employees. Your employees are touch points for your organizations and the only human interface customers interact with.
Employees define your brand
An organization not only goes by the quality of its offerings, but also by the attributes of its people. Therefore, it is your employees that have a role to play in defining your brand to your existing and potential customers. By capitalizing on individual employees, organizations can pull together customer interest and boost experience.
Employees are the ambassadors
An organization can have six figure marketing budgets, but employee reviews like customer reviews have the potential to make or break a brand. Employees define the public image for an organization. Customers generally prefer to engage with organizations that have a non-controversial public image.
Innovation and creativity
When an employee feels engaged at work, he or she will go the extra mile to onboard more customers and add a few new tips and tricks to your customer acquisition playbook. Positive experience can also act as a motivator to help the employee come up with newer strategies and techniques to keep the customer satisfied.
Building trust and credibility
Trust and credibility builds and breeds on relationships which are based on human connections. Only when your employees are engaged enough to enthusiastically perform their responsibilities will they make an effort to build that relationship of trust and credibility with the customers.
On a macro level, employees are the face of any organization in the market. Customers sense the authenticity of an organization in the way its employees communicate and project it to the outer world. Thus, good customer experience directly links to a robust employee experience.
Towards an effective employee experience program
Improving employee experience cannot be achieved in a single day. It requires years of strategizing, implementation, monitoring and refining the strategy based on feedback. The objective is to keep improving the process to augment experience. In such a situation, organizations can facilitate collaboration with SuperBeings. With a vision to create a conducive work environment, SuperBeings helps organizations create a pleasant employee experience. It enables organizations to gauge employee pulse and opinion, identify roadblocks to a positive experience and provide data backed insights for a seamless employee experience.