Why Employee Experience Matters

When it comes to experiences and how they help shape future behaviour, there are similarities between consumers and employees.

While you can grow the volume of positive consumer behaviour including increased loyalty and purchasing when you’re delivering experiences consumers love; staff contentment, performance and loyalty will similarly increase if you build the right working environment for employees to thrive.

That’s why employee experience and delivering as positive a one as you can is critical to your business and staff.

In this piece we’ll discuss why employee experience is so crucial and how you can go about improving it. However, before we do that, we need to summarise exactly what we mean by employee experience.

What is employee experience?

The term employee experience (EX) is fairly self-explanatory, essentially focusing on how your employees feel about their employment and employer.

When we talk about EX, we’re also referring to the sum of the culture, technology and workplace environment the employer provides.

The aim of EX is to make employees excited, proud, happy and confident about their work and the company they work for. Organisations capable of doing this create a positive EX, while companies that fall short may deliver a negative or unexciting one. It’s an outcome largely influenced by a company’s willingness and ability to meet and exceed employee needs, expectations and standards.

Reasons why employee experience matters

Happy staff is something that all employers want, but the importance of EX goes far beyond that. It’s about the wider benefits that come with having happy, engaged and productive staff.

Here’s some compelling reasons why EX matters and why you should be serious about creating a positive one.

It’s easier to attract and retain talent

Companies with engaged employee advocates resulting from a positive EX are 58% more likely to retain top talent. Furthermore, highly engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave their companies, than their less engaged counterparts.

Your staff will be more motivated and engaged

Employees that feel more positive about their workplace tend to be more excited about their jobs.

Subsequently, they’ll feel more motivated and engaged, and ready to deliver their best performance.

It generates a stronger togetherness and collaboration among staff

Whatever business you operate in, your workforce needs to function as a team if you’re to be successful.

While a bad EX can push people apart and potentially lead to divisions that slow your business down, positive shared experiences help foster greater staff collaboration and togetherness, helping to boost productivity as a result.

Your employees feel more confident and supported

Good experiences inspire staff to give maximum effort.

When their workplace is positive and projects an air of support, staff feel more confident about their work and less afraid of failure. Subsequently, they will feel less inhibited and be more likely to tap into their strengths as a result.

Staff want to learn and take on more responsibility

When employees feel good about their work, they’re motivated and keen to grow in their professional endeavours. They want to learn more and take on greater responsibilities.

You’ll be more creative and grow quicker

Besides confidence, positivity also helps breed creativity.

When you’re thinking more clearly and creatively, this leads to more benefits for businesses and employees alike. Creativity breeds more innovation, which leads to more growth.

Your company and brand image improves

Word of mouth is still a very powerful thing.

So, when the topic of work arises and your staff have only good things to say about you, the perception of your company and brand will only continue to improve further.

You’ll boost your bottom line

A positive EX helps drive up your bottom line.

This can include anything from internal efficiencies to a higher quality of work completed. Ultimately, the happier and more satisfied your staff, the better your growth.

How to improve employee experience

Having looked at its many benefits, I’m sure you’ll want to crack on with improving EX throughout your own workforce.

However, it’s a significant undertaking and needs to be done properly if you’re to generate the best results.

So, here’s some top-level tips to think about when implementing your own EX initiative:

Create an EX plan and follow it through

It might sound obvious, but the first thing you need to do is create a plan.

It also needs to be a plan that you can follow through. This means being honest to yourself about your aims and how you will deliver on the promises you outline.

The first thing you must do is sit down with your leaders and teams, to figure out the best EX plan for you and your company, and then commit to those changes. To help get you there you need to be asking yourself the following sorts of questions.

a) Why is employee experience important for our company and what are we looking to achieve from it? (You should be creating a list here)

b) How does our employee experience currently look at each step of our employee’s journey?

c) Is our current employee experience strong enough for the list we created in step A.

d) If not, then how can we change our employee experience, so it’s strong enough for what we’re trying to achieve?

From here, you need to start looking for implementable policies to improve EX and achieve your company’s EX goals. It’s also crucial to differentiate your new EX plan from your company’s mission statement, vision and values. This is important because some staff take less notice of the latter, as they view it as less-tangible. This contrasts with an EX plan, which is much more likely to impact them day to day.

Communicate across all levels of your enterprise

Similar to any relationship, employee engagement won’t work without creating the right conditions for it. So that means engendering a culture of openness and honesty.

Your staff must feel confident to talk honestly to their peers, as well as other colleagues above and below them. Most crucially this includes talking about EX itself – something often viewed as off bounds for staff to discuss.

Typically, any policies that affect EX come from the top down, with managers and company leaders wielding the power on decisions that drive good or bad EX. However, if you build a company culture with a more balanced power structure for communicating EX, you’ll be better placed for solving many issues that may otherwise continue to simmer in the background.

To help facilitate this communication, you need to create a more comfortable environment for staff, and practical channels for them to use. These could include anything from monthly one-to-one meetings between employees and their line managers, an anonymous ideas section in your company intranet and an anonymous staff feedback survey

An anonymous survey would provide a great opportunity for you to probe deeper into what really matters to your staff. You would also ask them what they felt would improve their EX the most. However, you would need to review your survey format first to ensure its design, layout and questions best supported this.

Equip employees with the tools they need

Again, it might sound obvious, but for staff to perform well and feel good in their roles, they need the right tools for work.

Today this means up to date technology, where the physical hardware and software enables staff to be collaborative and productive.

While this may just sound like an efficiency move on the surface, it’s integral to delivering a positive EX. Think about the last time you used a slow computer that was prohibitive to you communicating and collaboratively effectively with others. It’s likely it affected your motivation and enthusiasm for doing your job.

It’s no different for your employees. Not only does old tech slow down your productivity it often results in frustrated and unengaged employees. And this is certainly not the frame of mind you want them to be in when dealing with customers.

Again, a feedback survey can provide the ideal opportunity to ask them about exactly what they need. After all they are the ones who know their jobs best, doing them day in day out.

Don’t be afraid to ask them simple questions such as:

  • How easy is it to find the right person when you need help?
  • Could the channels you currently use to connect with colleagues be any better?
  • How do you currently share documents?
  • How do you go about reviewing someone else’s document and offering feedback?

Besides their physical tools, it’s important to think about the skills staff carry with them. They need to be sufficiently equipped with the skills and knowledge necessary to carry out their role. This should include a clear understanding of your company’s products, services and customers, in order to feel comfortable about what they’re doing and saying. Employees must start learning this as soon as they join your company.

Think about offering alternative staff development initiatives

EX shouldn’t just be about developing work-related skills, but helping people grow in terms of their personal development too. There are many ways to incorporate this if EX is already a significant part of your employees’ day to day lives, which will help nurture and develop them as individuals.

What we’re talking about here is not professional development, which falls firmly under skills, but the means and opportunity to develop other aspects of themselves, which will benefit their overall wellbeing and performance. This could include anything from running a seminar at work to support the mental wellbeing of their colleagues, to leading a company day out helping out in their local community and more.

Such initiatives are typically performed under the inclusion of “wellness” within a company’s EX plan. This focuses on giving employees the means to improve their physical and mental health, which often include initiatives such as gym memberships, private health plans and cycle-to-work schemes, or similar company-subsidised offerings.

All of this has practical implications, such as reducing the likelihood of people calling in sick, and improving their engagement, concentration and productivity. However, more importantly, it can help foster an improved EX, by creating a company that not only talks about caring for employees but delivers on that too.

Create, implement and evolve your EX

The essential thing to remember about your EX, is that even after you have created and implemented it, you need to keep working with and evolving it.

Given how much the workplace and external factors affecting it change, EX is something that needs to be continually addressed, otherwise it will stagnate.

It’s also important to consider the EX over the lifecycle of an employee’s journey with you. From their initial recruitment and onboarding through to their development, retention and eventual offboarding. There’s lots of expectations and issues employees will expect to see fulfilled at different stages of this lifecycle, which if left unactioned could harm your overall EX. So, again you need frequent feedback to identify what you should be working on and what you need put right, with a short regular survey such as an employee pulse survey a great way to achieve this.

HR traditionally takes on the greatest responsibility for managing the staff lifecycle journey, but for EX everyone should be involved. With ongoing feedback from everyone in your business, you’re more likely to realise the positive EX you’ve set out to achieve.

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