The tremendous emphasis on customer experience marks one of the many critical focuses of the corporate community in the last decade, including but not limited corporate social responsibility, environmental friendliness, and sustainability, corporate gift giving, etc. The next game changer and contributor to a business’ competitive edge is employee experience. Now that companies have understood the concept of customer experience, it is time for them to analyze, strategize and execute based on available data to formulate a culture, a framework to improve the employee experience.
Here is a figure that shows how different countries are realizing the importance of employee experience and considering it as an increasing trend.
You can see in the image above that there are quite a few countries that think employee experience is a rising trend. Most importantly, 85% of respondents in the US, 80% in Canada, 88% in China, 89% in India and 84% in the UK believe it to be a rising trend. When these large economies of the world realize a need, the rest of the world has to follow suit.
But What Exactly Is Employee Experience?
Before we go into the details of how companies around the world are working on improving employee experience, there needs to be a good understanding of what the term means and constitutes. Does it mean what type of treatment an employee receives from his/her boss? Does it include all the interactions with colleagues, supervisors, bosses, etc. that an employee has during a working day? Yes, but those interactions are only a small part of employee experience.
Employee experience is a collection of all the experiences that an employee has at his/her workplace, which includes not only the interactions with their colleagues and bosses but with hardware and software technology as well. Any stimulus that can affect the feelings of an employee towards his/her employer or the workplace will constitute employee experience. Believe it or not, air temperature and how comfortable or discomforting it makes the environment also has a significant impact on employee experience.
How Important Is Employee Experience?
It is a common notion that happy employees outperform unhappy employees. Some studies prove this notion correct. Alex Edmans conducted a study to find the relationship between the happiness of employees and the value of the firm. According to this study, the annual stock return of companies that appear on the 100 Best Companies to Work for in America list can be close to 4% higher than companies that don’t appear on this list.
According to the Active Job Seeker Dilemma Study, 83% of leaders in HR are sure that a company’s success heavily relies on employee experience. In addition to that, the biggest recruitment company in the world, Hays, also did a study that employees would switch their current job to find their ideal one even if they received a smaller salary.
This study completely refutes the common belief that employees are most interested in jobs with higher basic salaries. The research also shows that Generation X is the group that’s most likely to leave their current jobs for reasons such as lack of satisfaction at the job and overload of work-related stress.
When it comes to large corporations and enterprises, most of them realize that technology plays a crucial role in enhancing employee experience and that employee experience directly impacts employees productivity, but conventional methods of improving productivity are no longer useful. Take the example of employees taking fewer days off as an attempt to increase productivity at work. In 2000, the average time Americans spent on vacations was 20 days. However, that average came down significantly in 2016 with average duration spent vacationing shrinking to 16 days only. However, the increase in productivity has not been more than 1% per year.
What Can You Do to Improve Employee Experience?
Companies have to think beyond employee engagement and satisfaction today. For a long time, they have confused employee engagement with employee experience when there is a considerable difference between the two. In simple words, employee engagement is just a small part of employee experience. Employee experience is the big picture that takes into account even the disengaged employees who might not be a part of a company’s employee engagement strategies. How can companies achieve EX? Here are a few methods.
Have an Onboarding Program
Your onboarding program directly affects the time your employees spend working with you. Hiring employees and retaining them for several years is a challenge that a lot of companies face. According to Society of Human Resource Management article, up to 17% of the employees quit working for most companies within their probationary period, i.e., within three months after getting hired officially. It is during these months the companies have to impress their new hires with a friendly work environment and culture.
First, you want to make sure that your new employees are crystal-clear on what their responsibilities are. A vague job description confuses them and makes them unsure of their position and role in the company. Google encourages its managers with the help of electronic to-do lists that enable them to communicate job responsibilities with the new employees.
If you want to implement an effective onboarding program at your company, you will first have to find a way to know the expectations of newly hired employees. According to a study conducted by BambooHR, following are the significant expectations of new employees at a company.
– 56% of them expect to be mentored
– 59% of them want to tour the company to know its procedures and setup
– 73% of them want to be briefed on policies of the company
– 76% of them expect some level of on-job training
These statistics give a general idea of what new hires want from a company. You can always design a system that helps you identify the requirements and needs of your new employees. In addition to their requirements, you also want to know the primary reasons why they quit their jobs so quickly. Here are some common reasons why new hires quit jobs.
– The training was insufficient
– Their responsibilities were different from what they read in the job posting
– The boss was unfriendly
– Appreciation was lacking
– Their minds changed
– There was no fun
The points mentioned above can serve as a foundation of your onboarding program. It is also recommended that the person you choose for explaining policies, procedures and company tour is a coworker who can informally explain it all. The idea of informality arises to address the issue of “lacking fun,” which is one of the reasons employees quit jobs.
Target Employee Well-being
Employee well-being is the new focus for companies not only because the modern world has become more health-enthusiast but also because an employee’s well-being directly affects their quality of work. Moreover, incentivizing well-being and promoting health-related programs for employees benefit employers in the form of reduced healthcare costs. How you promote your imagination only limits your employees’ well-being. Forbes brought SunTrust Bank’s take on employee well-being in the spotlight in an article. The bank commenced a financial fitness program wherein the employees could get a day off (paid) from work to plan their budgets, and also save up to $2,000 as part of the program.
It is important that employers focus on promoting permanent healthy behaviors in their employees rather than giving them a few minutes of healthy activity every day. Continuous healthy behavior can result in reduced health risks. A study conducted on 200,000 employees who took part in well-being activities showed a reduction of five out of seven health risks in individuals. By reducing serious health risks, employers can help their employees live healthily, and as a result, happily.
Build an Atmosphere of Encouragement
Employees crave for appreciation for their work. One of their common gripes from their jobs is lack of recognition. A survey that aimed to know the biggest motivating factors for employees made it clear that salaries are not the only motivations for employees. The most significant motivating factor for most employees was the appreciation for their work.
It is understandable why so many employers fail to appreciate their employees according to their expectations. The same survey showed that when managers were asked what they believed their employees wanted from their jobs, they ranked high wages on top. According to the survey, the second most important thing employees want from their jobs is having an input whereas employers rank this same factor last on their list.
Employers have to fill this gap between them and their employees to create workplace environments that can promote encouragement and appreciation for work. Gallup Organization conducted a survey in 2016 wherein they discovered that in the US, only one employee out of three felt appreciated for their work in the last week. The same survey shows that employees like to remember the appreciation they get from their leaders, e.g., CEOs, managers, etc. According to the survey, 24% of employees agreed that the recognition they received from their CEOs was the most memorable one for them.
In another survey, 89% of employees said appreciation made them prouder and happier whereas 85% expressed increased job satisfaction as a result of appreciation. All these surveys point to the fact that appreciation is one of the top expectations of employees, and that creating an atmosphere of encouragement makes them happier at work.
Let Employees Have a Say
One of the most crucial factors that contribute to employee experience is letting them have a say. According to the results of one of the surveys stated above, employees want to feel that they have a say at their workplace. They want their employers to realize their presence, and make them a part of any initiatives the company takes for its growth, expansion, and improvement.
A Fierce survey conducted on 800 individuals from a variety of industries, e.g., retail, healthcare, finance, aerospace, etc. showed that 50% of the employees think that little or no involvement of employees in company’s key decisions is one of the major concerns for modern corporations. More importantly, 70% of the employees that took part in the survey wanted to say more about these issues, but they remained quiet because they thought their expressiveness did not matter.
Use Software to Your Advantage
Software tools can help organizations achieve a lot of their goals. From making employees more productive to simplifying project management, organization-wide implementation of software to facilitate these processes has become quite common these days. One such tool that can contribute to employee experience is knowledge sharing software. A lot of companies make knowledge sharing software platforms where employees can share their ideas in one location. It integrates into the existing system of the company and can be accessed by anyone from any department at any given moment.
Using knowledge sharing software also supports promotes a culture of employee involvement. With a platform like this, you can create a centralized location where all your product and service related training documents are saved. In addition to that, employees can share their thoughts, feedbacks, and instructions on the platform to add more valuable information to your knowledge base. You can use the tips, tricks, and instructions from employees to train new hires.
Moreover, you can now get your hands on a variety of apps that primarily focus on employee experience and engagement. Qualtrics, Cronofy, Totem, Areitos, Zugata, etc. are some examples of software tools that focus on improving employee engagement, productivity, and knowledge sharing in organizations.
Gamification means creating a game-like environment where employees are motivated to compete with each other and achieve goals through point-scoring or real-time analysis of their data. Gamification can integrate into daily tasks as well as employee well-being programs. Fitbit fitness trackers is an excellent example of gamification in health-related activities targeting employee well-being.
Managers and supervisors can use gamification applications that reward employees in the form of points when they complete certain tasks. The best thing is that software like IActionable, Tap My Back and WooBoard converts those points into incentives. For example, an employee can convert those points into a gift card or go on a trip with their family.
Gamification is meant to blow excitement and competitiveness back into employees who have lost their zeal due to the monotony of their jobs after years of working. Bunchball founder and author of Loyalty 3.0, Rajat Paharia, has divided gamification into ten mechanics.
7. Fast feedback
8. Leveling up
Paharia believes that game makers have known the secret to keeping people interested in their in-game tasks and motivated to achieve more since the creation of the first game.
Gamification is not all theory. Some large companies of the world have implemented this tactic and benefitted from it. Target is a perfect example of gamification at play. The company introduced red and green lights for its cashiers to indicate how in-time they were when scanning customers’ purchased items. The more in-time they were the high their score was, and it appeared on the screen.
Employee experience has now become an integral part of an organization’s endeavor for success and growth. The increasing trend of experience-enhancing activities at workplaces and the proliferation of employee engagement technologies is proof that employees’ satisfaction with their jobs and happiness at workplaces are crucial for organizations all around the world.
It is critical for businesses to shift their focus from the “why” of employee experience to its “how.” If you own an organization and you want your employees to have a loyal relationship with your company, you have to start working on strategies to improve employee experience immediately.