The employee experience has been an area of focus prior to the pandemic, but it has taken on a whole new meaning since then. Many employees are very happy with the new flexibility and a hybrid model between home office and on-site work has become indispensable. This article explains how you can successfully shape the employee experience in your company.
You are also interested in digital transformation? In our series "Digitalisation 2021" you will discover the effects and opportunities of digital transformation in different departments and areas of a company.
Talents have always been a company's most important asset. But they are often not valued enough. This pandemic has plunged many workers into an identity crisis that has led to the "Great Resignation" in the United States. A massive wave of layoffs across the labour market that caused more than 20 million workers to quit their jobs in the months between May and September 2021.
This trend has not yet reached Europe, but the annual job study by consulting firm Ernst & Young reveals that almost half of employees are interested in changing employers. Such changes of job often cost companies a great deal of money. This makes it all the more critical to retain talent by providing a great employee experience.
What is employee experience?
The employee experience describes the experience for employees at the workplace and in the company. Similar to talent management, the aim is to motivate employees to stay with the company for the long term. To achieve this, organisations take measures to ensure that their employees enjoy going to work.
HR has always been responsible for the different areas of the employee experience: Salary, Benefits, Training, Career Development, Employee Engagement and Corporate Culture. Many times, the areas were handled separately, even though it was all under the HR umbrella. But in the future, the employee experience will be viewed holistically and can be better managed as a result.
This approach also fits in with the expectations of future employees. They are interested in how meaningful employment is, what training opportunities are available, and whether they are treated respectfully and fairly in the new work environment.
Why is employee experience important?
Because not only every employee, but simply every person wants to feel recognised, appreciated and valued for the work they do. No one wants to feel "invisible" or like they are just an anonymous cog in the machinery of work because that would mean losing their personal meaning. Employees need to be able to trust their management, just as management needs to trust its employees. This requires a working environment that takes all these aspects into account and, above all, encourages them.
Reduction of staff turnover
Otherwise, potential talents might move on in the spirit of the "Great Resignation". And in the worst case, to the competition. If employees are committed and motivated, they are less inclined to change this situation.
At the same time, this energised and emotionally charged moment also has a positive impact on productivity. Employees will find better and more efficient ways to perform their tasks and also to organise their daily work.
Enthusiastic employees also see themselves less in a competitive environment and can thus share their knowledge with others in the company without hesitation. This creates a knowledge culture and a fertile breeding ground for innovation because knowledge flows quickly and frequently among each other.
In the same way, it also transforms the nature and dynamics of meetings, as ideas are often matured in advance or the people concerned have already exchanged ideas.
Better employee experience means better customer experience
Employee experience is also directly related to customer experience. If you want to improve the customer experience, you should first address the challenges of the employees.
After all, engaged employees create a much better customer experience through greater interest in the company's own products and services. If customers have a problem, employees are motivated to solve it. This also reduces the stress factor and employees are better able to find creative solutions. And these in turn simplify the entire customer service process, which also makes the perception of work appear much more positive. In the best case, this creates a constant upward spiral of motivation.
Attractiveness for talents increases
A working environment like this is not only advantageous for customers. Once word gets out about what an attractive employer the company is, it will attract the attention of excellent candidates. Accordingly, the best candidates want to apply to the best companies.
These candidates will do their research beforehand and may even contact current or former employees to find out all they can about the organisation and the working atmosphere. In this case, there is no better way to market themselves than to have dedicated employees talking about the company.
What is the Employee Experience Life Cycle?
The employee experience Life Cycle refers to the entire life cycle of an employee in a company. This means from recruiting and hiring to personal development and finally leaving the company.
The phases of the employee life cycle are:
All these phases can be used to promote employee engagement. Even when employees part ways, they can continue to be useful to a company as alumni. Assuming the two parties have parted on good terms. In the following, we will look at the individual phases and how they can be used positively for the employee experience.
Strategies to improve the employee experience
The first phase of the cycle is about employee acquisition, that is, recruiting the greatest possible talent for your organisation. No matter how strong your products and services are, without attracting (and retaining) outstanding people, an organisation will not be competitive in the long run. That's why this stage is one of the most important aspects of a company's growth strategy.
Like we have written before, a reputation of a great company culture helps in attracting talent. In this respect, employees are the best and most convincing advertisers because they act as loyal fans when such a culture is in place.
Attractive benefits and salaries also act as a talent magnet in the traditional sense. Having the right combination of competitive pay and benefits that are well received, companies can operate efficiently without driving each other's salaries to extremes. Identify which benefits your workforce finds most beneficial in your field, and offer more of them.
In recruitment, an organisation actively reaches out to candidates. Outstanding recruitment approaches provide them with the best possible experience, support recruitment collaboration through clear criteria and processes, and improve the recruitment process over time.
One of the best strategies in recruiting is to get referrals from your own employees. It is not unlikely that they know other people who are a perfect fit for the vacancy. Employees can also help in determining the best requirements. Having a vague job description reduces the chance of finding the right candidates for a position.
Altogether, this creates a strong and accurate image in the minds of potential applicants, who sense the professionalism of the organisation beforehand, ensuring a positive experience.
Next comes the so-called onboarding, i.e. the familiarisation phase. This phase is crucial to ensure that your new employees get used to the organisational environment and performance requirements as quickly and smoothly as possible. It is about views, skills, knowledge and behaviours that are required for the position in question to work effectively.
The first day should be special and directly positively associated to newcomers. This could be an simple invitation for a dinner, for example. Find ways to give a warm welcome to new staff. Furthermore, the values and vision of the organisation should be discussed. An important part of this is the importance of the new staff in achieving these values and vision. This creates a feeling of appreciation.
Furthermore, regular follow-up meetings should be set as milestones. Onboarding is the starting point for regular personal meetings to check how the employees are getting along, what challenges they are facing and whether they are integrating into the team.
This phase of the employee experience life cycle is about employee development. This is where professional development is consistently promoted and skills are developed to chart the future career path within the organisation.
Both sides benefit from training and learning opportunities. For this reason, there should be plenty of relevant offers for employees. Since many offers are available purely virtually, this doesn't mean drowning in a bottomless pit. The highest motivation is intrinsic. Encourage your employees and create a learning culture to increase motivation and involuntariness in this area.
In the process, also reward those who learn in their spare time. Let them know of your appreciation here as well.
The fifth phase of the cycle is the retention phase. Of course, you want to retain the best employees, and this phase focuses on that. The company culture plays a crucial role here, as well as whether employees feel happy and challenged to the right degree in the team or their position.
The foundation is linked to good relationships with employees. This means building and maintaining honest, open and respectful relationship. Because this determines to a large extent whether people are motivated to stay in the organisation or not.
Furthermore, it is important to know what motivates your employees and what drives them. Every personality has its own drive. If these are taken into account individually, their loyalty to the company increases even more.
The final phase of the employee experience life cycle is the departure from the company. Reasons for this can be retirement, new employment or personal motives. It is significant to consider the separation phase as important as the recruitment process. Because this circumstance also has an impact on colleagues or team members.
It is critical to understand what the actual reason for the termination is. This may be different from the "official" reason. At this point, it is time to ask for honest feedback. An exit interview is the best opportunity to get an honest opinion about working in the company. Use these insights to avoid separations in the future, if necessary.
Employee experience software and platforms
Based on the many phases of the employee experience life cycle, it is obvious that there is a lot to do on the part of the company for a successful employee experience. Several software vendors have addressed this challenge and developed solutions for single or multiple phases, as well as for the entire cycle. We present five providers:
Staffbase is an employee experience solution that focuses on employees, content and communication and works seamlessly with Microsoft 365. With built-in surveys, it's easy to measure employee engagement and create a great company culture.
LumApps is a platform for employee experience in different departments and helps you to engage your employees.
Typelane is also a platform that covers the entire employee life cycle - especially onboarding, offboarding and a digital and modern employee experience.
Mercer Allegro is a pulse survey platform for enhanced employee experience. Think of it as a strategic employee survey platform that helps you drive business performance.
Oracle has also introduced its employee experience platform - Oracle Journeys. This is an end-to-end application for human resources, often used by large companies with more than 100.000 employees.
Employee experience software and platforms are extremely helpful and efficient tools to shape the experience of your employees. But with all the digitalisation, one thing remains essential. And this has not transformed since the beginning of time: an honest and respectful relationship with each other.