The employee experience is happening all around you. It is happening right now whether we realize it or not. The employee experience can be quite personal for some but all-encompassing for others. All elements of the job and the workplace impact the total employee experience. As hiring and retention are still some of our toughest challenges as employers, we must put employee experience on our radar for 2019. While some things are beyond our control as employers we must work to change what we can or be left behind as employees leave for other employers.
I realize we are not Facebook, Google, Apple or LinkedIn. These organizations being some of the highest rated for employee experience as mentioned by Jacob Morgan in his May 11, 2017 Inc. article. It seems that Morgan was funded to do a research study to analyze over 250 organizations and wrote a book called The Employee Experience Advantage. He says that every employee experience around the world shares three things: culture, technology and physical space. I like this definition and look forward to reading his book to learn more about these organizations and how companies are investing in employee experience.
Know that as we talk about the employee experience, everything counts and everything matters. My working definition for this column will be more free flowing because we have to start somewhere. From a smile in the hallway to a friendly hello to an onboarding meeting – these things all add up. Some employers do weekly check-ins and also things like annual evaluations that can add to the employee experience. These items do not have to cost money. Remember that saying, “Smiles are free.” Consider your employee experience to be about the physical environment and people. It is even inclusive of the parking lot and the bathroom. Is the employee bathroom clean? Is employee breakroom microwave clean? How do you treat job candidates and how do you treat new employees on their first day of work?
“He’s a good hand” is what we say in the rail industry meaning he/she is a good worker but in truth, employees are more than a pair of hands today. Organizations that have found ways to understand and tap in on all that an employee truly brings to work every day pushing themselves ahead of the rest. There is value in considering, improving and creating a positive employee experience. If for no other reason than that good employees are hard to come by and even harder to keep.
Why is the employee experience so important? If employees have a positive experience the employer can expect:
• Increased ability to recruit qualified talent due to a better reputation as an employer
• Increased morale
• Increased productivity
• Decreased turnover
• Decreased absenteeism
The employee experience can create a culture. Be aware of this fact. You should be strategic in your culture creation. Do you give thought to what your employees experience in a day and how they experience it? If you don’t, you should. Right now, they can probably go somewhere else and get treated better. This should be an impactful thought.
Small changes add up. Start addressing the employee experience today by picking a few things to focus on:
• Ask employees for their opinion on what impacts their experience. This might be a focus group or a project team. Use this team to continue to find ways for employees to be involved. This allows you to gather feedback directly from employees.
• Gather direct feedback from applicants using surveys
• Spend more time with employees and less time in your office
• Spend time reading industry publications
• Utilize a survey to assess the pulse of your entire workforce
• Improve communication by scheduling department or team meetings
• Improve your onboarding program
Remember that the employee experience is subjective and is also the individual’s perception. Everyone will have their own opinion but do not let that stop you from tackling a few items this year. When you start your improvements you will see low hanging fruit that can immediately be improved. Keep track of the changes that you make so you can review them at the end of the year and see exactly how far you have come. Finally, don’t underestimate the value of spending time with your employees in the form of coaching and mentoring. This counts. Communication is also always something that can be improved. The successful workplace of today values employees for more than their physical beings.
Homework for next time: Take the pulse of recent hires to get feedback on your new hire process. You will be surprised by what you will learn. You can do this by doing an anonymous survey or by sitting down with new hires at the 1 week, 2 week or month intervals. This is also a good time to check in with the new hire to see how things are going.