A guide to enhancing the employee experience

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July 1, 2021

Employees are an organisation’s most valuable asset – and like any asset, leaders need to appreciate their value and nurture their potential. The majority of successful leaders will tell you that employees do their best when they’re engaged, motivated and satisfied. Employees should feel as though their skills, values and goals are not just understood but actively recognised. This, alongside all of the other features of a positive workplace culture, is what makes for a great employee experience.

As it involves the ‘human’ element of an organisation’s strategy, HR leaders have a vested interest in creating a great employee experience. This article will define exactly what that means, before providing actionable advice to help HR enhance the employee experience.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience is a catch-all phrase that covers all the interactions employees have with your business. This includes not only your work environment and culture but what you offer as part of your employer value proposition (EVP) such as staff benefits and skills development. This definition can help us understand the role of employee experience in talent acquisition and turnover. After all, if leaders cannot provide people with a good employee experience, they’ll simply seek it out somewhere else.

Why is employee experience important?

A positive employee experience will make your staff not only committed and productive workers, but also strong advocates for your brand. According to Glassdoor, 57% of employees say workplace culture is more important than salary. No matter how competitive the salary, people won’t recommend an employer if they’ve been unappreciated, undervalued or mistreated. This is even more important when we consider how remote working technology has given employees more options than ever as to where to build their careers.

What is the difference between employee engagement and employee experience?

Employee engagement is the level of commitment your employees demonstrate towards their work, as well as the extent to which they are aligned with an organisation’s goals and values. Engaged employees view themselves as part of something bigger, and want to take an active role in driving their organisation forward.

The employee experience is a little different. This is the human experience of working at your organisation - the appeal of your office, the amenities and the relationships between teams. If your employee experience is created thoughtfully and effectively, your employees are more likely to be engaged at work as a result. 

It may be useful to think of employee experience as the journey and engagement as the destination. By providing a positive employee experience, people are much more likely to be personally invested in your company’s long-term success.

What does a good employee experience look like – and how can HR improve employee experience?

Creating a good employee experience is one of those things that is easily explained but complex to implement. Simply put, a good employee experience makes people happy about going to work and doing their absolute best. What this may look like will vary for different organisations, but common areas of focus include employee reward and recognition, personal and professional development, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance.

Too many leaders overlook the importance of recognising good work. For instance, they may think that their employees should be intrinsically compelled to put their best foot forward. But leaders should go out of their way to motivate employees and appreciate their hard work. Research from Workhuman found that 83% of employees report a more positive experience when their efforts are regularly recognised. This is even more important now in the remote working era, with research showing that there’s around a 30% increase in the need for recognition during times of uncertainty and change.

HR may wish to consider introducing a fun, non-competitive recognition scheme. This can include recognising a specific employee’s contribution on social media or internal comms, or rewarding a whole team. This could be with vouchers, free social events, or even letting them clock off early on a Friday as a thank you for their hard work.

A culture of recognition should be cultivated not only amongst leaders but also colleagues. Peer recognition makes people feel appreciated and helps to form close ties with their team. Therefore, HR should consider introducing a scheme where people offer examples of how a colleague has gone above and beyond in embodying their company’s values. The resultant sense of mutual appreciation and respect will make for better teamwork, which in itself offers a multitude of benefits for any organisation.

As previously mentioned, career support is another key area of a positive employee experience. Some HR leaders want to focus solely on what an employee can give to the company in their specific role. However, this falls short of a fully positive employee experience as this doesn’t consider how a person’s ambitions may extend beyond your organisation. While you don’t exactly want to be priming an employee for success with a competitor, for instance, it’s unrealistic to expect every person to stay with your company until they retire. And given how important skills development is for staff retention, the long-term benefits far outweigh the potential risks.

If you invite people to speak openly and honestly about their goals, you can find new opportunities to enhance the employee experience. For instance, say a salesperson wants to gain marketing experience. Why not initiate a cross-departmental learning program? This will ensure that people don’t feel stagnant in their roles whilst also helping to fill skills gaps across teams and departments. 

While all of the above initiatives offer various benefits, HR must still provide a clear and verifiable business case if they are to obtain stakeholder approval. This is where employee experience analytics come in.

Employee experience analytics provide metrics that allow you to quantify whether employees are happy and satisfied. By turning progress reports, surveys and employee communications into datasets, you can identify the need for any of the solutions mentioned in this article, as well as measuring their ongoing success.

Providing data-driven insights into employee experience is at the heart of what we do at Totem. Our employee experience platform not only offers a dedicated space for workplace culture, reward and recognition, but it also gives leaders access to actionable employee engagement data. This helps them gain an in-depth understanding of exactly what it is about their workplace culture that keeps employees engaged and motivated. With this type of insight, HR departments can invest their time and resources into those initiatives with the greatest chance of success.

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