For decades, big businesses have invested millions of pounds into finding ways to make consumers buy their products, love their brands and recommend them to others, yet little focus has been put on targeting the employee and giving them the same brand experience. Now, with continued economic uncertainty and the UK falling behind its G7 counterparts in terms of productivity, there’s a growing acceptance that businesses must do more to keep the talent they’ve fought so hard to attract. They need to use the power of the brand to curate the employee experience.
Recognising and catering to the employee experience is a very real and pressing priority for HR and business leaders, particularly those seeking to manage and boost productivity as well as improve recruitment and retention. By thinking more closely about how employees are made to feel, think and act throughout the working day and duration of their employment, employers have an opportunity to build a more meaningful and authentic level of engagement with their people.
The employee experience is shaped by three core elements. The first is employee perception. How employees perceive their employer’s brand, reputation and ethics affects how they feel about their work and consequently about the value of their contribution. The second element is environment. This is about more than meeting basic needs in terms of comfort and includes whether the environments we occupy are well designed, fit for purpose and experience rich. The third and final element is in recognising the commercial connection between happy and engaged employees, an improved customer experience and profitability.
Workplace design is one important way that employers can actively and carefully curate the employee experience, taking in four key areas:
- Organisational culture
Although organisational culture is something you can’t touch, it is always something you can feel and it stems from shared assumptions, values, and beliefs which determine how employees behave. Employees are looking for more than salary and want to feel their contribution matters and is supported. If your organisation’s ethos and culture centres on dynamism and creativity, workplace design should bring those values to life and give employees cues about how to behave.
- Technology and tools
Failure to provide the right tools and technologies will hamper efficiency, erode goodwill and ultimately change how employees feel about the organisation. Today’s employees expect workplace agility and ease of use for any device and in any location, as well as a wide variety of intuitive tools to improve information-sharing, collaboration and more. Without the right tech infrastructure, any efforts to create a positive employee experience will be seriously hampered.
- Behaviour and how work is done
Effective workplace design relies on a detailed understanding of how an organisation and its people work and use space, and it should provide the spaces and facilities needed to suit those activities. The proliferation of mobile devices means employees expect variety and to choose from a variety of different spaces. The arrival of activity-based working is helping employers meet these needs, offering different spaces to support different work tasks including huddle zones, collaboration spaces, quiet pods and more.
- Bringing the brand to life in the workplace
Organisations across all sectors are embracing creative stand-out office design as a way to invest in the everyday employee experience and bring the brand to life. By giving employees the right facilities and resources, they need to complete their work productively, as well as a fun environment in which to be stimulated and supported, employers can reap the benefits of a healthy, happy and engaged workforce. Creative and memorable offices are not the preserve of design agencies and new digital start-ups; on-brand, innovative, memorable and experiential workplaces are transforming how organisations of all kinds engage with their people and do business.
Today’s job hunters are turning down jobs because employers are failing to impress them during the recruitment process. This goes deeper than salary and traditional benefits and reflects employees’ increasing desire for a shared affiliation with a company’s values, greater work-life balance and to occupy inspiring environments that support their work. A positive employee experience is determined by autonomy, choice and flexibility in how, where and when they work.
Until now, the employee experience has been one of the most overlooked aspects of business differentiation, but this is changing as the relationship between employers and employees evolves. It is businesses that recognise the power of their people and listen to their needs that will stand out and succeed, both as an employer of choice and a productive, profitable and successful enterprise.
To find out how leading organisations are transforming the workplace into a magnet to attract and retain the brightest talent, download our whitepaper “The war for talent: Have organisations already lost?”