Employee experience is a relatively new corporate phrase and one that shows just how important people power is to modern business.
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, thanks to the fallout of economic uncertainties and the UK falling behind its G7 counterparts in terms of productivity, there’s a growing acceptance that businesses need to do more to keep the talent – which they’ve fought so hard to attract – loyal, motivated and productive. They need to use the power of the brand internally.
Already, some organisations have gone as far as to create new roles and recruit ‘Head of Employee Experience’ personnel in a bid to give this new consideration the focus it needs. A manner of HR-IT-Brand manager hybrid whose job it is to give employees a more social, mobile and consumer-style experience, these new ‘heads of experience’ have a big job to do.
Designed to engender loyalty, spark imagination, encourage brand advocacy and most certainly appeal to those wanting more than ‘just a job’, employee experience is now an important tool to manage productivity and staff recruitment and retention. As organisations focus more on their employees, it raises the question: how much thought have you given to your employee experience?
Here are the six key areas that shape employee experience and where you may need to start making changes:
If you’re working for a dynamic and high-energy consumer-facing brand then you would expect to see it manifest in the culture of the organisation too. 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. Take a close look at your team and ask yourself whether your culture really fits your brand image. If the brand is about dynamism then are your employees encouraged to follow suit, perhaps using the latest technologies, choosing how or where they work or by initiating their own projects with their peers? Culture should always be aligned with organisational goals and if employee experience is to be positive, the culture must be too.
2. Technology and tools.
Employee experience is also determined by the suitability of the tools and technologies they’re given to work with. If you’re expecting people to deliver high quality work without the right tools or with poor outdated technology, you are creating a poor experience that will hamper efficiency, erode goodwill and ultimately, change how they feel about your organisation.
3. Workplace environment.
It’s widely accepted that the workplace has a direct impact on productivity and morale. A poorly lit work environment with little ventilation will not create pleasant working conditions. Likewise, an overcrowded office with little space for storage, no room to work privately or space to take a break for lunch, will not bring out the best in staff.
On a basic level, the workplace must give employees the basics they need such as the right amount of space to do their job and access to the right facilities. However, it’s also about creating spaces that are conducive to wellbeing and productivity. This might mean ensuring there’s space for quiet contemplation, play spaces for teams to step away and relax, social spaces for team meetings or simply using interesting colours, artwork and furniture to really bring the brand and its values to life. So much of the employee experience is determined by environment; ask yourself whether your workplace is something to be proud of. Do employees want to be there? And is it supporting or hampering them in their work?
4. Personal development and learning.
Giving employees the opportunity to keep learning and developing new skills not only appeals to their sense of self-worth and value, it also strengthens the workforce as a whole. Employees that are encouraged to improve themselves and achieve their best at work will feel more invested in their work, which translates into loyalty and a propensity to unlock extra discretionary effort.
5. Values and beliefs.
Employees are increasingly seeking out employers with whom they have shared values, beliefs and ethics. With a war for talent still raging, it’s important for companies to use every tool in their arsenal to stand out and attract the brightest and best. By considering the values of your organisation and whether they are attractive to others, you may be able to identify ways to improve recruitment, retention, brand perception and staff engagement too.
6. Brand image and reputation.
Companies often think bad PR or brand image affects shareholders and customers only, but it can also have a hugely detrimental effect on how people feel about their work and their employer. Don’t let a crisis cost you employees as well as customers by ensuring that you actively protect your reputation and use PR and internal communications to keep employees engaged. Ask yourself how well you communicate internally about what the business is doing. Is your external reputation one that your employees are proud of? What more can you do to ensure that positive PR benefits all aspects of your organisation including your people?
The changing dynamics of the world of work and the evolving relationship between employers and employees have prompted a complete overhaul of how businesses manage their people. There’s now an understanding that people power should be better harnessed, and that by HR, IT and branding professionals working together, businesses can improve their chances of attracting and retaining and the best talent.
Employee experience is not the latest corporate fad or phrase; it’s emerging as an important business discipline grounded in a very real commercial need – to keep staff healthy, motivated, loyal and, most of all, productive.