“Employee experience” is all the rage right now, and for good reason. An employee’s journey with your company – from recruitment and onboarding, to development and productivity, through post-exit interactions – can directly affect employee engagement, company culture, customer satisfaction, and the bottom line.
In keeping with the modern-day employee-employer relationships, HR leaders are tuning in to how employees experience their work and how they feel about the company. This holistic approach is designed to achieve employee contentment and productivity. And, to be successful, it requires adopting and strengthening competencies to identify, cultivate, and promote employee engagement every step of the way.
The Employee Experience Difference
Organizations that truly understand who their employees are and what they need (or want) to succeed are one step ahead of the competition. They know that it takes more than generous health benefits, company happy hours, and charitable contributions to create a compelling workplace.
For employees, it’s about the psychological and emotional benefits of working at a company where they feel safe, supported, connected, and proud.
Companies that prioritize the employee experience truly create a place where people want to come to work every day. They provide an environment where employees have the drive, the tools, and the culture to do their best.
Improved employee experience leads to larger talent pipelines, greater profitability, and higher productivity than competitors. According to best-selling author Jacob Morgan, companies that invest in the employee experience outperform those that don’t, achieving more than four times the average profit and more than twice the average revenue.
Learn What Employees (Really) Want
For many companies, focusing on employee experience is new. This means most have nowhere to go but up. Industry analyst firm Gartner says that “only 29 percent of employees today believe that HR understands what they need and want.”
To start building a positive employee experience, learn what your employees most want in the workplace. Ask them about more than job roles and benefits. Listen for needs and wants centered around technology, connectedness, opportunities to contribute, diversity of people and ideas, physical comfort at work, the vibe of your work environment, and opportunities for learning and growth.
Use what you learn to define your strategy. Align your competency management program with this new strategy, to ensure that leaders and employees have the experiences they desire from the moment a potential employee first encounters your company to their exit interviews and beyond.
Attract, Hire, and Onboard with the Experience in Mind
With continued low unemployment rates, job applicants are appraising potential employers as much as they are being evaluated by the employers. Use a competency-driven approach to recruiting to show that you really care about fit; you want employees with the skills, knowledge, and behaviors that fit your roles and culture.
To stand out, create employee experiences even before an applicant says “yes.” Involve peers, not just leaders, in the interview process. Potential teammates could take an applicant out to lunch, for informal conversations about the work and what it’s really like to work for your company.
Invest in your onboarding experience. As soon as your new employee accepts a position, get the team involved. Assign teammates to reach out and stay in touch before, during, and after the first day of work. Be sure the new employee knows exactly what’s expected on day one – where to go, who to see, what to do – before they show up at the front desk. When they arrive, show your excitement to have them onboard.
Balloons, flowers, a personal welcome note, or some company swag during the first week will let new employees know they’re in the right place. Plan a multi-week orientation that helps the new employee experience your culture, find support and mentorship, and start to contribute meaningfully right away.
Maximize the Employee and Learner Experience
Once employees are settled into their jobs, there’s always a risk that they’ll look outside your company if they don’t feel content or don’t continue to grow professionally. This Forbes article suggests creating experiences that include “constant communication, learning, opportunities for growth, celebrations of work-related and non-work-related successes, reduced barriers, and a diverse, inclusive workplace.”
Certainly, employees need the tools to be successful in their job. They also want to be able to feel that what they’re doing makes a difference. Competencies help with that. Clear visibility into the skills required for their jobs, feedback about how well they’re performing, and an understanding of how to grow into a desired promotion or lateral move all combine to help employees stay on track.
The more control an employee has in defining that track, and the more stakeholder support they experience in their journey, the happier they’ll be as they grow and thrive.
Create Positive Departure Experiences
Most employees won’t retire from the company they’re working for now. They will change jobs at least once more. In other words, most of your employees will leave you. How you treat them as they leave is just as important as how you greeted them on their first day.
You don’t need balloons or flowers on an employee’s last day. But you and your team should have the skills and processes in place to mark the event. An exit interview to learn about the employee’s experience will go a long way, as will a handshake and sincere “thank you” for the employee’s contributions.
When it’s time to leave, consider an “exit buddy” to walk the departing employee out for the last time. It’s a win-win move. After all, your departing employee’s experience is part of your remaining employee’s experience, too!
In this new experiential era of work, workers that have the best employee experiences win. So do their employers.
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