Employee experience is a hot topic right now. But why should you care?

You pay fairly. Your team doesn’t complain very much. So what if you don’t have a ping pong table and free snacks?

Here’s why it matters:

A report covering more than 250 global organizations discovered that companies with the highest employee experience scores:

  • have 4x higher average profits.
  • have 2x higher average revenues.
  • have 40% lower employee turnover rates.

You don’t need a yoga room to create a great work environment. It’s not about the perks. Employee experience best practices are all about responding to your team’s real needs.

A focus on employee experience has proven business advantages. And yet, while 80% of executives claim that employee experience is important, only 22% report they’re doing an excellent job building a differentiated employee experience.

Businesses need to close that gap. If you’re going to work on employee experience, your employees should be at the heart of your strategy.

This means putting yourself in your team members’ shoes. Look at how they learn, grow, and work. Gather data. Consider their life in and outside of work, and take into account their overall physical, emotional, professional, and financial well-being.

Though it might seem daunting at first, building an employee experience that fits your business — or improving the one you already have — is easier than you might think.

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Why is employee experience important?

Just like with customers, experience drives your team’s satisfaction and happiness. A positive employee experience leads to growth for both your employees and your company in the following areas.

Happiness

It might sound simplistic, but you want your employees to be happy.

Research shows that people with “happy brains” work better. Happiness helps your employees function at a higher level, impacting their day-to-day effectiveness and enhancing overall job performance.

When workers are unhappy, they don’t just fail to mentally “show up” to work. They literally don’t show up to work. Unhappy workers take 15 more sick days each year than the average, leading to lost productivity and bruised team morale.

Don’t ignore the halo effect.

While your team is made up of unique individuals, the spirit and camaraderie that connects them is just as important. Unhappiness is contagious.

Fortunately, positivity is contagious, too.

Creating a positive employee experience is one of the best ways you can fix an unhappy workforce. Improve employee experience and your team will be happier to stick around.

Retention

Long gone are the days when workers can be expected to stay put at one organization for decades. Retaining talent is just as vital to your success as retaining customers. Lower turnover means less time and money spent on hiring, training, and onboarding new staff.

Appreciation breeds loyalty. Show, don’t just tell, your workers how grateful you are for what they do.

With the one-two punch of being happy in the role and also feeling genuine appreciation, your top talent is far less likely to look for another job.

The importance of this starts from day one. A quality introduction into a new organization makes a major difference in the perception of your company culture.

Just like in life, you’ve only got one chance to make a first impression. If your employee experience doesn’t wow your new employees, they expect your culture to be just as uninspiring. They might start looking for their next position before they’ve even finished training.

Engagement

Chronically disengaged employees cost the U.S. between $450 and $550 billion dollars in lost revenue each year.

You don’t want to be part of that.

On the other hand, companies with highly engaged employees outperform their competition by 147% in earnings per share.

You do want to be part of that.

In an ideal world, your employees would care about the success of your business as much as you do. That type of proactive thinking has to be nurtured. It doesn’t happen just because you’ve given someone a job.

A solid employee experience shows that you care about workers as individuals. If you prove that you’re driven to help them achieve their goals, they’ll become more professionally — and personally — invested in yours.

That’s the spark of true, lasting engagement; the kind that leads your team to naturally go above and beyond.

Productivity

Engaged, devoted employees are more present and mindful on the job. They pay more attention to the needs of customers and are more intentionally aware of your business’ processes, systems, and procedures.

That’s why they’re 20% more productive.

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It makes sense that happy, engaged employees are more productive. Think about the last time you felt miserable at work. Did you get as much work done? Probably not, since most people procrastinate when they’re anxious about work.

Build a great employee experience strategy and your investment will pay off.

Reputation and recruitment

In a world where top talent is increasingly in demand, candidates are more in control than before. You might think you’re the one holding the interview, but it goes both ways. The best candidates do their homework on you, too. They want to know what life will be like if they work for you.

More than ever, employers are creating dedicated marketing campaigns aimed at attracting top talent.

With a large majority of job hunters today looking for employee experience reviews on sites like Glassdoor, you have to work harder to impress. The experiences of all your employees, positive and negative, are accessible to anyone thinking about working for you.

Your reputation as an employer is no longer something you can hope to control internally. It’s public, transparent, and largely informed by the experiences of your employees. Actively managing your reputation as an employer ensures that talent you haven’t hired (yet) wants to work for you, too.

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Five strategies to build strong employee experiences

1. Enable your managers

Depending on the size of your business, employee experience is usually owned by HR and guided by senior leaders.

Though leadership teams have a huge influence on employee experience, your direct manager has the biggest impact on how we feel about our job.

Being an effective manager isn’t easy, and yet when done right, it has a huge impact on both business performance and the finer details of employee experience. It’s crucial to enable and educate your managers, particularly at larger organizations, to be champions of your experience.

They need to know what’s expected of them, how to take positive action, and how their increased focus on employee experience can benefit the organization.

At the same time, senior leaders need to make managers feel engaged and positive, too. Give your leaders the ideal employee experience and inspire the same standards at all levels.

2. Get feedback … and use it

Unlike customers, your own employees are invested in giving honest, relevant feedback. They’re a priceless resource, and you should actively use their insights to make your employee experience ideas better.

Regular employee surveys are a good place to start. But they’re only effective if you analyze the data you gather and turn it into action.

Use the high-level results to make adjustments at an organizational level, but don’t forget to look at the granular results, as well. They’ll help you discover individual managers, departments, or teams that are knocking it out of the park or who need a helping hand.

Dig deeper with the superstars to find out what they’re doing right. Do more of that.

At the same time, getting more information about areas of concern will help you find problems before they potentially get worse. Use this data to learn what not to repeat in other areas.

3. Embrace digital and design thinking

An industry-leading employee experience program needs modern thinking and methods to bring it to life.

Use design thinking processes to learn what your employees are doing each day. Deeply understanding their daily schedule helps you uncover new ways to benefit them.

Design thinking proposes that in order to be innovative, you must take on a designer’s mindset, which puts users at the center. You’ll also want to take a hands-on approach so that you get to real ideas quickly, instead of staying in the planning phase for too long.

After that, technology will help you empower your team at every stage. The more simple and mobile your programs, the more likely that teams will really use them.

Make sure you’re taking advantage of apps and online tools that can help improve your employee experience. Try these:.

  • Slack for team conversations and Ask Me Anything sessions
  • Hubstaff Tasks for easy, clear communication on projects
  • Elfster for holiday giving
  • Udemy for upskilling
  • Headspace for meditation and mental health

4. Promote work/life balance

Your employees’ well-being is key to business success. Healthy work/life balance helps prevent burnout, reduce stress, and build motivation.

Work-related anxiety negatively impacts the mental and physical health of your employees. It also costs you money as productivity drops, people call in sick, and your insurance costs creep higher.

Support your team’s experience with clear work boundaries, fair time tracking processes, and remote work policies. Setting clear expectations helps combat anxiety. Providing the tools to meet those expectations goes even further.

Balance is the antidote to stress and helps keep your employees in good health.

5. Plan for every employee

Inclusion and accessibility are especially crucial for a positive employee experience.

Make sure that all apps and digital platforms you intend to use adhere to WCAG accessibility standard. Every single employee, regardless of ability, should be able to take part in everything you offer.

In 2020, accessibility for people with disabilities is table stakes. That means addressing not only inclusion based on demographics, but also diversity of thought and experience.

Think about this:

If everyone looks, thinks and sounds the same, they’ll set policies and build products for people just like them. You’ll accidentally make it harder to become more diverse.

Make sure you have your company’s existing diversity and inclusion groups involved in the planning and vetting of your employee experience program. Or, better still, make sure that those groups are represented in senior leadership.

At the same time, ensure that your employee experience doesn’t only focus on full-time roles. Part-time workers, freelancers, gig employees, and others are vital parts of your organization. They need to be treated that way.

If everyone looks, thinks and sounds the same, they’ll set policies and build products for people just like them.

A great employee experience spans the entire employee lifecycle

A modern employee experience goes far beyond annual awards and thank-you notes (though those certainly don’t hurt). Think of the shifting needs of employees for their entire lifecycle.

Employee lifecycle

The expectations of a new hire are going to be drastically different than an employee who’s been with your organization for years. Both are equally important.

Employee experience policies should support career development for team members at every stage and level. You can encourage a healthy experience for everyone with:

  • Proactive coaching
  • Clear paths for advancement
  • Transparency
  • Diversity of thought
  • Inclusion

Simply Irresistible Organization model

A cutting-edge employee experience model covers the entire experience, from recruitment to retirement. It benefits every team full-time, part-time, or contract team member.

Examine your current employee experience and use these strategies to make sure that you’re taking care of your company’s greatest assets.

Building an incredible employee experience is an investment in the future of your business. Happy customers, successful teams, and a thriving business all start with the way you treat your employees. How you guide their journey will have a ripple effect through your entire company and beyond.