In the grander scheme of business, it’s easy to overlook employee experience.
On the surface, it can seem difficult to tie employee experience to tangible bottom-line metrics.
On top of that, individual experiences are subjective.
They aren’t always related to the workplace.
Some business leaders use this as an excuse to avoid revamping the employee experience.
However, as we’ll see, businesses can and should focus on employee engagement and experience.
According to Gallup:
- Most workers, many of whom are millennials, want their work to have a meaning and purpose
- Only 21% of employees feel that their performance is managed in a way that motivates them to do outstanding work
- 22% agree that their leadership has a clear direction for the organization
- US workers are “increasingly confident and ready to leave” – 51% are actively looking or watching for new openings
These low levels of engagement, says Gallup, have a detrimental effect on employee productivity and business outcomes.
Engaged Employees vs. Disengaged Employees
Gallup pointed out that business outcomes are the main goal of improving employee engagement.
Engaged employees are:
- More likely to remain at an organization
- Feel a stronger connection to the organization’s mission and purpose
- Better at building relationships with customers
Employees who are disengaged, however, have the opposite impact.
They are more likely to steal, negatively influence coworkers, miss work, and so forth.
Clearly, employee engagement can have a direct impact on the bottom line.
Experience vs. Engagement: What’s the Difference?
The two concepts are closely linked.
And both have an impact on business outcomes.
However, there are important differences.
Engagement technically measures how motivated, involved, and invested an employee is in his or her job.
- How meaningful a job is
- Social needs
- Emotional needs
However, engagement is still a “top-down” idea, says Deloitte.
Organizations can create conditions and processes. Yet employees must choose whether or not to engage.
The employee experience, however, is even more human-centric.
An organization designs and chooses:
- Work environments
- Tools and technology
…all around employees’ needs.
In contrast with employee engagement, however, the organization creates processes and “hopes” the employee will engage.
The difference may seem subtle, but it is important.
One is organization-centric, the other is employee-centric.
As we’ll see below, it’s possible to build a human-centered, feedback-driven design process that gets better results in multiple areas.
Making a Business Case for Improving the Employee Experience
Research has shown that organizations with top-rated employee experiences:
- Earn more profits
- Have more satisfied customers
- Innovate more
Not only that, poor experiences are on the rise, driving burnout, fatigue, and even health problems.
The causes of burnout can include:
- Unfair treatment at work
- Poor management
- Being on-call after work hours
- Poor work-life balance
According to the Gallup survey mentioned earlier:
- Only 6 in 10 employees agree that they know what is expected of them at work
- 3 in 10 agree that they have the materials and equipment to do their work
- 3 in 10 agree that in the last 7 days they have received praise or recognition for doing good work
- 4 in 10 agree that their supervisor or someone at work seems to care about them as a person
It’s easy to see how these factors can contribute to lower profits, higher turnover, slower innovation, and poorer organizational performance.
Tips for Improving the Employee Experience
So how does a company craft a compelling employee experience?
Here are a few tips:
- Add a sense of meaning to work. One researcher found that call center employees were more productive when they understood the impact their services had on the end users. It’s not hard to see why – helping others is one of the most fundamental sources of meaning.
- Engage in a continuous dialogue with employees. Employees have a wealth of feedback that is waiting to be tapped – opinions, tips, advice, comments, and complaints, to name a few. All of this information can be used to improve their experience … and, as a result, their productivity.
- Support effective managers and leaders. Effective management dramatically improves the workplace experience. Analyze your own business to discover top performers, then give them room. And promote those who show potential.
- Experiment with gamification and rewards. Gamification, such as contests, are fun, engaging, and profitable. They help engage employees and make the workplace more fun. Also consider integrating these exercises with social activities and team-building activities.
- Implement well-being programs. On-the-job wellness programs, such as fitness programs, gyms, yoga, and other health programs, can reduce stress. It is easy to become overworked and unhealthy. By helping employees stay healthier, you can keep them happier and more productive.
- Train. Employees need skills to succeed at work. It’s no use giving them tools if they don’t have the proper skills to use those tools. Ensure that your employee training programs are cutting-edge, modern, and profitable.
Finally, remember that the employee experience is an ever-shifting landscape.
Employees will change over time – their needs, demographics, attitudes, and desires.
To keep up with these changes, the employee experience should undergo continual improvement.
Implement some of the measures mentioned here, analyze results, then make adjustments.
By making this a regular business activity, employers can ensure that their employees become ever more engaged, productive, and profitable.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.