Want to learn a simple strategy to quadruple your business’ profits? Hint: successful brands like Apple, Google and Patagonia have been honing it for years.
The secret? It’s all about employer branding.
Businesses who rate highly on employee experience have four times the profit compared to competitors. Major companies are noticing this link and are shifting their focus to their employees.
First, we’ll look at what employee experience means. Then, we’ll explore 4 simple ways you can improve employee experience and boost your business.
What is Employee Experience?
Employee experience refers to the overall experience of staff from the moment the hiring process begins. It’s everything to do with the environment they work in. This includes the physical surroundings, as well as the technology they use and the culture they experience. It’s how connected they feel to the company brand, how engaged they are and the sense of value they feel.
Employee experience might be the missing link to something else companies have long been striving for – employee engagement. Employee engagement is the extent to which employees feel committed to and invested in their jobs. A 2017 Gallup study reported that only 33% of US employees are engaged on the job.
Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage (Wiley 2017) has this to say. “For decades organizations have been investing in employee engagement with little results. Unfortunately engagement has been very focused on trying to force employees to work in outdated workplace practices while giving them perks to distract them from their unfortunate situations.”
With these new insights, more and more major companies are adopting policies that highlight the employee journey as their single top priority.
Want in on the action? Let’s look at 4 key strategies for creating a positive employee experience.
1. Encourage a work-life balance
Flexibility is making its way into the modern workplace. A 2017 Gallup study revealed that work-life balance and flexibility are two of the top concerns for employees who are thinking about changing jobs.
In a typical setting, employees spend more of their waking hours at work than at home. This puts them at risk of losing connection to their outside life. Without a healthy work-life balance, employees are in danger of “burning out”.
Burn out happens when a worker gets overwhelmed and cannot keep up with work tasks. The employee typically needs time off from work to reset, which results in losses to the company. A Gallup study reported that 23% of employees feel burnt out either very often or always and 44% feel burnt out sometimes.
Clearly, burn out is a real concern. So what can companies do about it? The best way to combat burn out, is to offer flexible working hours and opportunities for employees to work from home. Another key way is to improve communication between staff and management. Let’s explore that one next.
2. Improve communication
An open line of communication is vital to creating a positive experience for employees. In particular, the conversation needs to go both ways. Employees need to be in the loop on company operations and also need to feel heard by managers. Above all, managers should be available to listen to their questions, concerns and ideas and should actively address them when necessary.
Research suggests that open communication isn’t the norm. In a 2016 survey, 69% of managers reported feeling uncomfortable communicating with their employees.
This lack of communication has clear side effects on the employee. In a 2017 report, employees were questioned on the effects of poor communication in the workplace. Notably, the most popular answer was that poor communication causes added stress in employees.
To introduce better communication, companies need to review their communication procedures. They might decide to fill in gaps by introducing things like compulsory check-ins at regular intervals. The key point is that staff and management are in touch on a regular basis and having conversations that are meaningful.
Another way to encourage communication is through team building activities. This allows staff to collaborate together in a positive and light-hearted way.
3. Recognize employee contributions
Acknowledging the efforts of employees is a simple and highly valuable strategy for boosting employee experience. Yet, it is alarmingly overlooked. In a 2019 survey, almost 1 in 5 employees said their manager was “horrible” at recognizing their work and 43% said they were just “okay”. Clearly, employees are not feeling appreciated.
One simple way to recognize workers is to call out their achievements during staff meetings. Another way is to designate an employee of the month. It can also be as simple as sending a thank you message to an employee for great work.
The bottom line is that employees need to feel valued on a regular basis. Efforts should be recognized with positive feedback whenever possible.
4. Invest in a workplace wellness program
Workplace wellness programs aim to boost employee health in addition to regular health insurance. Wellness programs vary greatly and can work for both small and large businesses.
Activities can be ongoing or one-time events and can include things like fitness challenges or nutrition classes in the workplace.
Programs like these are quickly becoming the norm rather than the exception, with bigger brands taking bold steps towards employee wellness. For example, Patagonia offers onsite childcare to all staff and Google offers massage therapy to all workers.
Wellness programs might sound costly. However, a report by Harvard Business School found that for every dollar invested in workplace wellness, $3.27 was saved in medical expenses and $2.73 was saved in employee absences. So it seems companies that are not investing in workplace wellness are being left behind by those that are.
To reach your potential as a business, you need to invest in employee experience. Companies that invest in a positive experience for workers have employees that are happier. And happier employees mean better business (read more on why happy employees are your secret weapon).
Companies can improve employee experience all while spending little to no money. Things to focus on are work-life balance, communication and employee recognition. Finally, it’s a good idea to invest in a workplace wellness program.
Want to see how you can use HR technology to drive employee experience? Click here for 5 HR tech trends that are boosting employee experience in 2020.