Employers that want to attract, retain, and motivate top talent must make every effort to create an amazing employee experience.
This employee experience, often called “EX” in HR terms, is the sum of all interactions employees have with your organization, from the recruiting process to the exit interview, and occurs at every touch point along the way from day-to-day mundane interactions to major milestones.
“If you asked employers a decade ago what was top of mind for the organization, the term employee experience (EX) wasn’t really on the top of the list,” writes Madeline Miles for BetterUp. “In the last few years, the employee experience movement has gained momentum. Employers started to look at what the experience — from attraction to exit — was like for their employees.”
While the importance of “employee experience” was gaining ground prior to 2020, it became paramount after the pandemic started.
Pandemic Sparks Great EX Awakening
The COVID-19 pandemic did not leave any stones unturned in the business world, and employee experience was no exception.
“Our 2021 Employee Experience Survey findings confirm that the pandemic created an EX stress test as employers deployed a range of actions, including restructuring, cutting pay and benefits, and adopting a flexible work model in response to the crisis. These actions took a significant toll on people and business with declines in productivity, engagement, and wellbeing, among other areas, at many organizations,” said Willis Tower Watson (WTW).
The WTW global survey found that the number of organizations prioritizing EX enhancements jumped from 52 percent to 92 percent after the pandemic started.
WTW said this “great EX awakening” was based on the employer’s view that EX drives:
- Engagement (81 percent)
- Employee well-being (80 percent)
- Productivity (79 percent)
- Overall business performance (78 percent)
Defining Employee Experience and Its Importance
There is no universal definition for employee experience (EX) as the term will mean different things to different people and EX can be an entirely subjective experience.
“The employee experience is the interactions an employee has with people, systems, policies, and the physical and virtual workspace. Both the small details of day-to-day work and the periodic events and transitions matter,” wrote Miles. “Employee experience is subjective: it is the holistic impact of the job and the organization on the individual — how employees feel, perceive their potential and abilities, and the effect on their well-being.”
BetterUp says EX really does matter and is crucial to an organization’s success at every step of the employee lifecycle, leading to better outcomes in:
- Employee recruiting
- Employee retention
- Employee engagement
- Performance and performance management
- Customer satisfaction
WTW concurs: “The experience that organizations shape across purpose, work, Total Rewards (compensation, benefits, and perks), and people have direct links to workforce engagement, productivity, and sustainable business performance.”
10 Tactics to Create an Amazing EX
There are many ways to create a company culture that translates into a great employee experience (EX). Try these 10 tactics to fine-tune your company EX:
- Hire the Right People: You can argue that this is a “chicken or the egg” question because the foundation of a great EX may be hiring the right people for the right role while having a great EX will make it easier to attract the employees that best fit your company culture. Bottom line: Find candidates who have the skills and experience you need and are motivated to succeed.
- Provide Meaningful Work: Employees in a post-pandemic work world want to feel like their work is meaningful and that they are making a difference. Give them opportunities to work on projects they are passionate about and contribute to the company’s goals. A study by Deloitte found that “although many workers work to earn their paychecks, they also want work that is meaningful, fulfilling, and contributes to something bigger than themselves.” Among Deloitte’s suggestions was the creation of “superteams” (groups of people and intelligent machines working together) that embraced a teamwork environment while encouraging collaboration, accountability, flexibility, and purpose. And Deloitte also suggested allowing employees the autonomy to “determine how, when, and where they get work done.”
- Create a Positive Work Environment: A positive work environment is one where employees feel supported, respected, and valued. This means fostering a culture of collaboration, open communication, and trust. Flexibility, inclusivity, diversity, and recognition of employee achievements can all be building blocks to a positive work environment.
- Total Rewards (Compensation, Benefits, and Perks) Still Counts: Some workplace beliefs never become passe such as employees wanting to feel like they are being fairly compensated for their work. Organizations should ensure their compensation and benefits packages are competitive and meet their workforce’s needs.
- Provide Opportunities for Growth and Development. Employees want to feel like they are growing and developing in their careers. Employers should offer them opportunities for training, development, and advancement. DecisionWise says that “an employee’s perception of internal growth and development opportunities is one of the more important predictors of employee engagement.”
- Celebrate Employee Successes: When employees achieve their goals, take the time to celebrate their successes and show appreciation. Thanking employees for their contributions and letting them know how much the organization values them will help boost morale and motivation.
- Empower Employees: Give employees the autonomy and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. This will help them feel like they are in control of their own destiny and that they are making a difference. Organizations should focus on the EX at every step of the workplace life cycle, from recruiting to onboarding to exit.
- Listen to Employee Feedback: Listen to employee feedback. Employees want to feel like their voices are being heard. Employers need to collect and act on employee feedback on a regular basis. While many organizations are great at dishing out constructive feedback to employees, not all are receptive to receiving it in the other direction. Constructive feedback is even better if it is a 2-way conversation with the employee able to speak out.
- Be Transparent. Employees want to be kept in the loop about what is going on with their organization. Be transparent with your employees about your goals, plans, and challenges. It is also important that your employees are aware of your company’s mission and purpose. Communication from every level of management should always be honest, open, and transparent.
- Management Should Support Employees: Managers have an enormous impact on EX so organizations should train their management to hone their employee engagement skills. Managers should make sure their reports have a clear understanding of their role in the organization and have the support, including training, coaching, and feedback that allows them to reach their full potential.
The BetterUp “2022 Employee Experience Guide” says that employees want to work for an organization that enables them to bring their full selves to the job and that employers are expected to support or create the conditions that lead to healthier lives.
When EX is optimized in the workplace, employees, employers, and customers are all winners.