Gone are the days when employers simply expected their workforce to show up on time, put in their eight hours of hard work, and occasionally do some overtime hours to help the company achieve certain levels of growth. Most human resource managers today recognize that there is a serious shortage of top employee talent, and the competitive job marketplace makes employee attraction and retention an essential part of any successful company. Due in part to the competitive job market and the difficulty companies face to find and retain top workforce talent, many people today search for jobs that offer much more than decent salaries and competitive benefits.
Employee experience is the sum of the levels of connection, impact, and meaning that employees find in their jobs. Whereas previous generations of workers might have been content to find a job that allowed them to simply pay their bills, today’s generation of employees is looking for much more fulfillment in their jobs. Recently, the 2018 Global Talent Trends study by Mercer found that workers and job candidates across the country valued three main factors in an employer: permanent workplace flexibility, a commitment to health and well-being, and working with a purpose. These three factors obviously go beyond payroll management and other traditional tasks associated with HR departments. Below, we offer a few reasons why your business should consider investing in a holistic, integrated employee experience program, and we then offer a few ideas for scaling up these programs to make a positive impact on your employees and your overall company culture.
The Reasons for Investing in an Employee Experience Program
According to the most recent Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) presented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), over 3.5 million Americans quit their jobs each and every month. That makes up about 2.3 percent of the total labor force in the country. As any business owner will know, high employee turnover takes its toll on a company, as the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) estimates the cost of replacing an employee between 90 percent and 200 percent of their annual salary. However, retaining top workforce talent doesn’t only save the company money by avoiding the costs associated with recruiting, hiring, and onboarding new workers. A happy and engaged workforce also offers numerous other benefits to the companies they work for. Considering the following statistics:
- Disengaged employees are thought to cost their companies somewhere between $450 and $550 billion dollars each year due to the fact that a disengaged workforce will take less ownership and responsibility for their work, thus negatively affecting productivity.
- Around 81 percent of U.S. employees state they would consider changing jobs, even if they weren’t actively seeking new employment at the moment. While creating externally competitive and internally equitable salaries can certainly help to keep employees satisfied, almost three out of every four younger workers would actually consider taking a pay cut if it allowed them to find a job that offered them more purpose and meaning.
- Companies with the most engaged workforce were found to be at least 21 percent more profitable than their competitors according to a Gallup poll. The same poll also found these companies to be 17 percent more productive.
- A solid, healthy, and thriving company culture has the ability to increase long-term revenue four-fold.
Creating high levels of employee engagement and a thriving company culture offer numerous economic benefits to companies. This doesn’t happen magically, however, and integrating employee experience programs is one of the best strategies to keep your workforce content, productive, and engaged.
Components of a Healthy Employee Experience Program
A quality and effective employee experience program will seek to create a hospitable, stimulating, and positive workplace environment where all employees can find motivation to elevate their productivity levels while feeling as if they are an important and contributing member of a team. These programs seek to move beyond hollow employee perks and investigate strategies that can surprise employees, create meaningful connections between employers and their workforce, and unfetter barricades to help employees achieve their potential. But how can companies get from the drawing board to the end results of an impacting employee experience program?
There is no “one size fits all” approach to successful employee experience programs, but the following three characteristics can help to guide the successful design and implementation of such a program.
Employee experience programs should never be the result of top-down decision making wherein executives determine what their employees need to be happier in the workplace. Rather, these programs need to be employee-centric and create mechanisms wherein each individual worker has a say in creating certain elements of the program. Employee surveys, workshops, and an engaged HR staff can help create meaningful employee experience programs wherein individual workers can “opt in” to the elements of the program that are most important to them.
An employee experience program should also be specifically tailored to the unique character of the workforce. Instead of implementing pedestrian office perks such as a new coffee roaster in the break room, the company PayScale relates that they attempted to create an authentic employee experience program through hosting a coffee-tasting event, asking for feedback on the various options, from their employees, and eventually implementing different coffee roasters on different floors of the office building to encourage employees to wander and spend time in different parts of the building with different co-workers.
Integrates the Cultural, Technological, and Physical
Lastly, employee experience programs need to focus on integrating the cultural, technological and physical aspects of the workplace environment to maximize employee engagement levels. The cultural level relates to how an employee feels at their workplace and is related to the protocols related to structure, leadership and workplace hierarchies. The technological sphere makes sure that employees have the tools they need to do their jobs efficiently, while the physical level focuses on creating an office environment that encourages creativity, teamwork, and comfort.
Suggestions for Scaling Up a Successful Employee Experience Program
A successful employee experience program will also be dynamic, meaning that HR departments should be open to continually modifying the program based on the characteristics and requests of the workforce. In this sense, scaling up an employee experience program isn’t a one-time affair, but rather a continual endeavor to make sure that your employees have what they need to stay engaged with company goals. To end, we offer the following suggestions to help your company scale up an employee experience program.
- Don’t Overlook the Importance of your Return on Investment (ROI): Having happy employees certainly makes for a better office environment and company culture, but the “business of business” is to make money. When planning an investment in a more holistic employee experience program, make sure to calculate how improved employee experience can increase productivity, deepen employee engagement, and develop your workforce towards your long-term business goals.
- Keep Senior Leadership in the Loop: For any employee experience program to be effectual, people in positions of leadership will need to be on board with the program. When discussing ways to scale up your program, don’t only include the opinions of the employees themselves, but also make sure that people in managerial positions are in accordance and understand and support the benefits that come with dedicating resources to an improved employee experience. People in leadership positions within the company should also have a clear understanding of how they are to partner and participate in the program.
- Incorporate Enabling Technologies: The technological tools that come with the digitalization of the workplace can be extremely helpful and enabling in creating a more holistic employee experience program. For example, automating feedback requests between employees and their immediate managers is one way to create a more fluid communication strategy that employees will appreciate. Furthermore, state of the art time and attendance software can also be useful to allow certain employees to work from home or at distance without affecting your payroll.
- Be Open to Constructive Feedback: An employee experience program will only be successful if your workforce finds it to be constructive and beneficial. The best way for HR departments to determine whether or not a program is achieving its desired goals is to create spaces for employees to honestly critique the program. Furthermore, because some employees will be reluctant to openly criticize their physical, social or operational work environments, allowing anonymous evaluations and suggestions is also a good way to get an honest appraisal of how the program can improve.
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Peter Bellotti specializes in Business Administration, Database Technology, Cloud and Big Data Solutions, currently working as Director of Sales at Mitrefinch, a global provider of Employee Management Systems and HR Solutions in USA, Canada, UK, and Australia