The age of disruption and rapidly changing business landscape has signaled the need for constant innovation if companies are to maintain a competitive edge. This level of innovation can only be driven by human capital, turning employee experience into a critical imperative for productivity, customer satisfaction, and revenue. Feel-good initiatives such as state-of-the-art office campuses, flexible work hours, free gym membership and game rooms are being implemented by leading companies; however, these have only managed to scratch the surface. Today, employees look for distinct experiences designed and delivered with a ‘meaning-first’ mindset, a sense of collaboration, and shared purpose.
In the early 2000s, employers were focused on employee ‘satisfaction’. Around 2010, the focus shifted to employee ‘engagement’. However, employers are increasingly realizing that ‘satisfaction’ and ‘engagement’ are smaller components of what employees really care about – the ‘experience’. Employee experience, which is a sum total of all interactions the employee has with the employer, is defined by the structure and culture of the company, the employee’s perception of it and role within it. Millennials have contributed further towards the demand for employee experience by seeking meaningful work, autonomy, connection, and mentoring. Expected to comprise 75 percent of the global workforce by 2025, millennials are demanding that the businesses they work for are purpose-driven, and also insist on becoming a part of the bigger picture.
The impact of employee experience is distinctly visible, yet companies struggle to create it
The business case for employee experience can be found in its direct impact on the bottom line. Even though it is not a line item on the company’s profit and loss statement, its impact reflects on operational and financial metrics such as turnover, retention, productivity, and recruiting. It can also impact the brand’s overall image by defining customer interaction, ensuring a positive employee experience and creating a culture where employees are dedicated to always delivering the best to customers. Otherwise, minor points of dissatisfaction, if not frustration, with the employer can sometimes find its way into how employees treat their end customers.
In a recent global survey of human resource (HR) and business leaders, 42 percent of participants rated employee experience as ‘very important’ and 38 percent rated it as ‘important’. Yet, only 22 percent reported that their companies excelled in creating a unique employee experience. This highlights that despite best intentions, companies struggle to build effective employee experiences, leaving a chasm between what the workforce needs and what the workplace offers.
The workforce today demands that the businesses they work for are purpose-driven
Rethinking approach to talent management is integral to realizing the potential of the workforce
If companies are to harness the massive potential of today’s workforce, they must incorporate tools and technologies that enable productivity. Just like they wouldn’t make assumptions about what customers want in products or services, they shouldn’t make assumptions about what the workforce wants or needs. They must ask employees about the kind of resources, technologies, and spaces that are critical for success, and then align employee experience accordingly. The workplace technology that companies adopt should be employee-centric just like consumer technology that is customer-centric. Technology should solve the challenges of the workforce and be something that employees can’t live without.
Once the basics are in place, companies must focus on building mentorship dynamics between employees and their managers, thus cultivating a mutual relationship instead of a transaction. This builds a much higher level of trust and loyalty than a salary raise or bonus. Companies must ensure that they give employees the space for individual growth, by allowing enough space within the structure to align the employee’s goals with that of the organization. For a generation with a huge appetite for new skills and that ranks learning opportunities as a top employer benefit, this can mean a great motivator. Among other things, employers can consider on-the-fly coaching needs, regular check-ins, continuous feedback, and enhanced opportunities for knowledge sharing. Incorporating corporate social responsibility and enabling employees to be directly involved in giving back to the community can also contribute significantly to the overall experience.
Just like organizations wouldn't make assumptions about what customers want in products or services, they shouldn't make assumptions about what the workforce wants or needs
For business leaders, the choice between customers and employees is a tricky one. However, without realizing, they often choose customers over employees by prioritizing the customer experience in every facet of their business. In today’s competitive landscape where employees can significantly impact success and failure, it is time that companies rethink their approach to talent management and start making employees as much a priority as customers.