An indispensable part of any organization, the human resource forms the backbone of any business and plays an important role in determining its eventual success and failure. To survive and thrive in a digitally-transforming and rapidly-evolving corporate ecosystem, organizations are increasingly directing their focus on enhancing not only the professional prospects of their employed workforce but also their employees’ cumulative professional experience.
Employee experience (EX) is the sum total of all the interactions that employees have with their companies – from recruitment to eventual exit, and everything in between. EX, therefore, spans multiple aspects of employment and various dimensions of an employee’s professional life. Now, the customer is no longer the be-all and end-all of an organizational objective: companies today are also competing with each other based on the quality of employee brand and reputation they have to offer.
This shift has occurred on the back of technological disruption, the emergence of the gig economy and other fluid workplace models, among other things. The rise of professional networks enabled by digital platforms like LinkedIn and Glassdoor, for example, has made it possible for prospective employees to choose their employers after assessing their operational models, amenities offered, along with other convenience-related factors. Millennials, who form a major chunk of the contemporary workforce, today are looking to work in companies where they get a wholesome package of purposeful work, positive and relaxed work environment, supportive management and leaders, growth opportunities, and so on. Once they have joined an organization, the highly-competitive marketplace provides employed professionals with the option to leave their workplace in favor of the one where they will get better career development opportunities, better benefits, and more of what constitutes a healthier employee experience.
The workforce today is looking to work in companies where they get a wholesome package of purposeful work, positive and relaxed work environment, supportive management and leaders, and growth opportunities
It is due to these reasons that organizations today need to differentiate themselves. EX, rather than being considered a fad or an issue to be addressed occasionally, must be treated as a business imperative. Executives who are cognizant of this fact tie enhanced employee experience with the strong customer experience and low attrition rates, and work towards achieving it.
Given the evolving and technologically-driven trends in the corporate ecosystem today, companies need to treat employees as customers. Only then can they leverage the provision of a healthy EX to the employees as a competitive advantage by managing to recruit and retain talent and skills within an organization. However, while consumer experience charts a model for defining and understanding employee experience, the dynamics of a company’s relationship with customers and employees are different. The shift from an isolated to a networked and team-based working model has made EX more important and equally complex. And it is owing to this complexity that organizations, more often than not, fall short of living up to employee expectations. Some of the reasons include:
- HR leaders do not treat employee experience as a priority: It has been observed that managers in the upper tier of an organizational structure mostly reserve the problem of managing employee expectations to occasional or annual engagement surveys. The top executives must realize that inferior employee experience results in high attrition.
- Absence of relevant, EX-enhancing strategies: Company executives generally fail to focus on integrating performance management tools and resources, goal setting, diversity, wellness, inclusion, workplace design, career development and leadership training into the organizational framework.
- Lack of necessary resources: Even if HR managers uplift employee experience as their focus, they mostly fall flat while trying to acquire resources required to address a cohesive set of priorities which includes managing workplace culture, curating benefits and amenities to the employee, managing employee expectation, and so on. In the face of such problems, it has become the need of the hour for companies to elevate employee experience to ensure an improved productivity drive if they aim to survive in the rapidly-changing corporate landscape.
What companies can do to elevate employee experience?
- Prioritizing employee experience and taking necessary steps to augment it: First of all, it is necessary to articulate employee experience enhancement strategies to the employed workforce, and then meet the expectations. To do this, companies can appoint a separate leader to handle this department instead of dumping the assignment on to the already-loaded HR managers. Further, the strategies should be integrated with all the aspects of an employee’s professional journey within the organization including the impact of workspace, wellness and mental health, workforce experience, and so on.
- Establishing a culture of continuous learning and growth: A culture of continuous learning within an organization can ensure a healthy and productive association between the company and its employees. To learn and improve their performance, every professional looks forward to continuous feedback and coaching from their superiors and managers. The onus of providing such a feedback mechanism falls on managers and leaders who have to ensure that feedbacks are concise and aligned with the organizational objective and employee capability. The employees who are lacking in their duties can be identified and provided with relevant L&D tools for training. Whereas, consistent high performers can be rewarded. A focused and continuous attention on the workforce makes employees feel valued.
- Mapping employee journey: Team leaders and managers can develop and follow a structured approach to employee evaluation to understand and enhance employee experience on the performance front. The data derived from an employee’s periodical assessment can then be leveraged to enhance their training and development strategies for the future. This will also enable them to provide the employees with superior feedback tools. Such focus on employee development can play a critical role in retaining skilled professionals within an organization.
- Innovative thinking: Leaders and top executives must be vigilant regarding employee experience while they are working and devise innovative strategies to increase productivity while taking steps to make the job more efficient and convenient for the employed professional. When employees are on a break, the strategies must ensure that they get ample time to become stress-free and are provided with relevant tools that can further aid the process.
- Providing integrated self-service tools to employees: By leveraging technology, executives and leaders can enhance employee experience through tools such as wellness and performance management apps, gamification, self-service tools such as coffee-machines, mobile learning apps, and so on.
- Relaxed work hours: All employees seek a healthy work-life balance. Inspired from industrial disruptions like the rise of the gig economy, organizations have been extending the facility of work-from-home to their employees. However, team leaders responsible for overseeing employee experience must also take into consideration that this system does not cause employees to overshoot their working hours. Because it has been observed that employees using work-from-home models end up working for more hours than what they would have normally devoted in an office or co-working workplace. Therefore, managers can either arrange the facility of paying such employees the overtime they are due or help them in managing their timelines.
The shift from an isolated to a networked and team-based working model has made EX more important and equally complex
Technological disruption and the rise of talented professionals have transformed the dynamic and highly-competitive corporate ecosystem. To keep up with the fast-changing trends and survive in the rapidly-evolving corporate landscape, organizations today need to pay special attention to their most important organ: the human resource. And to retain talent, managing and augmenting employee experience has become a necessity which all companies need to cater to survive and thrive.