HR professionals know that the employee experience matters but it can be difficult convincing senior management and accountants that paying attention to this area of operation can make a real difference. At 10Eighty we advocate an employee-centered approach to engagement and motivation that asks management to ‘see the world through the eyes of the employee’.
A 2015 survey by Glassdoor found that companies with a great employee experience outperformed the S&P by 122 percent.
Communication is key
The obvious place to start is by talking to employees. A regular staff questionnaire may offer some insights but employees are often chary of the anonymous questionnaire, nobody really believes that assurance of anonymity. There is evidence that some managers think employee engagement is just about listening to their employees via such attitude surveys but it’s not a two-way communication. Failure to address issues raised by the survey will soon depress confidence in the employee engagement survey as employees come to see it as a sham form of communication.
Better to address concerns directly with applicants about the recruitment process, with new starters about the induction process, with established staff and leavers about their work experience. Your leavers are an invaluable potential resource, research has found that only 18% of organizations keep in touch with their ex-employees; this is missing out on the opportunity to tap into their know-how and insights.
Applicants may not seem important to the management team but even unsuccessful job seekers who have a good experience when interviewing say they would tell others to apply, and that they are more likely to buy a company’s products or services. Engagement begins at the first moment of the employee life cycle, even before a job offer. Effective onboarding depends upon creating a positive career experience and transparent growth opportunities for your new hires, starting from day one.
The mystery shopper approach is well worth considering. Having someone report on the whole recruitment process can be an eye-opener and can be a useful instrument in addition to the more usual survey methods. That said, walking the workspace and watching work, talking to employees and observing workflow and methods is more straightforward.
Career path design
A good understanding of what employees actually experience at work enables the design of sustainable career paths such that individuals are enabled to experience positive feelings at work. Where organizations create meaningful jobs that match people to their jobs according to their qualiﬁcations and skill levels it’s possible to raise the level of engagement. Career path design is at the heart of the employee experience, crafting personalized work roles aligned with individual career preferences and organizational needs to maximize performance in competitive market conditions.
We know that engagement initiatives often fail and the increased use of new forms of employment contract, the gig economy, don’t make such efforts any easier to facilitate. Engagement can be a slippery concept and HR programmes aimed at boosting engagement don’t always have the desired effect. Enriching the employee experience requires a measure of planning, preparation, and monitoring to be successful for employees who want and deserve careers that align with their values, talents, and passions.
The CIPD head of engagement and London David D’Souza says that “As a profession, we need to start thinking of engagement as a broader concept. Ask yourselves: when people come into work, are they worse human beings than they were before? That is at the heart of engagement, and getting it right begins with walking towards the things that are wrong.”
Think in terms of improving the employee experience over the whole life-cycle and focus on career strategies that work to develop and retain and engage the majority of the workforce.