Not to be confused with employee engagement; employee experience refers to the employee’s perception of their company during every step of the employee lifecycle.

 

Employee experience is the overarching feel of your organisation. Unlike employee engagement, employee experience is deep-rooted, shaping your brand’s identity and guiding your employees. 

The problem with employee experience is that it’s hard for companies to recognise and change. In fact, a study by Deloitte found that 59% of HR & business leaders considered themselves either not ready or only somewhat ready to tackle the challenge of employee experience.

It’s a difficult fix that companies are struggling to address; but why does employee experience matter?

Employee experience is an integral part of your organsiation and now with the new work era, it is essential. There are a wealth of benefits that come along with it; through improving employee experience, you can attract high quality candidates, decrease your turnover rate, and increase productivity in your workplace. All excellent benefits that can be easily attained by making small, yet effective changes and perhaps, a small shift in frame-of-mind.

 

Employee Experience - A Deep Dive

Employee experience has benefits, but putting those aside, why does it matter? Well, the corporate world is changing. Not just within technological advancement and shifting work modes, but expectations, values, and perceptions have changed. A job is not just a job anymore; it’s not solely a means of making money or routine. Employees don’t stay at companies for decades, and office spaces are becoming more open, and less segmented, an indication of a diminishing hierarchy. 

In fact, the entire framework of ‘work’ has changed. Best described by the pioneer behind employee experience, Jacob Morgan said that companies need to change their perception that employees need to work here and instead understand that employees want to work here.  Changing this mentality from ‘need’ to want’ is key to adopting employee experience-focused practices. 

For a lot of companies they have begun to realise the importance of their employees. Employees are rightly seen as central to a company’s core and are considered in higher regard than compared to the times of previous work eras. For a company, their employees are no longer just a means to get the job done; they are the beating heart of the organisation. This shift in mind frame is leading to companies having their employee experience flourish. But what exactly shapes employee experience?

To really break it down, you have to look at the three distinct areas of employee experience; culture, technology and physical space. Each plays an integral role in shaping employee experience and they are interdependent. What should also be emphasised is that not one area is more important than the other.

 

Culture

Culture is arguably the hardest experience to control and fix. Unlike the other two elements; technology and physical space, this is an intangible object that cannot just be ‘upgraded’ or swapped for adjustable desks. 

Culture is an integral part of an organisation. It’s what shapes your values and it’s what drives your employees. It’s not surprising that 81% of employees and 94% of executives feel that culture is the key to business success. Company culture is shaped by how your leaders communicate, all the way to how employees converse with each other over the water cooler. But you must be thinking, how can I control culture?

You start from the top and let it treacle down. 

Team leaders have the biggest effect on company culture. Your leaders are those who represent your brand and the way they react and respond to events is a reflection of the culture. They set the agenda, the leadership style, the way work is approached, and they are in control of how much innovation is produced. 

In order to address employee experience, you need to really look closely at your company’s values and the culture you see with your own eyes in the office. Does it match? Or is there a misalignment? You need to consider whether the messages that move down the ranks are being distorted or misrepresented. This is becoming a trending theme currently with the topic of work flexibility; while the employer might allow it and in fact advertise it on job postings, an employees direct manager could be discouraging it. Mixed signals impede company culture.

 

Technology

What first needs to be said is, you don’t need the fanciest and most expensive tech on the market to improve employee experience. What employees need is reliable, convenient and helpful tech that makes their work easier… and more flexible. With 50% of employees finding their workplace uses outdated technology, now is the time to review the tech you have at work and see if they suit your employees and for the work you produce. 

Flexible is arguably 2022’s buzzword. With the pandemic seemingly slowing down, a new work mode has emerged – flexible work. Along with flexible work comes a gap in collaboration which was much easier to access in-person; now more than ever, productivity-based applications are essential for your employees. 

In addition, with the growth in activity-based working, we are seeing the need for employees to be able to meet anywhere in the office and have ad-hoc meetings. Some companies like ExxonMobil are leading the change, with their new campus site fostering this growing mindset. This flexibility demands technology that stacks up.

It’s also important to emphasise that your workplace technology is representative of your brand. By extension, shaping your culture. For example; Google is all about innovation and they foster and represent this value by having their flexible workspace named, ‘Garage’ on-site.

This space is where employees can work on ideas and make them possible in a collaborative, mobile environment. Everything within the space moves, the desks, the couches, and whiteboards. To allow their portable devices to move without restrictions, they have installed accessible power plugs across the space. These simple changes, adding wheels, power plugs everywhere make all the difference and give what employees want, flexibility. 

 

Physical Space

Your company’s physical environment affects employees. In fact, 61% of employees value an aesthetically pleasing work space. Therefore, the work environment you offer – matters. The pandemic has made this even more essential. With companies adopting flexible working arrangements, it’s now more important than ever to create an environment that is conducive to work productivity. 

As argued by Jacob Morgan, the work environment is a symbol of your company. The space achieves much more than just being pretty – it shapes the way your employees communicate, how they collaborate and how they work.

Now more than ever, employees want flexibility, and I don’t just mean hybrid work. There is also a need for in-office flexibility. There are multiple work styles; in fact, a study conducted by Leesman,  found 21 of them! Some prefer to be solely at their desk all day, and some are more mobile – to varying degrees. 

Again, we are seeing a pattern where flexible work is becoming the norm in all senses of the word. People want flexibility – it doesn’t necessarily mean working abroad; it can be as simple as having options in your office. A change in environment doesn’t need to be drastic; it just needs to be possible. 

 

Three Benefits Of Employee Experience

 

 

1. Attract High Quality Candidates

Three words: candidate driven market. There are more employers than employees, which puts companies at a disadvantage in attaining top talent. You want to be the company that candidates will fight for. Brands are extremely important; they are your company’s personality and the brand is the image that you represent. When talking about companies that candidates fight for, a number of brands come to mind.

A brand that many people would think of is Google. Scrolling on LinkedIn, you would be remiss to not at least notice a number of posts showing new Google employees taking pictures of their ‘Noogler hats’ received in the mail. Accompanied with the image are heartfelt paragraphs explaining their dream to work at Google – so where on Earth did that dream come from? It came from employee experience. 

As humans, we want to work in places that appreciate us. That’s why we have websites like Glassdoor, with the U.S. version having an estimated 50 million unique visits a month. Forum platforms like Reddit see users discuss their company experiences and compare their hiring process. In fact, a study found 50% of job seekers in the U.S. read workplace reviews before applying. Employee experience has a knock-on effect; hell hath no fury like an employee scorned. By not paying attention to employee experience, you could be completely cutting yourself off from good potential candidates. 

 

2. Decrease Turnover

Turnover costs a business. It’s cheaper to keep an employee than it is to lose one. A good employee experience is a tool to prevent turnover. In fact, a study conducted by BetterUp found that workers with high employee experience have 37% lower turnover intentions.  Turnover is a serious issue that in today’s candidate market is not something your company can risk. 

As mentioned earlier, employee experience is part of every process in the employee life cycle. On-boarding is an especially important time for employees. On-boarding is your first in-office introduction and provides new hires insight into your work culture, your values, and your brand.

A negative experience can severely damage the employer – employee relationship almost instantly. In fact, a study found that a negative on-boarding experience would make a new hire two times more likely to explore new opportunities. On the other hand, the study found that employees that had a positive on-boarding experience would be 69% more likely to stay at the company for at least three years

 

3. Increase Business Productivity And By Extension, Success

While it is usually hard to quantify qualitative measures such as employee experience, there is in fact evidence that supports this correlation. A Glassdoor study which measured Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work on the stock market found a connection between a workplace with a good culture (which is a third of employee experience) and higher stock returns. They had discovered that in the majority of cases, Best Places to Work winners were more likely to outperform their peers on the stock market. 

An increase in productivity has also been demonstrated in happy and engaged employees. This was achieved through well-being, which is at the heart of employee experience. In addition, happy employees create happy customers. Positive customer relations has a wealth of benefits including; building customer loyalty, increasing profits, encouraging customer recommendations, improving brand image, and increasing conversions.

In fact, a report by Glance found that 78% of customers who have had a negative experience have backed out of purchases. When coupled with the finding that 91% of unhappy customers are not willing to do business with the company again, this proves the importance of employee experience in fostering good customer relations.

 

The employee experience work era is here. And for now, it’s here to stay. Employee experience, like many other practices, is easier said than done. However, it is a necessary component of the workplace. 

Employees will not work at companies that don’t prioritise employee experience. The cultural, technological and physical spaces that shape and guide your workplace matter. They are a reflection of your brand. As more companies tackle these initiatives, and subsequently improve their employee experience, you will find yourself losing out on attaining great talent, if you don’t make changes.

While many would think employee experience is all about happiness – it’s not. It’s all about flexibility. With flexibility, comes happiness. Happiness is not the goal; rather, it’s a result that occurs in achieving the goal for flexibility.

Employee experience matters because as a company you simply cannot afford to not care about it. 

We are in a new era of work. We need to adapt, or we will be left behind. 

 

About the Author:

Passionate for the written word you are always guaranteed to find Alex either hunched over a laptop with a coffee, reading a book, or writing in her notebook. Paper and post-it's cover her desk - just the way she likes it. She is a staunch advocate for physical books in the book vs e-book debate and won't be convinced otherwise. You would probably find Alex's Desk in the thesaurus as a synonym for Organised Chaos.
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