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Employee Experience: What It Is And How To Improve It

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From the moment someone applies for a job, to the moment they send their resignation letter to leave the company, they’ll experience plenty of connections and moments that determine their employee experience.

Employee experience (EX) is not far from customer experience (CX). Just as a stellar CX drives loyalty and revenue, an excellent EX attracts top employees and increases employee engagement, commitment, and productivity.

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Many employers know how important it is to improve the EX to adapt to a post-covid reality and to reduce employee turnover and address employee engagement challenges. But there’s still work to do in employee experience to ensure it becomes a critical part of every business’ strategy.

What is employee experience?

In short, employee experience includes all of the touchpoints people come across when they work for an organization. This includes hiring, onboarding, performance management, and day-to-day interactions.

Improving the EX is a top priority for employers. However, few have developed an EX strategy that tackles all of the challenges of working in a post-pandemic world. An article by the Harvard Business Review points out that 4 million Americans quit their jobs in July 2021 alone, and resignations have been abnormally high for the last several months.

As a result, 92% of companies say they will prioritize EX enhancements over the next three years in an effort to prevent further resignations. This figure is up from 52% before the pandemic.

Why Employee Experience Matters

The employee experience is the bread and butter of business performance. When you focus on creating an environment where employees can thrive before, during, and after their tenure, you’re essentially building a solid brand and improving your product.

EX is made of all the experiences, positive and negative, that people go through while working. These touchpoints influence how people cooperate, how much effort they put out, and whether they want to challenge themselves to succeed at work.

From an organization’s point of view, creating a better EX is a business imperative. One of Deloitte’s studies concluded that organizations with highly engaged workforces reported a three-year revenue growth rate that was 2.3 times greater than the average.

If you can offer an excellent experience for your teams, you’ll have a higher chance of retaining them in the long run. Research from Jacob Morgan suggests that companies that invest in employee experience are 4x more profitable than those that do not.

Milestones Of The Employee Experience

When thinking about the employee experience, picture a continuous circle: attraction, onboarding, engaging and developing, and exiting.

Here’s an overview of employee experience areas based on what a person learns, does, sees, and feels at each stage.

Attraction and Recruitment

The attraction phase of employee experience is crucial because it determines the first impression potential employees have. Things like the job description style (super formal, or more casual?), how long it takes to respond to candidates (or if you do at all!), and how smooth the interview process is all impact the quality of hires.

The candidate recruitment phase is also an opportunity to ensure people become advocates for your organization, even if they do not join your organization. A bad experience in this phase can damage your brand’s reputation.

Onboarding

The onboarding phase is your chance to impress and set your employee up for success long-term. This stage is about getting an employee up-to-speed as soon as possible and about sharing your company’s culture and vision. Of course, onboarding remote employees comes with its own set of challenges, so make sure you’ve prepared.

Engage and Develop

Now that hires know your company’s processes, tools, and systems, great EX creates a space for them to thrive. By fostering an environment where constructive feedback, commitment, and motivation are a part of the day-to-day, you’ll have a higher chance of retaining top talent.

The cost of replacing an individual employee can range from one-half to two times the employee’s annual salary, so you want to avoid people leaving as much as possible. During their tenure at a company, it’s crucial to offer employees the chance to grow with the role. In practice, that means, for example, offering training opportunities so that employees keep on being challenged.

Exit

Even with a great employee experience in place, you have to accept that most employees eventually change companies. They can retire, make a career change, or simply switch employers.

Don’t miss your chance to learn from exiting employees. The fact that they are on the way out typically means they’ll be sincere. It’s a precious opportunity to gather feedback you can then use to improve the retention stage.

How To Improve Your Employee Experience

By mapping the employee experience from start to finish, you can spot the areas that need more attention. You don’t need to focus on them all at once. Instead, prioritize the low-hanging fruit first.

Follow these tips to create a great employee experience:

1. Start with the priorities.

While you might be tempted to start with various projects simultaneously, it’s more efficient to think about which stage you want to focus on. By determining what’s essential for you as a company, you’ll be more efficient at improving the areas that will have the most impact first. For example, a company might focus on improving the onboarding process during hyper-growth. Use employee surveys to uncover possible areas of improvement.

Foster a healthy culture.

Company culture is a significant component for acquiring and retaining top employees. Needless to say, when you foster good company culture, you’ll have happier employees – and this, in turn, leads to more successful businesses.

A culture that attracts high talent can lead to 33% higher revenue. Ensuring a routine of giving and receiving constructive feedback is part of healthy company culture.

Design a great onboarding experience.

A stellar onboarding is crucial to get that new hire up to speed as soon as possible and increase the chance of them staying at the company. Studies have found that up to 20% of all new hires resign within the first 45 days of their role.

Make sure you create an onboarding process that focuses on giving employees the tools they need to work, including access to software, and clarifies the expectations on their first weeks and months. A great way to get people excited about your brand during this phase is to send them employee swag they can use, like hoodies or water bottles.

Invest in employee wellness.

A wellness strategy contributes to making employees happier, which improves your company’s performance. Having happy and healthy employees enhances productivity, lowers healthcare costs, and less turnover. While it can sound expensive, it doesn’t need to be. For example, you can offer wellness benefits such as flexible hours or organize lunchtime yoga sessions.

Offer career development schemes.

Career development is a win-win. A career development plan pays attention to the employee’s specific needs for growth and learning and offers the assistance they need to get there. Offering a training budget can be part of a career development plan.

On the one hand, you’re giving employees the tools they need to get even better at their job. On the other hand, they can learn new skills that make them more competitive in the job market. By offering employees the chance to improve, you demonstrate that you want them to grow personally and professionally.

Improving Employee Engagement With EX

The employee experience encapsulates all of the moments people go through during their work at an organization. Businesses that develop an EX strategy are more successful as it fosters engaged employees. This, in turn, means more revenue.

For your organization to master employee experience management, you need to listen to what employees say during each of those touchpoints of the employee lifecycle, paying particular attention to the areas they consider most important.

Fostering a great culture, developing an onboarding strategy, and listening to what employees on their way out have to say, are all part of a well-rounded EX strategy.

Sure, congratulating people on their birthday alone won’t improve the employee experience. However, this little gesture as part of a broader culture of recognizing the small things can mean a lot for employees.

For example, consider spending time during all-hands meetings to announce work anniversaries and promotions. Then, every person involved has the chance to speak to the entire company. This accessible approach sends a powerful message: everyone in the company matters. What better experience is there?

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Originally published Jan 19, 2022 7:00:00 AM, updated January 19 2022

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