Employee experience is a tough nut to crack; mainly because it deals with human perception, and human perception is a fickle, mercurial, capricious thing. It’s slippery and changeable and mirage-like because it concerns personal points of view. One thing can mean a hundred different things to a hundred different people after all.
Take the apple. For Newton it was a bolt of inspiration; for Wilhelm Tell and Sleeping Beauty it caused a fair amount of anxiety; for Steve Jobs it turned out to be a goldmine. Sure, some of those people are entirely fictitious, but you get what we mean. Different folks, different strokes. The apple is neither inherently bad nor inherently good - it all depends on how it is viewed and by whom.
The same goes for the way an employee perceives their experience at your company. Business leaders who place value in their employment brand understand that the future of work depends on nimble HR departments that have the ability to drive employee engagement throughout the employee life cycle. A major part of this hinges on knowing when you need to address a component of an employee’s overall experience, and not just because you want to be nice - because it actually impacts on business performance! Want to find out more about the financial impact of positive employee experience? Check out this paper by IBM Smarter Workforce Institute.
Feeling a little overwhelmed?
No problem. We’ve got you. Let’s eat this crazy employee experience elephant bite by bite, shall we?
We’ve taken the time to boil down the countless variables that play a role in day-to-day culture and engagement, so it’s simpler to get a handle on the whole thing.
Here you go:
The simplest way to look at employee experience is a three way breakdown...
1. Perception (over a long time, about a whole lot of things)
One of the definitions of 'employee experience' you are likely to find on the web is 'a set of perceptions that employees have about their experiences at work in response to their interactions with the organisation.' It's the feeling component of the whole thing and it changes from one day to the next, based on countless variables.
This ranges from gridlock traffic and comfortable work chairs, to overbooked schedules, supportive supervisors, the ability to work on your own device, having to deal with a printer that is constantly on the fritz, fresh air and natural light, and the frustrations of Windows XP (uuurgh). When an employee's experience is more positive than negative, they are more connected with their team and far more likely to go the extra mile. When things are leaning to the negative side, engagement suffers immediately.
2. The cultural, physical & tech landscape
Next up, we have the space in which your employees work, which includes three components:
- The cultural space refers to the general vibe in your office. It hinges on a variety of factors that include leadership, hierarchy and company structure.
- The physical space refers to, well, physical stuff. Chairs, tables, boardroom space, clean loos, a comfortable area to enjoy lunch, clean air, good light, etc. It also includes the ability for remote workers to dial in and keep up with the goings-on at the office without too much hassle (i.e. dedicated Zoom links).
- The technological space refers to the tech landscape an employee has to navigate in order to get their work done. If all the tools your workers have to use to get briefed, complete their work and receive feedback work in harmony, their employee experience will be good. When they feel overwhelmed by too many platforms, or find a given platform clunky to work with, employee experience will suffer.
HR impact at various stages of the employee life cycle
We're at a crucial point in time where it's important to realise that conventional HR functions have to be adapted. Employee experience is directly linked to first-line customer experience, so someone (or some department) has to keep track of your company's human capital and how they're doing. The simple fact of the matter is that happy employees are a positive billboard for your business, and unhappy employees, well, they're really not. They’re a peeling billboard with Comic Sans font in a dicey part of town.
So, when should HR get involved?
The simple answer is all the time. It is the role of your company’s HR professionals to:
- INSTRUCT during pre-boarding, orientation and initial training.
- INSPIRE throughout service delivery and learning and development.
- INFORM as a part of engagement initiatives and internal communication drives.
- INCENTIVISE by means of recognition and reward.
- INVOLVE by means of feedback and reviews.
So there you have it - a simple, fuss-free breakdown of the whole employee experience shebang.
Next time you feel overwhelmed by the notion of having to keep track of all the moments that matter for your top talent, just remember you’re dealing with employee perceptions; cultural, physical and technological factors; and the all-important correlation between positive employee experience at the hand of focussed HR impact and that elusive why-yes-I'll-stick-around-for-this customer experience. This will make it much easier to devise workable strategies that suit your particular business and group of employees.
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