Attention to the employee experience is currently on the rise for many organizations. Not to be confused with employee engagement, which revolves around building the connection between employees and employers, their products, and their company culture, employee experience pertains to what people encounter, perceive, feel, and see—every interaction they have—throughout their time as an employee.
With the average time an employee stays at one job sitting at the lowest rate it has been in years, the importance of providing a positive employee experience has never been greater, especially if employers want to hold on to valued employees.
So with that in mind, here are some ways your organization can deliver a better experience for all your employees.
1. Nail the first day
This one’s a biggie because the first impression someone has as an actual employee can greatly impact how their employee experience takes shape.
Imagine if you will...you’re a new hire excited and anxious to start your first day. You get to your new workplace and go to check in with the woman at Reception. From behind the counter, her warm face looks up at you with bright eyes and a friendly smile…that quickly fade under a furrowed brow once you tell her it’s your first day. She just got back from two weeks in Tahiti and had been given no indication that someone new was hired, let alone starting that very day. After some frustrated keyboard tapping and a few minutes of uneasy glances and half-smiles, someone comes out to greet you (not by name, nor does he offer his).
You follow your mystery guide on a maze-like route until you reach a room with about a half-dozen screen-focused individuals (who also apparently need no introduction). He motions you to an empty chair in the corner next to a small table that you’re 100% sure was recently serving as a plant stand (namely because of the soil on its surface and the large potted fern on the floor next to it). With slight confusion and more than a few questions to ask, you turn back around—but your escort is gone, vanished like a magician’s assistant. It’s just you, a room of strangers, and a fern.
How’s your employee experience so far?
Do NOT let this be the kind of thing that happens to your new hires. Let Reception know when someone new is starting and who they should report to, have a workstation ready and waiting for them, and present them with a welcome card or a company mug. It may seem unnecessary, even frivolous, but it’s not. Those gestures will let new hires know they’re valued and that they belong, and that’s a great set-up for a positive employee experience.
2. Remember the scope of the employee experience
This one is more of a guideline, but one that will ensure you’re always considering the employee experience. You need be aware that the employee experience is something that’s ongoing. It’s not something you only focus on during onboarding or once a year when the employee surveys are sent out.
As the previous point illustrated, the employee experience begins even before a new hire officially starts their first day on the job. It begins the moment a potential new hire arrives for an interview and continues right up to the day they exit the company. The employee experience grows and evolves on a day-to-day basis, not just at designated checkpoints on the calendar year.
3. Put someone in charge
The most effective way to avoid the above scenario and make sure the employee experience is always at forefront? Hire an Employee Experience Specialist to oversee it all.
Recent years have seen a growth in the number of manager-level professionals with “Employee Experience” in their titles. Why not follow suit and put someone in charge of curating, crafting, and charting the experience, engagement, and journey of your employees? Someone whose mission includes ensuring everyone is aware of the role they each play in how others experience their day?
Reassess the roles and responsibilities of your current managers and see if it makes sense to, say, fold in employee experience-related responsibilities to your Customer Experience Manager’s role (spoiler: it will make sense, because satisfying customers and employees go hand-in-hand).
4. Open up your workplace
No, this doesn’t mean we expect you to start knocking down walls and putting in skylights (although that could be a nice touch); this is more about creating the freedom to move about in the workplace. Make it a place where people aren’t just confined to their desks. Give employees a variety of places to do what they do by adding couches, collaboration spaces, or open-use desks (which in turn, can help break down imaginary barriers between departments, open up lines of communication, and encourage meaningful interactions).
Investing in a modern intranet can take that workplace freedom even further, by enabling your employees to be remote but still work, communicate, and collaborate with others just as easily as if they were actually on-site.
5. Focus on employee development
As an employer, any way that you can show that you’re concerned about more than just how your employees can serve your organization is always a plus.
Contribute to a better employee experience by providing ways for your employees to develop themselves—not just in terms of work skills but in ways that focus on personal growth or well-being. Bring in guest speakers, hold seminars, offer training classes, or provide counselling. Invest in the nurturing of your employees and you’ll see the positive results as they grow professionally and personally.
6. Provide the proper tools and tech
Do you notice employees nodding off while they’re waiting for their computers to boot up? Are you still using a fax machine, and do the hallway lights flicker every time you press “Send”? Are there so many pillows, cushions, and rolled up blankets piled on your employees’ chairs that it makes you wonder if they’re having secret slumber parties and not inviting you? (If you answered “yes” to all three, then...YIKES, that’s not good.)
What these and similar signs are telling you is that you’re not giving your employees the proper tools and latest tech they need to do their jobs effectively. Squandering their time with slow-loading devices and software or sacrificing their spines with rigid, uncomfy chairs are the type of day-to-day annoyances that make the whole idea of showing up for work a chore and a pain (literally). Left unresolved, they’ll easily nudge an employee’s experience towards a downward trajectory. So before that happens, think about investing in some upgraded workstations and maybe committing to only using hardware manufactured in the current century.
7. Don’t forget the small things!
That broken storage room light switch, the endless wait for the microwave in the break room, the always-empty soap dispensers, the ongoing scavenger hunt for batteries.
These are all simple problems that so often go neglected because they are so simple. But that doesn’t make them unimportant. They’re just the type of things that, when piled on top of each other, lead to frustration in the workplace and contribute to a negative employee experience.
On the plus side, being simple problems means they have simple solutions, and I’ll share those with you right now: Fix stuff that gets broken, add more appliances as needed, keep consumables topped up, and organize your office supplies. You’re welcome.
Obviously, there are many more ways to deliver a better employee experience than what we have here, but with this list we wanted to show a range of ways, from big to small, of things that you can do that can have a positive impact. The main thing to remember is that no matter what you choose to do to improve your employee experience, keep doing it and never stop.