Three Strategies To Optimize The Employee Experience

Three Strategies To Optimize The Employee Experience

Sound Business Decisions Center On The Employee

The concept of employee experience (EX) has emerged as a critical metric to organizational performance. Gallup defines employee experience as “the journey an employee takes within your organization. This journey includes every interaction between the employee and the organization including the experiences around the employee’s role, workplace, management, and overall well-being.” Additionally, Gartner in collaboration with Harvard Business Review, defines EX as “how employees internalize and interpret the interactions they have with and within their organization and the contexts that influence those interactions [1].” In practical terms, organizations that invest in the “E ” of EX focus on making the employee experience easy, personalized, seamless, consistent, and empowering.

Employee experience has emerged as a critical metric for organizational performance. Specifically, Gartner and Harvard Business Review research shows that organizations offering meaningful employee experiences are 48% more likely to meet customer satisfaction goals, 89% more likely to be innovative, and 56% more likely to have a stronger brand and reputation [1]. In this article, we present three tried-and-tested strategies to optimize the employee experience by strengthening the sense of purpose, designing processes with the employee in mind, and cultivating a learning culture.

Strengthen The Sense Of Purpose

The first strategy to strengthen the employee experience is to bolster the sense of purpose. As work continues to occur digitally, organizations struggle to connect the dots between the vision, mission, organizational strategy, and day-to-day operations, which creates a lack of purpose. Most organizations are still operating with their pre-pandemic vision and mission. However, as we know, the pandemic has changed everything including how we live, work, learn, and develop and deliver products and services. Today, pre-pandemic organizational vision and mission statements are out of context and no longer offer a clear sense of purpose. According to Gartner and Harvard Business Review research, a sense of purpose is the number one driver of the employee experience [1].

1. Revise The Organizational Vision And Mission

It is essential and worthwhile for organizations to review their vision and mission to ensure that it reflects their customers’ needs and provides their employees with a sense of purpose. To do this organizations must engage employees at all levels, and not just the leadership. Solely tasking leaders to develop the vision and mission in closed-door strategy meetings as was done pre-pandemic is no longer adequate. It does not engender a strong sense of purpose in employees. Research by Gartner shows that when employees are involved in developing the vision and mission of the organization, they feel more engaged, have a stronger sense of purpose, and feel more empowered to go the extra mile to develop and deliver solutions for customers.

To reimagine the organizational vision and mission, organizations need to invite employees in online design thinking sessions, chats, discussions, and to plan efforts to reimagine the “why” of the organization together. These sessions can be facilitated by leadership and employee tag teams, and communicated and shared widely across the organization via articles, blogs, leadership messages, and team learning sessions.

2. Listen To Employees’ Needs And Wants

To engage employees in today’s primarily digital workplace, organizations must listen to their employees throughout their lifecycle through onboarding interviews, engagement surveys, listening circles, and stay interviews, among others. Early employee engagement encourages employees to provide input about the challenges they see in the business, opportunities to serve the customer, and new ideas to solve problems. Such an arrangement encourages employees to share diverse perspectives and makes them feel heard and that their opinions are valued, critical drivers of the employee experience. As a result, the organization’s “why” is no longer created in a vacuum and void of context, but provides employees a sense of purpose and belonging and becomes part of their employee experience.

Design Processes With The Employee In Mind

The second strategy to optimize the EX is to zero in on the employees by understanding them better, redesigning processes around them, and empowering managers to flex to support them better. Pre-pandemic, organizations struggled to engage employees, which resulted in high employee disengagement costs, estimated by Linkedin to be to the tune of 34% of the disengaged employee’s salary.

Employee disengagement is both a result and a driver of ineffective organizational culture. Today, two years into the pandemic and the digital workplace, employee engagement challenges not only remain but are amplified. Future of Work 2022 trends research conducted by Korn Ferry informs us of tactics organizations can use to focus on amplifying the employee experience, including [2]:

1. Building An In-Depth Understanding Of Employees By Focusing On Values

While employee personas were previously structured around demographics, including age, generation, gender, and geographic location, today’s digital workplace dictates a values-driven personas model of approach. Values can include a sense of purpose, career advancement goals, learning opportunities, a sense of belonging, and personal and financial well-being.

2. Redesigning Processes With The Employee And Manager At The Center

While pre-pandemic policies and procedures were vastly bureaucratic, the digital workplace requires a more straightforward and transparent process easily implementable online by the employee.

3. Empowering Managers To Flex

Managers are on the front lines for impacting the daily employee experience. As such, managers need the skills, motivation, and tools to flex in the digital workplace and make sound business decisions that are also employee-centered. Just as organizations have focused over the last few years on the User Experience (UX), now organizations must reimagine how they engage employees by redesigning the employee experience (EX).

Encourage A Culture Of Learning

Employees learn together, grow together, and stay together in the organization. Based on research published by the Association of Talent Development, organizations can build a culture of learning with three tactics:

1. Foster Peer-To-Peer Learning

Organizations can foster peer-to-peer learning by allowing ideas from employees across all ranks to be heard. Online team learning sessions, where employees present their ideas and learning to peers, have proven beneficial in strengthening the learning culture. Employees feel compelled to learn more in order to share their learning; they also feel heard and valued for their contribution to team improvement. The sentiment of inclusion and belonging strengthens the employee experience.

2. Flatten Communication Structures

While pre-pandemic communication in many organizations was largely siloed, today the digital workplace has flattened communication structures amongst leaders and employees. In many organizations today, leaders hold weekly or monthly digital town hall meetings and get to hear more from more employees than they ever did pre-pandemic. Digital platforms, where work takes place daily, offer chat capabilities that cut down on formality and allow employees to contact one another immediately and directly, to ask questions, share ideas, and problem-solve together. Free movement of ideas and learning enhances the employee experience and further fosters innovation, which improves business performance outcomes for the organization.

3. Offer A Lifelong Learning Stipend

Several organizations offer monthly, quarterly, or annual learning stipends which employees can use to learn what is best for them in whatever format works best for them, including books, online courses, conferences, coaching, and training. Learning stipends are flexible, allowing employees to vary and personalize their learning as their needs change. Research shows that learning stipends enhance employee agency to select the best choice for themselves, increasing learning. An organization that continues to learn is an organization that continues to evolve and thrive. Additionally, learning stipend usage data show that because employees get to pick what they like and need to learn, they feel trusted and valued by their organization, increasing employee engagement and improving the employee experience.

Conclusion

The employee experience is critical to the employees, their well-being, and the organization and its performance. Adopting and adapting some of these strategies and tactics to your organization can help you drive the employee experience and positively impact innovation trends, branding, and customer net promoter scores, all of which drive the bottom line of your organization.

References:

[1] The Modern Employee Experience: Increasing the Returns on Employee Experience Investments

[2] The 7 areas dominating future of work trends in 2022



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