The employee experience has gained widespread popularity over the years, and for good reason. Disengaged employees are expensive.
Gallup’s 2021 State of the Workplace Report highlights that a lack of employee engagement costs the global economy US$8.1 trillion, nearly 10% of the global GDP, in lost productivity each year!
With figures like that, it should come as no surprise that organisations across the globe are shining a spotlight on their own employees’ experiences and how these can be managed.
That spotlight shone brightest during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Most employees’ workspaces, and ultimately their employee experience, fundamentally changed during the pandemic.
For some, it proved that their job could be done efficiently from the comfort and safety of their own homes. Whilst other employees specifically working within the mining, medical, food and beverage, and correctional services sectors, to name a few, were forced to adjust to a new way of working. To highlight the vast differences in employee experience, consider that:
- In the second quarter of 2020, one study estimated that the percentage of employees working from home was only 17.4% of the global workforce. The study concluded that the higher the country’s income, the higher the percentage of work-from-home employees there were.
- The remaining balance of employees in a post lockdown world would be frontline workers; this figure is estimated at a staggering 2.7 billion people of the global working population. Employees who are part of this group and have not been retrenched have not only had to adjust to a new way of working but experienced a shift in their employee experience too.
The shift in employee experience for frontline workers during the pandemic has forced organisational development managers and human resources departments to focus their efforts on finding new ways of working and engaging with these employees.
What is the Employee Experience (EX)?
Before getting started, let’s define Employee Experience.
Jacob Morgan, author, speaker and futurist who explores leadership, the future of work, and employee experience, defines it as:
“The sum of all interactions that take place between the employee and the organisation”.
He goes on to say that three categories influence an employee’s experience with an organisation: the physical environment, the culture, and the tools and technology provided by an organisation.
The fundamentals of an employee experience management strategy need to touch on each of these categories to be effective. This blog will look at five core elements to ensure that an EX strategy effectively retains and engages employees.
Investing in the employee experience is proven to drive key business outcomes, such as increased profitability.
In his book, The Employee Experience Advantage, Jacob Morgan assessed the impact of employee experience across 250 diverse organisations.
The results indicated that companies who invest in Employee Experience (EX) are four times more profitable than those that don’t.
Therefore, it is essential that the objectives of the EX strategy align with the organisation’s broader strategic goals. The SMART goal setting methodology is a valuable technique to setting Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-specific goals.
For example, your objectives could look something like this:
- Reduce employee turnover by 12% by the end of Q4, 2021.
- Increase employee productivity by 5% by the end of Q3, 2022
Setting strong objectives upfront allows the organisation to understand what metrics are essential to tracking progress and strategic success.
2. Employee analysis
To understand how employees experience the organisation, data needs to be collected.
You can use a range of tools or techniques for this, including:
- employee feedback surveys through good employee engagement software;
- face to face question and answer sessions or;
- have fishbowl discussions about topics that matter most to your employees.
Once you have this employee data, you can begin to uncover trends over time.
3. Create an employee journey map
The purpose of this map is to gain insights into every touchpoint an employee has with the organisation. An employee map could look something like this:
Onboarding > Learning and Development > Performance > Retention > Offboarding
This journey map should highlight areas of the organisation that employees experience either positively or negatively.
For example, in mining, consider the importance of health and safety regulations which are always accompanied by training and are frequently updated. A journey map might reveal that mineworkers are struggling with the repetitive nature of this training which, in turn, is reducing its effectiveness.
This level of insight then allows you to research learning systems and solutions that can be implemented to overcome this in order to ensure that the training has more impact. By removing areas of friction, your organisation can create a more streamlined and engaged workplace.
4. Tailor your employee experience strategy
The workplace is complex; you can never deploy a one-size-fits-all approach and hope to achieve maximum results.
There needs to be a balance between the employee’s needs and, of course, the organisational needs. Following the example above, a tailored experience could look like this:
In the mining sector, COVID-19 screenings needed to be completed before entering the workplace; this resulted in queues that were hours long, ultimately resulting in lost employee productivity.
In order to decrease these inefficiencies and improve the employee experience, many mining companies embarked on creating a mobile application where employees completed a COVID-19 assessment digitally before going into work. The result was reduced worker frustration and increased productivity. It also reduced the risk of bringing COVID-19 into the workplace and resultant work stoppages since the digital assessments granted or denied employees access to the site depending on the results of the questions answered.
A solution like this balanced both the needs of the employees and the organisation.
5. Measure and optimise
A vital component of any strategic activity is to measure your progress. Incorporating quarterly reporting sessions can help ensure you’re on track towards achieving the strategic objectives set out.
Building a great employee experience is an ongoing process that requires frequent optimisation to help you achieve a more productive and engaged workforce.
Whilst the need for effective employee experience management has undoubtedly gained widespread attention in the past few years, its central importance has come to the fore in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Businesses need to adapt to the “new normal” and leverage the technology available to ensure their employee experience is aligned with the objectives and goals of both the employee and the organisation.
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