Employee experience isn’t something employers necessarily think of in any tangible way. That’s probably because it’s actually quite an intangible element in the workplace and it feels a bit outside of our control. Having worked through the pandemic, this notion of not being able to control employee experience is on everyone’s mind. But at its root, employee experience is a holistic concept that is influenced by a variety of culture elements that either work together to enhance the employee experience or are disconnected and don’t have the impact you want. Ultimately it focuses on allowing people to thrive at work and in their personal lives and that means focusing on people first.
People are at the heart of how you do business and achieve success – when you put them first, they will be more engaged, more passionate, and better equipped to do great work. By focusing on how your people experience work everyday you form a better understanding of what is important to them and you can dedicate resources to making improvements that have the most impact.
Every day your people interact with people, technology, managers, customers and more and these interactions all contribute to a broad employee experience. By intentionally shaping these day-to-day interactions you can create a positive experience that allows people to shine. It starts with one simple question:
How do you want your employees to feel every day at work?
Universally, employees want to feel respected, appreciated and cared for. Using those as your foundation for building a positive employee experience, here are some areas to focus on.
- Provide autonomy – allow people to work independently without being micromanaged. Provide them the freedom to make decisions, take risks, and work on projects that are exciting and interesting.
- Allow mistakes – let your people know that honest mistakes happen and you’re ok with that. Acknowledge that mistakes often provide the best lessons for improvement and support this as part of their development.
- Encourage honest conversation – insist on open communication channels, share information, allow honest feedback without repercussions and close the feedback loops to ensure people know you are listening.
- Provide the right tools – nothing is more frustrating than not having the right tools and technology to do the job. Investing in this aspect of the workplace makes everyone’s work easier and frees up energy to be the most productive.
- Listen – use a variety of surveys and analytics to listen to what people are saying, learn how they are feeling, and understand what they want and need. Then respond and make changes as necessary to keep employee experience vibrant and invigorating.
- Invest in a meaningful mission and purpose – people want to work for companies they respect as well as those that respect them. Hone in on your purpose, allow your people to connect with it, and recognize that by solving important problems, acting ethically and responsibly as you provide products and services, and investing in communities, your people will work hard to achieve your vision and profits will follow.
- Appreciate differences – ensure people from all over the organization know their opinion matters. Think too about employees in different places on the career journey. From recruiting and onboarding, to mid career and retirement, make sure all employees have a great experience that they will talk about.
- Provide flexibility – recognize that people have a wide range of responsibilities and interests that all compete for time and energy. The more flexible and accommodating you can be, the better the employee experience will be for everyone.
- Say thank you – it’s simple and powerful. When your people are given sincere thanks they feel good about themselves and their contribution and it motivates them to achieve more.
- Provide development opportunities – people desire progress. They want to know they are moving forward so allow them ample opportunity to learn new skills, work on challenging assignments, and achieve their career goals with your support.
- Ensure people have enough time off - work can be tedious, stressful and overwhelming and a break is often the best cure. Along with flexibility make sure people are using their vacation time and provide relaxed time at work to promote camaraderie and general connections between people.
- Provide a safe workplace – that means both physically and psychologically. Ensure people are able to speak up in meetings, ask questions, admit mistakes, and share their opinion.
- Be aware of stress and burnout – particularly as more and more people are working from remote locations pay attention to work/life balance issues and encourage and model healthy work habits.
- Examine your benefits – are you providing what your people need at all phases of their career? Consider moving to flexible benefits to accommodate a wide range of needs and be supportive in different ways for different people.
- Double your efforts in inclusion – make sure ALL employees feel welcome and that they ALL experience your culture in a positive way. Think about traditional work categories like gender, race and age as well as types of worker, work tenure, and geographic location.
- Encourage peer support – how we connect with the people we work with is a large component of the employee experience. This social element should be encouraged and nurtured through regular team building, effective communication exercises and good, old-fashioned fun at work.
- Empower managers – the leadership team has a large influence on employee experience so they need to be given the tools, training and support to provide the best experience for their people. Help them to grow in their leadership skills and understand that listening is one the most powerful tools they have when it comes to creating a great employee experience.
Employee experience focuses on the worker – it’s a bottom up concept, where what you provide for every individual worker builds a stronger sense of engagement and satisfaction. The more employers focus on their employees’ experience the better that experience will be because it’s not about the perks you give or the specific programs or processes you use – it’s how you show up, day-to-day and commit to a people-first culture. At its root, it’s about getting clear on what kind of experience you intend to create for your people and then following through to create moments that matter and that make a difference.
About Great Place to Work®
Great Place to Work® is the Global Authority on Workplace Culture. We make it easy to survey your employees, uncover actionable insights and get recognized for your great company culture. Learn more about Great Place to Work Certification.