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Employee Experience: The Ultimate Guide For HRs

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This blog has everything you need to understand and improve the employee experience at work.

You see, the success of a business majorly depends on its workforce.

But to tap into an employee’s potential, it’s vital that they are happy and motivated.

engaged employees shaping the employee experience in the workplace

This is where employee experience comes into play.

Companies nowadays claim to be doing a great job at employee experience. They provide cakes on birthdays or put up quirky banners with fun words. And that's pretty much it.

Jacob Morgan points out a fundamental flaw in this perspective. Businesses have assumed that people need to work with them to pay bills.

But the world is changing fast.

With technology, options like freelancing and content creation are becoming popular. Some people are becoming Uber drivers, while others are making food blogs. On top of it, companies are continuously competing for skilled employees.

In short, there are many alternatives for people to earn money to pay their bills.

So it is not about whether employees are good enough to work at your company. It is about whether your company is good enough for them.

This is the underlying perspective you need while designing a seamless employee experience.

So let's understand some basics.

Chapter 1: What is Meant by Employee Experience?

three employees sitting on a table with laptop and engaging

Employee experience is the combination of all that occurs in an employee's lifecycle. It starts from the day an employee applies for the job and joins until their last working day.

We can summarize employee experience based on four crucial stages in the employee lifecycle:

  1. Recruitment: It’s the first chance to introduce your company culture and establish trust with a potential hire. Whether or not the application process is smooth determines the overall experience.

  2. Onboarding: Here, the candidate gets inducted into the organization. They get an idea of how it is going to be while working on the job. The smoother the onboarding, the better will be their experience.

  3. Development and Retention: The candidate contributes to the company’s growth. They have now become a part of the culture. Their daily routine, work relationships, growth opportunities, learning, etc. impact the experience.

  4. Exit: It includes employees leaving the company till their exit interview.

Thus, employee experience includes everything that an employee learns, feels, and goes through at work. Also, as most businesses think, it isn't about giving out a handsome paycheck. It is more than that.

Employees want to contribute to their organization's success. At the same time, they want something meaningful in return.

Here, it is upon HR leaders to act as the guiding light. This article is all about preparing you for the same.

Chapter 2: Why Do HRs Need to Focus on Employee Experience?

The world of work is changing fast.

Many factors have come up that is forcing HR to start focusing on how employees perceive their work.

Let’s discuss some of these factors.

A male employee explaining why we need to focus on employee experience

Changing Demographics and Their Expectations

statistics regarding the employee experience of the millennial workforce
Source: US Bureau of Labor Statistics

New-age employees or millennials want to do meaningful work. It has to align with their values and beliefs.

Employees nowadays expect a personalized experience. They want companies to appreciate their uniqueness and provide ample scope for development. You need to provide an experience that drives people to do purposeful work.

Rise of Social Media

With social media, employee advocacy is going viral and impacting brand image. Companies are focusing more on their people and their experiences. If done right, it can be a massive competitive advantage.

Volatile Economy

Pandemics, global disruptions, and increasing digitalization are changing the world of work. Regardless of these shifts, your most valuable asset remains your workforce.

Companies are taking a people-centric approach to HR that correlates with business goals. This helps enterprises sustain even in the toughest times.

These are a few things that can impact the work-lives of your people.

Here is our take on the vital factors that shape your employees' experience:

Chapter 3: Core Components of Employee Experience

Day-to-day interactions of a worker shape their experiences in the workplace.

Yet, there are more components that managers need to focus on to attract and keep the top performers.

core components of employee experience explained by a female employee

The components include:

Company Culture

Company culture is something that connects everyone associated with a company.

It defines what it is like to work for a company. It impacts not only your employees' performance but also their level of engagement.

Developing company culture is a pivotal part of creating a great employee experience. It influences how people feel about their jobs and their organization. It also forms a vital aspect behind employee satisfaction, motivation, and engagement.

Physical Work Environment

The second component is the workplace environment. It has a tremendous influence on an employee's workplace experience.

If an employee feels discomfort or struggles at their workplace, then it's not a positive sign. Leaders must pay ample attention to improve the work environment.

A quick suggestion would be to host frequent employee surveys. Surveys will help identify their issues and register your wins.

Adam Zuckerman, the Global Product Leader of Willis Towers Watson, mentioned in his latest podcast the importance of employee surveys for better employee experience.

Make sure what you are asking about is upfront and you are really committed to act on it. And if you are not commited don’t ask about it. Make sure all the key stakeholders are onboard and once you get the survey information, make sure you share it with your employees quickly, review it in a thoughtful manner and prioritize the few which are critical and deploy resources against those priorities. Just one and two implementations can bring wonders to the organization.
– Adam Zuckerman

Listen to his podcast here. Follow him on LinkedIn.

The aspect of the work environment is no longer limited to office spaces. Millions of professionals are now working from home. You can plan to assist them to elevate their work experience.

Need help in engaging your remote employees? We are here to help! Click to get in touch with us.

Workplace Technology

From typewriters to touchscreen, the world of technology has come a long way. This is especially true in the business world, with the internet being the prime catalyst.

The internet has changed the ways businesses communicate. Employees can now work remotely. It has transformed the work culture to become more efficient.

Modern-day employees cannot imagine a workplace without the touch of technology. It is imperative for their productivity. If they lack access to the necessary tools required for the job, they will contribute less. This impacts their overall experience working for you.

To know more about the influence of technology, you can listen to Ashish Mediratta. He shared his views on "How AI is shaping HR and Employee Experience?" in our Vantage HR Influencers Podcast series.

Chapter 4: Employee Experience Vs. Employee Engagement

Employee experience and employee engagement are often confused for each other.

Although they are related terms, but they are distinct in nature.

So if you think Employee Experience (EX) and Employee Engagement to be the same, then it’s time to revise. Let's clarify.

comparing employee experience and employee engagement at the workplace

Here are the differences between employee experience and employee engagement:

the main differences between employee experience and employee engagement

Employee experience is the input, while employee engagement is the output.

Employee experience is the input a company puts to get better engagement. To achieve good results from employees, you need to treat them well. If higher employee engagement is the goal, improving EX is the way to accomplish that goal.

Employee experience is a bottom-up concept, while employee engagement is top-down.

A good employee experience will address all the needs of the employee. It’s about making their workdays better. It will provide employees with the right tools, technology, and work environment. The people around the employee also have a significant role in shaping their experience.

But employee engagement is something that leaders want from their employees. They want employees to be more involved, more committed. So they take steps to make sure employees feel valued and give better results in the long-term.

Employee experience focuses on the worker, while employee engagement focuses on the workplace.

Employee experience is an employee-oriented way of thinking. But employee engagement is about the business, the workplace, and its overall productivity.

Employee experience depicts how employees feel about the company. It keeps the employee lifecycle at the center of its strategy. A strong EX includes transparency, technology, recognition, collaboration opportunities, and diversity. All these will ultimately lead to the workforce getting more involved in their work.

Employee experience and employee engagement both matter. And it requires good leadership to ensure both great experience and engagement levels.

Chapter 5: Employee Experience and Customer Experience

If you run a business, you understand the importance of customer experience.

Your customers drive your business. But who drives these customers towards your business?

Your employees.

male employee sitting on bean bag with laptop engaging with female employee over internet

Employees are a company’s most important asset. They interact and deal with customers, and are entrusted with delivering customer experience. So how you treat your employees has a direct impact on your customer experience.

Employees' level of engagement defines their ability to attend to customers' problems. When employees get a good experience, they engage more in their work. They are enthusiastic about solving customer problems. This can have a direct impact on retaining customers, building brand value, and outperforming competitors.

But a poor employee experience can lead to disengagement. It affects performance, absenteeism, and ultimately, ravages customer experience.

Impact of Employee Experience on Customer Experience

  • Engaged employees provide better and hassle-free customer service.
  • They are most often enthusiastic and confident, so they want to solve customer issues.
  • Engaged employees bring positive energy to customer interaction. They listen and attend to customers' concerns, be more respectful, and treat them well.
  • It decreases unhappy customers, improves service ratings and positive feedback.
  • If customers are happy with your services, they are more likely to become loyal customers.
  • A company that prioritizes its employees creates a positive brand value.

We can see how customer experience and employee experience depend on each other. But companies focus only on improving customer experience to increase their ROI.

80% of businesses compete primarily on customer experience. They forget about their employees and do not do enough to create a great employee experience.

Without improving employee experience, efforts to ensure a great customer experience won't work. Because when employees have an unpleasant work experience, the customers suffer too. And so suffers the company's ROI.

As Sir Richard Branson said,

Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.

So your employees' experience becomes just as important as your customers'. Both need to go hand-in-hand for better business results.

A satisfying customer experience begins with providing a meaningful employee experience. In other words, the first step to customer satisfaction is employee satisfaction.

Chapter 6: Importance of Employee Experience

The definition of work has evolved over the years.

Employees are nowadays looking for purposeful work.

They don't seek employment just for the sake of earning. They want a meaningful employee experience.

woman employee being engaged at work on her laptop

Purposeful work not only contributes to individual growth but also to the company, and the community.

Your company culture reflects your sense of purpose. Thus, it can tremendously influence your employee's experience.

statistics showing the importance of employee experience for business leaders
Source: Deloitte's 2017 Human Capital Trends Survey

Good employee experience has a direct positive correlation with employee productivity. It simplifies everyday operations, making it easier for employees to work.

When employees have an engaging experience at work each day, it will reflect on their work. They'll feel genuinely motivated to work and go the extra mile to achieve their goals. On the other hand, an employee's experience can turn sour if the conditions they have to work in are not conducive.

Here are some of the advantages of having a great employee experience:

advantages of having a good employee experience at the workplace

1. Higher Engagement And Higher Productivity

A good employee experience leads to higher employee engagement and employee productivity. Employees are more devoted to work and the company. It results in better business outcomes and an improved sense of individual well-being.

2. Lower Employee Turnover

Unhappy workers are more likely to leave the company or be absent more often. It affects employee morale, productivity, cost, and brand image. Happy and engaged employees stay on longer.

3. Enhanced Customer Experience

A strong employee experience can inspire workers to be proactive and innovative. They take charge of their duties and do their best to ensure a good customer experience.

4. Greater Job Satisfaction

An engaged employee with a great employee experience will have greater job satisfaction. Instead of half-hearted efforts, employees will proactively take part in their work. There will be lower chances of burnout, contributing to better employee wellness. They can also maintain better work-life balance.

5. Attract And Keep Talent

Companies are competing with each other to attract the best talent in the industry. There is a mismatch between the skills employees have and the ones companies need. The employees who do have the required skills can be picky about the place of work.

So when a company finds a bright talent, they intend to keep it. Often they focus on a great employee experience to keep such people.

6. Stronger Peer Relationships

A rich employee experience bases itself on interactions in the workplace. A company culture of shared values helps in bringing the workforce together. It allows people to fit into the social network and fosters stronger peer relationships.

7. Better Business Results

A good employee experience ultimately leads to better business results. So the more you invest in your employees, the more value they give you in return.

A great employee experience is beyond business metrics like KPIs and performance management. It is more than increased productivity and profit. It is primarily about employees.

Workplaces can connect emotionally with employees by trying to make every day special. It will help employees remain loyal to their organization. At the same time, companies can attract and keep top talent.

Chapter 7: Strategies to Improve Employee Experience

If you’re reading this then I’m sure till now you’ve realized the need for a good employee experience.

It’s time that we discuss some strategies to bolster the employee experience.

two employees analyzing trends from a chart to figure out strategies

Traditional human resources focus on treating wellness, productivity, and technology as separate issues. But for employees, these are integrated components, each of which form an integral part of the overall employee experience.

To design a meaningful experience for employees, HR needs to embrace flexibility and change in their EX strategy. The following things should be kept in mind:

  • Set the priority of your strategy. If you want to decrease turnover, work on understanding the trigger points. You might want to improve the exit experience.

  • If your company is hiring, you might want to focus on the recruitment and onboarding experience. Determine your priority and put renewed focus on it.

  • Help create a personalized experience by taking regular feedback from employees.

  • Work on the gathered data to find linkages and patterns that are working and that need improvement.

  • Culture, technology, and working environment need to be optimized to suit individuals and teams.

  • Diversify your HR functions to include everything that impacts employee experience like, customer experience, strategic decision-making, leadership etc.

Here are 11 Strategies For HRs to Provide a Meaningful Experience to Employees:

1. Easy Application Process

Employee experience begins before an employee even joins your company. It starts as early as when they are applying for a position.

Have a hassle-free application process to make hiring easier. Employees, when searching for a job, are already juggling between various job portals. You need to design an application process that's easy to understand and navigate. This will put you in their good books.

Also, ensure diversity in your application process to avoid biases.

statistics showing job seekers use mobile phones for job hunting
Source: The Undercover Recruiter

Make the interface friendly for mobile use. Clear messaging can work wonders for your employer's brand and image. It will show that you want to help the candidates and ease out their operation of filling forms.

2. Interviewing Tools and Processes

In modern workplaces, gears are shifting. Workplaces are increasingly relying on technology for enhanced efficiency and better communication.

The best operation which can leverage technology is recruitment. HR teams now use new-age management tools like NLPs, VR assessment during interviews. These tools assess employees' soft skills and temperaments.

Use video interviews for potential candidates living in any part of the world.

The right recruitment tools can help you keep up with the needs of a post-pandemic workforce.

3. Effective Onboarding Programs

A great onboarding program helps the employees get acquainted with the company culture. It is the first official interaction a new hire has with the company.

Employees can connect with seniors and collaborate. It will not only help them in their day-to-day tasks but also strengthen relationships.

But a poor onboarding program can affect your employer branding. So try to make it more seamless.

Zappos gives their new hires $2000 to leave if they want to after the onboarding process. If employees feel they can't fit in with the culture, they are free to leave.

Send your new hires a warm and personalized welcome letter before their first day in the office. This will help you set the stage for a memorable onboarding journey and create a connection with your new hires before they even set foot in the office.

4. Physical Environment

Employees spend more than 8-9 hours every day at their workplace. It only makes sense that employers provide a clean and safe working environment for them.

Provide your workers with a clean, well-lit, safe, and comfortable workstation. It influences an employee's motivation to work and capacity to improve performance. It is also a significant contributor to the health and well-being of an employee.

5. Assign Mentors

Employees might feel a little lost and out of place in the first few days of joining. They might be unsure how to ask questions and communicate with their leaders.

As HR professionals, you can take effective measures against this.

Assign mentors and buddies to new hires. Mentors will help new hires understand their work and adapt better. It will lead to better communication and the free exchange of ideas.

It can help them connect and create new bonds.

6. Employee Surveys & Feedback

Conduct employee surveys frequently. Surveys help you analyze areas in your workplace that are doing well and where you need to improve. You can use surveys as feedback tools to show your employees that you care about their opinion.

You can run various types of surveys to uncover the attributes of your company. These can be

Conduct these surveys frequently. It will help you analyze some important information, like the following:

  • Why candidates decide to work for your company
  • The effectiveness of onboarding processes
  • Changes in employee experience as the company grows
  • Employees' suggestions, etc.

Tools like Vantage Pulse can help you get employee feedback for better decision-making. Click to know more.

7. Performance Reviews

Performance reviews help employees improve their skills and advance their careers. It is an integral part of a positive employee experience.

But, conducting annual performance reviews isn't enough anymore.

Employees want feedback that is continuous and contributes to their short-term achievements too. They now look for monthly or even weekly reviews to improve their skills.

A sound performance management system is helpful for both the employer and employee. The employer can track the employees' performance and guide him/her on how to improve. The employee can get the opportunity to gain new talent and enhance their skill set.

8. Robust Internal Communication

This is the most critical aspect of providing an engaging employee experience.

Focus on clear communication. It helps reduce and resolve conflicts among peers. Employees become more engaged and loyal to the organization.

Neha Kothari, the Director of Communication at BYJU'S, states -

Pre-covid, the Internal communication was more so looked at as a good to have function. But it has acquired a seat on the table now and more and more companies now are understanding the power of relevant communication. We are at the right place, right time.
– Neha Kothari

Listen to the full podcast session here.

9. Acknowledgment & Appreciation

To feel appreciated for hard work is a fundamental human need. When you recognize employees for their work, they feel good about themselves. It makes them think that they're making a difference to the business.

This, in turn, makes them want to contribute more. They feel motivated to achieve their goals and stay with the organization.

millennials prefer spot employee recognition which makes better employee experience

The way to enable this is through social recognition.

It's a faster and continuous exchange of recognition between peers and their leaders. This makes the employee journey for an individual meaningful and memorable.

10. Team Building Activities

Another way to improve the employee experience is by organizing team-building activities. Outdoor games and ice-breaking sessions help take the pressure off employees, reducing stress.

It encourages teamwork and strengthens relationships between peers and leaders. Employees can bond with people from different departments and create new memories.

As we transition to a hybrid form of work, HR should also focus on virtual team building activities for remote workers.

11. Exit Interviews

But sometimes, it does happen that an employee has to leave. You can't help it. But you can always find out why they left.

By conducting exit interviews, you can gain more insight into employee's experiences. You will get to know about the work culture, behavior of employees, and other issues.

A company should maintain a good relationship with employees throughout their work lifecycle. If/when such employees leave, they'll tell you a lot more than "it's not you, it's me." They might provide you constructive criticism about why they are leaving.

Chapter 8: Bonus Content

how to improve employee experience during the times of covid-19

Improve Employee Experience During Covid-19

Global disruptions like Covid-19 have brought much uncertainty to business and employment. But it has compromised employee experience the most.

With remote work and increasing digitalization, the world of work is changing. Try to be extra mindful to keep your digital employees feel connected, happy, and secure.

Some things for HRs to keep in mind:

  • Boost your feedback mechanism.
  • Use technology as much as possible for constant communication.
  • Support your employees with the tools and training needed for communication and collaboration.
  • Focus on employee wellbeing.

Let your employee know that you are listening. The best way to address issues is to first learn about them.

So ask your employees directly. They'll tell you if they connect with the work. They'll let you know about any gap they feel with their peers.

Employees during the pandemic miss having the opportunity to connect. People are now working from home unless there is a reason to go to the office. Video calls, chats, and regular emails will help overcome physical distance.

Provide ample opportunities so that your employees can deliver, develop, connect and thrive.

Above all, organize wellness programs and forums for them to share their experiences. It will boost their job satisfaction.

In Conclusion

A good and positive employee experience will eventually impact your retention rates.

Employee experience goes far beyond the list of benefits you provide to employees. Instead, it is an integration of perks, environment, values, and the company culture. It is the factors that will make your employees want to come to work every day.

This article is written by Swati Baruah who is a content marketing specialist at Vantage Circle. She is a post-graduate in Labor Studies from Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Passionately interested in people dynamics, she enjoys writing pieces that strike conversations. An avid reader and a frequent traveler, she loves exploring new perspectives. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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