The Road to Success: 3 Employee Experience Essentials

Published on 08-06-2018

Improving the employee experience became one of the key interest of many companies. However, many are struggling to achieve this goal. Productivity decreases, employees are worried about stress and work-life-balance, and the world of work keeps changing – making it more challenging than ever to create a positive employee experience. That’s why we listed the 3 essential elements of every positive employee experience.

In an increasingly digital world, employers are expected to offer a productive, engaging, enjoyable work experience.  With the help of new methods, such as design thinking and employee journey mapping, HR departments are now trying to understand and optimize the entire experience. According to a recent Deloitte study, almost 80 percent of executives rate employee experience (EX) as very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent). In Western Europe, especially in the UK, Germany and the Netherlands, the demand for a strong employee experience is currently on the rise – so, how do we adapt to this trend?

Generally, we can be sure about one thing: Employee experience is about people. And although we could define it in many different ways, it needs to contain the following three elements:

  1. Positive overall employee perceptions
  2. A productive working environment
  3. Upgrading traditional HR functions

Focusing on those three essentials will help you to shape your company’s employee experience positively.

Source: Deloitte

Positive Overall Employee Perceptions

Employee experience can be defined as the overall perceptions an employee has with his or her work in response to the interaction with the organization over time. This definition should be quite easy to understand. After all, we all have experienced it in our working life: One day, the EX might be influenced by the crowded trains in the morning or maybe by the possibility to grab a coffee at our favorite local cafe on the way to the office. It could be the way we were coached during the onboarding process or how our supervisor reacts when we ask to work from home. The EX can even be defined by seemingly small things, such as the printer that is always out of paper or the outdated office PC that still runs on Windows XP.

Although the personal definition might differ on a daily basis, in general, the EX defines how you view your work and the organization you do it for. That is why the EX is not only of crucial importance for your personal well-being but also for that of your company. A positive employee experience makes it more likely that employees are motivated, productive and engaged – what else could a company ask for?

The Golden Rule: Treat your staff how you would like to be treated.

In the last couple of years, organizations were obsessed with the term ‘employee engagement’. However, a 2016 Gallup report shows that only 13% of employees working for an organization are engaged. Let that sink in for a moment. One reason for this employee engagement crisis is that organizations often measure engagement but don’t improve it. It is therefore essential that companies put more focus on understanding the factors that drive engagement – employee experience chief among them.

Luckily, successful EX design isn’t rocket science. Sir Richard Branson, a well-known entrepreneur, puts it in very simple but powerful words: “The key is just to treat your staff how you would like to be treated.” Sounds doable, doesn’t it?

A Productive Working Environment

In the upcoming years, Millennials will take over the work field. More than every previous generation, they want to find a way to integrate their work into their lives, follow their passions and find a deeper meaning in what they do. As an employer, it is therefore important to focus on the ‘why’: Why do my employees want to work for me? Why should they show up every morning? Why should they work for me long-term?

According to Jacob Morgan, author of ‘The Employee Experience Advantage’, every company is rested upon the following three columns:

  • Cultural
  • Technological
  • Physical

Creating a working environment where people like to show up, can only be successful if a company manages all three of them well!

Cultural environment

The cultural environment is everything an employee ‘feels’ and is an important factor of every EX. It consists of elements such as the company’s structure, hierarchy, and leadership style but also more traditional factors, like compensation and benefits. It’s the culture that gives employees a sense of purpose and belonging as well as creates an emotional connection to their workplace. It is therefore highly relevant to measure the cultural fit of applicants instead of solely focussing on hard skills, work experiences and education. After all, your culture consists out of your people.

Why is culture so important to a business? Here is a simple way to frame it. The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing. — Brian Chesky, Co-founder and CEO of Airbnb

Technological environment

The technological environment describes all the tools employees need to do their jobs. Managers need to determine which tools are best for their organization, teams, and tasks. Several factors should be considered:

  • Culture
  • Pace of communication
  • Level of formality
  • Technological understanding

This can also mean, to decide against the newest collaboration tools. For some companies, old-school emails will remain the most valuable mean of internal communication – simply because it fits the best. However, independent from which specific tool selected, a company should always guarantee that it provides its employees with the best tools available. Asking employees for feedback can help to continuously optimize the communication process and thereby the EX.

Physical environment

The physical environment is everything employees can see, smell, touch, hear or taste. Ranging from comfortable work chairs over the art on the walls up to communal lunch tables and the noise coming from the street. In addition, factors such as temperature, lighting, air quality and hygiene – especially of the restrooms – directly affect employees performance, concentration, and well-being. Thus, the physical design of a workspace is essential, especially for desk-bound employees. Integrating elements that enhance productivity and creativity into the workplace will improve every EX.

physical employee experience

A well-designed working environment can take your EX to the next level.

Upgrading Traditional HR Functions

My philosophy has always been, if you can put staff first, your customers second, and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and your staff remains happy. —Sir Richard Branson

Whole corporate empires were founded on the following principle: The customer is king. Creating a positive customer experience (CX) has therefore long been in the center of attention for many organizations. However, there’s a new thought making its way in the world of business that questions this approach: What if, you need to put your employees first in order to create a positive CX?

Employees are a company’s best ambassadors. That is why leading organizations in the EX movement are now actively putting their employees first by providing positive touch points at all stages of the employee lifecycle. This idea has been described as the ‘consumerization of HR’. It means nothing less than looking at employees through the consumer lens, by creating social, mobile, and consumer-like employee experiences. One of those applications is consumer journey mapping – or in this case employee journey mapping. Basically, you look at different stages of the employee lifecycle out of the eyes of your employee to identify areas in need of attention, improvement, and reward.

There are many other ways of bringing your employer brand to life. Ideally, the EX should mirror your employer brand’s unique attributes and capture those characteristics for employees across all departments and stages. Generally, it is essential to upgrade traditional HR methods and approaches to further attract and retain talent.

Employee Experience – The Road to Success

Digitalisation and AI but also the shift in generations are disrupting the world of work as we know it. Companies need to adapt to the new demands and find a way out of the employee engagement crisis. How? By listening to their employees and putting them first. Only if employees actively engage with their work and see a deeper purpose in it, they will be able to deliver outstanding an outstanding performance. Establishing this emotional connection between employer brand and employee will be the next big challenge not only for the HR departments but the whole organization.

In conclusion, it can be said that a well-considered EX strategy takes employee perceptions, environmental factors in the workplace, and a consumer-style approach to HR into account. It will certainly lead to more engagement, productivity, motivation, enthusiasm and an overall stronger performance. However, there is no straight road to success – it’s more an extremely winding path that every company needs to explore together with their employees.

CompanyMatch published a white paper about the place of corporate culture in a digital world, based on scientific research and current studies. Feel free to download the free paper by filling out the attached form. 

Recommended articles