5 Keys to Building a Great Employee Experience

Over the past month, we’ve delved deeply into the employee experience and how it impacts the way your people see your company. Now let’s explore 5 ways you can help to create an experience that drives value for your people and your organization.

  1. See the employee experience holistically vs disparate parts
  2. Give employees the tools they need/demand
  3. Curate experiences that deliver value to the person
  4. Extend the candidate experience mindset beyond the start date
  5. Value the employee experience for the outcomes it creates, not the experience itself
Seeing a Holistic Employee Experience

The first step in creating a competitive employee experience is to see it holistically. In my experience as an HR leader, I often coached managers on this concept. Too often, they were quick to separate the hiring and selection from the onboarding experience, and then separate that from the day to day interactions.

Unfortunately, that’s not how employees see it.  Most employees can remember their interview experience and how it made them feel. They also can remember the first day they started their new job. And they can definitely tell you about the last time they were praised by their manager and what it felt like to get negative feedback during a performance review.

All of these pieces are building blocks of a bigger structure. Seeing it as one continuous conversation helps not only to understand the long term implications of creating a positive experience but also to show that minor negatives can be smoothed out over time with the right approach.

Giving Employees the Proper Tools

The job I got after I was married was my first foray into the office. I was excited about using my brain instead of using my back and sweat to make a living, and I turned up on day one ready to go. Little did I know that it would be three long days before I received a computer that I could use to get my work done.

While anecdotal, I am willing to bet that a version of that is pretty common for most employers. Maybe you have the computer set up, but the password is locked down. Or maybe the company cell phone is going to take a week to arrive. Whatever the case, giving employees the right tools they need to get the work done is a basic expectation. I’ve never met a single employee that looked forward to spending their first day twiddling their thumbs. This is the honeymoon phase for many employees, and companies need to make sure they have the right technology in place to support a quick ramp up.

In addition to the hardware element, employees are increasingly demanding software and applications that help them to solve problems, be collaborative and create value. They want to do great things so why not put the tools in place to help them achieve that goal?

Curating Valuable Experiences

Processes are a necessary evil in the business world, but when they impede our ability to get things done, processes quickly become a painful friction point for employees. Instead of merely focusing on the process, look at the personal element as well.

How often do we see companies enacting processes that create confusion and conflict instead of clarity? One of my mentors always liked to say that HR needs an annual “pitch a policy” day to get back to the root of what we’re trying to do—serve the organization and its people.

As I mentioned in a recent post on killing innovation, it is essential to focus on the user experience. Great companies create and curate experiences that deliver value for the candidates and employees with whom they interact.

Extending Candidate Experience Mindset

Speaking of candidates, what are companies thinking when they take someone through an all-star recruiting process, treat them like royalty, and then dump them in an unfurnished cubicle on day one?

In recent years, we have been conditioned to focus heavily on the candidate experience to create positive outcomes for the business. Yet when someone accepts an offer, they become just another faceless entity. Companies have to extend the candidate experience mindset beyond the start date or they will be looking for a replacement sooner than expected.

There are certainly variables that we can’t control, but it’s almost a parody at this point. Candidates revel in the attention and opportunities available to them because they know that once the offer comes, they will lose any leverage they have. Let’s take that mindset that everyone is unique and requires a personal approach beyond the candidate experience and into the employee experience.

Value the Outcomes

Finally, it’s critical to value the employee experience for the outcomes it creates, not for the experience itself.  My family and I recently visited a quick service restaurant. The hostess was chatting away with a friend and dutifully ignored us for a while. She seemed happy enough, but she wasn’t engaged in her work. Happy employees don’t always lead to happy customers, as I discovered that evening.

It’s not about creating a great employee experience for the sake of it. It’s about creating one that ultimately drives value back to the business and its customers. As HCL Technologies puts it: “Employees First, Customers Second.”

The outcomes of a great employee experience include those that we recently associated with engagement — innovation, revenue, retention, customer satisfaction, productivity, and more. When people have the right combination of tools, inspiration and support, they can solve challenges and create value for their employers in ways that we can only imagine.

Ben Eubanks, Principal Analyst, Lighthouse Research & Advisory

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