September 20, 2021
In a previous post, I wrote about the employee experience as part of a comprehensive and engaging workplace experience. Although the employee experience is only one aspect of a larger workplace strategy, ensuring your people have a positive experience remains crucial for long-term growth, worker retention and overall profitability.

What Is the Employee Experience?

Employee experience (or EX) is how an individual perceives the entirety of their time at an organization: engagement with the business, satisfaction in their roles, support from leadership, onboarding, the exit process—these all contribute to how a person perceives their job and work environment. Organizations that understand and emphasize the value of a positive employee experience don’t just have happier workers—they’ve also got better retention rates and tend to provide more opportunities for professional development.

Business performance is rooted in the employee experience. Unhappy or disengaged employees contribute less and aren’t as invested in the success of the organization, which is incentive enough for most businesses to understand that empowering their people is key for long-term success. According to author and futurist Jacob Morgan, organizations who heavily invest in EX are 11.5 times more likely to be listed as one of Glassdoor’s best places to work, more than twice as likely to be on Forbes’ list of the world’s most innovative companies and four times more profitable versus organizations that avoid similar employee-focused investments.

(For more from Jacob Morgan on the employee experience and the future of work, check out his interview with Host’s Brennan McReynolds).

The Evolution of Experience

Employee experience hasn’t always been front of mind for workplace leaders. It’s a concept that has evolved over several decades, with employers beginning to consider how to keep people engaged and committed throughout the 1970s and 1980s. Much of these concerns initially revolved around promoting positive employee attitudes to foster high performance in an office environment. However, the rise of the experience economy coupled with more flexible work options created a need for something that goes beyond merely promoting productivity. Thanks to hybrid working arrangements, many workers only come into the office occasionally if at all, shifting the focus from creating a more productive office environment to providing an overall experience that supports people, regardless of where they’re working.

With that in mind, how does a company build a strong employee experience?

Listen to your employees. Provide a flexible environment with regular requests for open feedback to understand what employees are working on, what matters to them and what problems they’re facing in their roles. Give your people access to quality technology and ensure they have the necessary tools to be productive, no matter where they’re located. Collect insights on how your workplace amenities are utilized and use the data to make positive changes for your people. Develop an inclusive, collaboration-based culture that puts people first. By facilitating strong relationships among your employees and keeping them engaged with your company, you can build trust and increase a sense of belonging among your teams.

A New Era for Employees

As new generations establish their place in the workforce, demographic changes and increased economic volatility are also driving businesses to consider a more holistic approach to supporting their employees. Particularly for Gen Z and Millennials, the desire for more flexible work options and an increased demand for work/life balance (not to mention the impacts of "The Great Resignation") has forced employers to rethink how they cultivate and keep quality talent. To entice top candidates, employee experience remains a differentiating factor.

Employee expectations of the workplace are also influenced by modern consumer interactions. A key aspect of an effective work atmosphere is a personalized experience that seeks to understand and engage individual needs and preferences. With companies necessarily adapting to a constant barrage of disruption and evolution, understanding the impact of this change on the well-being and productivity of workers is vital for future success and flexibility. One major adaptation comes via property technology, which allows business leaders to cultivate an ideal experience for their people by understanding which workplace services and amenities are successful and why. Leaders use this tech to gather utilization data, learn from these insights and create actionable plans to support employee needs and preferences.

Context Is Key

A diverse workforce provides an assortment of perspectives, worldviews and individual needs. To best support your people and deliver more personalized experiences, it’s vital to understand how your employees are showing up and what kind of support they require in their roles. Greg Pryor, Executive Director at Workday, points out the importance of embracing and appreciating the varying situations and circumstances your employees face:

“Some employees may be parents or caregivers, and some may be feeling worker fatigue while others are itching to return to the office,” he writes. “These are all different contexts and it’s important for you, as leaders, to understand your people’s unique situations so you can create and deliver better, more personalized experiences for them.”

Pryor points to streaming services and music platforms that deliver highly personalized content to each consumer as a blueprint. Companies have an opportunity to leverage technology to achieve and automate similar successes around employee satisfaction. Ensuring a seamless, friction-free experience that empathizes with the needs of individuals is important, as there is no one-size-fits-all solution. We now have the technological ability to scale and provide personalized experiences based on real data, which means companies who are intentional about employee contentment have a lot to be optimistic about. More than ever, leaders can better understand their people, help them be at their best and make informed business decisions to mitigate worker turnover and fatigue.

Don't Fall Behind

Through technology, flexibility and working actively to meet employee needs, companies have an unprecedented opportunity to design and deliver quality experiences for their people. Approaching employee experience with care and purpose will be a distinguishing factor in how businesses retain their best workers and progress over time. As the workforce grows more distributed and hybrid work becomes the norm, organizations without a strong plan to enhance the employee experience risk losing their best people and falling behind their competitors.

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