A great customer experience is a tale as old as time: companies that put their customers first end up being more successful. However, the business winds are starting to turn, and business leaders are beginning to realize just how important the overall employee experience is to the success of their organization. Part of that success stems from attracting, engaging, and retaining the right employees. Companies put a lot of effort and money behind trying to prove to their employees, and future employees, that they are a great place to work. Yet the answer to becoming a great place to work is much simpler than one may think: create a great employee experience.
In the early 2000s, business leaders were worried about employee satisfaction. They tried everything from catered lunches to bringing in ping pong tables as a way to make their employees feel satisfied. Then the business world shifted their attention to increasing employee engagement. Leaders wanted to know how to drive, push, or prompt their employees to become more engaged. Now, research is showing that no matter how hard you try, you can’t drive engagement or satisfaction. Those are just HR buzzwords that encompass a much larger, more accurate description of what really keeps your employees producing great work and sticking around: the entire employee experience.
What exactly is employee experience? Denise Lee Yohn, contributing writer for Forbes, describes employee experience as the “sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization—every employee interaction, from the first contact as a potential recruit to the last interaction after the end of employment.”
The employee experience is at the heart of why an employee would be attracted to an organization, engage with and produce great work for that organization, and stay. Especially in today’s workforce with record-breaking low unemployment rates, the war for talent rages on. People are starting to put a strong corporate culture and a more integrated work-life balance at the forefront of their priorities. If a company doesn’t live up to a great employee experience, people don’t have a problem leaving their jobs. The legacy employee is slowly becoming a thing of the past as people job hop until they find what they’re looking for.
One of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time, Sir Richard Branson, has been touting employee experience for years, if not decades: “The moment a person joins any Virgin company they become part of something bigger. Because we bring together energetic, like-minded people to work and play and discover ways to make life better every day,” says Branson, “I’ve always said a company is all about its people. It is what makes Virgin a great place to work.”
To truly understand what employee experience really is, it is important to callout what employee experience is not.
Employee experience is not:
• A trendy HR initiative
• Cool perks
• More parties
• Employer branding
• Employee engagement
Employee experience is:
• Day-to-day interactions
• Honest corporate communications
• Delivering experiences that are aligned to the organization’s purpose
• Proactively designing a day-to-day experience that encourages employees to produce great work
• Setting employees up for success
In Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends article, The Employee Experience: Culture, Engagement, and Beyond, they perfectly outline the evolution and importance of employee experience.
“In a digital world with increasing transparency and the growing influence of Millennials, employees expect a productive, engaging, enjoyable work experience. Rather than focus narrowly on employee engagement and culture, organizations are developing an integrated focus on the entire employee experience, bringing together all the workplace, HR, and management practices that impact people on the job.”
In the end, every business or organization wants the same thing: to be successful, to make a difference, and to grow. When a company can offer their employees an honest, authentic, and meaningful experience at work, the employees will make sure the company not only succeeds, but flourishes. Branson himself says it best when he said, “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the client.”
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