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The Employee Experience: The Path to High Engagement

The Employee Experience

Every year a new trend appears, and this time it’s the “employee experience.” The employee experience is exactly what the term implies: the totality of an employee’s experience with a company. It sounds simple, but developing a positive, productive and engaging experience for employees requires a strategic approach. All the factors impacting employees must be fully integrated in a way that ensures employees perceive their work experience and the business in a positive and productive way. This increases employee satisfaction, a characteristic needed to keep unions out of your organization. Factors include Human Resources policies and practices, technologies and tools, leadership practices, the physical environment and, supporting it all, a positive and engaging culture.

Engagement Comes From A Positive Employee Experience

Developing a positive employee experience is being called a new trend, but if you have a business that’s union-proofed, you realize it’s really not a new concept. An organization successfully engaging its workforce knows engagement isn’t achieved with random perks or periodic engagement surveys. Employee engagement is a continuous process involving the same factors as the employee experience. From our perspective, effective engagement practices and successful employee experience practices are nearly identical.

Engaging employees requires developing leaders who know how to productively communicate with employees, give employees paths for problem resolution and ensure staff members have the appropriate resources, whether it is a proper workspace, new technology and/or training. Your Human Resources practices will include a fair compensation schedule, benefits that improve employee quality of life, transparent promotion practices and career-planning opportunities. Employees understand their roles, and their expectations for satisfying work are met. All of these engagement practices, and more, shape the employee experience.

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Formula for Keeping Unions Out

Leadership, communication, training and problem resolution are included in the engagement journey, just as they are factors in the employee experience, and the journey should be taken in a positive workplace culture. It’s the formula for keeping unions out. Achieving a high level of employee engagement is an end goal of the totality of the employee experience, in which all the factors impacting work are integrated in a way that makes your employees want to come to work each day and turns them into advocates in and out of the workplace. In a positive culture, employees share a vision and values and have a sense of purpose. Culture is formed through leadership styles, engagement practices, organizational structure and staff interactions.

The employee experience also includes things like flex schedules for work-life balance, access to the training and technologies needed to get work done, adequate and pleasing physical workspace, regular management feedback, inclusion, workforce diversity, and wellness. Millennials have largely driven the need for employers to develop an integrated, focused employee experience, leading to what is called “experiential organizations.” Instead of expecting your employees to adapt to the workplace, you redesign work to adapt to employee needs for optimal engagement.

Asking the Right Questions

Following are 18 questions you should review to evaluate your organization’s current ability to develop a positive employee experience.

  1. Are the people hired carefully screened as good fits for your company and the position?
  2. Are employees working as members of empowered teams?
  3. Is work autonomous, or do managers command and control work processes?
  4. Do employees have access to self-directed learning opportunities?
  5. Do employees have workspaces that meet needs, as well as the technology and other tools needed to do a good job?
  6. Are employees given opportunities for work-life balance?
  7. Are employees encouraged to stretch themselves on work assignments and to innovate?
  8. Do employees feel like they are appreciated, involved in decision-making and able to plan a career?
  9. Are senior leaders transparent about the decisions made and business events, especially ones that directly impact things like employee job security or downsizing?
  10. Do leaders know how to coach their employees as part of an ongoing development process?
  11. Are resources regularly invested in employee and leadership training?
  12. Do employees trust their supervisors to make fair decisions?
  13. Do managers provide regular feedback to employees within a performance management process so employees can continuously improve?
  14. Is your organization’s culture described as positive and supportive?
  15. Do employees understand and embrace the business mission and values, like honesty, customer engagement and ethics?
  16. Is there a culture of fairness, diversity, inclusion and recognition?
  17. Are there open lines of communication between management and staff?
  18. Are there measurements in place to drive continuous improvement in the employee experience?

Measurements are critical to identifying areas needing improvement and those where progress is stalled or goals achieved. There are numerous metrics for analyzing each factor of the employee experience. Among a host of other HR quantitative and qualitative measurements, they include the following:

  • Degree of employee engagement
  • Number of employees lacking tools
  • Diversity in employee hiring and promotions
  • Talent pool gaps
  • Leadership bench strength
  • Attrition rates
  • Rate of employee utilization of customized eLearning modules and training videos
  • Type of employee complaints filed and resolved
  • Productivity and performance analytics
  • Job satisfaction
  • Sentiment analysis

An Experience Before, During and After Employment

Research by Jacob Morgan, author of “The Employee Experience Advantage,” found companies that became experiential organizations increase profits, revenues, competitive advantage and brand equity. The experience (and engagement) starts before a person begins work (company reputation and recruitment practices) and continues after an employee leaves (social media comments about the organization impacting business brand and reputation).

If you have a high level of employee engagement, you already understand the employee experience. Develop a positive employee experience, and you can expect to see an increase in employee engagement, leading to greater job satisfaction, productivity and retention. You’re also much more likely to keep unions out for one good reason: Employees don’t need a union representative because you already give them all they need to succeed.

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