People want more than just a 9-5 job and organisations are having to focus on creating a workplace where employees actually want, not just need, to work. As a result, we’re seeing a new rhythm of organisational life emerging. Businesses are more people-centric than they ever have been with the wellbeing of employees fast becoming a differentiator as well as a recruitment and retention tool.
However, businesses need to understand that this isn’t just an HR trend. Forward-looking HR professionals are transforming HR to, instead, deliver an employee experience.
What is employee experience?
Employee experience is exactly what it says. It is the experience that a company provides for each person that they employ. Just like a customer experience, it is key to attracting, retaining and delighting your employees.
An employee experience is made up of three distinct areas that exist within any business regardless of their size, location and industry. These are the cultural environment, technological environment and the physical environment.
Probably the element that has been the focus for many HR professionals in recent years, the cultural environment plays a big part in the employee experience. The company culture is how employees feel when they are inside an organisation, it dictates leadership styles and any benefits or perks that employees receive.
The technological environment relates to any technology that an employee may use to do their job. It also encompasses any tools or software that might be used across mobile or desktop devices, including the devices themselves. Essentially, it is anything the employee needs to get their job done.
This area can often be greatly overlooked by small businesses. Ensuring that your employees have a laptop and a phone to do their job isn’t enough. It’s up to you to expose them to the latest in software and technologies to enable them to do their work related tasks efficiently and with ease. And this needs to infiltrate all areas of your business. If your new employee is used to booking their holiday using an online holiday system, but you still use spreadsheets and a wall calendar, you aren’t providing them with a positive experience.
Quite self-explanatory, the physical environment includes anything that people can hear, touch, see, smell and taste. Everything from desks and chairs to the coffee and snacks in the cupboards are included in the employee experience. Employees spend one fifth of their working life at work which makes it crucial that they have a positive employee experience.
Again, in a small business this aspect is often overlooked because small businesses feel like they aren’t able to compete with the extravagant offices of Google. But check out this office redesign from Posture People on their own office that caters for just 7 people.
How can you create an employee experience?
If you employ people, then you’ve already created an employee experience. What you can do, however, is enhance and transform it.
A study entitled “The Active Job Seeker Dilemma” from The Future Workplace and Beyond.com found that 83% of HR leaders said that employee experience is either important or very important to their organisations success. This is leading them to invest more in training (56%), improving their work spaces (51%) and giving more rewards (47%).
Discover what areas of the employee experience your business could improve upon. It might just be small things to start with. For example, if your office decor is looking a bit worse for wear, a spruce up will enhance the physical environment of the employee experience. Or, is there a new software that someone tried and loved? You could trial that for 6 months and see what impact it has on their job and overall productivity.
What are the benefits of having an employee experience?
As organisations develop from an authoritative management style to a more participative model, people management should understand and reflect the aspirations of employees. An employee-centric approach that promotes agility, resilience and sustained high performance, like the employee experience, will be vital to organisational success.
Equally, as the war for talent heats up, small businesses can take the opportunity to utilise their employee experience to differentiate themselves from the competition. Suppliers are latching onto this trend. Just look at the 30 per cent growth Vitality, a health insurance provider, enjoyed last year. Their app offers employees rewards in return for completing physical exercise and becoming healthier. It’s being embraced by employees who also get subsidised gym membership. And of course, business owners benefit from a healthier workforce who take fewer sick days and have a higher level of productivity.
Regardless of your organisation’s size, location or industry, you employ and work with people. By focusing on not just what people need, but also on what they want from a job, is what makes the employee experience the future of HR. Every employer has a responsibility to look after its employees. By committing to provide an excellent employee experience you commit to creating an environment where people want to come to work.