In a world where employee turnover is higher than it has been in the last 10 years, it is important to think about how to attract and retain talent. By now, we have all heard the trope that millennials are shaking up several areas of society, from social movements to the food system, to the way we interact on and offline. The workplace is not exempt from these changing tides – McKinsey predicts 75% of the workforce will be comprised of millennials by 2025. In line with this, employers will need to offer an environment and leadership perspective that is in line with their priorities in order to attract and retain the top talent.
So how can businesses step up to this challenge? Make 2020 the year of the employee by prioritising your ’employee experience’ (EX.)
Defined as “the totality of what employees experience while they’re at work. It encompasses the physical environment, cultural environment, and technological environment, all the way from when they are a candidate applying for the job, to becoming an alum of the company,” and it is now basically seen as the determinant of happy employees.
Why should we care about employee experience?
Firstly, research has shown that employees who feel valued are more committed to an organisation, and experience less withdrawal from their role. They also report improved job satisfaction, mood, and wellbeing.
Secondly, this has a direct and powerful effect on your bottom line. It is in the interest of your company to take care of your people. Jacob Morgan, the author of The Employee Experience Advantage, showed in one study that organisations he classed as “experiential” out-performed their rivals in average profits by a factor of four, had double the average revenues, and improved employee retention by 40%.
How can you create an amazing employee experience at your company?
“What do I have to do to get my organisation to be classed as experiential?” we hear you ask. It is quite simple really. The most effective way of motivating employees is remembering that they are just people. Take a human-centric approach to your workplace culture and you can’t really go wrong. For starters, being authentically and genuinely interested in your employees’ health, wellbeing and personal needs and development are sure-fire ways to put you in their good books and make them fall in love with their workplace.
1. Culture over strategy
Successful employee experience really comes down to putting culture above strategy. There is a saying in the industry – “culture eats strategy for breakfast”. What that means is the real determinant in your business’s success isn’t your revenue, it is your team and the culture you create for them.
That might seem counter-intuitive at first, but companies that invest in their culture above and beyond their strategy consistently outperform companies that don’t. To understand why, we need to look at what company culture means to people. Culture lies at the heart of a company. It is what drives people to work, create, or build, to innovate, and drive change in their department, organisation, or industry. And people are much more likely to give something their all if the purpose, principles and beliefs of the organisation align with their own. This is demonstrated through reduced internal conflict, better product creation, higher employee buy-in, and overall improvements to employee loyalty. Understand who your ideal employee is and what they would be looking for in a culture. Then give it to them.
2. Invest in your employees
When you encourage your employees’ development both in and out of the office, it tells them that you care about their ambitions, goals and priorities, and trust their competency and ability to pursue them. You’re saying “I believe that you can achieve your dreams”.
Ultimately, this helps your business because you will end up with more highly skilled and motivated people, who feel comfortable enough to ask for what they feel they’d need or like to improve a certain skill or gain an industry insight that will be advantageous to them and therefore to you.
In a similar vein, listen to your employees’ needs beyond the work environment. Personal affairs can have a huge knock-on effect to performance at the office. Make your team feel they can confidently come to you with anything that might impact their regular working day or week. Whether that’s a recent bereavement, an ongoing health issue, or simply wishing for more flexible working to be able to spend time with family or engage with another activity that is meaningful to them, listen to their needs and accommodate as much as you can. Not only will this set you apart as an empathetic employer, it will benefit you to have a team that is fulfilled outside of the work sphere, as they’ll be able to give work their all when the time comes.
3. Make communication purposeful
The fact that we are now connected 24/7 and easily accessible from anywhere in the world means switching off can be a challenge. Now, we’re not saying never message someone after hours or on a weekend – emergencies can happen at any time, especially in a young company or startup. However, when these times do arise, the way in which you go about your communication can seriously shape the way your employees feel about the workplace culture they’re a part of.
Make each communication purposeful. It is a valuable tool you have to show your employees you value their input and competence – they are necessary within your organisation. An employee who feels an integral and irreplaceable member of the team is more likely to work harder to achieve, because their pride and reputation are on the line. Therefore, communication is powerful and can actually be an advantage to you as a boss. Just make sure that your requests really can’t wait for Monday.
Listen, listen listen! Listen to what your employees think would make a positive workplace culture, and listen to what the competition is doing and offering. What in their environment do your employees love? What would they like to improve? What does communication within your company look like and can it be improved? Remember that your ‘workplace brand’ is just as important to your employees as your company brand is to your customers. Give them one to believe in in 2020!
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