An exceptional workforce is a competitive advantage and part of any successful growth strategy. Higher quality talent acquisition, retention and engagement lead to improved employee performance, which leads in turn to improved business results. With high-performing talent in high demand, companies must focus more on why employees want to work than why they need to work, which is shifting the balance of conversation from compensation and benefits to culture, work environment and career opportunities.
According to recent research*, nearly 80% of executives believe employee experience is important or very important, but only 22% report that their companies excel at building a strong, differentiated employee experience. An equal percentage consider their performance “weak” in this area. So how do you provide people with an exceptional employee experience? It starts with understanding what employee experience is and how it’s built.
Employee experience is the total of everything an employee encounters, faces, thinks and feels in an organization – from before their first day to beyond their last – including all of their interactions with co-workers, supervisors, leadership, HR, their work environment and their customers. It is not a benefits package, performance rewards, an open floor plan, opportunities for advancement, a sophisticated computer system or a work-at-home policy – but it can contain all of these.
Many companies today are grappling with questions about employee experience, including:
What are the experiences that really matter and serve as “moments of truth” for employees of my organization? Do they vary by talent segment or demographic group?
What is the difference between EVP (employee value proposition), employer brand, employee engagement and the employee experience?
Why should our customer and employee experiences be aligned? How do we make this happen or prevent misalignment?
What is the difference between the employee experience that is marketed versus the actual experience once an employee joins our company?
What level of uniformity is appropriate for the employee experience we promote and drive? Which experiences must be similar to support our culture?
What influence can leaders have on employees’ experiences across the organization?
How can technology be deployed to measure, manage and simplify the employee experience?
What role does inclusion play in the employee experience and how does it benefit the company?
Your employee value proposition (EVP) is the promise you make to prospective and current employees – the picture you paint of what working in your organization is like. Your employer brand is how your EVP is perceived in the labor market – your distinctiveness, appeal and influence as an employer. However, your employee experience is reality. The EVP and employer brand must be aligned and supported at “key moments of truth” in the employee experience. If they aren’t – if reality clashes with the promise – your EVP and employer brand will be perceived as frauds. And in this age of social media, nothing gets around as quickly as a bad reputation. The most important thing about building an exceptional employee experience is actually delivering it.
There is another important reason to make sure your EVP and employee experience are aligned. Together, they can create a magnetic employer brand that attracts the type of people you want in your business and also “repels” those who are not a fit. Hiring the wrong people can be an even bigger problem than not hiring enough of the right people. A specific and well-articulated employer brand can help companies avoid creating an expensive and unproductive revolving door.
There are clear steps you can follow to improve the employee experience in any company:
1. Analyze talent segments and workforce composition. Access research and data to understand the composition and needs of your current workforce.
2. Identify the “moments of truth” across the employee life cycle. Moments of truth can occur when potential employees become aware of your company and its reputation; when candidates join the organization; throughout their tenure via performance reviews, career management, and rewards; and as employees separate from and reconnect with the company.
3. Assess gaps between the desired (EVP) and actual employee experience, and their alignment with your employer and company brands. Find out what your prospective, current and past employees think of you. Also use social listening tools; these are a powerful means to assess sentiment in the labor market. Compare these opinions with your desired EVP and brand to understand and address the most significant gaps between desired reputation, actual reputation and reality.
4. Design the optimal employee experience using a design-thinking approach. Use design thinking to simplify interactions and create the desired experiences at key moments of truth. Create an ideal journey with overarching goals at each phase, supporting objectives, specific actions to be taken, and the people and resources to involve at each stage.
5. Leverage technology to measure employee experience. There are technological resources to help you gather data and analyze your employee experience in many different ways. You could identify and analyze the amount of wasted time in employee meetings; hours focused on customers or team activities; collaborative time; after-hours work, engagement, etc. You can choose metrics that are most targeted to your operations style or that address your particular pain points.
In today’s business climate, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) priorities serve as important differentiators. Making DE&I truly part of your employer brand can have a significant impact on your competitive position.
A focus on DE&I shows prospective and current employees, regardless of how they identify, that company leaders genuinely care about their workforce. Many job hunters today, particularly younger ones, are specifically looking for this quality in their next employer. DE&I also allows a broader range of people to truly see a future for themselves at an organization where they are considering working. Once onboard, employees of organizations with a commitment to DE&I are more likely to experience a feeling of belonging and being seen and heard, which significantly boosts morale and supports a positive corporate culture.
At Lotis Blue Consulting, our team is passionate about DE&I and believes strongly in using evidence-based solutions to help our clients create real and lasting impact at their companies. We believe in strategies based in data science, behavioral science, and a deep analysis of patterns in daily interactions related to inclusion.
If you are considering or struggling with building a new employee experience strategy or improved inclusion practices, our professionals have considerable experience in helping companies like yours. For more information, reach out and start a conversation.
*2017 Human Capital Trends Survey, Deloitte University Press