You may have heard of the customer experience (CX). It’s the experience we have as a consumer when buying from or selling to a business. It answers questions like “Were they friendly on the phone?”, “Did they have what we needed?”, “Were my expectations met or did I have a wow experience?”.
The customer experience determines the likelihood that a customer will buy again.
Today, the world’s leading research company Gartner indicates more than 90% of business compete primarily on the basis of CX.
But what about employee experience (EX)? Don’t employees deserve to be treated as well, if not more so than the customer?
Enter 2018, the year our always-connected, 24/7 culture requires companies to compete on something different. This is the year companies, big and small must compete on EX by creating a responsible workplace.
“EX is the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization,” says brand leadership professional Denise Yohn. The employee experience includes “…Every employee interaction, from the first contact as a potential recruit to the last interaction after the end of employment.”
Why There’s a Need for Employee Experience
The short answer – the current generation, the Millennials.
Millennials bring an even larger workforce to companies than did Baby Boomers. Millennials are the wireless generation, the digital generation, the “me” generation. Regardless of what we call them, they are a committed group of talented individuals who value experiences over things. This creates a skills gap because they don’t have the mindset of “work for 30 years and leave with a pension.”
This “gap” leads to talent wars, in which companies compete to attract potential employees that have the necessary skills. From direct sales to skilled trades, these employees need to appreciate the importance of their jobs within the organization as a whole. Bridging the skills gap means finding ways to attract – and retain – valuable employees.
The Foundation for Employee Experience
(Our) study showed just how much millennials are turning away from materialism and traditional measures of success, and instead focusing their (considerable) disposable income on experiences. In fact, 65% of the 18-34-year-olds surveyed were driving the “Experience Economy” through buying real-life experiences versus possessions – Millennials Want Experiences More Than Anything Else
The employee experience begins before recruitment and is based on a set of distinct core values.
Brand reputation; how your company’s core values determine the way your company behaves and makes decisions. The companies of yesteryear are still focused on competing with their mission statement and goals with the focus on profits through superior customer service. Today, it’s not enough. Today you need a well-crafted employee experience.
Core Values: Not Just Words, Actions
“Communication. Respect. Integrity. Excellence. They sound pretty good, don’t they?” says Harvard Business Review. Those words sound great, but if those are your core values, your employees are saying, “PROVE it.” As an employer, when you make decisions that are core values-based, you have the foundation to attract new employees.
Too often companies select values that are the bare minimum for being in their industry. If one of your core values is “Honesty,” is it fair to your customers? Honesty, integrity, respect, etc. are nothing more than the minimum requirements for owning and operating a well-established business. Today’s employees want more from their employers when it comes to the rules by which they play.
Creating Employee Experience Through Core Values
Following successful recruitment, the first 30 days of onboarding are critical to you and your employees. You must train your new employees on what your core values mean to you.
Your core values are what make your company and your company’s culture unique.
Now that you’ve recruited people who have bought into your culture, it’s time to train them on the basics. Training your new and current employees on your company’s culture gives them the freedom to make decisions the way the leadership team would want them to.
When training is complete, your new team members should know how to be a productive, contributing member of the team. Your onboarding training should include the following:
- Communication – Interactions should be ongoing. Your communication mission should be “open and often.” Communicate transparently and through:
- face-to-face meetings
- group meetings
- social media posts
- training opportunities
- social events
- Expectations – Reasonable and fair expectations should be part of the job definition. Ask new and current employees what they want and expect from you. It’s crucial for you to be completely clear about what you expect from them.
- Fulfillment – Broken promises are one of the main reasons employees leave. You should keep your commitments to your team.
- Transparency – Knowledge, and trust are part of a company’s transparency policy. Transparency is about sharing roles and responsibilities between employees. It’s also about sharing results and trusting your employees to make the right decisions.
The Rules Are Being Rewritten
Social media has bridged the gap between employers and employees. Not just HR (human resources) personnel but business owners and corporate decision-makers are researching employees using social media sites; LinkedIn®, Facebook®, Twitter®. One reason is employees change jobs so frequently that employers utilize social media to understand the workforce connection better. Employers aren’t just looking to find skilled employees; they’re looking to find out more about employees.
The Unengaged Worker
51% of the United States workforce in 2017, when surveyed, indicated they are looking for a new job or would leave their job immediately for the right opportunity. Employee engagement is at a mind-boggling 33% – only 1 in 3 of today’s employees are actively engaged at work.
It’s no longer enough to pay well, provide great benefits, or even offer perks. Today’s employees want a reason to stay, a reason to belong, and a culture where they thrive.
What the Employee Experience is Not
Anything that sets employees up for success or improves our culture should be part of EX. –Mark Levy (former EX manager, Airbnb)
Culture is at the forefront of the employee experience. You team buys into why long before what. A healthy culture is rooted in a definite purpose, and a definite purpose comes from a solid foundation of values.
However, there will be naysayers. Here are some things cynics might say about EX.
- Perks and parties are enough to for a great employee experience.
- Brand ourselves differently, and we’ll attract better people.
- Measure employee engagement and improve it
- We just need to treat our employees like customers.
While EX might include perks and parties, branding, engagement, and treating employees better, it won’t be enough. Making promises you can’t, or won’t keep to your employees only fixes the problem in the short-term.
Long-term solutions require so much more…
- A commitment to delivering on your employee’s success.
- Dedication to improving employee engagement by listening to your employees
- Creating a brand image that is competitive for the right people and can deliver on the promise
- Empowering your employees to make decisions on how to treat your customers.
Employee Retention is at the Heart of Employee Experience
For you as an employer, recruitment, onboarding, and training expenses for new hires are necessary but costly. When employees leave, you’ve lost an investment. Employee turnover also impacts morale and productivity.
Many employers fear not having enough work to keep employees busy. Others fear not having enough employees to keep their workers and customers happy. Overworked and stressed employees due to poor retention is almost sure to impact customer service and profits. Here are seven reasons employees leave:
A Career Plan
Today’s employee wants to feel there’s room to grow within your company. You can offer educational training, tuition reimbursement, and career advancement options. If you lose employees thanks to the training you provided, be grateful. It’s better you train them and they leave, than not, and they stay. Developing a success or career path for your employees will go a long way in driving engagement.
If the only time you see certain employees is at the annual performance review, you’re “doing it wrong.” Ongoing communications through group or face-to-face meetings are important. Other communication mediums include bulletin board posts, memos, newsletters, and social media posts.
Today’s workforce wants to understand their company’s mission and core values. They want to know where and how they fit into your organization. If your employees are unsure of your company’s goals, they become unsure of how they can contribute. They may then feel devalued.
Virtual employment is one of the most desired positions. It doesn’t mean they work from home whenever they want, but flexibility is an important part of the employee experience.
Some 60% of millennials, 53 percent of Generation Xers, and 61% of Baby Boomers stated a desire to work remotely half of the time or more . . . In fact, 63 percent . . . said they would be willing to take a pay cut to telecommute at least half the time. –CIO
If you have high employee turnover, investigate your management team. “. . . This is the first place to look,” says Wendy Duckrey, recruitment professional. Ask your employees:
- Do you feel team-oriented?
- Is everyone pulling his or her own weight?
- Are your suggestions accepted and sometimes acted upon?
- Do you feel valued?
- Does your manager hear you or listen to you?
Sometimes excellent employees are promoted to a management level, reminiscent of the “Peter Principle.” (Employees are promoted based on competency until they eventually reach their level of incompetence.) That means some of your managers may have been excellent workers but make poor supervisors. Managers should be trained too.
Valued employees care about your image. Even if you can’t pay the highest wages, your company’s reputation for cutting-edge technology can make you a competitive employer. Current technology offers your employees opportunities to enhance and increase their skills.
Successfully managing work and personal life is key to today’s workforce culture. Some companies offer child care or even car washing services. You’ll retain the best talent for your business when you offer strategies to bridge work and home life.
Tools to Facilitate Employee Experience
You can use many of your current processes as tools to facilitate EX.
To recruit the right people, you must understand what attracts them to an employer in the first place. With behavioral assessments and a proven marketing process, you can understand what attracts the right employees and create a brand presence to be proud of.
This analytical tool should be part of the recruitment and/or onboarding process. Also, use behavioral assessments to help your teams better communicate with each other. They can learn ways to motivate each other and strengthen your team.
Training should be ongoing and not always only when it makes sense for their jobs. What kind of training would be useful to them? Retirement planning or financial management seminars? What about a fun cooking class? Perhaps leadership training would give them the confidence they need to pursue advancement within your company.
Your onboarding process and policy sets the expectations for your employer/employee relationship. Spend the time to bring them aboard correctly by keeping the promises you made about your company. Set them up with a success plan and get them the training they need. You want them to be competent and they want this as well.
If You’re Looking for ‘Better Talent,’ Become ‘A Better Place to Work’
You’ve got decision-making skills. And you own and/or operate a successful business because you know what kind of service customers expect and deserve. You’ve created a brand that includes honesty and superior work at reasonable prices. But you may still be wondering . . .
Why am I not as far along as I thought I’d be by now?
Why is it so hard to find good people?
And why is it so difficult to keep good people?
What can I do?
Possibly one of the best decisions you’ll make in 2018 is to revamp your recruiting and onboarding processes. You’ll have to make some changes within your company. Those changes will be adjustments that can ensure better long-term growth, but be prepared for some culture shock.
You should be very clear in statements about the changes you would like to initiate and maintain within your company. Remember to stress these changes are for the betterment of the organization and the workplace culture. Your talent will be better prepared and even excited about the future when you:
- Challenge the status quo
- Ensure clarity of objectives
- Minimize resistance
- Minimize uncertainty
- Obtain clarity
- Obtain individual buy-in
- Reduce personal anxiety
- Obtain commitment to the change
- Share information/vision
You also have been in business long enough to know you can’t do it all. It’s time to invest in your future and your business with EX. Recruitment marketing is revolutionizing the way companies attract and retain the best employees.