Whether your challenges are recruitment, retention, or both, creating and maintaining a positive employee experience may be just the ticket.
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Let's face it: With unemployment so low right now, the power is in the employees' court. They can, and will, make use of this opportunity to pick and choose where they will be most satisfied. There are a variety of factors that may tempt your employees to go somewhere else or woo a sought-after recruit. The employee experience can be a differentiating factor in their decision-making process.
The "employee experience" is everything that an employee experiences on the job. Do they like the job they are doing, their coworkers, and their boss? Do they have sufficient pay, health insurance, and other perks that make their life both on and off the job a little easier? Does the company empower them to do their job well? Does the company offer performance feedback in order to guide and help the employee achieve optimum productivity? Does it provide the employee with the tools they need to do their job well? What is the culture like?
Each company has something different to offer within its employee experience, the same way each company offers something different to its customers. It's a matter of figuring out what's going to resonate with a particular workforce and working toward implementing that if it isn't already in place. Once a company has done that, the next step is communicating the unique experience to current employees, potential candidates, and the customer base as well, thereby establishing the organization as a go-to place to work.
Employees have come to expect a good experience on the job. Employees have a lot more choices today, especially in certain sectors where there is a scarcity of jobs, and companies have to respond to that.
On the other side of the coin, companies today are more able to meet these expectations than they were in the past. They have more data at their fingertips on what employee preferences are and how they can differentiate themselves from other organizations.
Don't be afraid to ask employees about the kinds of experiences they want instead of just asking for suggested programs in an engagement survey or watching utilization data. Remember that employees are not usually asked those types of questions, so they'll need to shift their mindsets a bit before responding.
Some organizations are afraid that if you ask employees what they want, it will create the expectation that they will get everything they ask for. However, it is entirely possible to have these conversations without setting employees up for disappointment. In fact, asking these questions actually enables you to build a story that you can then communicate to employees, potential candidates, and even your customers about what kind of company you are.
Consider some of these conversation starters as you think about the employee experience:
How happy are employees with the offerings they receive from their company? This will include many aspects that you'd typically see on a total rewards statement – e.g., pay, employee benefits, work/life balance, opportunities for growth and training, etc.
How is performance management handled? How good is the leadership from the top on down? How do employees feel about their daily interactions with managers?
What is the culture like in the organization? Inclusive or narrow? Democratic or autocratic?
Would employees recommend your organization as an employer to others?
According to "digital transformation practice leader" Bertrand Duperrin, employees don't relay messages – they relay experiences. Marketing departments have been doing this type of branding for their customers for a long time. Partner with the marketing department to help craft messaging tied to the employer brand for potential candidates in the same way that they are already attracting customers.
There is definitely an urgency around this. Just ask any recruiter who has many openings and many applicants who aren't qualified – or worse, no candidates at all.
It's all about finding your competitive edge.
Rose Stanley is a senior practice leader and serves as a spokesperson and ambassador for WorldatWork.