The employee experience tends to get more attention when the job market is tight, and companies must compete for the best talent. That is unfortunate, because employee experience should be important to all companies regardless of what they do, their size, and how much trouble they must go to in order to hire great people.
The employee experience is a major factor in employee engagement, and employee engagement is where the rubber of good intention meets the road of great results. When employees are engaged in their work, they are willing to give their best effort because they find it meaningful and know that in doing so they can make things better for others, whether those “others” are customers or colleagues. Naturally, this turns into greater tangible success for the organization.
However, employee experience is not quite as easy a concept to get one’s arms around as employee engagement. It encompasses things like pay and benefits, but also morale, the physical workspace, work-life balance, and whether or not it feels good to arrive at work every day. The business world has become more competent in measuring employee engagement, but not so much with employee experience. Sure, you know about “good places to work,” but what does that actually mean?
The companies that figure out what it means to understand employee experience and to be able to measure, track, and improve it are the companies that are best positioned to have strong employee engagement and all the many benefits that derive from it.
Employee Experience: What Does It Mean?
Employee experience is a “big picture” term. In many ways, employee experience is about eliminating unnecessary barriers to strong employee engagement. A good employee experience is made up of the sum total of the positive perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization for which they work. What is it like to ask a question of HR about benefits? If an employee needs a new piece of equipment, how hard is it to petition to get it? Is the physical environment clean and comfortable?
One thing many companies are discovering as the economy rebounds and top talent becomes more challenging to find is that the employee experience is strongly related to the customer experience, and is, therefore, worth understanding and investing in. The company that makes the effort to understand what employees value and aligns the workplace with those values is a company that is willing to provide customers with a great interface and a more positive experience as well.
What Employee Experience Is Not
As important as it is to understand what employee experience is, it is equally important to understand what employee experience is not. Employee experience cannot be dismissed as minor perks like free snacks and discounted theme park tickets. Nor is it summed up as “talent management” or “HR development,” because it is possible for talent management and HR development to be outstanding in a company where the employee experience is lousy.
Employee experience is not employee satisfaction. Face it: employees will not be satisfied every minute of every day in the workplace, and some employees will not be satisfied no matter what anyone does. Think of employee experience as the infrastructure that supports employee satisfaction, employee engagement, and other feel-good initiatives (like the free snacks).
Ah, but can’t you have great employee satisfaction, strong engagement, and fun perks without attention to employee experience? Perhaps, but not for long, because a company that pays no attention to employee experience ultimately cannot satisfy customers and loses its ability to compete, which ruins things for employees as well.
How to Improve the Employee Experience
Step one to improving the employee experience is understanding it. Surveys, focus groups, and plain old observation are methods companies use to understand the employee experience. Some companies have managers work “in the trenches” on a regular basis so they can understand what front-line employees do and experience every day.
Also important to improving the employee experience is making it a priority and stating so explicitly. In fact, assigning a senior leader to assume responsibility for measuring and improving employee experience is a good idea.
Finally, improving the employee experience means understanding it for the entire workforce. That includes the person who delivers interoffice mail, the custodians, the receptionist, the customer service representatives, the graphic designer, the IT support desk worker, and the instrument technician. Employee experience is comprehensive and leaves no one out.
Employee Engagement: What Does It Mean?
Employee engagement is the level of connection, commitment, and enthusiasm employees have about what they do every day at work. Engaged employees are motivated to put in their best effort, are committed to the employer, and generally want to stay with them. The engaged employee is not the one who shows up and “phones it in” until it is time to go home. Rather, engaged employees consider their tasks and take the time to know how they want to approach them, before giving their time, attention, and care to those tasks.
Engaged employees are far less likely to leave for other jobs, so they benefit companies by reducing employee turnover. They are also likelier to be concerned with pleasing customers, so they tend to improve the company bottom line. They are also likely to make the workplace better overall, by demonstrating a good example to others and by behaving in a professional and friendly manner. In other words, your company needs strong employee engagement.
What Employee Engagement Is Not
Employee engagement is not the same thing as the employee experience. Employee engagement is certainly a component of strong employee experience, but the two are not interchangeable. Nor is employee engagement the same thing as employee happiness. An employee may be perfectly happy for reasons that have nothing to do with work. Maybe their team won over the weekend, or maybe they have a huge party planned. That does not necessarily mean they are going to be engaged in their work. In general, engaged employees are happy, but happy employees are not necessarily engaged employees.
Employee satisfaction is also not the same as employee engagement. Employee satisfaction can be derived from nothing more than the agreeable exchange of the employee’s time and efforts for a paycheck of a certain size. The employee who is only there for the paycheck may be satisfied but is not necessarily engaged in his or her work.
How to Improve Employee Engagement
Improving employee engagement is more tactical than improving employee experience. One of the most important things a company can do to improve employee engagement is to solicit feedback from employees about their jobs and listen to it. Suppose a worker’s sister is employed at a hospital across town and has been issued a mobile device that dramatically cuts the time she spends doing administrative work. That is worth knowing about!
You can also improve employee engagement by regularly providing feedback, especially if that means recognizing outstanding effort. Ensuring that employees know about training opportunities and can partake of them without a lot of hassle is important, and notifying employees of promotion or transfer opportunities can also improve their engagement levels. Employees want to know what is going on, and they want to have the agency to steer their career in the direction they want to go.
How Employee Experience Drives Employee Engagement
Improving the employee experience is one of the most important ways to improve employee engagement. People can only stay engaged in their work for so long if they know that senior management is indifferent, their equipment and tools are inadequate or outdated, or the organization is woefully understaffed.
The employee experience is big. It is strategic and long-term, while employee engagement is more immediate and tactical. You can have great tactics, but without a sound strategy driving them, they will eventually stop being effective.
With the mobile revolution, countless businesses have discovered that an employee engagement app is a tremendous tool for improving both employee experience and employee engagement. Apps can drive a better employee experience through the use of feedback tools and surveys, which can be instantly analyzed by the app itself, allowing information to be acted upon more quickly.
They can also improve the employee experience through countless small ways of demonstrating that employees matter. An app can notify employees whose shift is ending soon that there is a heavy storm on the way, and it can remind employees that the first-floor cafeteria is closed for two weeks for renovation. In other words, an app improves the employee experience by equipping employees with valuable information that makes their days better and more productive.
Apps drive better employee engagement too. What better way to deliver training modules than with an app that employees can use when their schedules allow? Apps can have employees rate new processes and tools and feed that information directly to those responsible for ensuring that processes and tools are optimized. Apps can notify selected employees of advancement opportunities for which they may be qualified.
Companies have an “employee experience” whether they shape and tend to it or not. When companies neglect employee experience, that experience is more likely to be shaped by negative factors like rumors or even outside media coverage. The companies that pay attention to employee experience, learn to measure it, and use it to drive better employee engagement are the ones that stand to gain the most in an era when finding and keeping top talent is more challenging than ever.
If you are interested in exploring the possibilities of using a mobile app to drive better employee experience and employee engagement, then you should know you can try the hubEngage app for free. HubEngage is the platform that allows companies like yours to develop the exact employee engagement app you need to help employees maximize their engagement and enjoy the best possible employee experience.