The Employee Experience Advantage
Employee experience is one of the latest trends taking over the world of HR: the concept of creating an experience in the workplace that essentially mirrors an exceptional customer or client experience. Simply described by Jacob Morgan, author of the The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture They Can Celebrate, “the employee experience is what happens when an employee interacts with your organization. It starts with how they first find and apply for a job at your company and ends with how they leave and includes everything in between.”
Employee Experience and Employee Engagement Are Not Interchangeable.
While employee engagement and employee experience are inextricably linked and are both incredibly vital for establishing a healthy, symbiotic employee-employer relationship, it’s important to note that the terms are not synonymous. Employee engagement is narrowly focused on the short term and typically happens at certain touch-points during the employee life cycle. Employee engagement activities include implementing incentive programs, office redesigns, organizing social committees, holding office gatherings, etc. Morgan characterizes these activities in his book as “short-term adrenaline shots” that may make the organization look better, but do little in the way of improving individual employee or organizational performance. These activities may be well intentioned, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that employees are going to perceive them in the intended way.
On the other hand, employee experience, much like a customer experience, is built on the idea that the employee’s impression of the organization or employer brand is a result of all of those encounters built throughout the employee’s journey with the organization from recruitment to retirement. Building an employee experience with (and not for) employees ultimately helps to create sustained employee engagement and a place where people want to show up every day. In other words, employee experience is the cause, and employee engagement is the effect.
Three Environmental Factors Shape Employee Experience.
According to Morgan, there are 3 major environmental factors that shape the employee experience:
Our work spaces and physical surroundings are certainly one factor comprising our employee experience. It is not about offering employees free meals or spending big bucks on funky ergonomics chairs and artwork. It is about offering employees flexibility about when and where they work, ensuring that your organizational values come to life as you’re walking around your office, thinking beyond an open or closed floor plan to what the actual purpose of each area will be, having the confidence to open your doors to strangers, friends, and even pets. It’s about getting employee’s feedback around the type of environment they’d like to see and use, and enabling them to get involved in creating it with you.
The technological environment comprises any technological tools that employees use to get their job done. While technology is supposed to make our lives easier, I’m sure we can all recall a frustrating experience with technology at work where it’s actually made our job harder: a computer froze, information disappeared, an important email got stuck in our inbox, etc (all of which have happened to me!). Creating a positive technological environment for employees means giving employees more access to technology whenever possible and being transparent about technology decisions, as well as considering and ensuring the user-friendliness of new tech implementations. IT and HR should really start to involve each other in their strategic conversations and become power-partners.
Unlike the previous two factors, culture is the only thing that you feel. It’s the aura or the vibe that you get when you enter into the organization. A positive cultural environment can be viewed as having a high level of fairness, employee referrals, diversity and inclusion, recognition and feedback, expressed value for employees, and dedication to employee health and wellness. HR and Marketing work together to really get a pulse on how the organization is being perceived by the people who work there. The process of creating positive employee perceptions and changing negative perceptions is owned by everyone in the organization, not just HR.
Overall, the more of these environments you can execute on and take small measures to improve, the better the overall employee experience will be, and thus, the more engaged your employees will be. This ultimately gives your organization a substantial competitive advantage.
To learn more about specific practices you can take, as well as measurements you can use to gauge how your employees view their experience with your organization, I suggest picking up a copy of Jacob Morgan’s book HERE. I highly recommend it to HR professionals and executives who are looking for more ways to create sustained employee engagement in their place of business. It’s a quick and insightful read that will get you thinking about ways to create an experience for your people at each stage of the employee life cycle.
Morgan, Jacob. The employee experience advantage: how to win the war for talent by giving employees the workspaces they want, the tools they need, and a culture they can celebrate. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2017. Print.