5 Actions HR Can Take to Build a Winning Employee Experience
The Employee Experience describes an individual’s journey through your organization—from his or her first inquiry about job openings to their departing exit interview. This post provides actions HR can take to build engaging and winning experiences organization-wide.
Why You’re Seeing the Employee Experience Everywhere
As a human resources or learning professional, you know that the idea of the employee experience has caught fire this year. Why?
• Employee engagement, which offers one measure of the employee experience, still occupies the thoughts and aims of many HR professionals. For years, researchers have underscored the notion that engaged workers drive higher levels of success across the business, from customer service to innovation and even safety.
• Outside our organizations, shifts in the ways people look for work, how they want to perform that work, and their ideas about what it means to be “employed” have put new pressures on companies to reinvent jobs, deconstruct work, and develop new ways of competing for top talent.
• Evolution in the technologies we leverage in our daily lives and widespread use of social media make employer brands increasingly transparent. Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and other entities make connections between potential job applicants and existing employees; and they provide detailed glimpses into almost any organization, revealing the good and the not-so-good in equal measure.
Those are just a few of the forces and considerations that have lifted the employee experience to prominence in the minds of HR professionals. Quite simply, if we want our organizations to succeed in every possible way, we need to do all we can to make them great places to work, places that attract, engage, advance, and retain the best talent available. And providing a peak employee experience underlies those goals.
HR Is Perfectly Positioned to Create a Winning Employee Experience
As a strategic partner for organizations in all things talent-related, HR has unprecedented opportunities to take the lead in defining and driving an outstanding employee experience.
Here are five actions HR can take to identify what is and isn’t working, design some manageable goals, and find others to help you build engaging and rewarding journeys for your workforce.
1. What does the employee experience look like in your organization?
Delivering a better experience begins with understanding what’s happening now.
Think about the employee lifecycle from first contact to last. Write down the following and include interactions and relationships (with colleagues, managers, leaders, customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders) that are likely to occur along the way:
- All steps individuals must complete to apply for a job with your company.
- All steps and encounters involved in the hiring process (scheduling/completing interviews, use of bots and other technologies, assessments, orientation/onboarding, etc.).
- In general (not actual details of executing a specific role), what people must do to perform their daily jobs—the workplace environment, how they interact with co-workers and managers, how they use tools and technologies, how training is accomplished, etc.
- How people interact with and are affected by organizational processes and systems across the employee lifecycle – the performance management process, advancement opportunities, benefits, compensation, and other talent-touching factors.
- How people leave the company—exit interviews, alumni interactions, etc.
2. Conduct interviews and/or focus groups.
If you really want to understand the employee experience in your organization, go to the source—interview people from different parts of the company and different organizational levels. If your company is a large one, focus groups may be an option, too. Use these interactions to round out your assessment of the employee experience by asking thoughtful, probing questions and actively listening. To optimize the intel you receive, assure confidentiality and provide a safe environment for interviewees to speak freely.
To augment the insights you gain from interviews, look at the results of your company’s most recent employee engagement or climate surveys. These should provide further visibility into employee impressions of many of the elements that comprise the employee experience.
3. Follow the trails.
Based on the insights you’ve gathered in interviews and in thinking through the employee experience, identify the people at key touchpoints in workers’ journeys. Talk to those colleagues, too. Get their perspectives. Identify interactions that are working well and enhancing the employee experience, and those that could benefit from improvement. Creating better experiences for your employees doesn’t mean rethinking everything. You’re likely to find plenty of great interactions happening every day.
4. Start small.
If you think about all the moving parts involved in the employee experience, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Instead, start by focusing on the positive:
- When you did your analysis and interviews, what two or three areas of the employee experience stood out as shining examples of what your organization is doing right?
- What is it about those interactions or processes that makes them winners in the employee lifecycle?
- What needs to happen to ensure that they continue to be standout experiences for your employees?
Put together a plan to keep those things on track. Make it your foundation for a great employee experience. Gradually expand the focus to other factors and work on bringing those processes, touchpoints, and interactions up to the same standards of excellence.
5. Ask for help.
Chances are, your organization has many capable resources you can tap for support and guidance in improving the employee experience. Do you have a customer relationship strategy in place? Some of the approaches your sales and service reps use to keep customers happy may be easily adaptable to improve elements of your employee experience. Marketing and communications professionals may be able to contribute ideas and skills, too. And reach out to your colleagues in talent acquisition, IT, total rewards, and the many other functions that directly influence and interact with employees on their journeys through your organization.
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This post is an adaptation of Stewart Leadership’s Top 4 Reasons to Prioritize Employee Experience Now