This blog post is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.
The everyday experiences at work is what defines how engaged employees feel and the extra effort they put to move their organization forward with performance. Employee experience2 is known as “a positive and powerful – and ultimately human – experience, in which employees are able to invest more of their whole selves into the workplace”.
While a great deal is studied about employee engagement3, the path to engagement is through employee experience, an area relatively understudied. Globally, just 13% of employees are engaged at the workplace4. Also, a mere 19% of employees perceive strong alignment between what their employer states it stands for and their own experience at the workplace.10 Employee engagement is the outcome while employee experience is the sum-total of all touchpoints which increases engagement.
The benefits of enhancing employee experience – improved financial performance and increased engagement are influencing organizations to invest more on their staff. Companies who provide a great employee experience are known to outperform their peers by 122%.8 Also engaged employees are more likely to stay with the organization, perform 20 per cent better than their colleagues and act as advocates of the business.
Organizations that view their employees as ‘internal customers’ are more likely to create experiences that matter. Mapping employees’ journeys and overcoming bottlenecks to provide a seamless and positive experience can result in improved organizational success. The experience spans the touchpoints: including, before the employee joins and when the individual leaves the organization. However, the experiences employees face indicate a gap. For example, only 12% of employees strongly agree their organization does a good job of onboarding, 52% of those who quit felt their managers or organizations could have intervened more to help them stay back and an employee who leaves with a good experience is 2.9 times more likely to promote their employer.5
Employees seek safe workplaces, stability and job security. For example, in the United States, workplace civility is improving and employees who view leadership as civil, can openly raise concerns and have supportive co-workers are more likely to bring their best selves to work.12 With the rise of automation, there are fears among job seekers on job security – with 22% believing that their jobs will be rendered obsolete in 5 years.6
It is the organization’s ability to listen intently, surface concerns that employees have on their minds and engage in a two-way dialogue that can improve employees’ experiences.7 Here are a few strategies that organizations can adopt to elevate employees’ connection to the purpose, enlist their support and increase belongingness.
- The gig or freedom economy has opened opportunities for employees to freelance and contribute to causes beyond the regular job9. By tapping this potential and involving employees in shaping their own experiences, there can be increased engagement. Often, organizations ‘decide’ the best solution for employees unilaterally. This creates angst among employees and erodes trust. Inviting employees to participate in co-creating solutions and problem solving can result in improved experiences.
- Recasting and rethinking what employees will need for the future can allow organizations to progress in a VUCA world – Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. With the rapid pace of change shaping the world of work and workplaces, employees will need to be ‘flexible self-starters’ and those who are agile learners will be successful. Learning agility is about the capacity to adapt, to navigate ambiguity and demonstrate the ability to bounce back from challenges and organizations who help employees hone these skills will be respected. Employees with high learning agility were twice more likely to have a stronger career and executives likewise outperformed peers. 14
- Increasing work schedules and loads are putting stress on the workforce. In the United States, for example, 2/3rd of employees are battling burnout on the job. Those who experience burnout are more likely to skip work, underperform and quit the job. With clear direction, timely support, load balancing at work and a healthy work atmosphere employee can thrive. 1
- Creating a thriving workplace and culture allows for employees to go above and beyond. Coaching managers to have concrete and regular conversations with employees on their skills competencies and performance, recognize often, focus on strengths will culminate in positive experiences. 7
- Organizations who communicate initiatives that reduce employee friction and improve workplace behaviors to improve efficiency are more likely to see the positive benefits of employee experience. Seeking feedback from employees, enlisting champions, sharing stories and new ways of working can enhance how organizations can speed up experiences. 11
When organizations focus on connecting the aspirations of employees with the organization’s purpose and societal impact and craft suitable experiences that generates higher engagement satisfaction and strategic alignment, performance can be greatly enhanced.13
Aniisu K. Verghese is an award winning corporate communications and social responsibility practitioner with over 20 years of experience in leading multinational organizations. He is the author of Internal Communications – Insights, Practices and Models and is passionate about engaging communicators and students through workshops, speaking engagements, teaching assignments and blogging. He can be contacted on Linkedin and via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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