Businesses spend billions convincing customers their brand is better than the rest. But what about the employee experience of working for the company?
How much does your business spend attracting and keeping employees?
Employees are the most important asset in any company. Yet barely a fraction of the amount invested on optimizing the customer experience is spent on creating a workplace that makes employees proud and privileged to be part of the team.
I call businesses that put their workers first ‘People Companies.’ These are companies that truly understand their people are paramount to success, and show them this in actions, as well as in words, creating great workforce experiences that attract and retain the best.
But how can you start the journey toward creating great employee experiences that do this – and why is this such an urgent priority?
Employee experiences matter
The “war for talent” is proof it’s never been more important to reappraise the relationship between workers and employers. The rise of social media and the advent of websites like Glassdoor make it easier than ever for disgruntled employees to share their poor work experiences, and this can have a devastating effect on recruiting and retaining the skills a business needs to achieve its ambitions.
The employee experience is often misunderstood. In fact, an individual’s experience at work is the foundation for engagement. For example, 95% of employees who had a positive experience at work said they’d go the extra mile for their customers and their company, according to a study by IBM.
There’s a big difference between declaring yourself people-oriented and actually putting meaningful practices into place.
Our research has already identified a major disconnect within businesses with 55% of senior executives believing their company is people-orientated, against only 29% of employees.
So, what can businesses do to become People Companies, and put their employees first?
Here are five steps any business can take to creating great employee experiences:
1. Show your appreciation
Sometimes, it’s the little things that make a great difference to the employee experience. Our research found that two-thirds of respondents say it’s important to feel valued in the workplace. That’s why businesses need to review their existing processes, so employees are given recognition, praise and rewards for the great work they do.
This can sometimes be just a simple “thank you” for work well done. The important thing here is it’ll be different for each employee. True People Companies ask their employees what motivates and engages them and create tailored experiences for them that reflect this as a result.
2. Provide flexible and remote working
More than four in five employees we polled said they value flexible or remote working. Insisting employees keep certain hours or refusing to grant them opportunities to work from home is a recipe for resentment.
In an ultra-competitive candidate marketplace, providing flexibility – and, just as importantly, trust – is an excellent way to foster great relationships with your workers. It empowers them to manage their own time and gives them much-needed flexibility in today’s world of work.
After all, why shouldn’t employees work from 7 a.m. and finish earlier if they’re more productive in the mornings, or have international calls first thing? Why should parents have to miss the school run just to be seen to be in the office, when they may be working long evenings, too?
3. Make rewards meaningful
Our research found that employees don’t want ping pong tables or office perks. Instead, incentives need to be linked to individual performance and tailored to each person’s preferences. Rewards could include promotion, more varied experiences, pay increases, more opportunities for remote working, but they’ll differ from employee to employee. This requires HR and People teams to engage with each worker to discover how to build bespoke benefits.
4. Support worker well-being
Two-fifths of respondents said they believed HR and People teams could do more to improve wellness at work. Whether its offering subsidized gym membership or improving mental health support, businesses must demonstrate they take employees’ health and well-being seriously.
5. Engage and iterate
It might seem obvious, but if you want to build a great workplace experience for all, you need to engage with employees. Yet only 12% of employees we spoke to are regularly asked what would improve their experiences at work, and almost half (47%) had never been asked at all.
It’s impossible to become a People Company if you don’t listen to workers’ concerns and make the necessary changes in light of what you’ve learned.
Put people at the heart of what you do
A third of employees saw their HR or People team’s role as creating positive experiences at work – so HR and People teams need to lead this cultural transformation. However, they can’t do it alone. The entire top table needs to be responsible for delivering positive experiences across the workforce.Why? Because it matters. The better an employee’s experience at work, the more engaged they are, the more productive they can be, and the more the business benefits. It makes economic sense – as well as being the right thing to do for your employees.