By Jessica Brownlee
Our tips and insights into being successful at work you do, by valuing and investing in people …
Growing your business and being successful is hard, especially in times like these. We all want to make more money, smash those business goals and just feel like we are achieving our best lives at work. And yes, your customers are the heart of your business. But your employees and people you work with are the life blood. Think about it, you cannot get a single thing done without your people. Literally, not a single thing (barring what you can achieve on your own steam, of course).
When we think of increasing our business or product value we often immediately think of the customer. But what about the employees and people driving the value? Just as customer service has transformed over the years, along with the customer, into customer experiences (the holistic perception customers have of your brand or business stemming from every interaction they have with it) so too do we need to transform our employees’ engagement and happiness by intently focusing on their employee experience. After all your employees are your first customer, and the human side of your brand.
If the fiscal side of employee experience doesn’t captivate you (we all have different motivations) consider how much of our lives we spend at work and that you as a brand or employer have the power to make someone’s workplace, and by implication life, better, more positive and happier. If there is ever a time to flex your altruistic muscles and show some kindness to others, the middle of a global pandemic and on-again-off-again lockdowns would be it!
The deal with Employee Experience
A positive employee experience is more than just a decent place to work. Employee experience is a combination of your workplace culture, the physical work environment and the tools and technology which enable the work. As an example, when you go to work you want to experience a sense of belonging and shared purpose (culture), where you feel safe, can attain goals and grow while working in a healthy, safe and well environment with a technology or machinery that enables you to be efficient and perform. As leaders or business owners if we don’t address and manage all the factors impacting our employee experience we may pay a heavy cost. To convince the stoic and unmoved out there, here are some tangible examples of employee experience impacting the bottom line:
- It is a proven fact (by science, people) that a happy employee is 20% more productive, imagine losing 20% of your employees’ production every day for a year. That’s a full day a week, almost full week lost a month just because your employee is unhappy.
- An engaged workforce outperforms one that is lackluster by tripling profit to 147% profit per share.
- A positive employee experience creates an engaged workforce. Annually disengaged employees cost the USA $450 to $550 billion a year!
- Managing your employee experience allows you to shape your culture and culture eats strategy for breakfast.
- To have talent and the best employees who give of themselves at work, they need to feel appreciated, and that means more than a competitive paycheck. Google increased employee satisfaction by 37% thanks to their investment in employee support.
- Another hidden cost of poor employee experience is the increase in sick leave and absence, an unhappy employee takes 15 more sick days a year.
- If you are in a highly competitive industry, positive employee experience can give you the edge with increased innovation and performance from your employees. Happy people just think and work better!
Insights into Your Business’ Employee Experience
If we want to focus on cultivating positive employee experience, a good starting point is understanding what and where it is now, establishing your status quo. Understanding your employee experience can be simplified into two main focus areas:
- What do your employees expect, want and need?
- How does your business design the solutions to meet the wants, expectations and needs of employees?
You can understand your employee experience by evaluating three things:
- The physical space:
Evaluating your workplace design and its impact on interactions, daily work life and wellness.
- The workplace technology:
Embodying frictionless technology that enables and supports performance.
- The company culture:
Understanding and building the right behavioral norms, values and policies on what is acceptable inn your workplace.
Tips to cultivating positive employee experience
So you have a good idea of what employee experience is, why it is important to you and how to evaluate and understand your current employee experience. Hopefully, you feel energized to take action in addressing your employee experience, for your business value and for your employees. Here are some tips to assist you in starting to build a more positive employee experience:
Foster Psychological safety
Yes, it sounds complicated, but no it is not. Simply, psychological safety is merely about giving people the freedom to bring their whole selves to work while feeling valued, connected and accepted. To create increased psychological safety at work we need to approach others with positive regard, allow failures and successes, treat people with dignity and act inclusively. Our interactions, especially the leaders at work, need to down regulate fight or flight responses and allow people to be calm, energized and focused.
Communicate with your employees
An important part of employee experience is communication between the business, leaders and employees. Great communication starts with listening. Actively listen to your employees. You can create discussion boards, virtual collective spaces and even schedule team lunches that allow open communication. Really listen and try to understand what motivates and demotivates your employees, try put yourself in their shoes and understand their day-to-day lived experience. Storytelling is a great way to share ideas and communicate with employees. Host town halls or social media campaigns to keep them feeling connected.
Make people feel valued
Focus on fostering a culture of acknowledgement, people have a fundamental need to feel valued and this is true for the workplace. Recognize contributions to the team and company success in meaningful ways beyond monetary incentives. Create the habit of frequent feedback and make a point of letting people know you see them and their efforts.
Give employees’ growth opportunities
A big part of a positive work experience is feeling like you are growing and contributing to something bigger than yourself. Ensuring employees have routine learning and development opportunities gives them the chance to grow and progress. Growth can take the form of free access to Udemy courses or short courses, personalized development plans to one’s career aspirations or creating a learning culture in the organization with knowledge sharing and learning lunches.
Work Life Integration and Balance
We all want to feel like we have a good work life balance, in essence we want a positive experience at work and at home. As work and life become more integrated it is really up to leaders and business’ to enhance employee work life balance and show employees they genuinely do care for their happiness. Small steps such as increased autonomy and flexibility at work can go a long way to making employees feel empowered and valued. Consider others schedules when booking meetings, perhaps try have stand up meetings instead of sitting in a board room. Be mindful of the emails your forward and who’s mailbox you are filling. And most importantly encourage employees to switch off and recharge, often.
Integrate the desired experience into people practices
You can’t achieve the employee experience you want without ensuring all other initiatives in the business align. If you want to encourage feedback, make it a weekly habit in the team. If you want people to act inclusive, build it as a measure into your performance management system and include it in onboarding initiatives. Once you have identified the pillars you will use to build your employee experience make sure you integrate it into all the employee touch points to reinforce the change in behaviours and make it stick.
A word from Jessica Brownlee
Through the sharing of knowledge and experience, we want to help build communities, organizations and individuals become the most optimal version of themselves, both physically, emtionally and mentally.
Your health is your wealth so make lasting changes, one habit at a time.
The WellBe Team
About Jessica Brownlee
Jessica is an industrial and organizational psychologist specializing in learning, leadership, talent, neuroscience and wellness. A self-proclaimed wellness geek, Jessica writes The Humble Humanologist blog to inspire, motivate and uplift others on their work and wellness journey. She is her own boss, running a consulting company, Psychology360 (www.psychology360.org) and consults globally to some of the leading organizations. Jessica also strives to find balance and is an avid yogi and yoga teacher (who is yet to master a hand stand).