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The Employee Experience: The Key To Motivating Employees

Published July 14, 2020 (last updated July 24, 2020) Author: Employsure
motivated employee working hard at the press

Human Resources gurus often use terms like the ‘employee lifecycle’ to describe the employee experience in their organisations.

This has been seen as an effective technique to map and analyse an employee’s experience from getting hired, to retirement or separation. However, the O.C. Tanner Institute’s 2020 Global Culture Report proposes that this approach to navigating the employee experience is still too ‘top-down.’ That is, it still looks at the employee experience from the organisation’s perspective.

Now, why is it that organisations need to improve their employee experience? The truth is that poor employee experience leads to a decrease in innovation, an increase in burnout and high staff turnover. The report quotes that nearly 1 in 5 employees, especially Millennials, left their jobs in 2017 due to a poor employee experience.

Deloitte reported that 84% of its employees believed that employee experience should improve, with almost 33% labelling it as a top-three urgent issue. The main issue is that leaders are not focusing on the personal aspects of day-to-day work life that matter to their employees.

The O.C. Tanner Institute report includes a chapter about the Employee Experience, and found that “organizations need to get hyper-focused on day-to-day employee experiences.” These day-to-day employee experiences are referred to as “micro experiences,” which are individual to every employee’s life at work. While looking at the employee lifecycle is perhaps still a bit broad, it can be improved upon to incorporate these micro experiences along the way.

This may not seem ground-breaking, but its important to realise that employees define the employee experience differently to organizations. There are some rather basic indicators that employees would use to rate their employee experience, for example: appreciation received (or not received); how they are treated by leaders; and how easy or difficult it is to get resources, answers, and information.

What sets HR departments and employees apart is that employees are living these experiences every day, not just reviewing the topic annually from the organization’s perspective.

The report proposes a technique for organizations to look at the employee experience, through doctors Chip and Dan Heath’s idea of “peaks” and “valleys”. The idea is that the human experience is filled with peak moments, which are positive moments that have lasting impact, and valley moments, which are negative experiences on the other end of the spectrum. Our brains tend to remember these defining moments and forget the rest.

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By putting the employee at the centre of the lifecycle, instead of the organization, and making room for these peak and valley moments, you can gain a greater understanding of your employees’ triumphs and failures. Further, by focusing on creating more peak moments in your employees’ experiences and lessening the depth or severity of some of the valley moments, leaders will begin to see the benefits of a change in workplace culture.

Another way to create positive experiences, beyond the employee lifecycle, is to look to the Talent Magnets: purpose, opportunity, success, appreciation, well being and leadership.

This way of mapping employee experience is more holistic in its approach. It can really help you to pin-point where you can improve an individual employee’s experience by striving for some more peak moments in each area.

It’s also important to distinguish workplace culture from employee experience. While they are different, they go hand-in-hand. When we think of workplace culture, sometimes we think of perks like onsite gyms, espresso machines, and chill-out zones filled with beanbags.

While well-thought-out perks for employees can contribute to a richer employee experience, they are not always long-term solutions for creating a thriving workplace culture. Workplace culture is really about things like mutual respect and diversity, encouraging innovation, celebrating the wins, and healthy relationships within teams and with management.

Last but not least, the employee experience is going through a similar overhaul that occurred with the customer experience. Customers eventually got sick of outdated retail models and didn’t want to be treated like numbers anymore. So too have employees.

The O.C Tanner Institutes research shows that nearly one-half of employees believe their organization regularly sacrifices the employee experience to improve the customer experience. As such, it is time to put the ‘human’ element back into human resources, and to focus on improving the employee experience so that your staff really want to come to work and enjoy their workplace.

The O.C Tanner Institute report proposes 5 recommendations for improving Employee Experience below:

  1. Diagnose if burnout is a problem in your organization and then find the cultural issues causing it.
  2. Rethink leadership. The outdated leader-knows-best style and lopsided power structure of leadership are not working anymore.
  3. Help leaders encourage a model of shared leadership with their teams.
  4. Build connections with people by better utilizing regular one-to-one conversations between leaders and their team members.
  5. Enable teams where employees feel included, supported, and psychologically safe.
  6. Actively listen to understand your people—don’t ask for feedback just to “check the box.”

In summary, to improve your business’s employee experience, try using the above recommendations to bring the employee to the centre of focus. Not only will this improve your workplace culture, but it will have a flow-on effect on your business outcomes.

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