SHRM reports that while 86% of Americans were happy with their jobs in 2009, that percentage has been in slow but steady decline ever since. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace finds that only 13% of people around the world feel engaged at work.
Improving your employees’ experience is not all about the perks you offer, it usually carries two meanings. First, you want your employees to become more mature, more experienced in their ability to meet the demands of their job. Second, you want your employees to have a great experience at your organization. It is about your employees feeling engaged at work.
These two goals may seem unconnected, but they have more in common than you think. For example, Harvard Business review studies show that when employees advance in their knowledge and career, they are more likely to love their job. As such, challenging your organization to become better at one will inevitably make it better at the other. In this article, we discuss 5 ways to get started meeting both goals at once.
1. Increase Employee Diversity.
The biggest takeaway we found is a strong and statistically significant correlation between the diversity of management teams and overall innovation. Companies that reported above-average diversity on their management teams also reported innovation revenue that was 19 percentage points higher than that of companies with below-average leadership diversity—45% of total revenue versus just 26%. (Source: Boston Consulting Group Report, 2018)
Why does diversity increase company profits? The employees must work harder to assimilate more diverse points of view. Ethnic, racial, and gender diversity all bring alternative perspectives to the table. When two similar team members hit a brick wall, a different team member makes a new suggestion or observation.
One of the finest ways to improve employees’ experience is to encourage them to work with different groups of people. They will expand their horizons, learn new approaches, and feel a greater sense of teamwork and self-efficacy.
2. Make It Easier to Get Things Done.
Antiquated systems interrupt work productivity. As managers press their teams for results, bad processes and equipment will only slow employees down. Soon, employees get discouraged and feel burnt out. They are neither making gains in their roles or in their careers.
Utilizing new technologies such as AI and RPA can save time by automating manual processes. For example, a payroll department might normally generate PDF copies of payslips and manually upload them to the HR system after a payroll run. Instead, an RPA agent could automatically fill out those slips in the HR system as they are processed, saving human operators time and effort.
When business leaders seek to increase efficiency by equipping their workforce with the proper training and software. Experience improves with momentum, and good employers fight diligently to prevent interruptions to that momentum. Loyal employees feel confident that they will have what they need to advance in their careers and do their job effectively. According to Forbes,
We build up systems in order to support the work we do. Sometimes, we over-complicate what should be an easy task. Take a look at your systems, and see what can be simplified. Your employees want to know you are taking the burden off of them to do their job so that they feel supported.
3. Keep the Focus on Collaboration and Problem Solving.
It doesn’t always help to blast the stale advice to “stay positive” at a busy workforce. Instead, managers can steer away from the passive-aggressive admonition to “stay positive” by simply encouraging employees to collaborate and problem-solve. Problems are a reality of life: why not address them as a team?
Once managers and employees begin to feel inconvenienced by the problems, their resilience will dwindle, and with it the quality of their work experience. Instead, team members can improve the way they share feedback, ask for help, and celebrate the team’s success. Healthy collaboration is usually key to feeling motivated to problem solve throughout the day. Challenges actually become anticipated experiences rather than dreaded interruptions.
4. Always Offer Career Development Opportunities.
Is it easy for new employees to grow within the company? Are there ample development opportunities to improve employees’ hard and soft skills? If not, it will be hard to build a positive employee experience
There are many internal and external career development opportunities available for employers. Human resources software often comes equipped with the ability to build development curriculums and track skills training. Many learning opportunities are available for free online or for low-cost at local networking events. Experienced, technical experts within the company can offer to cross-train and improve their people skills at the same time.
5. Curate a Safe Space for Open Communication.
Of course, there is no way to really know what your employees need without allowing them to speak freely. Employees that speak freely are not necessarily ones that are allowed to say whatever they want. But you should be asking for specific kinds of employee feedback and allowing them to answer the question. That requires you and your business leaders to not take their feedback personally. However, when engaging in employee feedback surveys it is important to too many companies only pay attention to the results from annual employee engagement surveys and don’t proactively design and manage employee experience to produce better engagement.
Good Communication Requires Proactivity
Additionally, employees choosing to be open with you are expecting you to validate their concerns and to take action. Validation does not mean that you must agree with their conclusions, but it does mean that you can repeat back to them in your own words what they said and honor their voice.
When you decide to take action, you needn’t take their full advice. But you should be able to find reasonable ways to accommodate your employees’ needs and the needs of the organization. If nothing else, assign certain problems to a team of employees that raised the concern and give them clear parameters for solving those problems.
Be Engaging, Clear, and Consistent
When communicating with employees, be as specific as possible. Ambiguous messages create confusion and misunderstanding. As a general rule, employees misread unclear communicate in a negative way, rather than a positive way. Repeat communication frequently so as to be sure that everyone got the message.
Some organizations use stay interviews for current employees in an effort to create keep open lines of communication between teams and management. Other organizations use formal mentorship programs for healthy employee engagement. Regardless of the two-way communication tools and mediums, you need to be willing to communicate clearly and receive constructive criticism from your employees.
Benefits of a Positive Employee Experience
Research by Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, shows that organizations that invested most heavily in employee experience were:
- included 11.5 times as often in Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work
- listed 4.4 times as often in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers
- 28 times more often listed among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies
- listed 2.1 times as often on the Forbes list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies
- twice as often found in the American Customer Satisfaction Index
Most importantly, he finds that “experiential organizations had more than 4 times the average profit and more than 2 times the average revenue. They were also almost 25 percent smaller, which suggests higher levels of productivity and innovation.”
Employees will thrive in a work environment that improves their ability and work experience. As such, many employers are creating a more loyal workforce by offering greater employee diversity, better productivity tools, a collaborative culture, career growth outlets, and open, two-way communication between management and employees.