HR: The focus is on the employee experience

May 2, 2023 | 5 Mins David Daly

It is becoming more and more accepted today that companies who choose to invest in the employee experience are more likely to achieve high employee satisfaction rates while leading on innovation and customer satisfaction.

It is therefore in the interests of every human resources department to focus on the employee experience and their well-being in 2023. The war for top talent remains ongoing and the global workforce now has more options than ever before when it comes to choosing their employer.

The global working landscape has changed since the pandemic, location is no longer an issue and hybrid, and remote working are fully embedded at most organizations today. The result of this is that candidates for jobs are now aware that they can cast a wider net when searching for a potential employer, and crucially, they can give greater consideration to the kind of employer they wish to work for, much more so than they may have done in the past.

In this article, we are going to look at a number of reasons why the HR focus this year should be on a positive employee experience and a couple of things that they can consider which might prove valuable with employee engagement, satisfaction and retention.

Employee engagement is your starting point

There can be no employee satisfaction and subsequent retention rates, without first engaging employees on a consistent basis. This is the starting point for HR leaders and HR managers at multinational companies around the world. The question to ask is how do we get employees engaged and interacting with whatever HR tools we choose to pursue?

Studies indicate that engaged employees are far more productive than those who are not. Engagement is about generating interest in the company, the strategic goals and the culture that you wish to embed. It is about getting employees on board and on message at the earliest possible stage in the recruitment process. You want them to view HR teams and HR technology tools as valuable assets, places where they can learn new things and receive answers & support.

This is about HR professionals, managers and leaders paying attention to the employee journey and the experience that these employees are having in the workplace.  Create a feedback mechanism so that HR can be an active listener and really understand what employees are saying, especially when it comes to where they may perceive the company is falling short of expectations. Engagement can be viewed as the level of emotional commitment an individual employee has to an organization. You should not underestimate the power of this because a fully engaged employee is in a much better position to deliver faster and better results in their day-to-day jobs.

A culture of appreciation

Developing a company culture of appreciation and pursuing it on a consistent ongoing basis can add real value to the employee journey and experience. Consistency is key here; this is not about handing out an award or a financial incentive early in the year and then forgetting about it.

This is an ongoing process of recognition, reward if necessary, but ultimately making employee appreciation a part of the overall company culture. HR leaders will be interested in making this happen from the top down, so they will need to engage with the executive and leadership team for buy-in. A culture cannot be created without the business leaders at the company embracing it.

You can look to bring on board a piece of software or technology that is specifically designed for recognizing milestones, awarding individuals or teams, and developing this culture of appreciation inside the organization. Employees are likely to respond in a positive manner, especially when they see it playing out consistently over the course of their employment. It can lead to higher engagement rates, more determination and a strong sense of being valued in the workplace. All of this is highly likely to result in positive employee retention statistics.

Use tools to track personal and professional growth

Using digital tools to track personal growth and professional development, from the moment an employee joins a company, can benefit both the employee and the overall company. The employee gets to see the progress they are making on both a personal and professional level inside the organization, while the HR team has a valuable database of employee lifecycle skills development that can help them when they need to source specific skill sets for specific projects.

These tools can track how talent levels in the work environment and skill sets have advanced since the employee joined the organization, how much training they have received, how much additional training the employee has undertaken without being specifically asked to and the various different teams and departments that the employee has worked in. All of this is very valuable data for both HR and the individual employee and it should be leveraged and utilized for the benefit of both.

Consider focus groups in your employee experience strategy

Once a year pulse surveys, performance reviews and occasional team lunches are not enough to gather the information needed by HR teams to really understand their employee base and what motivates them. Creating focus groups and ensuring they happen consistently throughout the year is likely to deliver a clear line of sight on employee attitudes and concerns. It can lead to better assessments of ‌employee needs and cover key touchpoints like wellness, work-life balance, perks, remote work, milestones and the experience of new hires during the ‌ onboarding process.

The focus groups are about getting a specific and mixed group of employees into a room where they can safely and comfortably state their opinions. There is an element of data gathering to this exercise, but it is also an opportunity for face-to-face contact with an emphasis on open and honest feedback.

It is important to tailor the questions around the employee experience in a way that gives them the opportunity to share their personal views. Let them speak openly about the interview and recruitment process, the onboarding process, their first six weeks in the job and their assessment of both the HR department and the leadership teams.

Ask for their feedback on company culture, technology and tools available to them, their opinions on how managers run teams as well as their views on the communication levels both within and across teams. An open and engaged discussion on these topics will likely provide far more valuable insight and data than any survey could hope to achieve.

HR teams: define what is the employee experience you wish to create

While it is vitally important to consistently get the views of the global workforce-it is equally important to have a clear definition within the HR department of what you want the employee experience at your organization to look like.

This can be your starting point- then the data you receive from focus groups, surveys, one to one chats and line manager feedback can help you assess just how close the HR department is to achieving the specific kind of employee experience they wish to create.

Put some definitions down on paper, create a picture of what good looks like and then map out the steps you need to take to achieve it. Be flexible and open- the employee experience concept you have might change the more conversations you have with employees inside the organization, and this could be a good thing as it is best to align your employee experience goals with the actual desires of the employees.

You don’t have to come up with concrete definitions as these can be a bit rigid but focus instead on how you want companies employees to feel about their experience at work. Then after a period of weeks and months, the HR team as a unit should sit down and share what they have learned from the focus groups and surveys as well as the recruitment and onboarding process. This way, you have both a vision of what you want to achieve as well as some concrete data in the form of feedback from employees about what the actual experience has been like so far for them. This will help you map out a process to get to where you want to be and create the kind of overall experience that both HR teams and the global workforce can be proud of.



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