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Shaping the Employee Experience: How to Design Compelling Practices at the Workplace?

The nature of work has dramatically changed in the last couple of years. Employees constantly have to learn new skills, adopt new working models, and embrace the latest technology and software. While some workers thrive under this increasing pressure, many employees feel a great sense of disruption and struggle to accept the rapidly changing work conditions.   

The “Great Resignation” exodus was a clear signal that employees were burnt out and questioning the value of work as the concept of “work-life” has taken on a new meaning. As a result, how workers experience the workplace has become critical for organizational performance and success.   

Now, more than ever, companies need to address employees’ needs and redesign the workplace to create an excellent and rewarding employee experience (EX).

What is Employee Experience (EX)?

Contrary to what many assume, employee experience is not the same as employee engagement. While employee engagement uses perks to create short-term boosts to make employees perform better, the employee experience is a long-term purposeful redesign of the organization with the employee as its focal point.  

So, you might be wondering what does it mean?  

There is no clear definition as the EX has different meanings for different organizations. EX considers employees’ values, needs, and expectations and aims to shape the workplace into a positive experience during the entire employee lifecycle.  

In other words, all of the interactions inside the workplace: with technology, the workspace, relationships within the workplace, opportunities for growth, and development contribute to the overall experience. 

Which Factors Contribute to a Positive Employee Experience?

The notion that employees only care about compensation is false. More than anything, employees today want to feel a powerful sense of belonging and purpose.  

Several factors contribute to designing a positive employee experience:   

While it is helpful to list these areas as separate factors, the people’s experience demands a holistic strategy. Employees need an integrated experience that considers their overall emotional, physical, professional, and financial well-being from hire to exit. 

Organizations need to reinforce the desired message through all high-level touchpoints of the employee experience – Employee Value Propositions, onboarding, learning and development, and performance management. 

Why is There a Growing Need for EX?

The interest in EX has grown a lot over the years.  

In one survey, nine out of ten, or 92% of leaders, said the EX would be an important priority over the next three years. Forward-thinking companies are already expanding their HR departments to include an Employee Experience Manager role.  

There are several reasons for the increasing attention to employee experience that can be explained through different trends: 

Meaningful work
Alignment with corporate brand and purpose
Social interactions and relationships within the workplace
Work environment and culture
Talent development and growth opportunities
Rewards, health, and wellness
Supportive technological environment
Trust in leadership
Authenticity and transparency in management processes
Due to labor shortages, businesses need to pay closer attention to the treatment of employees and ensure attraction and retention.
A positive employee experience during onboarding makes employees integrate and perform at a high level faster.
Businesses are expected to aid workers in achieving a better work-life balance and invest in employees' overall well-being.
Millennials are the largest generation in the workplace due to shifting labor demographics. Above all, they value a good work-life balance, flexibility, and meaningful work. e

Why is Employee Experience so Important?

Business owners have long embraced giving their customers top-notch service, as the customer experience (CX) directly impacts their bottom line.  

Just as customer-centric organizations care so much about the experience they provide to clients, nowadays, companies aim to design a meaningful experience and change employees’ perception of work. Studies show that positive employee experience is linked to better work performance and more effort.  

Companies gain their competitive edge by attracting and retaining highly skilled and well-trained workers in today’s knowledge-based economy.  

By investing in their employee experience (EX), companies stand apart from the competition through strong company branding, allowing them to attract the best talent. Not only that, job seekers can look up companies that are ranked on an EX Index before deciding to join an organization.  

In addition, employees with low EX scores are more than twice as likely to want to leave than those with positive experiences. A world-class employee experience creates valuable brand ambassadors, increasing the likelihood of getting recommended to other highly talented individuals, aiding the organization’s talent acquisition efforts.   

Therefore, investing in employee experience is synonymous with investing in the growth and success of your business. 

What are the Best Practices to Design a Strong Employee Experience?

Any organization, regardless of its size, industry, or culture, should desire to optimize the experience of its people. The question on many leaders minds is how to succeed in achieving a positive experience. While the employee experience is too vast and ever-changing to be completely managed and controlled, the following practices nurture a positive culture.   

Supportive Leadership

Management and leadership play an influential role in setting the tone and direction of an organization, including setting the foundations of a positive EX. Managers provide a high level of clarity about the direction of the organization, its purpose, and values and align employees with the organizational goals.   

Managers also play a critical role in providing a high level of personalized support to their employees in their day-to-day operations. Identifying and developing great managers is a must for creating a positive work environment. Provide them with management training to improve their performance and positively impact employees.

Deliver Excellent & Open Communication

Open and honest communication is the key to any relationship. As such, they are providing timely and continuous feedback will boost the company’s ability to grow and innovate.  

Maciek Kubiak, Head of People at PhotoAiD, highlighted the need for establishing proper communication channels with your employees as part of the EX. He stated, “In a survey conducted by Deloitte, almost 80 percent of executives rated employee experience as very important, so we have decided to make it a top priority in our company.  

To this end, we take care to provide constant feedback. In PhotoAiD’s HR department, we believe it is essential to create spaces for feedback where positive points can be discussed, and the work of each employee and the management of leaders and managers can be improved. Safe spaces where people speak frankly, within the limits of respect, and reach agreements for improvement.” 

Employee-Centric Culture 

Giving rewards, incentives, and gifts cultivates a culture that puts the employee first and acknowledges their contributions. Every stage in the employee’s life cycle should be seen as an opportunity to create a positive experience.  

Maciek Kubiak shared their approach to designing an employee-centric culture by stating, “We also try not to make it all about work. People spend a great deal of time in the work environment, and gifts on special days remind employees how important they are to the company.  

From time to time, we give our employees gifts that we think they might need, helping them feel more integrated with the company’s culture.”

Leverage Technology

Technology makes up a big part of the overall employee experience as it enables employees to work effortlessly and without friction. Today, employees expect to be equipped with the best tools available to do their jobs. From the automation of mundane tasks to collaborative tools and communication channels, technology has the potential to improve the overall experience in the workplace significantly.   

Companies can get insight into employee sentiment, provide personalized development opportunities, and support employees at scale with the right technology, AI, and analytics tools. As a result, many organizations are leveraging advanced software systems to enhance the EX digitally and make data actionable. 

Positive Work Environment

The factor that most heavily impacts and can damage employees’ perception of their workplace is a lack of a good work-life balance. The EX is not shaped just by the experiences at work, but it is also about how much work affects employees’ lives when they are not at work.   

Some factors that contribute to a positive work environment are:  

Flexible work models
Diverse, inclusive, and fair environments
Culture of recognition and appreciation
Appropriate workspace
Culture of well-being

Workers want a flexible working environment that supports their wellness and allows them to thrive outside of work.   

Personalized career plans

Supporting your employees’ development and providing them with resources and opportunities shows that you are committed to their individual professional growth.  

Providing employees with a sense of purpose and growth in the organization will solidify their intent to stay. When employees know where their efforts will take them, have a clear career path, they become more confident about their future inside the organization. 

This sentiment was shared by Dmitrii Kustov at RegexSEO. He stated,At our company, we take a personalized approach to developing marketing strategies for our clients and career and professional plans for our employees.  

Not only for the comfort of our employees but also to increase productivity and individual development of each, we analyze and redistribute tasks. The idea is that everyone should do only those things that one is good at. That way, people enjoy their work and complete tasks more efficiently.” 

How to Create a Positive Work Experience?

To foster a positive work experience, we have the following actionable recommendations:  

Listen to your employees, engage in one-on-one talks, conduct pulse surveys and gather as much feedback from them. As employers, it is crucial to understand the nature of their experiences in the workplace.
Recognize the powerful role that leaders and managers have in an organization. A strong manager-employee relationship benefits the entire organization.
Give employees autonomy, do not micromanage their daily lives, and include them in decision-making.
Convey your values through your organization's actions and reinforce an environment that fosters mutually supportive colleague relationships.
Share with employees how much their contributions are meaningful and valuable to the organization.
Have continuous performance conversations with employees, provide social recognition, feedback, and career growth opportunities.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution to improving the employee experience.  

It is constantly changing each day, so your strategy will need to evolve along with the needs and concerns of your employees.  

On a Final Note

The daily experiences of employees are a powerful indicator of the success of your organization – the more you invest in them, the more they invest in your organization. The path to sustained competitive advantage and improved business performance is achievable only once you put your people at the center of your organization and design a positive employee experience. 

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Written by the Shortlister Editorial Team

Written by the Shortlister Editorial Team

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