The 7 Elements in Mapping an Unforgettable Employee Experience
We have all heard of the customer experience which is defined as the resulting product when a customer interacts with your brand. We’re all familiar with both good and bad customer experiences and we go through one or the other on a near daily basis.
The employee experience has become increasingly important in HR management because of evolving business trends such as peer-to-peer sharing, high turnover rates and competitive recruiting practices. The employee journey begins before a job applicant even decides to apply, and it continues after the employee leaves the company as an alumnus. In today’s customer-centric marketing, the employee experience has become just as important as the customer journey because satisfied employees provide better customer service and generate staff and customer referrals.
What Is the Employee Experience?
The employee experience includes the physical environment where people work, the company’s culture and the technological tools that workers use in their jobs. Each area generates critical HR department interactions with employees. Although many HR departments can’t change the physical environment, they can influence company culture, push for the right work tools – such as HR self-service tools and employee portals – and craft recruiting policies that resonate with today’s workers. HR managers can increase employee satisfaction, attract top talent and foster better engagement by designing a holistic employee experience for each level of employment.
The Customer Journey and the Employee Journey
When customers interact with your website, products and brand, their experiences are critical in today’s digital marketing environment where short attention spans are common and unhappy customers can leave your site in a second. Instant gratification is the name of the game, but companies that provide seamless customer service can easily overcome occasional complaints. No company is perfect, but the customer journey and user experience depend on how each company interacts with the customer. Employees manage these interactions, and fostering a favourable employee experience generates better customer service.
Law: Employee Experience is EQUAL to Customer Experience
That’s why the employee journey and experience are equal to the customer journey and experience. Providing great customer service isn’t the same as it was in the past. Before computers, employees developed personal relationships with customers. In the immediate euphoria of digital marketing, many companies outsourced their customer service to contact centres where representatives often didn’t speak English well enough that customers could understand them. Today, the lines have blurred, and companies understand that handling customer service issues can’t be limited to seconds or minutes because it’s a big part of marketing and customer-loyalty strategies.
Consider the disgruntled employee who is responsible for handling customer service. An unhappy employee who doesn’t like the company or its products makes a poor brand ambassador, but an engaged and satisfied employee can generate sales, make referrals and deliver excellent customer service.
Unhappy employees cost money by damaging a company’s reputation, slowing productivity and increasing company turnover. A recent Gallup poll found that companies with engaged employees earned 147 percent higher profits than competitors with lower engagement rates.
Touchpoints for Managing the Employee Journey
Companies can foster staff loyalty, improve productivity and manage the customer experience more effectively by managing the employee journey. The processes, methods and tools depend on how much the company is willing to invest on the employee experience, but the rewards can be truly transformational. The following eight touchpoints of the employee experience are important to consider when planning the employee journey, and ultimately, the customer journey:
Attracting top talent requires an organised strategy, but making a lot of empty promises quickly backfires in today’s environment of instant communications. Job candidates can research employers fairly extensively over the Internet and through social media, industry-related journals and peer-to-peer sharing. Millennials respond to different touchpoints than older generations, and these include:
Meaning and Purpose: Today’s workers often settle for smaller salaries and fewer benefits if they can work at meaningful jobs. Companies can communicate their missions and values across multiple forums to reach each employee and job applicant.
Opportunities for Growth: The opportunity to acquire new skills and advance in an organisation is often more important than starting salary or benefits packages. Providing your staff with ongoing learning and educational opportunities creates a powerful attraction for all workers – especially those who start at entry-level jobs.
Marketing Strategy: Your marketing strategy should ideally focus on how your company advertises, markets its job openings, fills seasonal openings and targets top talent. Targeting the right candidates reduces turnover and expenses and identifies high-potential candidates whom the company can train to its standards. It’s necessary to write compelling copy that grabs people’s attention, provides answers to critical questions and attracts the right candidates. Choosing the right forum for advertising is also important.
Flexible Work Options: If the job allows for flexible work options, you should emphasize this benefit. More employees choose jobs based on working alternative and flexible schedules.
Your onboarding process sets the tone for employee experience. Your process can make new hires feel welcome or disengaged. One study found that 77 percent of new hires met or exceeded their first performance milestones when they had a formal onboarding process while only 49 percent of employees did so in companies without formal onboarding.
During onboarding, your company can define expectations and give workers roadmaps to success. Best practices include giving new hires immediate assignments, providing a list of short- and long-term goals and summarising an itinerary for the first week or month. New employees should understand the rules but also have flexible options for determining things like lunch plans, preferred office materials, what’s acceptable for personalisation of work spaces and any outside activities to which they’re welcome to attend. Another great way to help new hires acclimatise is to implement a buddy or mentor program.
Showing employees how to access information portals simplifies getting answers to their questions. New hires can immediately access their accounts to ensure that there are no errors in information, which is often a cause for concern on a new job. For example, incorrect deductions could come as a major surprise on payday.
Fostering employee engagement increases productivity and loyalty while reducing turnover and disengagement that damages customer service. Managers need to take the most active role in fostering engagement because they interact with workers more than anyone in the company. Creating an open environment, holding team meetings, seeking feedback from employees and demonstrating transparency go a long way toward engaging workers and creating a great employee experience.
One excellent strategy for engagement focuses on a basic human need – believing in something. You can challenge workers to outperform company records for individual performances or team benchmarks. You can also foster engagement by setting goals and explaining the rationale behind each goal. Many people adopt their outside affinities based on activities at work, so offering affiliations for improvement or charitable projects can foster an immediate sense of belonging.
Empowering workers to make decisions is the most effective method of engaging employees. Autonomy encourages creative solutions, and workers are more likely to take ownership of projects if they help to design the working parameters. You can offer unstructured autonomy for some work processes while limiting others to choices among predefined options.
An employee’s perception of a company’s value often hinges on advancement and development opportunities. These include cross-training programs, management training, skills development, certification programs and educational opportunities. The best development programs offer potential career advancement or promotion within the company. If you identify a high-potential employee, explain that you would like to groom him or her for advancement.
Development can work for any level of employee and should not be offered only to a select few people. You can focus on skills development that earns small promotions and pay raises for lower level employees. However, it is important to consider your company’s short- and long-term needs and business goals when adopting career development programs. If you can develop candidates internally for promotions and succession planning, you save time and money on training, acclimatization efforts, recruiting costs and onboarding.
Research shows that half of employees feel that getting recognition lowers turnover rates. Recognising individual and team performances is one of the strongest ways to create an appealing employee experience. The best strategies for recognition include a mix of verbal, written and publicised praise. Studies show that employees most appreciate praise from their immediate supervisors. Fostering peer-to-peer recognition in the workplace also resonates well with workers – especially millennials. Adopting peer-to-peer recognition tools, encouraging managers to monitor performances closely and posting accomplishments in company newsletters and social media provide the critical recognition that each person craves.
Rewards and incentives motivate workers to find creative solutions, streamline operations and perform at the highest levels. The best strategies include offering rewards to each worker regardless of his or her job level. Rewards can include performance-based bonuses, special treatment for a day or week, advancement opportunities, company perks and special activities such as a team dinner or outing. Non-monetary incentives can also generate better experiences for everyone, and these might include opportunities to work for a favoured charity, awards and special recognition.
Setting regular rewards and incentives can keep employees highly engaged. You might offer quarterly rewards such as new iPods, restaurant and entertainment outings, salary bonuses or higher commission rates for the next quarter.
Your company’s offboarding strategy can be just as important as onboarding in creating a superior employee experience. In today’s markets, layoffs, downsizing and management changes create complex offboarding scenarios for transitioning employees, but Aberdeen research shows that only 29 percent of companies have formal offboarding processes in place. Former employees make great brand ambassadors, and these workers can also generate top-talent referrals because they intimately understand the company. Many former employees might return as rehires, which reduces training costs.
The basic processes for offboarding should cover all the administrative details such as insurance, benefits, physical and intellectual property management, non-competing and non-disclosure agreements and even staying in touch with former employees. Your company’s software and employee portals can automate many of these processes, but you can’t ignore the people factor in the onboarding process. For example, organising farewell parties, conducting exit interviews and creating an offboarding checklist can prevent workers from feeling unappreciated regardless of whether the separation is voluntary, due to retirement or the result of management decisions.
Alumni can be among a company’s most valuable resources, but many organisations fail to take advantage of the many benefits that engaged alumni can provide. Alumni can solve problems for new hires, promote the company’s brand, make excellent referrals, serve as mentors and coaches and return to the company to take senior positions. Engaged alumni play decisive roles in marketing your company and growing their business. You can engage your alumni by creating alumni programs, publishing newsletters about the company and posting articles about what successful alumni are doing now.
Creating a great alumni experience involves keeping former employees engaged and interested in the company. There are many strategies for doing accomplishing these goals, and these include hosting alumni events, creating alumni-only stores, providing coupons and incentives, posting short videos about alumni activities and seeking alumni input on company initiatives and new products.
The Employee Net Promoter System, or eNPS, was developed by Bain & Company to measure employee engagement. Regardless of which touchpoints you use to curate the employee experience, it’s critical to measure the results. The Bain & Company system sorts employees into active promoters, passives and detractors based on their answers to survey questions. The most critical question – and some organisations only use one – is ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how likely are you to recommend your company as a place to work?’ Another common question is ‘How likely are you to recommend your company’s products and services.’ Other questions can also be developed to monitor different departments and aspects of the business.
Employees who get average scores of 9 to 10 are considered promoters and valuable brand ambassadors. Scores of 7 to 8 are considered passives. Lower scores define those employees who are considered detractors. You can use the confidential responses to these questions to measure how your employees really feel so that you can fine-tune your efforts to foster a better employee experience.
Crafting a Transformational Employee Experience
Great experiences for employees translate to higher productivity, greater job satisfaction, better recruiting and higher profits. Fostering a company culture of shared beliefs can transform the customer experience because engaged employees are a company’s most valuable resource. Creating a superior employee experience takes planning, empathy and commitment, and it’s important to begin at the recruiting level by hiring friendly people. Instead of giving new hires lists of rules and restrictions, try to instil a commitment to shared beliefs and vision. Set clear expectations, listen to employee feedback and implement an eNPS program to monitor how employees feel. The more you allow employees to handle routine customer service issues themselves, the greater their levels of engagement and job satisfaction will be.