We’ve all heard the talk about the importance of “company culture.”
But, here’s the problem with that sort of talk about culture:
Far too often it’s mentioned in the same breath as things like ping-pong, a beer fridge, and free lunch.
But, to be clear, those are perks — not a culture.
Perks are just one part of your company culture. And at the same time, your company culture is just one part of your larger employee experience.
It’s that overall employee experience that your organization should strive to improve.
Now, I’m sure you’re wondering:
What Exactly is Employee Experience and Why Does it Matter?
Employee experience is the strategic, intentional design that guides the journey of your employees.
Think of it like this:
If culture is the feel of your organization, employee experience is your plan for generating that feeling.
And it breaks down into nearly every area of your business. According to Deloitte, employee experience is made up of the following cultural pillars:
In short: employees want to feel enabled and supported to do great work.
Which may sound like a given, but that same Deloitte report highlights that companies’ ability to address employee engagement and cultural issues is actually on the decline — down 14 percent from the year previous.
That’s because creating a great employee experience is a lot more work than you might initially think.
But I promise: it’s totally worth it.
Through his research published in Harvard Business Review, Jacob Morgan found that
companies that invest in employee experience outperform those that don’t.
In case you missed that: companies that invest in employee experience are 4x more profitable than those that do not.
Morgan’s research doesn’t stop there. He also found companies with an eye on employee experience were seen:
- 28 times as often on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies
- 11.5 times as often on Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work
- 4.4 times as often on LinkedIn’s List of North American Most In-Demand Employers
- 2.1 times as often in Forbes’s list of the World’s Most Innovative Companies
- Twice as often in the American Customer Satisfaction Index
And obviously, all that great publicity becomes an incredible tool for attracting talent. But, the great thing about creating an amazing employee experience is that it also helps you retain more talent, too.
Research conducted by Gallup found that employees who felt engaged at work were 59% less likely to leave their organization in the next 12 months.
So to recap: investing in employee experience means you’ll be attracting better candidates who make your business more profitable.
And you’ll be more equipped to actually keep that talent at your organization for the long term.
So, if creating a strong employee experience wasn’t already a top priority for your business, it should be now.
Here’s how to make it happen:
4 Steps to Improve Your Employee Experience Now
Designing your employee experience isn’t something that’s going to happen overnight.
It takes time. All good things do.
Keep in mind the cultural pillars discussed earlier as we go through these key steps to designing your employee experience:
1. Get Your Leadership On Board Company-Wide
It’s a simple truth: employees will only buy into their experience with your organization as much as leadership does.
So, if you think employees don’t pay attention to leadership…you’re wrong.
Culture IQ breaks down organizational culture into three layers:
- What we see
- What we say
- What we believe
And that first layer starts with your leadership team. What employees see from leadership will largely shape what they say and believe about your company.
As further research by Culture IQ highlights, confidence in leadership is the biggest differentiator separating companies with high organizational culture rankings from the rest of the pack.
And to be clear: confidence in leadership goes beyond trusting managers to make the right business decisions.
It’s also trusting them to do uphold the culture and values of your business.
“Accountability is one of the most important ways for leaders to influence culture. When leaders hold people accountable, it helps people understand that they are accountable in all things they do. Without accountability measures in place, a leader’s influence and word will fall on deaf ears. Your team needs to see that the way in which you do business, internal processes and systems, and cultural elements are in place for a reason.”
If leadership holds others accountable for upholding the company culture and values, you can bet your employees will follow their lead.
2. Invest in Employee Development
As a company, your goal should be to develop your employees into the future leaders of your organization.
If you can do this, maintaining the culture and employee experience that you’re working so hard to build will be a much easier task.
It will also mean attracting and retaining top talent.
More Gallup research shows that 87% of Millennials rate professional or career growth and development opportunities as important to them in a job.
And it’s not just millennials:
69% of non-millennials agree that career development is a top priority.
“Employee professional development will continue to take center stage for many organizations. This is part of a solution to retrain the workforce due to many skill shortages, rapid growth in the STEM sectors, and retention of top performance employees. It also helps to improve the employee experience because it demonstrates an investment in their career success.”
As Bart mentions, training programs are crucial for retention, but they also provide your employees with additional skills for long-term productivity.
And, as we talked about before, make sure you get leadership buy-in on your training program so everyone’s all-in.
3. Listen to Your Employees
Look, everyone wants to be heard.
You have to give your employees a voice.
And you have to listen.
Surveying employee opinions on your company to gauge their satisfaction level can go a long way.
Not only will you be able to understand their happiness, but your employees will also feel more valued as a result.
But, you actually have to do something with the information.
Collecting feedback just for feedback’s sake can almost do more harm than good.
Employees will feel like their voices are falling on deaf ears.
So, collect feedback. And do something with it.
Obsurvey outlines 4 key tips to help you create a successful feedback survey:
- Keep it confidential
- Don’t ask questions if you are not prepared to address the responses
- Give feedback to the employees
- Provide feedback to respondents within a reasonable time-frame
If you’ve never conducted employee feedback or Net Promoter Score surveys before, now is a great time to start.
According to Deloitte research, 79% of companies survey their employees annually or less than annually, and 14% don’t survey them at all.
You don’t want to be one of these companies.
Your employees’ opinions matter.
And remember, the most important part of collected employee feedback is listening to it and putting it into action.
4. Stay True to Your Brand
I know, I know.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the perks and experiences that some of the big technology companies offer.
But if that’s not you, it’s okay.
Your employee experience should be unique to your company.
And your employees want it that way. They want to work for a company that has its own mission and values.
So design your employee experience around that mission and values.
People want to believe in their company. If you’re true to your mission and values, it shows that you believe in yourself.
And soon, your employees will too.
Employee experience goes far beyond the ping-pong, and bring-your-dog-to-work days.
Designing an employee experience takes a lot of time and thoughtful consideration.
But, if you put in the time now, it will all pay off in the long run.
Employee experience design never stops, though.
You’ll have to work to maintain, shift, and change it as needed.
But, the employee experience you create will result in a much more productive and satisfied workforce.