What is the employee experience at your company like? Before you roll your eyes at yet another HR buzzword being thrown around the Internet way too frequently these days, consider that the concept has actually been around for ages.
It’s a no-brainer, really: if you create a great work environment, you’ll have happier employees. Which translates into increased productivity, greater customer satisfaction, and a chance to save all that money you’re losing due to high turnover rates.
According to a recent survey by Adobe of workers in India, the U.K., and the U.S., about three quarters of office workers would rather work long hours at a job they love than short hours at one they don’t enjoy. And 47 percent of U.S. office workers would move to an “ideal” job, even if it pays less than their current job. Although we may clock in each day for the paycheck, the truth is that human being want to enjoy our jobs.
Creating a good employee experience isn’t just a matter of providing zany startup perks like nerf guns and free gourmet lunches. It’s actually in the details of the entire employee journey — from hiring and onboarding to what it’s like to step into the office every day. How can your company create a great employee experience in order to attract and retain top talent?
Start by following these best practices.
1. Start off on the right foot
Your mom was right — first impressions really do matter. The employee onboarding process is the time when your employee will form their first impressions of your company, and it will set the stage for their experience throughout the rest of their time there.
We’ve written before about all the reasons why doing onboarding right matters, but the biggest thing to keep in mind from an employee experience point of view is to make the process as smooth as possible.
Welcome your new employees, gather their relevant information, and introduce them to your company and their new coworkers — without overwhelming them or causing them to lose confidence in their new company.
Want to learn more? Check out: Building Blocks For A Perfect First Year On The Job
2. Foster connectivity and support
Liking the people we work with is key to having a good employee experience. Think about it: most people spend at least as much time with their coworkers as they do with their own families!
This bears out in a study about workplace friendships from LinkedIn. They found that 46% of professionals throughout the world believe that work friends are important to their overall happiness. Millennials in particular reported that workplace friendships made them feel happy (57%), motivated (50%), and productive (39%).
Feeling connected with your coworkers isn’t just about knocking back a few beers after work, though — it’s about supporting each other professionally.
At Bain & Company, that culture of support and teamwork is baked into the core. The company motto is “A Bainie never lets another Bainie fail,” which helps explain how they’ve won the coveted Best Place to Work in the U.S. award from Glassdoor multiple years in a row.
3. Communicate the value of every role
Just as good communication helps your personal relationships go more smoothly, having good communication with your employees is critical to their overall happiness. It fosters trust and creates a sense of openness — plus, it helps your employees feel more aligned with the overall mission of the company.
From being clear about company policies to talking your employees through big corporate changes, your employees will have a better experience when they know what’s going on internally.
Engaging employees through communication is a key strategy for Sandy M. Nessing, Managing Director of Corporate Sustainability at American Electric Power (AEP). Her team created a series of “learning maps” to help employees understand how their role contributes to the broader strategy. As she told Forbes, “One of the things that happens when you engage employees is that people get excited and passionate and become invested in success.”
4. Provide ongoing education and professional opportunities
Professional development is a top priority for many workers — particularly younger ones. Your employees aren’t content to just sit in one role until they retire. They want to advance their job-related skills, get professional certifications, and take trainings to help further their careers
Along with providing opportunities for continued learning, you should also consider the opportunities for advancement within your organization. After all, if you aren’t providing clear career paths for your employees, they’ll begin looking outside of your company. A report from Glassdoor found that job title stagnation was one of the major factors affecting employee turnover.
Want to learn more? Check out our post: 3 Step-By-Step Recipes for Creating Successful Employee Objectives
5. Provide a good physical space
So far we’ve focused on the mind and spirit — but as an employer you can’t underestimate the importance of the physical. Everything from the office floor plan to the equipment your employees use shapes their daily experience.
Does your physical environment foster productivity? Is it comfortable? Does it demonstrate that you value your employees?
This doesn’t mean jumping on every latest trend, like installing Google-esque nap pods. (Although if you want to increase productivity, afternoon naps aren't a bad idea!) As Jacob Morgan writes, it means giving workers more control over their environment so they can work they way they do best.
Prioritizing employee experience boosts business
Creating a great employee experience isn’t just good for your employee retention rates — it’s good for your customers, too. When employees are happy and engaged at work, they’re more likely to treat customers well.
In fact, the Aberdeen Group reported that companies with engaged employees enjoyed 233% greater customer loyalty and 26% greater annual increase in revenue than companies with disengaged employees.
If you’re still on the fence, those numbers ought to make you sit up and take notice!
Pro tip: Want to make sure your employees have a great experience from day one? Download our new onboarding whitepaper to learn the building blocks of onboarding success.