In a highly complex and re-emerging world where many are still struggling to make sense of a new digital economy from a constant flux due to the pandemic, creating remote work or hybrid work that is effective can be extremely challenging. There is a not only a new employee-employer dynamic at play (for example, the Netherlands is set to make a precedence with making work-from-home a legal right), there is also the technical execution. The actual employee and employer experience can feel like an extremely complex, nuanced and nebulous concept to fully understand – but there are frameworks that can help companies better measure and manage the employee experience. This is essential in the generational divide across a wide spectrum of the employee experience which plays a part towards the talent attrition and fight for headcount.
To help lay the foundation of how to actively monitor this employee experience, there are five pillars which underpin an organisation’s culture and values and ultimately influence an employee’s vested interest and decision to stay in an organisation.
- Mental health
- Quality of life
- Compensation and benefits
- Culture and values
These pillars lay the foundation for organisations to better understand how connection, meaning, impact and appreciation in the workplace can work and are inextricably linked. By having a better insight into these metrics, companies can leverage the inherent benefits of a meaningful employee engagement while identifying any premature problems or matters which are important to creating a personalised and bespoke employee experience.
A business’ performance can be linked to the employee’s experience in how hard they work, how much they are willing to collaborate, or whether they are perfunctorily invested in improving operational performance based on their positive or negative experience.
There has been an increased focus on mental health awareness, exacerbated by the pandemic, and burnout—the demotivation and physical symptoms that accompany extended stress—is nothing new. According to a Gallup study, daily employee stress worldwide reached a record high in 2020 at 43 percent.
In another report conducted by the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health conditions cost the global economy an estimated US$ 1 trillion per year in lost productivity. Clearly, employees’ mental and emotional well-being affect the ability to do their jobs properly and efficiently.
There are clear advantages to addressing this when it is reported that overall employees who received treatment felt much better about their jobs and organisations. Organisations that address mental health—simply by establishing a culture of support and encouragement for employees—are making positive steps toward good work experience for both employees and employers. However, in saying and establishing that culture is an important step, the example must be set from the top and it cannot simply be another “engagement activity”.
Quality of life
There is significant potential for inadvertent inequality due to conscious or unconscious bias. Organisations which identify this are able to capitalise on an opportunity to evaluate company policies to make meaningful changes and make a greater impact on a more diverse, equitable and inclusive workplace with lessons from the pandemic in mind. Organisations need to align actions with holistic principles that provide opportunities to consider and meet the needs of each individual employee while also addressing group needs.
Organisations have a responsibility to actively understand the potential for inequality. It will then be better equipped to take steps to ensure that the organisation employees represent is not a source of that pain and inequality.
This can be done through compensation, recruiting, culture and learning and development. In saying that, organisations cannot provide everything to everyone, but it can strive to understand what benefits move the needle in terms of adding to employee satisfaction. Significantly integrating inclusive thinking into the organisational culture would be a catalyst for lasting change.
It is vital that organisations manage employees in a manner which positively contributes to their experience, as monetary compensation is not the only factor which contributes to employees’ motivation and involvement.
Managing employees for sustainable growth within the organisation and contributing to their positive experience can include:
- Adjusting the leadership style for the Individual
- Helping employees achieve long term goals by setting manageable short-term goals
- Developing trust with employees
Organisations must adjust their leadership style for the individual, and communication is vital towards that end. The goal should not be changing employees, but to mesh their extraordinary talents with other employees. Furthermore, in helping employees discover what their long-term goals are, organisations can collaborate in creating smaller but achievable daily, weekly, and monthly goals that will push the overall objective of an organisation comprising employees with a clear and intentional common goal in mind.
Employees that do not trust an organisation will not be interested in whatever it says. Organisations need to prove to employees that they can be trusted through open communication, showing them that organisation’s have their best interest at heart, and by helping them succeed.
Scheduling regular one-on-one meetings with employees to give them constructive feedback and in turn receive feedback can help the organisation focus on having productive conversations and foster trusting relationships.
Compensation and benefits
How employees perceive and use benefits, intrinsically impact both their performance and engagement in their jobs as well as how they evaluate any new opportunity. 77 percent of employees have articulated new expectations of their employers following the pandemic. Organisations now need to understand what those unique employee expectations are and rethink their benefit offering accordingly.
The pandemic has shifted priorities and added on the responsibilities of employees with additional concerns such as looking after vulnerable family members, finding childcare for younger children, assessing health risk tolerance among many others. Organisations that keenly identify their employees’ needs and prioritise the realistic benefits will be able to tap and leverage off this new reality.
These expected benefits now include:
- Remote work
- Access to free mental health services
- Work-life integration policies
- Dedicated paid time off for caregiving
Expanding benefits alone may not entirely prevent drawbacks like burnout, but it may create a bridge to the work-culture changes that employees are coming to expect.
Culture and values
Company culture is essential and has a lot to do with employee experience, and vice versa. A great culture fosters a great employee experience, and a great employee experience both reflects and fuels a great company culture. Ultimately, they can lead to valuable business benefits like increased productivity, reduced turnover, and greater employee satisfaction.
Some ways in which organisations can build a culture which contributes to a positive employee experience include:
- Identifying the mission (reason for existing) and the values behind that mission
- Identifying employees who could fit through a well communicated application process
- Making sure that the first step is right by making new employees feel welcomed
- Setting the right example from the top, starting from Organisational leaders
- Integrating the values which organisations want in everyday activities
- Giving the right rewards and recognition when it is due
- Adapting and keeping up with changes in expectations
- Encouraging and fostering a culture of giving and receiving feedback
- Acknowledging issues and fixing them quickly
- Keeping a close watch on culture and nurturing it
Employee satisfaction is a great and simple metric that rates how employees feel about their employee experience, the work they do, and the company they work for. This is important in measuring employee satisfaction, which goes a long way toward assessing an organisation’s overall health.
A positive employee experience cannot be designed without a sound understanding of the current reality. With this baseline of understanding, organisations can better understand the current employee’s experience before designing strategies to shape the culture and the eventual business performance in the workplace.
All five pillars of employee experience work together in creating that positive experience – and this experience must be made measurable and quickly implemented. Using technologies such as SAP’s Qualtrics Employee Engagement tool, help companies both gain deeper insights into their employees, but also provide a platform to quickly implement and scale engagement programmes and policies.
This will allow organisations to build on how hard employees work, how much they collaborate positively, their vested interest in improving operational performance based on their positive or negative experience and last but not least overcoming a perfunctory attitude for an invested and engaged employee experience.