The word is out: employee engagement is the secret sauce that ensures a company’s success. Engaged employees show up earlier, work harder, and are more invested in helping their companies achieve organic growth. They are also more likely to stay with their employers; highly-engaged businesses having 59% less turnover.
The most successful businesses are those which make employee engagement central to their organizational goals. However, cultivating engagement is no longer about making cosmetic changes to make workers feel temporarily happy. To get employees truly invested, companies need a strategic approach that will improve the employee experience and give employees what they need to find fulfillment at work.
What is Employee Experience?
Employee Xperience is determined by the culture and norms of the work environment, ranging from the clarity of expectations to the access of appropriate tools. It is the culmination of the factors which influence an employee’s ability to create value.
There are opportunities to create a positive experience for employees at every stage of the employee lifecycle. Everything from streamlining the new hire experience to reflecting on policy effectiveness with an exit survey. Strong engagement is the outcome of a good experience.
Research from MIT on building business value shows that to provide positive working experiences for employees, companies can focus on three main things:
- Provide the tools and technologies necessary for success
- Create opportunities and channels for employees to give and receive feedback
- Offer support, coaching and guidance from middle and senior management
Companies with these priorities show twice the innovation, double customer satisfaction, and 25% greater profitability than companies without them.
But how does this look in the real world? There are many companies that have managed to create great working atmospheres with impeccable employee experience management. Here’s what they do right:
Where Zappos really shines is with its unique HR team onboarding process that places a high focus on employee integration. Potential hires receive a four-week crash course in company culture. This period gives candidates a chance to connect with their fellow workers and also provides a clear set of standards and objectives. The company ensures cohesion by giving all hires the same training, irrespective of their job title. The training covers how to provide top-tier customer service and drives home the importance of the company’s ten core values. Such a rigorous process not only equips employees with the tools to optimize customer experience but also gives them a chance to invest themselves in the company’s ideals.
At the end of the month, new hires are given the chance to officially join the team— or receive $2000 to walk away. This makes sure that employees only join the company because they are truly excited about its culture and values. With a new hire experience like that, Zappos starts things off on the right foot (they’re a shoe company afterall!).
Ranked #1 on Fortune’s 2019 list of the Best Companies to Work For, Hilton sets itself apart with exceptional management support. In the Hilton Senior Leadership Business Immersion program, senior managers get intimate with the most fundamental part of the business: hotel operations. They spend three days taking on back-of-house jobs in departments like Housekeeping, Food & Beverage, Banqueting and Engineering.
This helps executives to gain a better understanding of the day-to-day challenges employees face. Working alongside housekeepers and bellhops, managers hone in on the minutiae which affects productivity, effectiveness, and morale, and find new ways to encourage engagement. The program also gives hotel staff a sense of solidarity. It shows the importance of their work: in the end, they are the ones who keep the doors open, the patrons happy, and the rooms clean.
Cisco stands out for its exceptional work fostering a “Conscious Culture” of open and thoughtful communication. They guarantee employees the freedom to explore ideas and challenge norms. In turn, employees pursue innovation. To encourage connections between team members and team leaders, Cisco facilitates conversation with an in-house team activation technology. The platform prompts critical conversations and regular check-ins to help employees stay on task and make sure they get support when they need it.
Better yet, the system means that important feedback doesn’t get lost waiting for year-end reviews. With open communication, performance management is made easy, transparent and consistent. This excellent employee experience management not only strengthens bonds between employees, but helps them to feel more connected to the company.
Outdoor retailer Patagonia wants good employees who are passionate about the outdoors, and so it attracts ideal employees by providing a unique set of benefits and perks. With a handbook called “Let My People Go Surfing,” Patagonia encourages employees to cut work and surf when the waves are good. They also offer on-site child care and give employees a three-day weekend every second week. Employees who have been with the company for a year can take two months off, with pay, to volunteer at an environmental organization or project.
Patagonia knows that if they accommodate their employees’ passion, there is a good chance that passion will enter the workplace. Working at Patagonia can make an employee feel that they are contributing not just to a company, but to a cause. How to measure employee satisfaction? With a yearly turnover of less than 4%, Patagonia’s statistics speak for themselves.
How did this Brooklyn market become a national chain earning $6.2 billion a year? By investing in employees! Wegmans grocery stores have been on Fortune’s 100 Best Places to Work list for more than 20 years. It offers an impressive employee experience program that supports employees as they build their skillsets and careers. Wegmans invests more than $50 million in training and development annually.
It also takes the expertise of its staff seriously. Wegmans Deli workers are flown to France, Italy, Germany, and Wisconsin to learn about cheese, and butchers to Colorado and South America to learn about beef.
Wegmans also offered $5 million in scholarships in 2016 and donated more than $6.5 million to philanthropic causes. These social initiatives are important to American workers. 94% of employees say they are proud to work at Wegmans.
Moving Forward with Employee Experience Management
How to improve the experience for employees? There are many ways. Businesses rely heavily on human resources to support the employee life cycle and invest in employee growth and development. It is most important to remember that cultivating employee engagement is not just a “box to tick.” Top organizations develop comprehensive and clearly-defined development programs to offer support at every step of the employee journey.