How would YOU describe an amazing employee experience?
Have you ever stopped to give this question real and deep thought?
And, would everyone in your team give the same answer as each other let alone agree with your version?
When I was a leader, my intention was always to give my team a great experience and to put them first. However, on reflection, certainly in the early days, my intention probably did not always match the reality as life, the day job and being human got in the way and I was often busy being busy. The experience I intended to give wasn’t consistently the reality received by my team.
There are many touchpoints on an employee’s journey from the recruitment process to onboarding, induction, career progression, retirement and more.
These touchpoints leave lasting impressions, both good or bad, depending on their expectations and their experience and can be the decision maker in whether they come and join us, stay with us or recommend us as a great place to work.
Getting these key touchpoints right is paramount so this is often where we spend our time and focus as a business. We consider what our offer looks like, how it compares to every other business out there and we constantly worry about what could we improve. We think these things are important to delivering an amazing employee experience.
And of course they are.
However, too often we focus on the big things and miss the opportunities in the small ones, we put emphasise on the processes over creating human experiences.
We focus on “what we do” not “how we do it” and we forget to bring in the human element to make connections, to be ourselves and bring out the best in people.
So we need to take a more holistic approach when thinking about creating an amazing employee experience.
For me, the smaller “bits” in between these big touchpoints and events are far more important and are what really create amazing employee experiences.
It’s the day to day experiences where we should be focussing our attention and our intention and of course on making human connections!
Real amazing experiences are made when employees feel valued and connected; when expectations are laid out, accountability is to be had, kindness, empathy, well-being, curiosity are prioritised; and when they have tangible evidence that they are invested in. They understand how their responsibilities, daily interactions and their jobs coexist not only within the business but with their personal lives and they can see career progression if they want it.
These are the moments that happen every day that can feel inconsequential at the time, but will ultimately determine how an employee feels about themselves, about their peers, team, clients, leaders and the business…….in the day to day, every day.
The role of the business owner as leader then, is to look long and hard at your business and to role model the culture that supports each employee, including yourself, to achieve daily progress toward their personal and professional goals.
How do you create an amazing employee experience?
Here are ten characteristics that build the foundations for an amazing employee experience:
- Purpose and Meaning: Employees find their work meaningful and aligned with the business’s mission and values. The mission isn’t just something that is pinned to the notice board or that they can recite. They feel it and totally understand how their contributions fit alongside the contributions of others and make a difference in the business. They feel a sense of purpose and connection in their roles and can describe what they do using the language of the mission or purpose.
- Positive Company Culture: The business cultivates an inclusive culture that promotes collaboration, respect, and open communication. Employees feel valued, supported, and empowered to express their ideas and opinions. The company operates as a community, where every person and department plays a role in sustaining the positive culture.
- Growth and Development: Employees have ample opportunities for growth and development. The business invests in their skills and offers training programs, mentorship, and clear career advancement paths. Continuous learning, CPD, is encouraged and supported, creating a culture focused on personal and professional development.
- Work-Life Balance: The business acknowledges the significance of work-life balance and provides flexible work arrangements, supportive time-off policies, and resources for personal well-being. Employees can effectively manage their work responsibilities while maintaining a healthy integration of their personal and professional lives.
- Recognition and Rewards: The business maintains a culture of recognition, celebrating individual and team accomplishments. Employees’ efforts and achievements are appreciated, and rewards and incentives are provided to motivate and retain talent.
- Effective Leadership: Leaders inspire, motivate, and support their teams. They lead by example, communicate effectively, and provide guidance and support to employees, fostering a positive and empowering work environment. Employees can work with autonomy without excessive micromanagement. Autonomy contributes to a great employee experience, allowing individuals to have a sense of ownership and fulfilment in their work.
- Collaboration and Teamwork: The company encourages collaboration, idea-sharing, and teamwork to achieve common goals. Teamwork is highly valued and supported, and cross-functional collaboration is promoted to drive innovation and problem-solving.
- Inclusive and Diverse Environment: The business embraces diversity and fosters an inclusive environment where employees feel respected, valued, and included. Different perspectives and backgrounds are valued and appreciated, contributing to a vibrant and enriching workplace.
- Trust and Transparency: The company establishes a foundation of trust and transparency. Employees feel comfortable expressing their opinions and concerns, and open channels of communication with management are readily available. Decisions and information are shared openly and honestly. Leaders create psychological safe places to work, allowing employees to be themselves in the workplace. They can freely express their thoughts, speak up in meetings, ask questions, and share new ideas without fear of humiliation or retribution. Psychological safety leads to employees feeling valued, accepted, and connected with their colleagues.
- Employee Well-being: Employee well-being is prioritised, and steps are taken to support physical, mental, and emotional health. The company offers wellness programs, health benefits, and initiatives promoting work-life balance, creating a positive and healthy work environment.
These 10 points above each require 2 key things to be in place in order for them to occur
- having robust processes and systems in place that support the delivery of them (eg: policies, procedures, SOPs, automation and technology)
- but more importantly – how you behave as a leader and what you do or don’t do and what you allow to be the culture of your work place
It is not enough to say
- that mental health is important if you are insensitive when they share their struggles
- that you value a work life balance if you judge people who go home on time or take a full lunch break
- that speaking freely is welcomed if you shoot people down when they try to raise a question or offer an opinion or differing view
- that people have autonomy and then micro manage them
- that you are open to feedback if you never give it and then sulk or act defensively when it is offered
on the other hand
- if you state that improving employee wellbeing is top of the business’s agenda, and the performance metrics also include well-being metrics, you are giving people permission to build that into their approach to work
- if you are honest and upfront about standards and expectations and then hold yourself and others consistently and fairly accountable to deliver using clear, open communication, people know where they stand and feel fairly treated
- if you show you are genuinely interested in your people, listen well, act on what you promise and be authentic, they will both respect and trust you and those two elements are the foundations for building a psychologically safe culture
You have to walk the talk and support others to do the same. Focus on the smaller everyday things, emphasise the human experiences over the processes and see what happens.
Points to ponder:
- How much of an holistic approach to creating amazing employee experience do you have in your business?
- Would your employee’s view be the same as your view?
- What one thing would you change if you there were no obstacles?
- How much of the human element do you bring to your leadership?