Just as improving the customer experience has become its own veritable discipline—rooted in an obsession that puts the customers’ needs front and center—so, too, is improving the employee experience a multifaceted endeavor necessitating a commitment to put employees and their unique needs at the center of internal optimization initiatives.
In the midst of the Great Resignation, the transition to hybrid work, and the general sense of personal liberation these two phenomena have engendered, delivering a great and people-centric employee experience has become an absolute must for every enterprise.
But improving the employee experience is also simply a smart investment. According to a study conducted by IBM’s Smarter Workforce Institute, organizations that score in the top 25 percent of employee experience surveys “report nearly three times ROA compared to organizations in the bottom quartile.” Jacob Morgan—author of The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces they Want, the Tools they Need, and a Culture they Can Celebrate—has found that experientially sophisticated organizations “have four times higher average profits, two times higher average revenues, 40 percent lower turnover.”
According to MIT, meanwhile, organizations that inculcate and sustain “a great employee experience” prove “more innovative and profitable, and report higher levels of customer satisfaction” than organizations that don’t.
The term “employee experience” refers to the amalgam of factors that determine what it’s like to work for and at a company. These include company culture, the extent to which collaboration is enabled, the extent to which creativity is encouraged, how supportive and approachable are the company’s leaders, as well as the comfort, convenience, and personalizability of the company’s physical and digital environments. (According to MIT, the employee experience is defined by the “work complexity and behavioral norms that influence employees’ ability to create value.”)
For a bit of context, if the term “customer experience” refers to any/all experiences a client or user might have with a company or its products, employee experience encompasses the totality of an employee’s experience with a company or its environment.
For the purposes of teams responsible for improving employee experience—namely, operations teams—the employee is the customer. And just as improving the customer experience has become its own veritable discipline—rooted in an obsession that puts the customers’ needs front and center—so, too, is improving the employee experience a multifaceted endeavor necessitating a commitment to put employees and their unique needs at the center of internal optimization initiatives.
But what exactly does that look like? Here’s where to start.
Employee engagement—or the extent to which employees feel motivated, intrigued, and intellectually stimulated at work—is an important facet of the employee experience. According to Gallup, only 13% of employees feel engaged in their jobs. Unengaged employees tend to be less productive, innovative, and inspired. It’s crucial operations teams work to reverse this trend. (Gallup also reports that employees who feel engaged at work generate 21% higher profits for their companies. )
Dive deeper: improving employee engagement is a multifaceted endeavor. It requires ensuring employees feel some kind of connection with the company mission and its values. It also means ensuring that employees feel intellectually engaged at work, empowered to work on things that interest them and that they feel are important to the company mission. To this end, creating processes that automate for employees elements of their work that are not interesting and that they were not really hired to do is crucial. Your operations, in this sense, should be designed to empower. With empowerment comes engagement. Which brings us to…
Operational complexity, or processes predicated on siloed technology environments that foist upon employees lots of manual work, context switching, and redundancy (having to update several different systems with the same data, or search different systems to find data), cultivate a negative experience. Operations teams must create the opposite kind of digital experience: one that empowers employees to do more.
Dive Deeper: in Tonkean’s 2022 State of Business Operations Report, we found that 76% of ops and IT professionals agree their organization uses too many apps. Yet 95% say their projects at least occasionally get delayed because of a lack of technical resources. These are symptoms of a negative, unproductive digital experience that does much to hold operations teams and their organizations back.
To cultivate a more productive, enjoyable, and empowering digital experience, organizations must find a way to make better use of the tools their employees already like using. Teams should have access to tools and support tailored to their unique needs and contexts, and not be forced to constantly learn how to use new tools and systems tangential to their work. (It’s unproductive for members of the legal team, for example, to be forced to change their behavior and learn how to use a new intake system.) Rather, employees should be enabled to interact with centralized, cross-functional systems from within their tool or environment of choice.
So, too, should automation be used to cut down on the amount of menial, repetitive work employees are forced to conduct. And no-code interfaces should be used to ensure nontechnical employees are able to iterate on internal solutions and processes without remaining fundamentally dependent on developers—which is unpleasant and unproductive. No-code automation, in this sense, should be used to enable all employees to operate in a true agile fashion.
Your technology, in other words, should put your people first.
Your company’s culture goes a long way towards determining what kind of employee experience your company provides. What does it feel like inside your office? How accommodating are the digital and physical spaces? To what extent is collaboration encouraged? How transparent is the company? How supportive and approachable are managers and company leaders? All this matters, and tells you much about how enjoyable and empowering employees find your company culture.
Dive deeper: Improving company culture does not mean showering employees with perks. It means cultivating an environment in which employees feel valued, respected, and empowered. It means creating systems through which employees feel comfortable sharing feedback and asking—and via which process designers, managers, and company leaders can be relied upon to act on that feedback and make positive changes.
That last point is important. Company culture often stems from company leadership. A Gallup study found that at least 70% of the variance in employee engagement scores is driven by who the boss is. Organizations must choose what kind of culture they want to optimize for, and create systems to help company leaders move the organization in that direction. This comes down to creating processes designed for assessment, feedback, coaching, and iteration.
Employee experience starts in earnest on an employee’s first day. Providing an orderly, efficient, logical, and ultimately enjoyable onboarding experience goes a long way towards setting up employees for success—and for making a good first impression. Losing employees is also expensive. Employer turnover statistics show that every time a salaried employee is replaced, it costs the company, on average, the equivalent of six to nine months of paid salary. Good onboarding goes a long way towards ensuring employees enjoy a solid foundation atop of which they can build a long career at your organization.
Dive deeper: how do you onboard employees faster and more effectively? One way includes improving processes related to knowledge management, which refers to the variety of methods related to creating and sharing the knowledge and information of an organization. Another is utilizing automation and process orchestration technology to minimize the extent to which new employees have to go fishing through systems they’re unfamiliar with to find key bits of information. The more efficient your onboarding process, the faster employees’ average time-to-productivity.