Alex Hind, Contributor, Heka
Often abbreviated as ‘EX’, the employee experience is a fast-changing operation, one that has begun to take on a new meaning of personalization and well-being. It is the umbrella term for deep listening, empathy, and attentive action in the workplace.
Although, this isn’t a new function. Employers have been trying to improve each stage of the employee experience for years, from the very first sight of a job opening to the time they depart. As it turns out, it isn’t always easy - but it doesn’t have to be difficult, either.
Below, we’ve explored the various ways businesses can transform the employee experience. If we’ve learned anything about the priorities of today’s workforce, it’s that health, fitness, and well-being continue to be the center of focus.
Starting from onboarding all the way through to exit interviews, how can a people-centric approach revolutionize the way people think and feel about your workplace?
Don’t lead new employees blindly into their role
Well-being and the onboarding process go hand-in-hand. At a time of high anxiety and worries, it’s important leaders minimize these negative feelings in new team members. And while easily achieved, so many employers overlook how critical it is to first impressions, individual well-being, and the overall employee experience.
That said, it’s crucial to reduce emotions like anxiety in new employees, and it can be fairly simple to do so. To avoid an onboarding experience that isn’t like blindfolding a new hire and asking them to tightrope walk on a shoelace, you need to ensure people are well aware of four things:
- Your expectations of them, particularly in their first days and weeks
- Employee benefits package and other perks
- Essential office details such as working hours
- Full understanding of duties and responsibilities
This list isn’t exhaustive, but covering these as a basis will help alleviate a new employee’s first-day jitters. And as we’ve learned from both studies and past experiences, we cannot perform at our best when we’re struggling with our well-being.
In fact, our emotions influence much more than that. They can impact creativity, decision-making, work quality, commitment, and even the likelihood your new starters will stick around. Ultimately, your onboarding strategies should start with well-being. Only then can you bring people into your team with smiles on their faces and the determination to succeed.
Learning and development opportunities during employment
Let’s not mistake why people move from one job to another. Spoiler alert – it isn’t always about money. A lot of people are looking for better jobs simply to progress. Whether that’s an assistant to a manager or manager to a director, the professional ladder has many steps.
If you don’t believe learning and development could be so important to your team, think again. One study found that a strong culture of learning and development leads to a 30% to 50% increase in retention.
Now that isn’t to say that L&D alone will revolutionize the employee experience nor will it carry the weight of job satisfaction, employee engagement, and well-being. However, providing employees with the opportunity to progress and upskill is absolutely critical.
Many employers fail to see just how much of a win-win employee learning and development can be. On one hand, employees feel engaged with new experiences and learnings. On the other hand, employers can align these experiences with company goals and objectives.
By identifying which expertise your team is lacking, you can position employees as a guru in a particular activity or skill set. This further strengthens your team and the direction you want to head towards.
In regards to well-being, you may be surprised to hear that L&D can help massively. To put it simply, challenging employees through training programs and other development activities contributes to higher employee engagement. And when we’re more engaged, we experience stronger mental well-being.
Ultimately, as a leader, it’s your duty to ensure employees progress in the workplace. Failure to do so will only hinder the employee experience. Once people are settled into their roles, it’s only a matter of time before their day-to-day duties become stale and tedious.
Create a culture of health and well-being in each stage
In addition to building a culture of well-being, some companies (a lot, in fact) still suffer from a toxic culture. People have mistaken working all hours of the day for “productive” and “hard-working.” In reality, these traits can be extremely damaging to the well-being of everyone in your team.
A working environment like this can quickly lead to burnout, which often leads to presenteeism and absenteeism, along with other impacts.
In a bid to reshape your employee experience, consider how health and well-being fit into your culture if it doesn’t already. What initiatives and perks can you implement to build healthier, happier teams?
For example, many companies make use of employee benefits platforms that offer a wide range of perks and incentives in the workplace. Alternatively, other ideas include well-being days, where people are able to take an hour each week to focus on themselves - often in the form of ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’.
How you choose to incorporate a culture of well-being into your workplace will depend on various factors. The best approach is to simply speak with team members and find out what well-being means to them. After all, you’re building a culture for your people - those that will have to experience it day in and day out.
When we consider some of the best practices to transform employee experience, rebuilding the company culture is one of the best. Everything from engagement, retention, and job satisfaction is improved through a culture of well-being.
A people-centric approach and emphasis on well-being in the workplace have become so important in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, nearly 40% of employers implemented more mental health benefits during the peak of the pandemic.
Many celebrities and influential figures spoke about mental health during the pandemic. Not only this, but employees also spoke out against the stigma that haunts these discussions between managers and their teams. By eradicating the taboo, the future looks ever so slightly brighter.
The question is, however, how much further will employers go to build healthier, happier teams? This means a lot more than mental health consultations, wellness stipends, and ‘Wellbeing Wednesdays’. To truly support employees and build a culture of well-being, employers need to consider digital well-being, financial well-being, female health topics, physical fitness incentives, and much more.
Avoid a toxic employee departure for a better experience
It often leaves managers and business owners with dread and uncertainty, but people do leave jobs - it’s as simple as that. While there are hundreds of reasons why people feel it is their time to move on, managers should embrace this with understanding, not anger. By supporting your employee's decision, you are building a better employee experience.
It’s the companies who create an uncomfortable and toxic environment for those choosing to leave, who will see the repercussions. With the rise of websites like Glassdoor and Comparably, employees are able to leave reviews on employee experience and their overall thoughts of employers.
One of the worst things that can happen is your company being plastered all across the internet with one-star reviews of managers and a poor experience at your company. Not only does this influence potential new hires but it can impact your reputation from a customer perspective.
It’s often thought that bad publicity is still publicity nonetheless, but reviews are long-lasting and too many of them can be bad for business performance. Ultimately, as you can see, the employee experience isn’t the only downfall when it comes to departing employees.
If you want to create a robust, well-rounded employee experience, the final hurdle is the way your company deals with those leaving. Remain empathetic, understanding, and support them in any way possible, and you’re likely to transform your employee experience.
From a well-being perspective, shifting jobs can be a stressful time, and as we’ve explored above, the onboarding process brings forth enough anxiety and worry. By being supportive, you’re likely to see productivity and performance continue across the team. You’re also going to help reduce any emotional impacts that come with leaving a job.