Today’s highly competitive, globalized economy means that for many businesses it’s getting harder and harder to attract and retain skilled employees. Once upon a time a competitive salary plus a few extra perks like a company vehicle or subsidized gym membership was all you needed to tempt the best people to come and work for you. Nowadays, it’s not quite as straightforward as that, you also need to provide a great employee experience.
The statistics tell us that millennials are changing jobs and employers much more frequently than previous generations. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median number of years that wage and salary earners have worked for their current employer is now just 4.6 years. What’s more, the median tenure of workers aged 55 to 64 at 10.1 years is more than three times that of workers aged 25 to 34 which is just 2.8 years. In addition, research from Gallup found that ‘employees want jobs that fit their lifestyle, give them opportunities to grow and connect them to greater meaning and purpose.’
It’s clear that today’s workers expect more from their jobs and employers than just a salary. In light of data such as this, many companies are rethinking their approach to recruitment and retention with a greater emphasis on the overall employee experience. An engaging experience can help companies to succeed in attracting and retaining the best employees in the market. So, what exactly do we mean by employee experience and how can you set about improving it in your business?
In this post, we look in detail at the importance of the employee experience and we put forward some ideas on how to kick start a program facilitated by the company intranet. First though, let’s be clear about we mean by employee experience.
Employee Experience Definition
In simple terms, the employee experience encompasses every interaction a worker has with an employer, and it starts the moment that individual first contacts the organization about a job. It’s a comprehensive, holistic approach which sees every interaction included right the way through from recruitment to retirement.
According to Deloitte Insights, the employee experience is as follows:
a holistic view of life at work, requiring constant feedback, action and monitoring.
Quite simply, the employee experience covers every aspect of the individual’s working life, from culture to well-being, purpose and meaning as well as the physical environment of the workplace.
We have heard much in recent years about the customer experience and there has been a realization that the relationship with customers is primarily driven by emotions – it’s all about how they ‘feel’ about your brand. The same approach is now being adopted in relation to employees. You see, your relationship with employees is also being driven by emotions rather than hard, cold salaries, perks and incentives. If you want to get the best out of your staff members, then you need to think like them, connect with them and deliver great experiences.
How Can I Improve The Employee Experience In My Business?
The employee experience is such a broad topic that it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to making improvements. To make things a bit easier, Deloitte Insights lists the factors that contribute to a positive employee experience. These are as follows:
- meaningful work
- supportive environment
- positive work environment
- growth opportunity
- trust in leadership.
When starting out on a program to improve employee experience, it’s important to take small steps at a time. Perhaps identify a priority within each of those factors and then concentrate on getting that right before moving on to the next factor. A slow, deliberate and most importantly integrated approach is likely to be more effective than a broad brush one that spreads your efforts too thinly.
In addition, giving responsibility for overseeing the program to a senior manager or board member will underline the importance that the organization attaches to the employee experience. In addition, it will help to ensure an integrated approach is implemented across the whole business rather than isolated, piecemeal initiatives.
So, let’s look at each of these factors in detail and identify action points that you can take which will bring about sustained improvements. We also look at how the company intranet software can be used to support the employee experience program.
Meaningful Work & The Intranet
Everyone wants to feel as though they are making a contribution to a bigger picture. What’s more, employees that feel valued as individuals are more likely to have a positive employee experience.
Meaningful work encompasses a range of factors. It means that employees are empowered to get on with the job, have the necessary tools and resources to complete what’s required and have the autonomy to make decisions without needing to get sign-off from several layers of management.
It also means that staff members have an understanding and appreciation of overall company goals and have specific targets that make it clear how their job impacts on achieving those overall goals.
The company intranet is a powerful solution when it comes to empowering employees. In a single platform are all the tools and resources staff members need to get the job done. And the best thing about the intranet is its self-service nature. The staff member can quickly and easily access all company information, data and tools directly for themselves, which not only leads to greater freedom and autonomy, it also encourages innovative resourcefulness that positively impacts on the employee experience.
The exact format of the intranet will vary from company to company depending on specific requirements. However, most intranets feature some or all of the following tools:
- File and document management and sharing both internally and externally
- Interactive news feeds and blogs on a company-wide or team basis
- Corporate calendars featuring key events or milestones
- Automated business processes such as online forms
- Collaborative workspaces that promote joint working on inter-departmental or organization-wide projects
- Online staff directories with biographies, areas of expertise and current work projects highlighted
- Quizzes, surveys and polls
- Integration with other office systems like Salesforce CRM and Google Suite
- Social intranet features including individual and site activity walls.
And so when Bernard in Accounts wants to book his annual vacation, instead of filling out a paper form or emailing his manager with a request, he uses the intranet to complete an online automated form. This is automatically routed to the manager for approval and to HR for central recording. It’s a much simpler process that also eliminates the possibility of paperwork going missing or emails being left unopened.
Another practical example is Fiona, the salesperson who spends most of her time out on the road drumming up new business. While visiting a client, she is asked a servicing question that she doesn’t know the answer to. Instead of having to ring head office and possibly be passed around a number of colleagues, Fiona is able to access the intranet via her smartphone. She can easily look up the information herself and is able to swiftly respond to the client.
These are just a couple of examples of how the intranet can make work more meaningful by providing the necessary tools and encouraging autonomy. And it’s these sorts of everyday practical issues that have a profound effect on the employee experience.
Supportive Environment & The Intranet
Managers and leaders in the business are critical to creating the right kind of supportive environment in which a positive employee experience can thrive. Worryingly though a recent survey from the Harvard Business Review found that 58 percent of people say they trust strangers more than their own boss.
Managers need to be visible, approachable and accessible to their employees. In addition, they need to provide clear and transparent overall company goals, which are then filtered down into team and individual targets for every employee. In that way, staff have a clearer sense of purpose, a better appreciation of the bigger picture and their contribution to it and can feel supported in their roles.
Getting across important company messages about mission and culture can be difficult – and let’s face, is pretty boring – if you just rely on the written word. An intranet video presentation from the CEO, on the other hand, can really bring the message to life. In this context, intonation, body language and hand gestures will make a real difference in a way that mere words alone can’t. Use the intranet’s news feed to get the message across and then allow staff members to share their views and comment in true YouTube fashion for an interactive experience.
What’s more, many businesses have found that a CEO blog on the intranet helps to bridge the gap between senior managers and the wider staff body. This is especially so if the CEO uses the blog to also share personal insights and thoughts on wider issues rather than always focussing on company targets or marketing messages. If you are passionate about finding a work-life balance, for instance, then why not write about that from time to time. Being real and personal is what’s important as it will help to build that emotional connection which, as we’ve seen, is so important to the employee experience.
Positive Work Environment & The Intranet
Deloitte’s 2018 Global Human Capital Trends makes clear that a positive work environment, one that promotes employee wellness, flexible working, inclusivity and a culture of recognition is a key driver of the employee experience.
High-performing companies are those that look to promote a positive work environment across all internal operations including performance management, workplace design, benefits and rewards as well as learning and development opportunities and safety and health.
Use the company intranet to develop and promote a comprehensive program of employee wellness and benefits. Utilize webinars and video tutorials to educate and inform staff and make it interactive with quizzes and surveys.
And why not provide managers with the know-how and tools to manage a range of workplace issues such as ergonomics or mental health concerns. Online roadmaps, toolkits and step-by-step processes for identifying, responding to and managing employee mental health or office safety can be made available on the intranet.
Encourage a healthy work-life balance by allowing staff members to telecommute or work flexible hours that fit in with family commitments. Your intranet is, after all, accessible remotely via a smartphone or tablet and an internet connection. And so, if a staff member has an important tender to complete, then why not let them do so from the local café if being removed from the distractions of the office will help them to get the task done more quickly and efficiently.
And finally, consider introducing a formal employee recognition scheme on the intranet. Get employees to nominate their colleagues who have gone the extra mile or have come up with a money or time-saving innovation. Celebrate and reward the successes of employees not just in the workplace but also in their personal lives as well.
Growth Opportunity & The Intranet
Opportunities for personal growth and development within the workplace are a critical element of the overall employee experience. Companies that actively promote continuing professional development with training and support on the job as well as external courses and seminars have a more positive employee experience than their counterparts.
Employees that feel as though they are stagnating in their job roles are more likely to move on or worse still could become actively disengaged. Disengaged employees can very quickly have a negative effect on their colleagues and peers. In much the same way that a cold virus can spread throughout a team, so those negative, disengaged vibes can infect everyone in the office. Before you know it, you have an epidemic on your hands.
The intranet offers the potential for a variety of training and development opportunities that are more in tune with modern workplaces than the traditional classroom-style learning of old. Instead, take your pick from some of the following media:
- How-to videos
- Mentorship arrangements
- Internal apprenticeships
- Works shadowing
- Online checklists.
The possibilities are almost endless. However, the great beauty of the intranet is that this training and development can all be completed remotely by the employee at a pace that works for them and at a time that fits in with home life as well as the demands of the job. It’s a cost-effective and flexible solution that works well for both parties.
Trust In Leadership & The Intranet
As we’ve seen, trust is an essential component of the employer and employee relationship especially in terms of that all-important emotional connection. Transparency, honesty and integrity are all important in this context. Employees want to be inspired by their leaders who set the standard for the whole organization.
Interactive blogs on the intranet are also a good idea in this context. Being seen to not only actively seek the views of staff members, but also respond and act on them will make a big difference to nurturing that sense of trust in leadership.
So, every time you undertake a staff engagement survey or you seek the views of employees on an issue through a snap poll, make sure that you feedback to the staff body on what action you have taken as a result. And if you are unable to take employees’ suggestions further, whether it be because of budgetary constraints or operational limitations, then be upfront and explain the reasons why.
Improving Employee Experience
Use the intranet to kick start improvements in employee experience in your company. Not only will you be increasing recruitment and retention rates in your business, but you will also see corresponding improvements in the customer experience. The truth is there’s a strong correlation between engaged employees and happy customers, which can only result in increased competitive advantage and profits for your business.
So, get started today. Contact the expert team at MyHub for a free demo or a no-obligation 14-day trial of our easy to set up and manage cloud intranet software and discover what a difference it can make to the employee experience.