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How to improve employee experience in 2018

How to improve employee experience in the workplace in 2018

From management to HR, everybody agrees that employee experience is crucial to business success ― and yet only a small percentage of companies are actively addressing the issue. To get a head start on your competition, here are six actionable tips for improving employee experience at your workspace.

Six useful tips to improve the employee experience in your company

A great workplace is not made up of large bonuses or an ultra-fancy campus. It’s also not about casual Fridays and free sodas.

While all of these things can (and do) help in various degrees, what matters is the quality of the overall employee experience. This term, which has seen increased interest from HR experts in the last couple of years, refers to how employees feel about working at a company.

As anything that depends on subjective criteria, the employee experience is hard to quantify. But a great variety of factors, such as workplace culture, compensation, management and career advancement opportunities can influence it.

Why employee experience matters

Simply put, because in the knowledge economy a company’s success depends on its employees’ knowledge, skills, and creativity.

That’s true across the service sector (in retail, media, transport, distribution, healthcare, hospitality, food, and so on), but also applies to the modern manufacturing sector.

Improving employee experience helps with:

– Employee engagement
– Attracting top talent to work for you
– Reducing employee churn
– Improving teamwork
– Increasing diversity
– Avoiding workplace friction
– Customer satisfaction

A 2016 study by Gallup has shown the strong correlation between employee engagement and profit growth than with improvements in process and operational efficiency.

Similarly, Globoforce’s Employee Experience Study has found that employee experience is positively linked to improved work performance. Satisfied employees work harder ― and more effectively.

Top-ranking executives in large companies have started to wake up to the importance of employee experience. In a research conducted by Deloitte University, over 80% of top executives have recognized the importance of employee experience, even though only 22% of them are satisfied with their company’s progress in that area.

So, how do you improve the employee experience in the workplace?

You start with this list of six employee experience boosting tips, of course.

1) Be open to employees’ opinions
2) Be appreciative of employee contributions
3) Offer plenty of career advancement opportunities
4) Build a real office culture
5) Ditch the open-plan office
6) Offer flexible working arrangements

Let’s look at them one by one.

1) Be open to employees’ opinions

Employees in the knowledge economy are not mere cogs meant to follow orders blindly.

In modern business, managers and team leaders should actively seek employee opinion.

This doesn’t mean that employees should have the final say on the company’s direction, or that they should be allowed to second-guess the CEO’s decisions.

It just means that what employees (and especially senior employees) have to say should also be taken into account. After all, when it comes to the details of a company’s products and services, they are the actual experts.

Soliciting your employees’ opinions is especially important when you’re about to implement some changes that will affect their working conditions and everyday workflows (for example, alter office times, reorganize existing departments, change security procedures, renovate the office, and so on).

Employees whose opinions are respected and who feel like they have a say in the company’s decisions are more engaged, more passionate about their work, and less likely to leave their company.

2) Be appreciative of employee contributions

When employees do their job well, and especially when they go above and beyond the call of duty, they should be recognized for their effort and be shown appreciation.

Sometimes all that this takes is a compliment to their work, or a symbolic gesture, like taking the team out to lunch. Other times, e.g., when an employee has devised a method to increase the company’s productivity or has personally secured a major sale, something more substantial, like a bonus or a raise are in order.

What’s important is to send a clear message that employee contributions are recognized and appreciated.

That said, there are a couple of situations you should avoid.

The first is the all-too-common scenario where a manager takes all the credit for the ideas or the work of lower level employees. You want managers that promote, defend, and highlight their team’s work, not ones that steal the credit for it.

The second is only ever acknowledging the work of specific employees to the detriment of others. Even if some employees are always much more creative or productive than the rest, you should spread your praise, and recognize any employee that manages to exceed their usual performance.

This small change in feedback can prevent bitterness and jealousy, and encourage those lesser performers to try even harder next time.

3) Offer plenty of career advancement opportunities

Nobody likes a dead-end job.

Offering a clear advancement path will reduce churn and give your employees a goal to strive towards.

Of course, you don’t have to promote everybody. You merely need to give employees ample opportunity to prove themselves and then promote those that have demonstrated superior skills.

First, of course, you need to give them the opportunity to acquire and hone those skills.

How? By developing a smart training program and investing in an excellent corporate training platform to help you manage your training. It’s crucial to pack your employee training with the kind of technical, business, and social skills that your company needs.

Career change doesn’t have to be constrained to vertical movement (from a lower to a higher ranking role) either.

Many employees will be equally satisfied if they could use their newly found skills to move from their current role to another, even within the same hierarchy level and pay grade. Some employees would also prefer staying in the current position but with a pay rise. Offering such possibilities is another excellent way to improve the employee experience in your workspace.

How to improve employee experience in the workplace in 2018 - TalentLMS Blog

4) Build a real office culture

While many companies pay lip service to the notion of “office culture,” few manage to get theirs right.

First, let’s note that, although related, office culture is not the same thing as a company culture. The former refers to the ways your employees relate to their team leaders, collaborate with them, express their personalities, and have fun in the workplace. Company culture, on the other hand, is about your company’s core values and goals.

The key to creating a real office culture is to be as hands-off as possible.

Upper management can not mandate an office culture. It is something that must grow organically ― starting from when the company is young.

To foster a welcoming and engaging office culture, you need executives that can inspire and lead by example. You need managers that work as hard as their employees do, remain approachable and understanding when things go wrong. On a personal level, managers who don’t mind sharing the occasional drink with their team and don’t think of themselves as above their employees can improve the overall employee experience.

A welcoming office environment is also critical when considering how to improve the workplace experience. Fortunately, you don’t have to splurge billions like Apple and Google to build one. Ergonomic desks and chairs, proper lighting, and a few nice perks (an espresso machine, an enticing break room, an office gym) will already place you miles ahead than most companies.

Even more important is achieving the proper work-life balance.

It’s hard for employees to feel excited with their office experience or to build an office culture when they’re overworked continuously and battling crazy deadlines.

Speaking of work-life balance, you should plan some team bonding activities (e.g., excursions, sporting matches, team lunches, and anything your team enjoys) outside the office.

Try not schedule these at the expense of your employees’ free time though because that can backfire. Scheduling such activities during work hours will ensure that your employees see them as fun, as opposed to some company-mandated tedium that eats into their evenings or weekends.

5) Ditch the open-plan office

“I just love open-plan offices” ― said no employee ever.

Still, open-plan offices dominate the modern workplace, mainly because they’re perceived as a more cost-effective use of office space.

While an open-plan office is cheaper than a proper office layout (or, at least, cubicles), it comes with hidden costs in employee experience and productivity that the company pays much more dearly than it would have paid for a few dividers.

A 2018 study conducted by researchers at Sweden’s Karlstad University has clearly shown the negative relationship between the number of workers sharing an office and employee satisfaction.

Similarly, recent research by the Canada Life Group Insurance has found that open-plan offices promote stress, decrease employee productivity, and even increase health risks.

There’s no shortage of material indicating the harmful effects of open office spaces. Ditching them and dividing your office space into smaller separate areas, or even going back to cubicles, is one of the best things you could to improve the employee experience in your workspace.

6) Offer flexible working arrangements

Some employees like coming to the office every morning. It makes them feel connected to their co-workers and allows them to work together and collaborate better. Others are night owls, and would rather come in a little (or a lot) later, even if that means that they would have to stay there until late at night. Others still, would rather not come to the office at all. They prefer working from home, or from the closest Starbucks.

One of the ways to improve the workplace, then, is to make office hours, or even coming to the office, more flexible.

Modern businesses, including large companies like Google, and Amazon, smaller ones such as Basecamp and Automatic, and others of all sizes, have embraced flexible work schedules and remote working arrangements.

Remote work, especially, can be a huge factor in increasing employee satisfaction, helping employees to improve their work-life balance, provide for their newborn children, avoid lengthy commutes, and reduce their expenses by renting a place further away from work.

The advantage? Just as with other factors associated with an improved employee experience, remote work raises productivity.

Conclusion

In our knowledge economy, companies will want to invest in their employees because it’s the got highest ROI.

Unfortunately, employee experience, a major area of focus for HR experts, remains an uncharted territory for the majority of managers.

Try the six tips shared in this post to start improving employee experience in your company immediately. Very soon you’ll be navigating the EX territory like a seasoned explorer.


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