Roughly speaking, the employee experience is the entirety of an employee’s perception regarding their time at a company. The entire journey of a person during their employment – from onboarding to termination – is considered when summing up what their ‘experience’ might be.
In recent years, companies have taken a more holistic, employee-centered approach toward onboarding, retention, training, benefits, and termination. Proponents of this seismic shift from previous goal-based strategies have identified several reasons why they believe it will help to turn the tide of the great resignation and create stable, high-morale workplaces that benefit both employers and employees.
The Great Resignation
The so-called ‘great resignation’ has been a major shock to HR professionals and business leaders in the United States, the United Kingdom, and several other large economies. At a staggering rate, employees are quitting their jobs, with young people on relatively low wages making up most of the resigning parties. A lack of attention paid to the employee experience has been blamed for at least part of this massive wave of resignations.
Employees feel unseen and unheard in their workplaces, with a huge portion of their lives being dominated by jobs they see as antithetical to their continued happiness. Employee experience is, of course, only part of the problem.
In many cases, rampant inflation has meant that employee wages now fail to cover expenses, and career reshuffles have become more commonplace. Covid-19 has also created an environment of contemplative change, with many people reconsidering how much of their time and effort they want to spend catering to the needs of their employers.
With the great resignation in mind, let’s look at some benefits of prioritizing employee experience.
Employee retention is, quite understandably, at the top of many business leaders’ lists of worries. High employee turnover rates mean businesses are often understaffed and have issues creating an effective workforce of driven, knowledgeable people.
Onboarding takes a great deal of time and money to effectively complete with an essentially transient workforce. By concentrating on improving the employee experience, business leaders and HR professionals can improve retention. Employees will stay at a company for longer if their experience throughout their journey is fulfilling and upwardly mobile.
When each stage of an employee’s journey through a company is crafted with their needs in mind, the potential to create an upwardly mobile workforce is much higher. Many businesses have prioritized internal promotions and hiring to incentivize employees to stay in a company. Employees will not chase a promotion if they feel their experience in one role reflects poorly on their possible experience in another.
Lower Absenteeism Rates
Unhappy employees are far more likely to take extra days off work than their more fulfilled peers. If you dread each day in your place of employment, there is very little motivation to come in when you are feeling a little bit off. Employers don’t want to prevent employees from taking their legally protected sick days when they feel genuinely ill. Still, they also don’t want to shed valuable working hours at the hands of employees so unhappy that they will search for any reason to call in sick.
Workplace unhappiness and genuine sickness do go hand in hand. Workplace stress and frustration can make workers feel under the weather more frequently. Stress is one of the most common causes for workers feeling unable to come in and start their day. If business leaders want to fight employee stress, they must consider their staff members’ entire employment experience holistically.
High stress due to workplace conditions and conflicts can cause insomnia and depression – two of the most prevalent reasons for calling in sick in the US workforce. Employers should actively fight workplace-induced stress among their employees by caring for them during work and listening to their concerns about conditions. They should work with unions fighting for more representation in the workplace instead of against them, creating a united effort to keep employees happy and attentive.
Improved Customer Relations
Employees that feel cared for in their jobs will be more likely to engage with customers more effectively. Customer relations rely in part on the willingness and ability of staff to interact with consumers in a positive light. By focusing on the employee experience, companies can ensure that customers are always interacting with motivated, happy employees willing to represent the company that they truly believe has their best interests at heart.
Any resentment among employees will be passed on to consumers directly and seriously damage a business’s relationship with its most important customers. Customer relations are crucial to the public perception of a company and, therefore, its overall performance.
Improved Quality of Work
According to renowned Harvard business academic Shawn Achor, happiness influences the quality of work more than IQ, training, and skill set factors. Consider improving the employee experience as a way of ‘passing on’ positive motivation from the organization to employees.
A whole range of factors can influence workplace happiness, and each can be worked on by focusing on the overall employee experience within a business. Businesses that focus on holistically improving the employee experience will find that their investments of time and money are returned in kind in the form of improved quality of work. Employees that feel like their needs are being met by their employer throughout their workplace journey are likely to focus more intently on improving the quality of their work.
Increased Employee Investment
This improvement in the quality of work that businesses can experience if they focus on employee experience largely leads to increased employee investment. Employees do not invest in their work when they are let down by the general structural negligence of their employers. However, many will go above and beyond for employers they believe have their best interests at heart.