By Judy M. McCutcheon
When it comes to business and profit the buzz is on ensuring that the customer gets an experience that delights and connects them to the organisation. Companies are also big on their employees being engaged with their brand. But what about the employee experience, is that a big thing, should it be a big thing? Do you even care about the experiences your employees get with your organisation? How does their experience stack up against their engagement with your company? And importantly, how do their experiences translate into delightful experiences for your customers? Is there even a difference between employee engagement and employee experience?
To reduce customer churn and increase revenues, companies spend a lot of time and money listening to the voice of the customer, so that they can create products and services that best suit the way customers now live and work, and that is very important. As employers you want your employees to engage with your company, your policies, procedures, and culture. After all, the survey data points to the fact that companies whose employees are more engaged outperform companies whose employees are disengaged. And while engagement is critical to employee retention and ultimately revenue and profits, the experiences you give to your employees are now more than ever just as equally important.
The concept of employee experience transcends engagement. Engagement is about a culture fit, about the company doing things from the company’s standpoint with the hope that the employees engage with the brand. The employee experience, on the other hand, is about looking at the organisation through the eyes of the employees. It calls for flexibility and designing the flow of work and even the workspace around the activities and natural tendencies of the employees. Are your policies designed in such a way that your employees can tell you what bugs them about how you do what you do, without any backlash? How is your workspace designed, is it designed with your people in mind? Are your procedures and policies flexible enough to allow your employees to truly live your mission while trying to achieve your vision? Employee engagement says to your employees, we are going to do this for you and we hope you like it. Employee experience asks, how can we work better with you so that you can be your best? It calls for listening to the voice of your employees so that you can meet them where they are, so they can get to where they want to be. It’s about blending culture, behaviour, policies, and processes; it is about the way you think and acts towards your employees.
Becoming an employee-centric employer requires that the experience you offer your employees considers all the touchpoints throughout their lifecycle – seeing the way you do the things you do through the eyes of your employees. It requires executives as well as managers to walk in the shoes of their employees. It is important to remember that work is a set of combined experiences for the employees and everything that happens on the job impacts them both in and out of the workplace. Companies need to start looking at their employees in a holistic way – physical, professional, emotional, and financial. Becoming an employer that focuses on the experiences you give to your employees means that your way of thinking, as well as the decisions you make that affect the internal workings of the organisation be considered from the employee perspective. The employee experience considers everything, from the physical workspace to the culture, the policies, and procedures. How the company communicates with the employees and also ensures that all the resources are available to enable them to carry out their assigned tasks in an efficient manner.
Just as you want your customers to become raving fans of your brand, you want your employees to become evangelists of your brand; this won’t happen by you simply paying them a salary. You want to ensure that your employees shout your praises from the mountain top, you want your employees to have pride in their organisation, to advocate on behalf of the organisation, to care about the financial health of the organisation, and to commit to staying for the growth and sustainability of the organisation. In the final analysis, your employee engagement is a function of your employee experience. If you want your employees to be engaged with your organisation, then you must give them an experience that gives you your desired results. The employee experience is the means to that end.
Judy McCutcheon is a certified John Maxwell Leadership Coach and the CEO of Go Blue Consulting.