Improving Employee Experience - How To Embrace Hybrid Working and Energize Your People
For any business, the measures of success are many and complicated. While financial figures will always be a key metric to recognise success, as more data is available, we’re all looking for ways to use that data to understand our business and grow it more effectively.
One of these measures is Employee Experience - a look at the reality of working within your company.
Creating a great employee experience is creating an organisation “where people want to show up” and “typically falls into three categories: culture, technology and physical space” (from Jacob Morgan at the Future Organisation).
But why is the experience of your employees so important? As long as they turn up to work and are productive - does it matter if they want to be there? I’m sure you already know this because of course, it matters.
Engaged Employees Benefit Your Business
This isn’t just about a vague notion of employee happiness, employee experience is important because it’s the foundation of so many other aspects of our business success. According to research from Gallup, companies with high employee engagement enjoy “better customer engagement, higher productivity, better retention, fewer accidents, and 21% higher profitability. Engaged workers also report better health outcomes.”
So, we know that providing a good employee experience is important, but who’s responsibility is it to create this? Going back to Jacob Morgan’s quote at the top of the article, there are three distinct areas which impact employee experience - it’s therefore those areas who need to combine forces to provide the environment we’re striving for.
While developing employee experience has become a more common decree from the C-suite, and this vision is something ‘Heads of’ are unlikely to reject, one of the barriers to progress will often be the need for collaboration across departments.
Returning to the Office - Returning to Normal?
As so many people are considering the return to shared offices, how organisations manage this return will have a huge impact on employee experience.
For many people, the time and cost savings arising from home working will be considered a huge benefit. And, where caring for family has been a concern, additional flexibility will also be something employees don’t want to lose.
While productivity will always be a major concern for businesses, despite the move to homeworking borne from the pandemic, productivity hasn’t suffered. In the US Remote Work Survey from PwC at the end of 2020, not only did employees feel they were more productive than before the pandemic, but executives agreed with “over half (52%) say(ing) average employee productivity has improved”.
It is these considerations which have meant many organisations feel a return to the office can’t be a return to the pre-pandemic normal. Instead, employers looking to improve employee experience, are hoping to build a hybrid workspace which will benefit employees and the organisation too.
Building Hybrid Workspaces for Improved Experience
Looking at what employees and companies want moving forward, we can see how these fit within the framework Jacob Morgan presented above.
What do employees want?
These three things have been raised as areas directly impacting employee experience:
Flexibility Employees have focused their energies on supporting employers through incredibly difficult times and value the flexibility they have been provided within that. The move to homeworking may not have been a choice for employer or employee, but companies who provided benefits within that requirement will now have happier, more focused and loyal, people.
Having seen that these working practices have been successful, there are benefits to everyone to continue to provide this hybrid worklife, and much of the responsibility for supporting this will come through technology. IT departments will need to ensure the provision of (and access to) apps, services and the analytics and data which will inform all other decisions.
While collaboration tools take many guises, communication services and monitoring will also be key, it will be the responsibility of Technology heads to understand what tools and services are required to keep this flexibility going forward and provide the best solutions.
Community One thing which has been missed by many individuals has been community, both the social aspects of time spent with others and the collaboration opportunities of working alongside colleagues.
While digital collaboration technologies have been hugely beneficial in this area, now that shared spaces are reopening it is clear that the real benefit of these spaces will be in bringing people together.
Our physical workspaces will need to change to accommodate this, while also allowing for the continued use of digital tools in these spaces. Opportunities for video conferencing are now the norm and can no longer be restricted to 2 meeting rooms available on request and bookable a week in advance.
Opportunity Another real concern raised by remote working has been people management at a distance. How will managers retain visibility and ensure recognition of opportunities for development and reward? The culture of a company is defined by any number of factors, but the provision of support for employees provided by an HR department is a significant part of it. Good people management is key to developing a great employee experience.
What do companies want?
Yes, companies want to be able to shout about their great employee experience scores, but what else will they get with that?
Productivity We’ve already mentioned the positive productivity measures organisations have reported in the last 12-18 months; a huge factor influencing this has been the opportunities provided by IT. The provision of cloud-based apps and software to enable remote working, collaboration and video conferencing tools, or the data which allows people and project managers to support their teams, has all been essential.
While many of these services were implemented quickly as they became necessary for workers at home, supporting these services into the future will potentially need further research and development - through which it is essential technology departments collaborate closely with their strategic partners.
Employee Retention Staff turnover is expensive and - if you’re losing your best people - can be really harmful to organisations of any size. Improved employee experience not only encourages people to stay longer, recruiting the best people will also be easier when your existing employees are saying great things about you.
Increased Sales The money comes into your organisation through sales - whether of services or products, you need people to ‘buy into’ what you’re offering. As Forbes reported in this article “brands looking to improve their CX (customer experience) and drive a corresponding increase in ROI should first focus on creating the best employee experience possible”.
Customer Experience - and with it ROI - is inextricably linked to employee experience. Your happier, healthier, more motivated staff are more likely to bring in positive sales - there’s no real surprise here.
How will this work?
The benefits of improving employee experience are seen across the board, but working to achieve these levels will take direction from the top of your organisation and input from areas across the board.
Working together, your people in Technology, Human Resources and Facilities will all be needed to ensure individuals benefit from a coherent, structured hybrid workspace.
If your organisation is working to achieve a better employee experience, I’d be happy to support you with a clearer understanding of how to create a hybrid workplace which works for your business as a whole. Get in touch to find out more.
About the Author
I'm Terry Chana. By understanding business needs and employee desires, I help organisations envisage and execute their hybrid and connected workspace strategy.
For help creating the workspace you need - ensuring your staff and company thrive - get in touch, I’d love to help.