It affects everything from your company’s bottom line to the quality of your talent pool and yet, the employee experience remains one of the most difficult pillars of a successful business to define (and support).
On the level of basic emotional wellbeing, it isn’t hard to see the value in an excellent employee experience. According to some estimates, the amount of time the average person spends working over the course of their lives adds up to about 13 consecutive years. For context, the same report estimates people spend about 328 days socializing with friends. Considering this, the claim that how employees feel day-to-day at work dictates a person’s overall quality of life doesn’t seem so far flung.
Compassionate leaders believe this human-centric view is motivating in and of itself but also understand that a business is a business. Realistically, top initiatives have to earn their keep with more than feel-good results, but what many leaders fail to realize about providing great experiences for employees is that it brings much more than emotional value.
We’ll help you understand exactly what the employee experience is, why its importance is chronically underestimated, and let you in on one key cultural factor shared by organizations whose employees have great experiences at work every day.
What is employee experience?
The word “experience” encompasses anything and everything that filters through consciousness. It’s no wonder people have been so imprecise in their definitions. It’s a vague and deceptively straightforward term that’s been outlined in too many variations to number.
Like all good researchers, we look to data for help understanding hard-to-define concepts. The EX Index was developed after analyzing over 17,000 responses gathered from employees across 18 distinct industries. From this data, researchers identified six recurrent factors that are the key pillars of employee experience.
6 Dimensions of the Employee Experience
Let’s explore the different dimensions of how employees experience their jobs every day:
Authenticity is internal transparency, honest communication, and earnest feedback.
Engagement is feeling absorbed and actively interested in one’s work, with an earnest willingness to “go the extra mile.” (Note that engagement is sometimes mistakenly used as a synonym for employee experience. In reality, it is only one of its six dimensions.)
Optimism is positive anticipation about the future of the company as well as an individuals’ position within it.
4. Purpose and Meaning
Purpose and meaning is a feeling of contributing to something greater than oneself.
5. Social Connection
Social connection is a thriving network of strong peer-to-peer relationships.
Belonging is a sense of being part of a team, which in turn inspires employees to act in the interest of the greater good.
Sharpening your conceptualization of these key dimensions is a critical precursor to both see the extent of their value and understand how best to support them. With these pillars in mind, we are well situated to discuss its most impactful correlates.
The Impact of the Employee Experience
We’ve already noted the importance of the employee experience on an interpersonal level. It’s huge. It also exercises a massive impact on a businesses’ success. Below are three of the most influential ways the employee experience affects lucrative business outcomes:
1. It Helps Companies Attract Top Talent
The most sought-after employees meticulously compare offers from potential future employers. When talented candidates choose between offers, how good employees feel every day at work can become a major differentiating factor.
To sway top talent towards choosing your organization over others, you need to offer a notably amazing experience for employees.
2. It Dictates the Quality of a Customer Experience
Businesses exist to serve their customers, and the most successful businesses serve them better than anyone else. Without customers, a business loses it’s raison d’être and begins a steep decline towards non-existence.
Now, consider the direct correlation between creating great experiences for employees and positive customer experiences. If customers are truly your business’s highest priority, shouldn’t you do everything you can to ensure their experience is a good one?
That’s what we thought.
3. It Impacts Revenue
Finally, the most direct benefit of all: a strong employee experience literally pays.
Companies that invest in the employee experience have higher profits and more revenue than those that don’t. For example, one study found that companies with a superior employee experience showed 27% higher revenue for new products than their lower-ranked counterparts. The same study also found the average net promoter score (NPS) at companies with strong employee experience was 32, compared to 14 at the lowest-ranked companies. If the other reasons weren’t enough to convince you, consider that, when you invest in programs like recognition and professional development to support a strong employee experience, you also take steps towards becoming a more profitable company.
The impact of the employee experience extends beyond these three themes. Among other benefits, it can help reduce turnover and increase productivity. We’ve highlighted these benefits in particular because they are so high-impact. It is extremely difficult — if not impossible — to argue against the value of creating amazing experiences for employees in light of them.
What Companies with Amazing Employee Experiences Have in Common
From open-door office policies to fun and frivolous perks, experts have many recommendations for improving the employee experience. It’s up to you to determine which can best meet your team’s unique needs. We’ll give you a head start by letting you in on an important secret: these tips all ultimately tie back to a culture of recognition.
Recognition builds trust and strengthens peer-to-peer relationships. Both these things are essential for building a sense of belonging to a team. Recognition develops optimism by calling attention to all the things that are going right at your organization. It’s also a proven way to bolster employee engagement. Value-based recognition directs attention to high-level goals. This infuses your workplace with a strong sense of purpose. Points-based recognition lets you celebrate employees with custom rewards, which can be the final cherry on top of an amazing employee experience. A well-designed rewards and recognition program follows a few best practices. When you’re building yours, here are a few things you should keep in mind:
5 Tips for Designing a Strong Employee Recognition Program
1. Pile on the Praise
Encourage peers to pile on the praise when a colleague receives recognition. To do this, be sure to pick a platform with a social feed.
2. Focus on Core Values
Tie recognition back to your company core values. This doubles the value of recognition by reinforcing your core values while also enhancing the employee experience.
3. Be Inclusive
Be sure your program is inclusive to all employees, regardless of location or role. Mobile apps and global support are both essential.
4. Use Rewards Points
Incorporate rewards points to make recognition more meaningful. Employees can redeem points for rewards of their choosing, which makes your program both more personal and more meaningful.
5. Avoid Markups
Look out for markups and point breakage. These are tricky ways that some — but not all — employee recognition vendors increase their own profits at the customer’s expense.
Could a culture of recognition be the secret to developing your company’s employee experience? It just might be. One thing is for sure: if your organization is to achieve the greatest heights of success, it can’t get there without an amazing day-to-day experience for employees. Whichever approach(es) you take to support your employees, know that you’re working toward an outcome that will improve not only your employees’ lives on a personal level but bring real strategic benefit to your business, too.
Katerina Mery is a Marketing Specialist at Fond with a background in cognitive psychology and a passion for improving the way people live and work. She especially enjoys learning about how to accomplish this through rewards and recognition. In her spare time, you can find Katerina running outside, admiring art, and exploring the latest and greatest local restaurants.