Why Better Employee Experience Creates Better Brands

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Engaged employees by Asa Aarons Smith
Employee experience is a driver for brand success. Photo by Asa Aarons Smith (used with permission)
Remember when the gold watch was a metaphor for retirement from companies that valued their employees for their experience and seniority? Today employee experience is far more complex … and most employees couldn’t care less about working long enough to earn a watch.

The dream today is a positive, powerful, and ultimately human experience in the workplace, day after day. A paycheck and a few weeks vacation aren’t enough anymore. In fact, many employees already have one foot out the door.

That’s why employees — your first customers — are such an important focus of your overall brand experience.

As Arke CTMO Chris Spears explained, “To create the best brand experiences, you have to incorporate all of your stakeholders — customers, partners, distributors, vendors, and, perhaps most importantly, your employees. It’s important to consider your employees as at least equal to your most important external customers.”

Turnover Rates Are Climbing

On average, 12 percent of workers leave their jobs voluntarily each year, according to the 2016 Human Capital Benchmarking study from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

And the numbers have steadily increased since a low in September 2009 to surpass prerecession levels. In October 2017, there were 3.2 million quits, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reports.

Deloitte found 44 percent of millennials, given the choice, would leave their current employers in the next two years. And a 2015 survey from Chicago-based Centro, a media management software company, found 44 percent of employees in the digital media and advertising industry are ready to leave their jobs within the next year or less.

You can blame it on a lot of things: the overlap of work, life, and play; ubiquitous connectivity; the feeling that work just never ends. Think about it: On top of regular work hours, many employees are expected to be ‘always available’ to respond to email, instant messaging and phone calls.

Human-Focused Workplaces

According to Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute, employees crave a sense of belonging, purpose, achievement, happiness, and vigor — defined as energy, enthusiasm, and excitement — in the workplace.

Organizations need to have effective leaders and managers who can provide a high level of clarity and direction, the company found. In addition, those leaders need to focus on workplace practices that drive positive employee experiences, including:

  • Organizational trust
  • Supportive coworker relationships
  • Meaningful work
  • Recognition, feedback, and growth
  • Empowerment and voice
  • Work-life balance

Employees are searching for meaning in their work. They want frequent check-ins rather than a single annual performance review, and they crave a sense of belonging and participation in the workplace.

This year, Globoforce’s WorkHuman Research Institute surveyed more than 2,700 full-time US professionals to assess employee sentiment and motivation.

Founded in 1999, Globoforce provides cloud-based, human capital management software solutions. The company is headquartered in Framingham, Mass., and Dublin, Ireland.

Addressing Employee Experience

The majority of the US workforce (51 percent) is not engaged, according to Gallup’s State of the American Workplace report. These employees are indifferent and neither like nor dislike their job. They represent a risk, and that risk can tilt either way — good or bad, the report explains.

“Many employees who are not engaged want a reason to be inspired. They are the ‘show me’ group that needs an extra push to perform at their best …

“The primary emphasis should be on elements that engage workers and drive results, such as clarity of expectations, the opportunity to do what they do best, development and opinions counting.”

Great Employee Experience = Success

Businesses that fail to address the employee experience are doing themselves a disservice.

Consider this: Gallup found businesses with the highest employee engagement have nearly double the odds of success (based on a composite of financial, customer, retention, safety, quality, shrinkage, and absenteeism metrics) than those in the bottom quartile. More specifically:

  1. Businesses with high employees engagement experience a 41 percent reduction in absenteeism and a 17 percent increase in productivity.
  2. They generate a 10 percent increase in customer ratings and a 20 percent increase in sales.
  3. Engaged employees are more present and productive, more attuned to the needs of customers, and more observant of processes, standards, and systems. Collectively, that results in 21 percent greater profitability.

Leadership Sets the Tone

Highly engaged organizations know creating a culture of engagement starts at the top. Their leaders are aligned with prioritizing engagement as a competitive, strategic point of differentiation. They communicate openly and consistently and they place the utmost importance on using the right metrics and on hiring and developing great managers.

The workplace is changing. As the Gallup report states:

“Forces colliding in the workplace are putting stress on the traditional ways of managing and structuring work. New and emerging technologies are transforming the type of work employees perform, as well as where and how work gets done.”

Successful digital enterprises recognize excellence starts with leadership and company culture. Excellent leaders embrace more than the latest technologies. Rather, they embed cultural changes about work, work practices, and company management.

Trust, Attention, Empathy

To optimize their impact in a changing workplace as well as to motivate and retain workers, leaders need to develop their emotional intelligence.

According to Laura Wilcox, director of management programs at Harvard Extension School, the ability to be an emotionally intelligent leader is based on 19 competencies in four areas: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness and relationship management.

In short, emotional intelligence means being aware of your own emotional reactions to situations and purposely understanding those feelings and reactions so you can react more effectively. Wilcox calls this a key differentiator for success — and a foundation for more human-focused workplaces.

Building Better Employee Experience

Employee experience drives company culture.

Culture is the soft underbelly of an organization — its soul, its personality, its intrinsic values and beliefs. It’s the hard-to-describe thing that sets one business apart from its competitors, the lure that helps to attract and retain customers and employees alike.

At Arke, we believe great culture reflects great people — and that employees deserve excellent experiences.

“The nature of work has changed,” Spears said. “But people, intrinsically, have not. They still want to be appreciated, understood, valued, and engaged in work that has meaning and purpose.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. The employee experience is a critical but often overlooked part of the equation, isn’t it? In fact, it seems unthinkable that a company could excel in customer experience without first creating employee excellence. Interesting read!

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