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Why is Creating an Exceptional Employee Experience Good for Business?

December 15, 2023

Now with low unemployment, changing job market dynamics and the uncertainty of the economy, as a small business owner you can feel overwhelmed. However, with the right employee experience strategy, you can boost your ability to attract, engage and develop high-performing employees.

What is an Employee Experience?

Employee experience is how an employee feels during each contact they have with their employer during their professional relationship. This includes the very first time the employee meets or encounters the employer, like on a job board, to any interaction after the employee leaves the company. This is often referred to as the employee life cycle.

Employee experience is essentially how your employees experience the company, from relationships with their manager to work accomplishments and access to the resources they need to do their job successfully.

Strategy to Create a Successful Employee Experience

In a world where a hefty paycheck is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is a competitive advantage with the biggest payoff. In other words, it’s something companies cannot afford to write off as fluff.1

The first step (what I call the foundation) to create an employee experience is based on your company’s values, goals and purpose. Establish an understanding of what those are. If you have them already, great. If you haven’t looked at them in a while, review them. If you do not have any yet, awesome—you have a clean slate to work with. Once you have established these things, you want to integrate them into every step of the employee’s time with you.

  1. Recruitment

Your experience begins with the very first interaction a potential employee has with your organization, which is usually the application phase. This is where the company brand is important—it attracts applicants and sets the initial expectation from your company. So be sure to follow through.

Clearly define job roles and expectations to draw interest from candidates who align with your company’s values. Develop scripts for recruiters so all applicants get the same warm, educational experience and the same questions are asked to everyone. This helps to evaluate applicants, but also keeps you compliant.

  1. Orientation/Onboarding

Orientation and onboarding begin the very first day with your company. Create a structure for that day, but also make it unique to that individual. Have someone greet them and introduce them to their teammates and work environment. This can be an HR representative, a co-worker or their manager.

Have their direct manager involved as much as possible through this process. It is important to begin that relationship positively from day one.

If you are a larger company and hold orientations as a group, still have a unique plan for individual employees. Then introduce them to your business by taking a tour of the company site(s) and introducing them to department heads and their teams.

  1. Engagement, Growth & Development and Retention Training & Development

Provide ongoing training opportunities to help your employees improve their skills and stay up-to-date with industry trends. They should set personal development goals too, and you can encourage this by offering your support to achieve them. Also consider cross training and job rotation, as these can give employees a much broader perspective of the business.

Employee Engagement:

  • Foster open communication between management and employees by creating channels for feedback and suggestions.
  • Recognize and reward employees for their achievements and contributions, both publicly and privately.
  • Organize team-building activities, workshops and events to promote a sense of camaraderie.

Work-Life Integration:

  • Implement flexible work arrangements, when possible, to accommodate employees’ personal needs.
  • Encourage the use of paid time off and ensure that employees are not overburdened with excessive workloads.
  • Promote a healthy work-life balance to prevent burnout and boost overall well-being.

Performance Management:

  • Set clear performance expectations and provide regular feedback on employee performance.
  • Conduct performance reviews to discuss strengths, areas for improvement and career aspirations.
  • Tie performance evaluations to career growth opportunities and rewards.

Career Growth and Advancement:

  • Provide a clear path for career advancement within the organization.
  • Offer opportunities for employees to take on new responsibilities and leadership roles.
  • Support employees in pursuing further education and certifications that align with their career goals.

Employee Wellness:

  • Offer wellness programs that focus on physical, mental and emotional well-being.
  • Provide resources for stress management, mental health support and work-related counseling.
  • Make time to recognize and appreciate all your employees.
  • Celebrate milestones and achievements, such as work anniversaries and project completions.
  • Implement an employee recognition program that acknowledges outstanding performance.
  1. Turn Over, Offboarding and Post-employment Sentiment

Be sure to conduct exit interviews to gather feedback from departing employees and identify areas for improvement. By maintaining positive relationships with former employees, you have the potential to rehire them at a later date or benefit from their network.

Creating an exceptional employee experience throughout the entire employee life cycle is crucial for small businesses to ensure employee satisfaction, retention and productivity.

Measuring Your Employee Experience

A key way to create a successful employee experience is by measuring its success—not only requesting and accepting feedback, but also adjusting your methods based on what candidates, employees and alums want. There are different ways to measure employee experience, depending on your goals and the stage of the employee journey. A few of the common methods are:

Employee Surveys and Feedback: These are questionnaires that ask employees about various aspects of their work experience, such as their motivation, challenges, expectations and recommendations. Employee surveys can be conducted during recruitment, onboarding, performance reviews or exit interviews. They can also be done periodically (monthly or quarterly) to track changes and trends over time.

Employee surveys can help you collect quantitative and qualitative data from your employees and analyze it to find patterns and insights. Some examples of employee surveys are candidate experience surveys, onboarding surveys, employee engagement surveys, employee net promoter score, pulse surveys and exit surveys.

Employee performance: This is a way to measure how well your employees are doing their jobs, and how they contribute to the organizational goals. Employee performance can be assessed by using various indicators, such as productivity, quality, efficiency, customer satisfaction, innovation or revenue. Employee performance can help you evaluate the impact of your employee experience initiatives on your business outcomes, and reward and recognize your high-performing employees.

Remember: when requesting employee’s feedback, always provide a response. Even if the changes are not made, acknowledging the employee’s input and that you heard them is crucial. Unanswered surveys can cause the opposite outcome of what this strategy aims to accomplish.

When employees understand that their work matters and their purpose aligns with that of their company, good things happen. They’re loyal, engaged and proud of their company—all signs of a great workplace.

By Sue Justice, SHRM-SCP; originally published in SBAM’s November/December 2023 issue of Focus magazine


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