Employee Experience, Why We Should Care
By Arlene Keis, Associate HR Consultant, Chemistry Consulting Group
Most companies know that no matter how much effort and investment they put into developing, delivering and marketing their product or service to their customers, it’s the customer’s perception of the experience that ultimately has the most lasting impact on the success of the business. Often called a customer journey, the experience that a customer has at each specific interaction with your company over time makes a significant impact on whether or not the customer will come back or be an advocate for your product or service.
Until more recently, many employers did not consider how this same concept could also apply to the experience of their current and future employees, and how it can affect the bottom line. Much research in Canada and internationally has shown a strong link between positive employee experience, excellent customer service and increased business results.
So, what is “the employee experience?” The Conference Board defines it as “how the employee thinks and feels about the journey they take with your organization, from beginning as a prospect to becoming a candidate to being hired; through onboarding, internal movement or promotion; and then finally, at retirement or exit, including all interactions along the way.” A positive employee experience leads to engaged, motivated and loyal employees, and a negative experience leads to disengaged employees, productivity loss and higher turnover.
Many think that the employee experience starts on their first day of work. However, there are a number of critical macro touchpoints in the journey, which start at the attraction and recruitment stage and extend right through until they exit your company. Each of these macro touchpoints include a wide range of micro touchpoints which will vary from organization to organization but looking at the big picture is a good place to start.
The employee experience starts when they first spot your advertisement, visit your website career page, or meet you at a job fair. What attracts them to your company to motivate them to apply? Put yourself in the shoes of potential employees and consider how your company comes across at each stage of recruitment from your initial job posting, the application process, interview, and job offer. Some questions to consider in designing your recruitment and selection process is as follows:
- Is there consistency across each stage of the process? For example, isthe warm and inviting tone used in your job advertisement reflected during the interviewing process?
- Do you communicate with the candidate regularly throughout the process at key touch-points, or do you leave them hanging for weeks on end?
Their experience during the recruitment phase has a strong influence on whether or not the candidate chooses to continue or abandon the process with you.
The next macro touchpoint is the onboarding stage. How would you feel if you booked a vacation at a well-reviewed hotel and arrived to find that your room wasn’t ready and when you arrived, the room was too cold, the TV didn’t work and there was no wi-fi as advertised? Now think about the employee arriving excitedly on their first day at your company to find their workstation and digital tools weren’t set up, their supervisor or any other manager isn’t available to greet them, or they were sent to a meeting room for a few hours to read the company policy book and other documents. While the details associated with an employee’s first few days and week may seem minuscule in comparison to the years of service you hope they will have with your organization, these initial first impressions can dramatically alter the tone of the employee’s onboarding process.
After onboarding and orientation, the next touchpoint is ongoing growth and learning – which both have a strong influence on retention. A positive employee experience encourages ongoing personal and professional development. An employee’s access to, or lack of the following experiences are some of the micro touchpoints that make strong impressions on the employee’s journey with your organization: regular performance reviews, mentoring and coaching, recognition and reward, asking for and listening to feedback, benefits, health and safety, diversity and inclusion, work-life balance, social events, and opportunities for new projects, challenges or advancement. Paying attention to the experiences your employees are looking for and making effort to provide this to them can greatly make or break their experience.
Employees will leave your organization for a number of reasons – by their own choice or by yours. Regardless of the reason, the final macro touchpoint of the employee experience is how they are treated during the exit phase. Treating employees well in the bad times as well as the good times will leave them feeling positive about their experience working for your company. Ensuring a professional and appropriate off-boarding experience will go a long way in the word-of-mouth comments about your company made by former employees. Further, through conducting exit interviews, you can obtain valuable data about how the employee’s experience was within the organization from start to finish.
The points made in this article are just some examples of points in the employee journey but can be a guide to help you get started in designing your own employee experience journey map. Chemistry Consulting Group has expert HR professionals who can help you find opportunities to enhance the experience employees have with your company, which can make a significant difference to recruiting and retaining good employees during a tight labour market.