By Erica Grant
An exceptional workforce is a competitive advantage and part of any successful growth strategy. Higher quality talent acquisition, retention and engagement lead to improved employee performance, which leads in turn to improved business results. With high-performing talent in high demand, companies today must focus more on why employees want to work than why they need to work, which is shifting the balance of conversation from compensation and benefits to culture, work environment and career opportunities.
According to recent research, nearly 80 percent of executives believe employee experience is important or very important, but only 22 percent report that their companies excel at building a strong, differentiated employee experience. An equal percentage consider their performance “weak” in this area. So, how do you provide people with an exceptional employee experience? It starts with understanding what employee experience is and how it’s built.
Employee experience is the total of everything an employee encounters, faces, thinks and feels in an organization from before their first day to beyond their last, including all their interactions with co-workers, supervisors, leadership, HR, work
environment and customers. It is not a benefits package, performance rewards, an open floor plan, opportunities for advancement, a sophisticated computer system or a work-at-home policy — but it can contain all of these.
Many companies today are grappling with questions about employee experience, including:
Your employee value proposition (EVP) is the promise you make to prospective and current employees — the picture you paint of what working in your organization is like. Your employer brand is how your EVP is perceived in the labor market — your distinctiveness, appeal and influence as an employer. However, your employee experience is reality. The EVP and employer brand must be aligned and supported at “key moments of truth” in the employee experience. If they aren’t — if reality clashes with the promise — your EVP and employer brand will be perceived as frauds. And in this age of social media, nothing gets around as quickly as a bad reputation. The most important thing about building an exceptional employee experience is actually delivering it.
There is another important reason to make sure your EVP and employee experience are aligned. Together, they can create a magnetic employer brand that attracts the type of people you want in your business and also “repels” those that are not a fit. Hiring the wrong people can be an even bigger problem than not hiring enough of the right people. A specific and well-articulated employer brand can help companies avoid creating an expensive and unproductive revolving door.
There are clear steps you can follow to improve the employee experience in any company:
Access research and data to understand the composition and needs of your current workforce.
Potential moments of truth can occur when potential employees become aware of your company and its reputation; when candidates join the organization; throughout their tenure via performance reviews, career management, and rewards; and as employees separate from and reconnect with the company.
Find out what your prospective, current and past employees think of you. Also use social listening tools; these are a powerful means to assess sentiment in the labor market. Compare these opinions with your desired EVP and brand to understand and address the most significant gaps between desired reputation, actual reputation and reality.
Use design thinking to simplify interactions and create the desired experiences at key moments of truth. Create an ideal journey with overarching goals at each phase, supporting objectives, specific actions to be taken and the people and resources to involve at each stage.
There are technological resources to help you gather data and analyze your employee experience in many different ways. You could identify and analyze the amount of wasted time in employee meetings; hours focused on customers or team activities; collaborative time; after-hours work, engagement, etc. You can choose metrics that are most targeted to your operations style or that address your particular pain points.
In today’s business climate, Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DE&I) priorities serve as important differentiators. Making it truly part of your employer brand can have a significant impact on your competitive position.
A focus on DE&I shows prospective and current employees, regardless of how they identify, that company leaders genuinely care about their workforce. Many job hunters today, particularly younger ones, are specifically looking for this quality in their next employer. DE&I also allows a broader range of people to truly see a future for themselves at an organization where they are considering working. Once onboard, employees of organizations with a commitment to DE&I are more likely to experience a feeling of belonging and being seen and heard, which significantly boosts morale and supports a positive corporate culture.
At Axiom Consulting Partners, our team is passionate about DE&I and believes strongly in using evidence-based solutions to help our clients create real and lasting impact. We believe in strategies based in data, behavioral science, and a deep analytical analysis of patterns in daily interactions related to inclusion.
If you are considering or struggling with building a new employee experience strategy or improved inclusion practices, our professionals have considerable experience in helping companies like yours. For more information and help, reach out and start a conversation.
 2017 Human Capital Trends Survey, Deloitte University Press