If your organization wants to attract top talent and retain your best employees, you must focus on one of the most critical parts of the human resources process: employee experience.
What Is Employee Experience?
Employee experience is the journey every team member takes throughout their interaction at work. It includes things like an employee’s relationship with their manager, relationship with peers and coworkers, benefits and compensation, mental health support, and development of skills and leadership behaviors.
My first exposure to employee experience was in high school. I was referred to a store by a friend as the store was recruiting for a part-time sales associate. The interview process was fairly simple. I completed an application and submitted a resume. One week later, I was interviewed and offered the role. I signed the offer letter and started my employment the next week.
The store manager ensured that I received the necessary training, and I was off to sell within a day. He checked in with me frequently to address any questions. Once a year, he would complete a performance review. When I resigned two years later, I was thanked for a job well done.
My second experience was even better. I applied online for a bank teller role. I was interviewed by three managers in one day and received my offer within a week. I spent two weeks in instruction learning the technical components of the system. I also received customer service training that aligned with the organization’s values.
At the end of my training, I was assigned a manager who met with me monthly to coach and support me. I received feedback quarterly. When I left the organization, HR conducted an exit interview and asked for feedback on my tenure and what they could do to improve.
During those first two roles, I learned the value of employee experience and how to cultivate a positive, simple journey for a team member that has stuck with me throughout my career. Let’s look at the three core elements of employee experience and how you can optimize these facets to attract and retain top talent.
3 Elements of Employee Experience
When we talk about employee experience, we can group it into three major facets: company culture, work environment, and tools.
#1) Company Culture
Simply put, company culture is defined as the way employees feel at work. It’s a connection employees/candidates have to the company’s mission, vision, and values. Company culture defines the social norms at work and determines what is acceptable behavior for leaders and employees.
The words of a company’s culture are often the values posted on the walls of the physical office or the company website. It’s “why” employees go about doing their jobs while interacting with others. It’s one of the primary reasons why employees stay or exit an organization.
In doing research on social media, feedback on the company’s culture is almost always described as the first or second point in a company review. It is usually one of the main reasons why a candidate will join the organization.
If you have done a good job in the recruitment process, the candidate will get a sense of what it is like to work in your organization and have bought into the vision.
#2) Work Environment
Work environment is the working conditions for each employee during their tenure. It’s made up of the combination of both physical and psychological factors.
Examples of physical environments include an open concept workspace, offices, and options working at home. Psychological environments are the behaviors that leaders and team members exhibit daily as well as how they treat others. Examples can include sink-or-swim mentality, ongoing continuous feedback, and recognition of team work versus individualistic performance.
Of the three facets of employee experience, this one has changed most since the COVID-19 pandemic began. Organizations had to rethink how to operate in this space. Organizations have installed plexiglass screens, made masks mandatory, and set up social distance signs to protect workers. This aspect will continue to evolve as organizations rethink the environment we work in.
Tools are the mechanisms used to perform the job. A carpenter uses hammers, power tools, and screws to make furniture.
Tools are the physical materials and software used to do a job effectively. Having the right tools is critical as they maximize efficiency and collaboration. In the pandemic, there has been a significant uptake and investment in digital tools, such as Zoom or Slack, to help facilitate employee communication.
The investment in these tools has led to both positive and negative experiences for employees. Care needs to be taken by the employer to balance the well-being of its team members versus being on-call all the time due the nature of the collaborative tools.
Together these three elements form the employee experience which impacts employee attraction, retention, and growth.
Why Does Employee Experience Matter?
To understand why employee experience matters, it helps to look back at how work has evolved.
During the 1990s and early 2000s, there were ample candidates to fill roles, and candidates accepted a bad experience when applying for jobs.
Fast-forward a few years, and the labor market changed.
In the early 2010s, with the emergence of millennials, recruitment began to evolve into a new era.
New jobs and skill sets emerged, and some jobs became more difficult to fill. Good candidates started to demand a better experience, as qualified/skilled candidates become harder to find. Significant investments began to be made in new technologies to help recruit, track, and manage candidates.
Recruitment processes adapted from one-sided recruitment to more of a continuum of experiences. Businesses started to think of potential candidates as being potential customers and began to employ a curated approach to attracting talent.
Organizations realized that employee experience is directly tied to talent acquisition and retention.
If your organization offers a poor or negative employee experience, it will be more difficult to retain and keep talent. On the other hand, if you provide a positive employee experience, you will be more likely to attract and keep top talent.
How To Improve Employee Experience
A positive employee experience is vital for employee attraction and retention. This is why we are going to walk you step-by-step through creating a talent acquisition process that offers a positive experience for employees from start to finish.
Over the next few posts, we are going to help you to rethink the candidate journey and revisit your recruitment process. We are going to walk you through a process that will improve your existing talent acquisition process or help you start one from scratch if you don’t already have one.
By focusing on improving employee experiences from the start, your brand will be better equipped to attract and keep top talent and add long-term value to your organization. Stay tuned!