HOW LEADERS CAN CREATE A MORE MEANINGFUL & PURPOSEFUL EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE.





Brands have realised that to build loyalty and raving fans, they must understand what the customer wants and needs to provide a seamless and positive buying experience; this is often referred to as the customer experience or customer-centricity. As a result, brands spend billions of dollars every year to understand what customers want and design products and services to meet these ever demanding, ever-changing needs.


The term "Employee Experience" is emerging and not far removed from its cousin, "the customer experience". According to workplace futurist Jacob Morgan, Employee Experience is defined as “the intersection of employee expectations, needs and wants and the organisational design of those expectations, needs and wants”. Employee Experience is fundamentally underpinned by the design of the organisation, so that employees want to show up, do their best whilst helping others succeed, and genuinely are proud of their workplace and want to tell everyone about it.






 

Human experiences are subjective, so how do leaders create a more meaningful and purposeful employee experience?




Organisations face an ever-evolving uncertain environment; research by Gallup reports that over 70% of the workforce are unhappy or otherwise disengaged. Leaders are challenged to understand the new generations entering the workforce, who are outspoken, opinionated and will generously share their ideas on how to do things. With a shift in employees expressing their opinions and views openly, organisations can feel like they have been left with a role that appears to be nothing more than people-pleasing, but this is far from the truth. Employee relationships do not differ from other relationships; no connection is healthy if one-sided. A healthy relationship is a two-sided affair with equal respect and both parties striving for positive outcomes, with each party having the other person's best interests at heart. New generations entering the workforce are not necessarily entitled; they want to be heard. They voice their opinion with no fear of consequences, unlike earlier generations who chose not to share their views due to fear of a possible backlash, being targeted, or worse, losing their position.


Employee/Employer relationships do not differ from other relationships; no connection is healthy if one-sided. A healthy relationship is a two-sided affair with equal respect and both parties striving for positive outcomes, with each party having the other person's best interests at heart.

 

According to Morgan, there is an art and science around designing The Employee Experience; discovering that no matter the organisation's size, geographical location or industry, there was a consistent theme around three environments, Cultural Environment, Technological Environment and Physical Environment. How an employee experiences the workplace can significantly impact organisational culture. If you've launched a new product or conducted customer feedback surveys, the only way to find out what a customer wants is to ask them. As a tech start-up founder, the most critical step I had to undertake was customer feedback; employees need an environment to feel free to share their opinions honestly, the good, the bad, and the ugly. Culture can either be a liability for an organisation or a positive drawcard for top talent to join a team that is on purpose and truly cares for their individuals.


How an employee experiences the workplace can significantly impact organisational culture. Employees need an environment to feel free to share their opinions honestly, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

 

According to Morgan, there are ten attributes that organisations must focus on to create a culture that supports a positive Employee Experience.


1. Company is viewed positively: with an always-on world, employees' can quickly share with everyone they know and online their poor experience for the world to read. Top talent will do their research before looking to work for an organisation. Individuals striving to be their best will not align themselves with a brand or company that is not going to support and enhance their career and personal brand; top talent is not attracted to mediocre brands.


2. Everyone feels valued: feeling valued is an equal exchange relationship that allows the employee to feel trusted. Their contribution to the organisation is appreciated when tangible and intangible rewards for the employee's outputs.


3. The organisation has a Purpose: more and more individuals are looking to work for organisations with a purpose and are genuinely committed to doing good in the world. However, research conducted by the leading consulting firm McKinsey suggests organisations need to ask themselves; does your company meaningfully consider its role in society? Do senior executives use the company's purpose as a North Star to make difficult decisions and trade-offs? As with anything, if your company's purpose is just writing on a wall, you're not only wasting the space on your wall but everyone's time. But, on the other hand, if you talk about purpose but don't follow through, the results can be devastatingly destructive for the organisation, employees, and profit.


As with anything, if your company's purpose is just writing on a wall, you're not only wasting the space on your wall but everyone's time.

 

4. Individuals feel part of a team: according to Brene Brown, humans are wired for connection and having a sense of belonging. Individuals want to be part of something greater than themselves, and rejection can be an individual’s biggest fear. Success is not achieved alone; we need a team of individuals backing and supporting us whilst working towards a common goal, it is everyone's role to make everyone feel part of a team.


5. Believes in Diversity and Inclusion: Individuals from different cultural backgrounds bring to the table their own unique set of skills, experiences, talents and approaches. A culture that embraces an inclusive and diverse culture opens opportunities for innovation, creativity and a sense of belonging in the workplace and society. Diversity and Inclusion within a workplace form a collective group of individual differences delivering superior products, services and customer experiences.


6. Referrals come from employees: if your employees refer top talent and new business, you can feel confident that you have a team of engaged and happy employees. Satisfied customers will be your best fans, and employee referrals are no different. Individuals will not refer a friend or family member to work for an organisation if they don't believe in the organisation's direction, purpose and have a poor workplace experience. Leaders aim to have employees who genuinely want to show up and give their all for your organisation.


7. A culture of continuous learning: Employees feel free to learn new skills and access the resources to assist with their new learnings. Leaders need to provide an environment where their employees never want to stop learning and continuously adapting to the ever-changing technological world.


8. Employees are treated equally and fairly: if you have ever been on the receiving end of not being the favoured one, it really can have a detrimental impact on your confidence and growth within that environment. Employees flourish in environments where the culture's values remove any bias, rewards open and transparent communication, honesty and act with integrity internally and externally. Employees who feel treated fairly whilst being recognised for individual efforts will experience a positive employee experience. Get to know your employees personally; you'll be surprised by what you learn.


Individuals will not refer a friend or family member to work for an organisation if they don't believe in the organisation's direction, purpose and have a poor workplace experience.

 


9. Leaders within the organisation take on the role of coaches and mentors: Everyone deserves to be coached and have a mentor to help guide and navigate their experience within the organisation, allowing individual growth within the career. Therefore, every individual should play the role of coach and mentor, mentors play a vital role in an individual's life as well as society as a whole.


10. An organisation considers the employees' health and wellbeing: High stress and burnout are significant contributors to overall unwell individuals; when an individual is stressed, their brain cannot function properly to make clear decisions. Working long hours, skipping adequate breaks and prioritising consistent heavy workloads over choosing to exercise for mental and physical wellness can impact employees' output. Employees that are overloaded with unrealistic workloads will eventually burn out. Employees that are burnt out don't perform at their best; working long hours and not utilising the weekend for R & R will not result in peak performance. Employers are responsible for monitoring workloads and not encouraging unsustainable workloads. Burnout leads to disengagement, more sick days, strained workplace relationships, depression, anxiety, and the list goes on. Employers need to be proactive with their employees' health and don't push them to the point of burnout; you won't get the best out of them in the long term. Take care of your employees by genuinely caring and being aware of their wellbeing.


Leaders within the organisation take on the role of coaches and mentors

 


The employee experience is complex, and the organisations doing it well are thriving; it is not an easy task; it needs committed leaders who are change agents to help improve the overall employee experience. Positive employee experiences lead to engagement, productivity, retention, improving the general culture of the organisation. Although a healthy and flourishing culture is complex, watching the result of a positive culture play out when done well is gratifying. Your employees will thank you by giving more and creating more positive customer experiences.


If you want to read more about The Employee Experience, I highly recommend Jacob Morgan’s book, The Employee Experience Advantage.


https://thefutureorganization.com/




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