Gone are the days of businesses not focusing on their turnover or trying to keep their good employees onside. Now, to retain the best talent, organizations have to step up to the plate and give their staff more than just a job. The focus is on employee experience more than ever before, particularly in the world of work-from-anywhere, as the digital workplace becomes the only workplace.
Employee experience is not a new term, and in the wake of a pandemic, it has become a major buzzword. While it may be getting a lot of traction, what does the phrase actually mean? Employee experience can be defined as the following:
"Employee experience encompasses all the interactions people have with the business in both the digital and physical workplace. From the first moment as a new hire to the transition to offboarding, the employee experience encapsulates everything, including day-to-day interactions with colleagues. The impact is the difference between employees wanting to work and needing to work."
Although it might feel like this concept came out of nowhere, employee experience has been an evolving theme for quite some time. According to author and futurist Jacob Morgan, there are four chapters in the development of employee experience.
Decades ago, it was all about utility. Companies had jobs that needed to be done and people had bills they needed to pay, so they tried to fill those vacancies. Employees were given only the essential tools and resources that they needed to get their jobs done, and relationships were purely transactional.
Over time, savvy employers began to shift their approach to prioritize productivity. Everything was geared around improving output with very little thought given to making the workplace somewhere employees wanted to be. Managers started to care about the quality of workplace resources because they realized it could help them yield better results.
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Off the back of this idea came the engagement stage. Organizations concentrated their attention on finding out what their employees cared about and how and why they work. They started shifting some of the focus away from their bottom-line pay-offs, and instead began considering what their organization could do to benefit their employees.
As the final stage in this evolution, employee experience goes one step further. It is about creating a company that people want to work for. Experiential enterprises create an environment where people genuinely want to show up and contribute to their company’s success. Enterprises can only become experiential if they take the time to understand what their employees want and need.
Designing employee experience
With the Nielsen Norman Group announcing that an unprecedented four Unily intranets feature in their 10 best intranets of 2021, episode 7 of the Unily podcast discusses all things design. Paul Seda is joined by returning star Senior Consultant Alex Gabelli, and two newcomers – Product Manager Katie Johnson and Senior UI Developer Lewis Munt – to share their thoughts about designing the best employee experience.
There’s no doubt we’ve arrived at the age of employee experience. Every company touts their one-of-a-kind culture and compelling workplace environment. But what does it take to earn the “experiential” title?
Contrary to common belief, it’s not just about workplace perks or unlimited vacation days. Instead, the key to improving employee experience is listening to your workforce and creating an environment and culture that will unite and inspire.
Jacob Morgan notes that employee experience comes down to three components: physical, technological, and cultural. Based on an analysis of more than 250 global organizations, just 6% are creating employee experiences that address each of Morgan’s categories
The rise in remote work will of course impact the physical element of employee experience. However, experiential enterprises won’t overlook this component of their employee experience now that telecommuting has gone mainstream. Instead, these employers will leverage technological advancements and lean into their compelling cultures to ensure employees feel connected and supported, regardless of their physical location.
5 ways to use technology to improve employee experience
Technology is at the center of every task your workforce completes, especially in the "new normal". In the modern world of work, the quality of your digital tools can make or break employee experience. How can you leverage next-generation technology to enhance employee experience and give employees exactly what they are looking for?
It’s not a coincidence that so many esteemed CEOs and thought leaders are emphasizing the value of employee experience. Particularly as enterprises refine their strategy to thrive in the new world of work, the employee experience has become a top priority. Experiential organizations benefit from engaged employees who will give their all, regardless of where they are based and the obstacles they may encounter. Some of the core benefits associated with improving employee experience include:
When your employees are happy and engaged, your consumers will take note. Inspired employees will go the extra mile to deliver unparalleled customer service and have the knowledge needed to answer any question that comes their way. The enterprises that invest most heavily in employee experience are twice as likely to be found in the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Put simply, happy staff leads to happy customers.
Return on experience: how much is employee experience worth?
Investing in an employee experience platform brings countless benefits to your staff and your enterprise, but exactly how much payoff can you expect? With ROX, the new performance metric measuring customer and employee experience, you can find out the true value of your digital experiences.
Ultimately, good employee experience = more money. When your workforce is comprised of employees who are motivated and engaged, you can expect output levels and performance to skyrocket. Simultaneously, your organization will save on the costs associated with voluntary resignations because your employees will want to continue their journey with your enterprise. As a result, companies that invest in EX outperform those that don’t by 2x in terms of average profit.
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In the US, businesses lose more than $1trillion annually to voluntary resignations. Sidestep the crippling effects of high turnover by ensuring your employees are truly happy. Not only can the costs of hiring, onboarding, and further training wreak havoc on your bottom line; they can also detract from your culture. Engaged employees are 87% less likely to resign than their counterparts working at organizations that aren’t experiential.
Take innovation to the next level
Engaged employees are your company’s most valuable assets. When you give your employees the tools they need to reach peak performance and create a culture that empowers everyone, you can expect next-level innovation to follow. In fact, the heaviest investors in EX are 28x more often listed among Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies.
Unlock innovation with digital workplace ideation
Collaboration and ideation are the cornerstones of innovation. Having the opportunity to bring different skills, ideas, and knowledge to the table is essential when developing and improving a product or business. In every business, it’s important to have a specific place for employees, clients, and business leaders alike to contribute and share ideas and suggestions, and now your digital workplace can deliver this experience.
Attract top tier talent
Regardless of your size or sector, attracting top talent is a necessity. More than ever, companies are competing against each other to attract the best talent, and the battle is often won by whoever can offer the best employee experience. The enterprises that invest most heavily in employee experience are 4.4x more likely to be included in LinkedIn’s list of North America’s Most In-Demand Employers.
Given all the benefits associated with a good employee experience, it’s understandable that the concept has risen to the top of many leaders’ priority list. While seeing the value in employee experience is a step in the right direction, what can you do to secure your status as an experiential enterprise? There are several things leaders can take to enhance employee experience, including:
Start off strong with onboarding
Your employees’ first few weeks on the job will shape how they perceive your organization. All too often, onboarding ends up leaving new joiners feeling overwhelmed and confused instead of empowered. In fact, just 12% of employees believe their organization excels at onboarding. In the work from home era, your onboarding needs to be digitally-driven and employee-led. Take advantage of pre-boarding to set your employees up for success long before their first day on the job, and ask your workforce for feedback throughout their journey with your company.
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Make sure every voice is heard
Instead of making assumptions about what your employees might be looking for, go ahead and ask them. Employees who feel heard at work are 4.6x more likely to perform to the best of their abilities. In addition to encouraging your workforce to achieve their greatest potential, gathering employee feedback will help you ensure that your engagement strategy truly delivers.
Level up your digital infrastructure
If your workplace technology isn’t up to par, it will be impossible to cultivate a compelling employee experience. In the digital age, your employees expect next-generation technology that will streamline their workflows and serve as the launchpad for cross-functional collaboration. Unfortunately, only 38% of employees are currently satisfied with their workplace tools and technology.
Unite under a shared mission
Don’t overlook the power of purpose. Employees value meaningful work so much that 9 out of 10 of them would be willing to take a pay cut to do something more impactful. Give employees that sense of fulfillment that everyone is looking for by launching corporate giveback schemes and volunteer initiatives that relate back to your organization’s missions and values.
Carve out L&D opportunities
Even your most senior executives are hoping to learn something new and expand their skillsets. Giving your workforce the training resources and support needed to further their development is a sure-fire way to set your organization apart as an experiential enterprise. Only 30% of employees are currently satisfied with their employer’s existing opportunities for learning and development.
Make workplace wellness a priority
As workplaces across the globe adapted to the changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, employee wellbeing stepped into the spotlight. Suddenly, every leader felt compelled to ensure their workforces were protected and equipped with the tools and support resources needed to thrive in the face of uncertainty. With wellbeing now solidified as an enterprise-wide priority, it’s time to make sure your resources are up to the task. 86% of employees believe that their companies should actively cultivate cultures that support mental health and wellness.
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There has been a lot of buzz about employee experience lately. Some of the top insights from business leaders and workplace experts include:
"When people are financially invested, they want a return. When people are emotionally invested, they want to contribute."
"Bonuses don't really motivate workers. Once they reach a certain baseline salary, money is no longer the main driver. They need something more. Reams have been written about the Millennial generation's hunger for impact and meaning at work. In one way, I think Millennials (and Generation Z) are not so different from the rest of us. They just voice the desires the rest of us have learned to keep quiet."
"We can’t predict where the  economy is going to go. I do know that it's going to be tumultuous, difficult, and uncertain. In this environment, remember one thing: if you take care of your employees, they will take care of you."
"The prevailing factor to drive employee engagement, and therefore create exceptional employee experiences, can be summed up in one word: impact."
As the world of work rapidly changes, so do your employees’ needs and expectations. In the work-from-anywhere era, lavish office spaces and corporate happy hours just won't cut it anymore. Instead, the quality of your employees’ day-to-day experience depends on their satisfaction with workplace technology and their connection to your culture.
From catching up with colleagues to collaborating with third-party partners, virtually every interaction your employees have is powered by digital tools. As the center of your digital workplace, your employee experience platform holds the key to creating a single pane of glass experience that will improve both employee satisfaction and productivity. You can leverage your intranet to enhance employee experience by considering the following steps:
Achieve peak productivity
Your employees want digital tools that will take their work to the next level. More than a third of workers note that their greatest motivator for adopting new technology is the promise of improved output levels. An intranet with a robust integrations framework makes it easy to bring separate systems together into one, intuitive user experience. This single pane of glass view to the digital ecosystem eliminates the need for constant platform switching, empowering your employees to reach peak productivity.
Encourage users to speak up
If you want to encourage your employees to start speaking their minds and sharing their insights, look no further than your EXP. Prioritizing employee feedback is key to enhancing workplace experience and your intranet’s two-way comms channels serve as an ideal medium. Start by leveraging your intranet to launch pulse surveys that measure employee sentiment. Take feedback efforts one step further with discussion forums and suggestion boxes that will amplify voices from across your organization.
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According to Gallup, every disengaged employee costs a company an average of $16k. Given that a recent report by Achievers found that only 21% of employees reported they were engaged, tackling workplace experience is a pressing issue. Pulse surveys are emerging as the method of choice for efficiently tracking worker experience in real-time.
Recreate the office water cooler
With office happy hours and traditional team-building activities on hold, your employees are looking for new ways to connect with their colleagues. By taking advantage of social networking capabilities, your employee experience platform can fulfill the role that your office water cooler once played. @mentioning, #hashtags, and commenting will encourage your users to build relationships with their coworkers across the globe.
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Launch impactful initiatives
Now that you know your employees prioritize purpose, what can you do to make sure their work feels meaningful? Your EXP can serve as the launchpad for corporate giveback schemes and volunteer initiatives that will unite your workforce around a common cause. Build buzz and drive participation by announcing upcoming events and highlighting different opportunities for employees to get involved and make an impact. Use social networking capabilities to spark conversations about what your organization stands for and how you can continue to serve your community.
Give employees the recognition they deserve
Everyone is eager to be recognized for a job well done, yet only 1 in 3 employees note that they have received praise during the last week. Since in-office celebrations may not be feasible, recognition efforts need a revamp to resonate in the work-from-home age. Turn to your EXP to launch a recognition scheme that will highlight your organization’s difference makers. Award badges and kudos for employees who embody your organization’s values and create a series of blogs to recognize internal ambassadors.
Reboot culture with a value-aligned employee recognition strategy
The playbook for cultivating a compelling culture is being rewritten. As workforces disperse and employees seek new opportunities to connect with both their colleagues and their organization’s mission, the case for a value-driven employee recognition strategy is being made.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the transition to remote work revealed big gaps in many organizations' digital offerings. As leaders look to the future, a new generation of employee engagement technology is poised to play a crucial role in connecting dispersed workforces and strengthening corporate culture.
Employee experience platforms, or EXPs, have emerged as an evolution of the intranet that takes the principles of a communications platform and builds on them to tackle a broader array of employee experience challenges.
"At its core, an employee experience platform (or EXP) is a software platform that lets you treat your employees like customers. In the same way that your business leverages every advancement in technology to connect with your customers, an EXP engages your employees and enables them to be more effective in their job with advanced communications, networking, and knowledge-sharing experiences."
As this technology becomes more prevalent, some may wonder exactly what sets an EXP apart from a traditional intranet. Although their development has been a natural progression, EXPs are characterized by several innovations that promise to enhance engagement in the digital age. These defining features include:
#1. Consumer-grade communications experiences
EXPs recreate the kind of targeted communications that many employees have grown accustomed to in their personal lives. Instead of mass messaging, your EXP provides a user experience that is highly targeted, relevant, and incorporates a diverse array of media and touchpoints to deliver updates that are consistent and engaging.
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#2. Social experiences built around connection
While social experiences are far from new to the intranet space, the EXP takes surface-level 'liking' and commenting one step further. Your EXP recreates the natural ideas exchange that would have traditionally taken place in the office, transposing it into a digital location where your people can use technology to advance their capabilities.
Your employees will also have the opportunity to build their own digital identity by leveraging your EXP. Through rich-user profiles and responsive people directories, employees can begin to develop digital networks and internal communities that cross physical borders.
#3. Centralizing knowledge with integrated search
Your users now expect a Google-like experience from every app and website they interact with. An EXP delivers on your employees' expectations for relevant knowledge on-demand by providing a sophisticated search experience that is easy to use and connects to all of your knowledge repositories, creating a single source of truth. To do this effectively, your EXP must integrate with the many other systems you use to store and manage information, from SharePoint to Salesforce.
#4. Single pane of glass experiences
As the digital landscape becomes more complex, your workers don't have time to waste locating and accessing disparate tools. Instead of constant platform-switching, your EXP provides a single pane of glass experience to maximize both user satisfaction and efficiency. To achieve this vision of a single entry to all of your business systems, it's crucial that your chosen EXP has an integrations framework that allows it to interact with your wider digital toolset.
#5. Limitless accessibility
At its most basic level, your EXP is meant to unite every employee in a single, shared digital space. Therefore, it must work as well for frontline workers accessing from a mobile app as it is for your desk-based users. Your EXP should be mobile responsive and enable consistent digital experiences across any device to engage and unite your entire workforce.
Why employee experience platforms are the intranets of the future
Learn more about how the evolution of intranets has paved the way for the emergence of EXPs and why this engagement technology is essential for cultivating a compelling employee experience.
Employee experience will be the differentiating factor that sets tomorrow’s leading enterprises apart. If you’re hoping to leverage next-generation technology to take employee experience to the next level, check out our guides or get in touch with our digital workplace experts for more information on how an employee experience intranet platform can underpin a superior engagement strategy.