Companies have traditionally focused on “culture” as the driving force to improve employee satisfaction scores. As we look to the future, companies are recognizing that culture is just one aspect of the overall employee experience. Companies hoping to extract useful information and ROI from their employee surveys should also look at other factors, including the technological and physical environments that make up the employee experience, and the availability of information regarding the company’s goals and initiatives.
The employee experience reflects the bonds employees have with their coworkers, managers, leaders and to the overall mission of their company. Forward-thinking companies are beginning to view the employee experience with a comprehensive approach and are placing more emphasis on increased employee self-direction, development and relationships. Employees are learning more about how their work directly impacts and aligns with the goals and mission of the company. Within this innovative methodology, the employee experience means that employees feel supported in pursuing work-life balance and can make autonomous decisions about how their work is accomplished. They confidently seek out and master new skills and can visualize their careers progressing within the company.
Most companies do not know how to optimize their employee experience. According to a 2015 Gallup Poll, only 32% of U.S. employees felt engaged – involved in, passionate about and dedicated to their work. The cost to American businesses in lost productivity from disengaged employees amounts to about 500 billion dollars. Worldwide figures show an even bleaker picture. Gallup’s latest State of the Global Workplace report found that 85% of employees are not engaged or are actively disengaged while at work. A 2012 case study by the Center for American Progress found that businesses spend about one-fifth of an employee’s annual salary to replace that worker.
The ideal way for a company to create an excellent ROI on their employee experience, would be to first attract, then successfully hire and retain top talent. This opens several avenues for evaluating the employee experience, from the hiring process all the way through retirement. Here are 4 specific areas where companies can measure their ROI while improving the employee experience.
1. Invest in An Effective Onboarding Program
There are 3 distinct phases in the employee onboarding process – prior to their first day, during their first few weeks, and beyond their first months in the company. People Operations can team with the hiring manager and others to ensure that the new employee feels welcomed and has a smooth transition from orientation to their desk. Ensuring that all paperwork has been completed prior to their first day, allows the employee to move directly into productive work. A welcome package filled with company swag, notes from across the leadership team, an arranged tour of the building, lists important phone extensions, safety and parking information, are all ways to show the new hire that they are valued. Having equipment and systems up and running, a designated office or desk ready with supplies, office keys and other logistical necessities are great for getting new hires on their feet quickly. Managers can carve out time for one-on-one and team meetings with the new employee, to discuss expectations, provide job-related information, to build relationships and to bring the employee up to speed on the company, culture and team dynamics. Products like Sapling, for example, were designed to help HR Managers at mid-sized companies automate and elevate their employee experience with the onboarding.
The employee’s first week is a crucial time to keep new hires excited and engaged while they learn the ropes and focus on integrating with their team. This is a great time for in-person workshops on culture and mission, team building exercises, and discussions on how the employee’s role impacts and enhances the company.
There are several options for extracting ROI in the onboarding process, including an end-of-orientation survey, a week 1 check-in call between HR and the new employee, a 30-day email survey, and a 90-day evaluation or in-person check in with the manager.
2. Create Effective Working Environments
The physical work environment can drive and affect culture, increase or decrease morale, inspire or kill productivity, and encourage or discourage teamwork, and collaboration. These are all characteristics which impact employee engagement. Are your company’s workspaces promoting these important aspects of a positive employee experience? The ideal workspace would balance collaborative and community spaces with areas for individual work and quiet focus. Does the sales team meet regularly with product development? Teams which frequently collaborate with each other should work near one another, enabling them to develop strong connections. A good first step to increasing ROI is to build an effective office environment which balances group collaboration spaces with private offices for individual focus. An attractive work environment, along with an opportunity to choose where to work is key as well, as discussed in a previous Sapling HR blog on the employee experience.
3. Provide Great Tech and Tools
The availability of effective technology and useful tools significantly impacts the employee experience. Great tech is employee centric and user friendly, simple to use and integrates easily into the employee’s workflow. Tech in the workplace should solve practical and important problems, not create additional work, or cause employees to duplicate their efforts. Great tech and tools are adaptable and can integrate with vital systems, to eliminate data entry and possible human error. These tools should be evaluated regularly and have the capability to change or grow to keep pace with evolving business demands. Ensuring that great tech is readily available to employees is one way to increase ROI. A critical review of your company’s systems and tools will determine if your tech is effectively solving problems. One measure of effectiveness is whether your employees have integrated the tech and tools into their workflow. What is the adoption rate and how many employees are regularly using the resource?
4. Share Company Information with Employees
Employees feel more engaged when they can see the impact that their work has on the company’s mission and goals. According to a 2016 Robert Half Management Resources survey, employees want more information about how their own work contributes to the company's bottom line. Over half of those polled, said they want a better understanding of how their work helped the company.
Companies can devote more time and resources to communicating their direction to employees at every level of the organization. One good way is by sharing financials, new customer initiatives, and company successes during monthly or quarterly all-hands meetings. Companies can also post leadership media interviews, press releases and targeted goal check-ins on internal websites, and encourage employees to comment and provide feedback. Helping your employees to understand the impact of their work can give them a sense of belonging and purpose, ultimately driving engagement, boosting performance and increasing ROI.
Once an employee has successfully settled into their role and has become familiar with the company, you can continue to measure ROI through bi-annual engagement surveys, pulse surveys and open forums, giving employees a venue for submitting questions and engaging in dialogues with leadership.
Companies willing to consider these four approaches for extracting ROI on the employee experience can anticipate improvement in their overall employee satisfaction scores.