2018 has been referred to as the “Year of the Employee Experience” by a number of sources. Let’s be clear, employee experience is based on strong marketing concepts that have established the new ‘norms’ of many companies. It’s not about making things all warm-and-fuzzy when onboarding a new employee. Instead, it’s about creating an overall environment that improves the experience that a new hire has, which can impact them months and even years after their first days on the job.

Here are some interesting stats on the employee experience and its value in the workplace (from our previous blog post):

  • - Happy employees are 20% more productive at work. (SMF/Warwick University)
  • - It costs US employers $450 billion to $550 billion annually in lost revenues from disengaged employees. (Glassdoor)
  • - 64% of employees do not believe they have a strong work culture. (TinyPulse)

Amazingly, even as leaders know the critical nature of the employee experience, too few think that they should have much to do with this. After all, isn’t it up to employees to find their place in the organization where they will sink or swim?

Henry G. Jackson, current CEO and president of the Society for Human Resource Management reminds leaders that, “The skills shortage is an ever-present challenge” in today’s job market. He adds, “Winning at talent today means taking an end-to-end approach to finding, developing and engaging our workforces.”

By offering an outstanding employee experience, this competitive advantage can attract the best of the best in terms of new hires at the same time as make things better so that they will stick around. Leaders know this is where it counts the most as it’s impossible to build a strong company when the foundation of good people is crumbling.

A new hire onboarding makes a lasting impression.

The experience factor happens when onboarding a new employee. Actually, it happens even before the job offer is made. The employer brand and the value that the company markets is all part of the pre-boarding process. HR leaders have much to do with this. If things are in sync, the marketing team has worked closely with the HR team to develop accurate messaging around the entire career brand.

Getting the job isn’t all there is for talent.

The employee experience has become a social contract, says Deloitte in their latest Global Human Capital Trends report. Even the most stable employee-employer relationships are being disrupted by Millennials and Gen Z workers who tend to change jobs more often than previous workforces. Merely getting hired by a great company isn’t enough if there are no professional development opportunities, new projects, or promotions on the horizon. Part of the employee experience comes from being able to feel in control of one’s own career path and having the tools to do so. This is what employees of today want the most.

Jim Link, CHRO of Randstad North America, told HR Dive in a recent post, “More employees, especially younger workers, are seeking individualized, tailored career experiences from their employers.” Creating a great employee experience requires stepping into their shoes to find out what drives them and what they want in the near future.

It’s very common for individuals to post encounters with companies on public social networks and review websites. The employee experience has become so transparent that it’s something all HR leaders should be thinking about. Some have even suggested that Glassdoor reviews can be built into onboarding practices.

Jacob Morgan, podcaster and best-selling author of "The Employee Experience Advantage" (Wiley, 2017), shared with Inc., “People can and will know everything about your organization even before speaking with anyone who works there.” He added, “This includes salary information, benefits packages, corporate culture, questions asked during the interview process, and practically everything else.”

Anyone involved in recruitment marketing, handling candidate screening, interviewing candidates, onboarding new employees, training and managing people, should be thinking in terms of this full system of transparency.

What HR leaders can do to invest in the employee experience.

In recent years, human resource professionals have taken a more active role in their organizations. No longer confined to back-office administrative functions, human resource leaders have arrived and have taken their place among key decision-makers. This is an awesome time for anyone to be involved in human resources management!

To improve the overall employee experience, HR leaders must be thinking in terms of what employees are looking for in a great work life. The only way to determine this is to ask. Human resources has a number of tools for gathering employee feedback and ideas for better engagement. It often starts with surveying new hires when they are most objective and connected to their career needs. However, employees at all stages have valuable insight and this can be surveyed as well. Reviewing past performance reports, employee inquiries, and management suggestions can supply information that can turn into an incentive for employees. Even exit interviews can provide ideas about what’s lacking in the company experience, and what’s going well.

Another factor that can influence the experience that employees have is to improve the environment in which employees work. People spend so much time at the office, more so than at their own homes, that they can either become psychologically inspired or dragged down by the actual corporate setting. An office that includes plenty of natural light, fresh air, plants, and spacious clean workspaces is far more enticing than a dull cubicle farm where all creativity and collaboration is stifled. A Harvard Business Review article pointed this out, indicating that when employees have a choice about their working environment they outperform their peers who don't. This can also include working from home, open office spaces, and the opportunity to change things up once in a while with an outdoor meeting.

Need some further inspiration? There are some amazing companies that are leading the way towards better employee experiences, and it shows. Take the time to read through this and borrow some of their ideas for your own organization.

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Why HR Leaders need to invest in Employee Experience