Enhancing the Employee Experience
Key topics for management executives right now
The people versus profit conundrum represents an ever-present source of tension for many UK organisations. Whilst we feel a strong professional, ethical, and indeed moral obligation to ensure our employees feel engaged and fulfilled within their place of work, the bottom line when it comes to business success is ultimately… well, the bottom line.
Nonetheless, we cannot look beyond recent research which illuminates a clear correlation between the adoption of an employee-centric approach and improved business-related outcomes.
In this month’s Hot Topic, we abandon the people versus profit argument in favour of an approach which can help maximise the employee experience whilst simultaneously optimising organisational success.
Engagement Versus Employee Experience: What’s the difference?
Irrespective of the organisation in which we operate, we all strive to feel connected to our work, in a manner which not only provides us with a sense of purpose but also satisfies our basic social and emotional needs. This is the essence of employee engagement, and for some time has been a central focus of organisational scholars seeking to unlock the secrets to a happier, healthier, and more productive workforce.
Nonetheless, engagement only equates to one component of a much broader employee lifecycle. Consequently, there have been increasing calls for a shift toward a more central focus on what individuals may encounter and observe over the course of their tenure at an organisation. This requires more in-depth exploration of the various interactions between an organisation and its people. This exploration not only relates to interactions within the physical working environment, but also greater consideration for the technological and cultural environment members of our working teams will continuously navigate throughout the course of their employment.
Further distinction between employee engagement and the broader employee experience extends to the following areas:
Engagement: A top down approach which seeks to explore how happy employees are with specific organisational practices.
Employee Experience: A bottom-up approach which seeks to understand how employees connect with purpose to produce their best work.
Engagement: An industrial design which focuses on best practice within a specific sector.
Employee Experience: An analytical design which focuses on best practice within one’s own organisation.
Engagement: Seeks incremental feedback which is requested once every 1-2 years.
Employee Experience: Seeks continual feedback from those at all levels of the organisation.
Engagement: Focuses on the impact on organisational success.
Employee Experience: Focuses on the impact on individual growth and performance.
Employee Experience in a Post-Pandemic World
COVID-19 has undoubtedly changed the global corporate landscape. Nonetheless, what remains the same is our employees’ inherent need to feel safe, valued, and connected to their work and the organisation in which they operate. In response to the ongoing pandemic scholars at McKinsey & Company have recently highlighted four key factors which can help us ensure we continue to maximise the employee experience within the post-pandemic world.
Key Factor 1: Security – Now more than ever, employees are seeking stability and craving reassurance. Wherever and whenever possible, organisations must seek to enhance the employee experience through being fully transparent in relation to any issues which may be impacting upon long-term professional and financial security. Furthermore, the protection and promotion of employee physical and mental health should always remain at the forefront the company agenda.
Key Factor 2: Relationships ─ Fostering trusting relationships has always been and will always be a key aspect of the employee experience. As well as developing reciprocal feelings of trust at a team and leadership level, it is also pivotal our employees trust in the organisation as a whole. To develop trust at an organisational level it’s important members of our working teams feel they are being recognised for their efforts, even in the absence of financial reward.
Key Factor 3: Cohesion – A cohesive team is a happy team. To enhance collective cohesion, those in positions of leadership must seek to enhance the employee experience through maintaining a culture of equilibrium, in which every individual is treated equally. Moreover, it’s crucial that all team members feel they have equal say when it comes to key decisions regarding the nature of working practices. This, in turn, is heavily reliant on cultivating a supportive professional climate; one which truly values inclusion, individuality, and social harmony.
Key Factor 4: Purpose – Through providing our employees with a continued sense of purpose, we not only provide opportunities for engagement in high-value activities, we can also help them more successfully navigate uncertainty and change. To help propel our employees’ purpose, it’s important leaders and managers seek to continually highlight not only the “how” we may go about conducting our working practices, but also “why”. Furthermore, we must work to ensure that engagement in work-related activities doesn’t impair but rather enhance opportunities to serve our employees broader purpose (even if this purpose is not always directly related to organisational objectives).
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