From sustaining a productive workforce to staying relevant in a values-driven market, employee experience is an increasingly important territory for businesses to conquer. Encouraged by a cultural turn towards greater choice and individuality, people are expecting more from their jobs: more opportunities, more money, more flexibility, and more satisfaction.
So how can you improve your company’s offering? How can you attract the best talent, inspire their best work and convince them to stay? To help you get started, here are 5 essential ways to build a better employee experience.
1. Offer flexibility and support individual schedules
Flexible working has never been more valuable – or popular. The reason? Millennials and the advance of technology. Our work and personal lives are becoming increasingly intertwined, and many of us have an “always on” mentality, replying to emails during evenings and working on the weekend – no matter how much we know we shouldn’t!
Growing up in a world without borders has meant that millennials don’t just want flexibility… they expect it. In an age of hyper-connectivity and global access, rigid 9-5 office structure seems irrational and outdated. The technology for flexible and remote work has been around for years now – we can work wherever we want, craft our perfect working environment, and cut out commuting costs in the process. Unless you have a meeting or your job is client-facing, there seems little good reason to come into the office every day.
Good employee experience is linked to recognizing that your workers as individuals; not cogs in a corporate machine. Offering schedules that work with people’s personal timetables, and understanding that we all have different lives with different demands, is one of the best things any company can do to instantly build a better employee experience.
2. Actively protect a healthy work-life balance
For all our technological and societal advances, we’ve never been so stressed. Anxiety and burnout are increasingly common, and the mental and physical wellbeing of workers ranks extremely high on the checklist for enhancing employee experience. As mentioned above, employees don’t want to be regarded as mere components in machines, and this extends to recognizing them as people with needs and vulnerabilities, as well as desires to have fun and relax.
Implementing workplace wellness programs is becoming increasingly common: many offices across the world are rolling out meditation and yoga programs, providing free gym membership, and offering healthy meals and snacks. These small thoughtful efforts go a long way, but ensuring workers have enough time off is also key. Offer as many vacation days as you can afford to, and avoid fostering a culture of habitually staying late (protect against “presenteeism” at all costs!). Happy workers are well-rested workers.
3. Use intelligent tech to remove “meaningless” tasks
People are also looking for more meaning from work itself. Pride in what you do and recognition of achievement are basic requirements for enjoying your job – and, ultimately, sticking with it. Employees are increasingly seeking cognitively rewarding “deep work”, where you can concentrate on challenging problem solving for extended periods of time. But our days are often filled with low-value, low-effort “shallow work”, like managing emails, attending meetings and doing routine admin.
Plodding your way through meaningless, menial tasks is a sure way to kill your motivation and enthusiasm, so do whatever you can to remove mundane admin from your employees’ jobs. These days there are all types of smart apps that can automate repetitive tasks – from time tracking to managing receipts – meaning that employees have more time to focus on important work. Check out this list of the most common admin tasks you can easily outsource.
4. Promote employee autonomy and self-direction
Micromanagement and distrust quickly eat away at company culture, and sour employee experience. People who are free to make their own choices about the ways they work are more content, committed and productive. If you feel you are always being watched or questioned, how could you ever feel enthusiastic, let alone loyal, about your employer?
Agency matters. Everybody has a preferred way of working, and brings a different skillset to the table. Trusting your employees to manage and direct themselves – while letting them know you’re there to offer direction and guidance when they need it – is vital for building a better employee experience. Happily, it also boosts overall productivity and reduces turnover in the process; win-win!
5. Have purpose and meaning beyond making money
Human beings crave meaning and connection in their lives, so why should their working experience be any different? Employees want to contribute something impactful and meaningful to their role, and when a person is engaged intellectually, they’re able to evolve from a mere employee to a person who’s using their own creativity to contribute to something larger.
Think about the different ways employees can feel valued and worthwhile. Forget token gestures like bottles of wine on birthdays, and instead think about what each individual employee really wants – and needs. If you aren’t sure, ask them! Allowing people to grow and develop is an effective way to add purpose to their working day, so offer free training courses, learning opportunities, or chances to mentor others.
Purpose and meaning are what make us get out of bed each morning, so if our bigger goals and ambitions can tap into our working life, our employee experience is set to soar.