How To Design Employee Experience Across Your Organisation
So many of the age-old mantras regarding business orbit around the customer. “The customer is always right”, “The customer is king”, “A company’s lifeblood is its customers”. While these notions are critically important, it’s equally crucial to note that the backbone of any organisation is its workforce.
Employees are the most valuable resource of any business and the key to unlocking prosperous longevity and overall success. That is why rolling out an employee experience (EX) strategy that resonates and motivates is paramount for brands across all industries.
Being aware of the benefits of positive employee experiences is an important start. But “awareness” and “action” are two very different tasks. Your employees will not benefit from lengthy consideration, only the implementation of strategies that make their roles more efficient. Whether your employees work on-site, remotely, or across multiple time zones, they are all an integral component of your company’s growth and success and should be treated as such.
In fact, a Gallup survey on employee engagement found that businesses with a highly engaged workforce have 23% higher profitability and 18% higher productivity than companies with less engaged associates.
Leaders must therefore set policies that help advance overall employee experiences, especially for hourly-paid deskless shift workers. These frontline workers—who comprise an overwhelming 80% of the overall global workforce (around 2.7 billion people)—working in mission-critical industries such as healthcare, manufacturing, public sector, construction, retail, transportation and telecommunications are often forgotten by their employers who tend to be more focused on their deskbound employees.
The past two years have been about rethinking traditional mindsets when it comes to working. The emergence of trends like The Great Resignation—the mass employee exodus phenomenon—reflects a deep discontent with current employment conditions. Workers are reflecting, reconsidering and recalibrating their career paths, working conditions and work-life balance. Many of these issues could have been addressed with modern workplace management programs that improve employee experience. Instead, many valuable, highly trained workers have chosen to depart, leaving a costly hole to fill.
Low morale workplaces don’t need to lose workers to have a negative effect; discontented workers who choose to stay can be a similar cost. Why is that? When employees lack motivation and engagement (and a lower sense of responsibility), it results in lower productivity, frequent errors, missed deadlines, poor customer service and lower profits. This spells further bad news for businesses because they run the risk of losing valuable talent, and are forced into investing time, money and resources to source, hire and train new staff.
To counter this, the new employee experience model must be driven by collaboration, efficiency and flexibility. This demand has become evident as employees have become more disillusioned with current practices. Leaders who are committed to finding ways to improve their employees’ work experiences by addressing their needs are more likely to hold on to top talent and boost revenue.
Today’s work processes have evolved greatly, with the pandemic serving as an extra catalyst for the transformation of the modern workspace in an even shorter timespan than anticipated. This has prompted organisation leaders to pay more attention to improving employee experience. Many companies have pivoted to a hybrid style of working, where staff can choose to work on-site or off-site.
However, certain jobs just cannot be done remotely, like those performed by the army of dedicated deskless shift workers and others who do not have the luxury of working remotely. Unfortunately, a significant manifestation of poor employee experience is the deskless shift worker. Considerably addressing the needs of this employee segment should thus be a top priority of business leaders.
Engagement, collaboration, efficiency, flexibility and fulfillment—these are all intrinsically tied to enhanced employee experiences. Fortunately, with the advancements in technology to develop in-house processes, protocols and tools—it has never been easier to achieve these objectives.
This article will guide you on how to effectively enrich your company’s employee experience, making your workforce more productive, engaged and satisfied with their working environment.
Employee Experience is Everyone’s Responsibility
While employee experience strategies have traditionally been handled by Human Resource (HR) departments, they have evolved to be much more holistic in nature. This means raising employee experiences must cut across all departments and touch on wide-ranging aspects—from attracting top talent and financial planning to managing risk and workforce planning.
While HR does play a central role in facilitating an excellent employee experience, it requires multiple divisions to achieve—IT, recruitment, and operations. It is a truly shared responsibility. Enhancing and elevating employee experience requires cross-departmental buy-in. All divisions must be aligned in terms of fostering a stimulating working environment that provides employees with the necessary tools and support systems they need to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.
Align Employee Experience With Company Values
In recent years, a type of organisational culture has emerged that aims to create unique experiences for all employees. This culture is informed by values and is not to be confused with perks like free lunches or lounging areas. Values are central to the employee experience because they define how employees can and should work together.
When values are collective, they allow a team to share similar beliefs. These beliefs help individuals understand the purpose of their work, which in turn improves their performance. You can align employees’ personal journeys with your company values to leave your team happier and more productive in their roles.
Today, company values are (or should be) at the center of everything that employees do. This is because they contribute to organisational culture and determine how employees interact with one another. When people interact in ways that align with that culture, it leads to working relationships that are productive and a workplace that reinforces relationships between employees. On the other hand, when employees interact in ways that go against their company’s values, it can lead to disengagement and lack of trust within teams.
In the case of hourly deskless shift workers (for example, in retail, fast food, public works, sanitation and manufacturing), ensuring that they understand their contribution to their companies will create meaning and help them work with purpose to create a climate conducive to engagement.
When you look carefully at the way people work, you discover there’s a lot more at play (and at stake) than money, notes behavioural economist Dan Ariely:
“When we think about labour, we usually think about motivation and payment as the same thing, but the reality is that we should probably add all kinds of things to it: meaning, creation, challenges, ownership, identity, pride, etc.”
Employee experience begins with a clear understanding of the company’s culture and values, and businesses must ensure that it is aligned with their overall culture, mission, branding and purpose. These will dictate the types of policies and activities that a company will implement to improve working conditions. Every aspect of the employee life cycle, which covers everything from onboarding to exiting the company, must reflect the organisation’s unique identity.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
The digital workplace is touted by many as a game-changing innovation, but it cannot translate into a better experience for employees without flexibility.
In the traditional working environments of the past, employee rosters were rigid, with little room for flexibility. The catchphrase “work-life balance” has a whole new meaning in today’s fast-paced global economy and the pandemic has amplified this crucial aspect of employee experience.
Employees crave more freedom and autonomy in their roles. That’s why it is paramount for organisations that want to engage and motivate their employees, to provide them with a healthy balance between their professional and personal lives.
One of the best ways for employers to give their employees a healthier work-life balance is to grant them an appropriate amount of control over their rosters.
Implement Availability Hours vs. Setting Strict Working Hours
What many think of as “standard business” isn’t very standard at all. Take, for example, “the standard 9-5, eight-hour workday”, which is only the case for a small percentage of workers. If retailers, manufacturers and healthcare workers only worked for eight hours from 9am-5pm, the world would come to a screeching halt. These are precisely the workers and industries that benefit most from a more advanced rostering technology solution through workforce management software.
The assumption for many in this field is that the employee should be 100% available for any shift they may be rostered on from week to week, a position that is plainly untenable for anyone seeking some amount of work/life balance. That level of availability is only expected due to the complicated nature of rostering, as one manager alone could not be expected to make allowances for every single employee rostering request. Juggling multiple workers’ rosters begins to look like a complicated math equation. “If Elizabeth has a health appointment on Wednesdays at 3, but Michael takes his children to their sports activities every 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, and Lemaire is sick this week, solve for the exponent and divide by 7.”
A properly programmed workforce management system, however, CAN account for these complications. By allowing employees to easily interact with the system they can personally input their availability for potential shifts, and the program itself can use AI learning and basic algorithms to find the best rostering fit for all involved. This is especially helpful when managers are dealing with time-sensitive assignments or if they’re attempting to set up a team meeting.
Allow for Shift Swaps
Organisations can give their employees the option to swap their days off for another day within the week. This can also apply for multiple shifts within the same day. By allowing for shift swaps, employees can have better control of how they spend their days off.
Instead of taking two days off straight, employees can break their off days throughout the week. Organisations can decide to give these shift swaps on a one-off basis, but they can also choose to offer it as a long-term alternative. Any of these options will help employees feel like they have more authority over how they spend their time, which significantly boosts morale.
Provide Paid Time Off (PTO)
Although not a requirement of the Fair Labour Standards Act, more and more businesses are offering PTO to their employees. Additionally, getting paid time off is an effective strategy in getting employees to stay with a company long-term.
Paid time off does not only cover sick days. It can also include personal days, family leave, vacation, maternity and paternity leave and federal holidays. Employees can take time for themselves without having to worry about the work that they leave behind or not getting paid.
Deskless workers especially would benefit greatly from this type of arrangement. Due to the nature of their jobs, many deskless shift workers operate on a “no work, no pay” basis. This can lead to unhealthy working conditions, with these workers still clocking in despite being ill. This can lead to customers and co-workers becoming infected. When the options are “work sick” or “afford their bills”, what choice does a worker have in the matter? Paid time off will provide deskless shift workers with a crutch, safe in the knowledge that their pay will not be docked when taking time off.
Offering employees a range of options to manage their work hours can significantly impact their employee experience and allow them to choose a working roster that best suits them. Additionally, giving employees more control over their time will give them a sense of agency, which can serve as a morale-booster.
Define Key Employee Personas
When it comes to developing employee experience strategies, your best source or reference would be the people they are being designed for—your employees. Getting input from them and defining employee personas may provide deeper insights into what your employees want and need and more viable idea on how to redesign certain aspects of the workplace.
To develop an employee persona, you must first conduct research on your employees. Collect data through employee surveys and interviews to determine the best course of action for redesigning your workplace. Gather information on aspects such as—deskless shift workers or desk-based employees, job types, tenure, seniority, needs, goals, work attitudes. Set up focus groups and observe the workplace to see what makes your employees tick. Once you have gathered sufficient data, you can then analyse your findings and start to build specific personas. Look for standout or overlapping patterns and behaviours that significantly impact workplace culture and refine these later.
After studying your data, collaborate with key stakeholders to create your employee personas. This can be done through a series of meetings and workshops. To begin constructing your employee persona, list key behavioural traits, standout demographics, commonly used tools and software, as well as the common frustrations encountered by individuals who work at your company. Make sure to list down goals and aspirations.
Once you have finished creating your employee personas, validate them by sharing them with your employees. This demonstrates that you are transparent and ensures that your data-gathering has been accurate. They will be able to give you more insight on what to add or delete from your created persona.
By building a narrative around a specific type of employee or group of employees, you can better understand the types of systems and structures your employees need to thrive, which will come across as your organisation being more empathetic. Additionally, crafting employee personas will help you find areas that can be optimised to better facilitate inclusivity and diversity.
Know Your Challenges Around Employee Experience
Designing a better employee experience may require your organisation to implement major changes around the workplace. This will bring many challenges and can be overwhelming, so you do not need to do a total overhaul or implement changes in one go. It’s thus important to continually test and review strategies you may implement during this time to ensure that it is the best fit for your organisation.
First, collect and take stock of the data. With the right analytics, you can clearly identify key intervention areas. Identify employee needs through quantifiable data and measure how these gaps impact overall business performance. Conduct pulse surveys to facilitate bottom-up feedback from your employees, to review and analyse standout trends. For example, your organisation may be suffering from low productivity due to communication issues, performance management mishaps, or feedback among hourly deskless shift workers. By getting your employee’s thoughts and backing them up with concrete data, you can make more informed decisions in determining the next steps in improving your employee experience strategy.
Additionally, using employee input is a great way to get your employees involved in the strategy development process. By making your workers the primary source of your information gathering efforts, you show them that their thoughts and opinions are valued, and they get a sense that they belong. They are also best placed to give firsthand accounts of systems or processes that need to be upgraded or changed.
Communication has always been a crucial aspect of any business, more so in today’s fast-paced environment. The focus of employee experience is now on hourly deskless shift workers as they cannot be transitioned into remote work. While the pandemic has led to a proliferation of tools and solutions to help remote workers easily transition into the new normal, there are not that many options readily available for deskless shift workers. Leaders must pay particular attention to communication, roster management and employee engagement. This will make workflows much smoother and enhance employee experiences.
When creating an employee experience strategy, it is also important to consider providing employees with opportunities to develop professionally. Millennials, in particular, place a premium on development, with 87% saying it’s a key factor when weighing up career opportunities. This key worker segment, who by 2025, will make up the majority of the workforce (75%) want to know exactly where and how they fit in the company they are working at. They want to know exactly how they can provide value and want to be acknowledged for their efforts.
Knowing the main challenges in your organisation is key to solving them. A data-driven approach is a key to addressing any lapses and ensuring that your resources are optimally utilised. This will also allow you to develop more customised solutions.
Invest in Digital Employee Experience
Businesses that invested in keeping their technology stack up-to-date remained stronger and more innovative while navigating the pandemic. Digital tools are also proving to be a key component in developing and sustaining dynamic employee experiences, especially with the massive rise of hourly deskless shift workers.
Much of employee experience plays out in the digital space. Almost every aspect of employee experience is managed somehow with the help of technology, from the workplace itself to break-out rooms to health declarations. When technology is integrated into employee experience, it enables employees to work more efficiently by providing real-time communication, accessibility to information (policy updates, guidelines, training materials, etc.), remote engagement and performance management.
Connecting workers’ experiences to their digital technologies will one day be seen as the biggest revolution in employee experience. A consistent and seamless digital workplace improves employee communication, satisfaction and retention. With technology playing a vital role in the creation, distribution and management of the content workers need to do their jobs on a daily basis, and as more and more deskless shift workers are hired onto teams each year, companies must leverage the technology resources that ensure an optimal employee experience.
Some 75% of deskless shift workers are using some form of technology while on the job, but most of the tools they use are not fit for their purpose. In fact, as many as 60% of deskless shift workers are dissatisfied with the technology and tools they presently work with. Much of this dissatisfaction stems from slow network speeds or inefficient and outdated software. If these are not addressed, organisations run the risk of substandard work, low levels of employee motivation and an increased likelihood that these workers will grow further dissatisfied and quit.
It would be wise for leaders to invest in technologies that make employee workflows more efficient and promote a positive employee experience, while keeping data internal and safe. They can address the gaps pointed out by deskless shift workers and provide them with tailor-made solutions that help make their jobs easier.
Take A Proactive Approach to Employee Experience
With a growing deskless shift worker workforce, businesses must reevaluate how they deliver enhanced employee experiences. To do this, they must take the time to understand the needs of frontline workers and deploy solutions that meet those needs adequately. This requires a more active approach, rather than a passive “check the box” mentality.
If businesses want to hit that employee experience sweet spot, leaders and managers need to be proactive. By actively monitoring the state of an employee’s experience, your organisation can take the necessary actions to resolve issues before a small problem mounts into a full-blown crisis. The benefits, reduced costs, greater efficiency and improved collaboration, make it a worthwhile investment.
Employers are competing for the best talent in the new labour marketplace, and one of the most important aspects of attracting and retaining top talent is ensuring your employees experience a high level of satisfaction. Employees are, after all, the most vital asset of any company. The way they feel and respond when working for your organisation will determine their productivity and engagement at work.
A proactive approach will provide your organisation with opportunities to raise each component of employee experience (work environment, security, social, brand image and identity, leadership, task and role alignment).
Employee Experience Is About Every Employee, Every Day, and Everywhere Work Happens
Deskless workers are an integral part to any business and are unlikely to see their roles diminished any time soon. As industries continue to become more mobile, digital and data-driven, these workers must be included in the evolution. For businesses to survive in the new, digital economy, they need to take on modern workplace strategies that embrace technology and allow all workers access to the tools they need from anywhere on the planet.
The pandemic is forcing most companies worldwide to adopt workplace technology to keep people working remotely and their businesses running. However, these new work methods weren’t of much benefit to deskless shift workers, who were more likely to feel disconnected than in-office workers and who bore the brunt of pandemic-driven workplace changes. This disconnect has been found to be a driving force in employee dissatisfaction, causing retention issues and fueling the mass attrition termed The Great Resignation.
A Gartner report recommends that crafting a winning employee experience for all your employees should include the following:
- It must encompass multiple divisions to craft a solid EX strategy—IT, HR and Operations.
- Build upon your company’s pre-existing systems that are already frequently used by workers. Make the most of Task Management and Workforce Management Applications currently in use.
- Deliver a solution that is accessible, practical and fits into the flow of work.
WorkForce Software solutions are designed to create great workplaces that span employee experiences that matter, resonate and reverberate. Communication, connections, access, WorkForce Software delivers a breakthrough employee experience in the cloud, no matter how unique your employee needs are.
Reach out today and let WorkForce Software help you to develop a seamless employee experience strategy that prioritises the needs of employees and enriches your organisation’s employee experience!
WorkForce Software has partnered with accredited workplace relations specialists FCB Workplace Law to look further into the most important recent developments in HR and workplace relations in Australia.