The Guardian reports that “almost a quarter of workers are actively planning to change employers in the next few months, a report has claimed, as part of a “great resignation” prompted by a high number of vacancies and burnout caused by the pandemic”. This has serious implications for employers. There has been much press around the shortage of certain groups of workers, HGV drivers, doctors and nurses, social care workers, fruit pickers and those working in restaurants. The immediate response to demand exceeding supply is to offer increased wages, in an attempt to poach staff from competitors. I am going to argue there is a much more fundamental shift taking place here and increasing wages is like applying a band aid to a broken leg.
There is a cultural shift taking place in terms of our expectations around work and our careers. Work-life balance, a preference for working from home, the challenges of commuting, concerns about corporate culture, the mission and purpose of the organisation and the quality of working life will all contribute to a huge change in how we work, where we work and when and for whom we choose to work.
There is a reckoning in the offing for employers who have failed to look after their workers, who have ignored issues of employee engagement and job satisfaction may well find it much harder to source talent and retain good employees. If you don’t support your staff, offer them development opportunities and afford them recognition and a voice then there’s a good chance they will look around for a better employer.
What is employee experience?
The employee experience encapsulates what people encounter, observe or feel over the course of their employee journey at an organisation – what it is actually like to work for the organisation rather than the picture you present of the organisation.
If there’s disconnect between what you claim to offer and what employees actually find when they join the organisation then you are likely to run into problems. Nearly 80 percent of employee turnover is a result of poor hiring decisions. The CIPD explains the consequences of a poor employee experience: “newcomers experience a disconnect between what they assumed (or were led to believe) working your organisation would feel like, and what they actually discover”.
One of my favourite authors, Jacob Morgan, who writes about how the world of work is changing says that what you should aim to achieve in creating a positive employee experience where “people are going to want to show up to work. They’ll genuinely feel excited and engaged about it”.
This is not HR fluff
You may think that so long as your customers are happy and you are making money that all is well but that’s short-sighted especially when sourcing talent and retaining good people is a challenge. You can’t ignore employee experience because it really matters to your staff, it’s important to align your employee experience with stated values, mission statement and recruitment offering.
Research shows that people who report having a positive employee experience have 16 times the engagement level of employees with a negative experience, and that they are eight times more likely to want to stay at a company, (McKinsey, Employee Survey 2020).
Good workers want trust, social cohesion, and purpose from their work; they want to feel that their contribution is recognised and that their team is collaborative. The best of your people want clear responsibilities and opportunities to learn, develop their skills and grow in their role. They want their personal sense of purpose to align with that of the organisation.
Put workers first
Forget command and control, don’t rely on top down ‘do as I say’ management but show some real leadership and people management skills. Put workers first by understanding how they frame their employee journey and focus on personalised interventions that maximize job satisfaction, high quality performance, and productivity.
Reid Hoffman, the co-founder and Executive Chairman of LinkedIn is a favourite with 10Eighty says “A leader’s job is not to put greatness into people, but rather to recognise that it already exists, and to create the environment where that greatness can emerge and grow.”
Hoffman recommends giving your team room to make decisions as this not only allows you to stop sidestep management bottlenecks and move faster, but it gives employees a feeling of ownership and autonomy, they will feel trusted. Yes, sometimes mistakes will be made but in Reid’s mind, occasional mistakes are the price of speed and autonomy.
Making it happen
Start with a focus on three important areas:
- Ensure the organisation engenders a sense of connection and belonging
- Encourage an open culture which values knowledge sharing and collaboration so that employees feel a part of the grand design and a real connection to organisational culture and values
- Concentrate on good communication which is inclusive and transparent, and give everyone a voice, as that enhance engagement
Our partner Fuel50 recently published research on employee engagement and retention which suggests that: “The key to success in this increasingly competitive environment is to add value to your employees by tailoring work conditions to their individual needs, preferences, and talents.” Today more than at any other organisations need to be employee centric, sculpting jobs around the needs of employees.
We suggest five steps to improve employee retention:
- Focus on internal talent mobility and provide your team with a long-term vision of their evolving role inside the organisation; demonstrate commitment to career development by affording access to growth opportunities, which benefits employee and organisation alike.
- Identify what is going well, what can still be improved, and then act on your data. .
- Encourage a culture of open and continuous communication.
- Ensure your workforce feels valued, an organisation is only as good as its employees; show people that they matter and it boosts morale.
- Understand your people’s goals and help to make them happen, offer learning and development opportunities that are aligned to each person’s skills and talents to help provide a positive overall employee experience.
This is serious
If leadership is serious about ensuring their staff are happy, healthy, and productive, then employee engagement will be a high priority, encompassing everything from workplace technology meant to make employees’ lives easier to fostering a culture of inclusivity and purpose. Good people want to work somewhere with a welcoming culture characterised by transparency, inclusion, engagement and connection, recognition and communication.
Bring out the best in employees by ensuring the organisation provides what they need to bring their best selves to work and focus their energy and commitment on increased productivity and customer satisfaction. The CIPD define employee experience as creating a great work environment for people, and helping them to be their best.
Talent is hard to find and when you find the talent you need to hold on to it. In terms of retention recognising the importance of the employee experience is key. An organisation that is more inspiring, collaborative, and which creates an experience that is meaningful is one where good people will want to work. Throwing money at this problem is not a sustainable solution.