The employee experience

The employee experience: Culture, engagement and beyond

Most companies are operating in either a global economy or a highly competitive local economy, and success to a large degree revolves around attracting and retaining skilled employees. HR’s focus should be on building programs, strategies and teams that understand and continuously improve the employee experience.

Yet employee experience remains a challenge. Some companies have not assigned responsibility to a senior executive, or team, to design and deliver the employee experience, often because the tools required to engage employees in the first place are outdated.

Culture and engagement are vital parts of the employee experience and smarter organisations are broadening their focus and considering the “journey” – from first contact with the company through to retirement, and even beyond. These progressive businesses study the needs of their workforce and use net promoter scores to understand the employee experience. Workplace design, well-being, and productivity systems are all becoming part of the mandate of HR.

Once an organisation accepts that its physical workspace impacts the employee experience it can then fashion a space to reflect its culture. Cisco is a global technology company, so it’s no surprise its offices are technologically advanced. But it is moving towards workspace capabilities that allow any employee to show up to a desk or conference room and have that space adapt to them. The temperature, lighting, and even the employee’s contacts and work information would be beamed to their current working location. The investment Cisco is making reflects its values and culture. This is a long way from beanbags, ping-pong tables and abstract art on the walls for the sake of being “cool”. It’s a strategic investment that will ultimately improve productivity.

Atlassian and Mars Drinks used sensors to calculate how often employees worked at their desks. The results showed they didn’t actually spend much time at their desks at all. Their workers moved around, went to conference rooms, found quiet areas, and preferred to complete tasks in other spaces apart from their desks. As a result, both companies redesigned their facilities to accommodate this. You can see the Mars Drinks redesign here. It’s clearly strategically designed, and based on how employees prefer to work. Physical space should be treated like software. All businesses, indeed individuals, change and upgrade software as it evolves. Think of physical space in the same way.

Why? The cost of employee disengagement is estimated at $70 billion annually. Turnover continues to plague organisations in Australia and across the globe as the workforce grows in confidence and the job market becomes increasingly competitive.

Employee engagement and experience is critical to the long-term success and growth of a business. A strong employee experience drives a stronger customer experience. Certainly companies need a new approach—one that builds on the foundation of culture and engagement to focus holistically on the employee experience.  As Richard Branson says: “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”