Even though it’s early, my discussions these first few months of the year tell me that “employee experience” is becoming one of the buzzwords of 2019. The CEOs and CTOs I’ve spoken with at companies of all types and sizes are talking about the need to provide a world-class workplace experience for their employees (and what that actually means). But why should executives focus on providing a strong employee experience? Why should you use precious time and resources on improving how your employees work each day?
There are four main reasons for companies to put a genuine effort behind employee experience initiatives:
1. The skills gap is real. Companies are struggling to fill the open roles they have, and providing a better daily experience may increase your ability to attract better talent.
2. Retaining the employees you already have is just as important, as it is expensive and time-consuming to replace previously recruited and trained employees.
3. Employees are simply more engaged and productive when their everyday working experience is a positive one, where processes and technology makes it easier for them to succeed.
4. Measuring employee experience is key as organizations embark on digital transformations. Put simply, digital transformation won’t be successful unless employees are on board with new initiatives.
Despite the growing interest among organizations in defining and perfecting their employees’ everyday digital experience at work, however, I’ve seen many struggle to understand how successful they are and how to improve.
Measuring how an employee feels about their working environment has always been pretty subjective and difficult to quantify. Existing IT success metrics are tied up in service-level agreements (SLAs) that focus on service availabilities and target resolution times — neither of which says anything about the true end-user experience your employees are having every day with your organization and its technology.
Companies need to create a baseline for employee experience success in order to accurately measure the effectiveness of their initiatives. It isn’t enough for companies and executives to say they care about their employees’ experience — they need to accurately measure success so they can continuously improve. Besides, what company isn’t eager to prove whether or not the money and resources they’ve spent have had a positive return on investment?
There are five steps to gaining an accurate measurement of your company’s digital employee experience:
• Create a baseline. Organizations need a starting point to know if they’re doing a good job or still have a lot of work to do. To create this baseline, start by taking a look at the hard data that’s available — device log-on duration, web browser crashes, critical business application freezes, overall connectivity and antivirus signatures status. This should be combined with data on recruitment and employee departure as well.
The third element needed to create an accurate baseline is to begin surveying your employees and getting direct feedback on what’s working and what isn’t. Combining data from all of these areas — technical and sentiment — helps you quickly understand whether employees are satisfied and engaged.
• Benchmark the findings. Next, benchmark the data you’ve collected. On one hand, that means setting regular intervals for when you will collect this information — twice a year, perhaps? On the other hand, it means getting a look at what your industry — especially your key competitors — are measuring and claiming for digital employee experience success. Use this as an opportunity to learn what competitors are doing well and how that could be applied to your own organization.
• Identify areas for improvement. Once you’ve reviewed your data and have seen the positive (or negative) effect your most recent employee experience initiatives have had on the company, it’s time to look for the deficiencies in what you’re providing. Are employees complaining about a new process? Does a new technology not work as advertised? Has efficiency and productivity improved or stayed stagnant? What can be done differently?
• Talk to employees. Look at their complaints and issues from their point of view, not yours. Put yourself in their shoes, and see how technology and procedure changes have affected them and why they may be complaining. Don’t fall into the trap of explaining away their issues before talking to them and experiencing what they do every day. Sometimes it’s not as easy as saying, “Well, they’re not doing it correctly.”
• Develop a road map, and make changes. Armed with the information you have about what’s working and what isn’t, it’s time to plan out a road map. Employee experience is too important for one-off fixes and small improvements. Use the data to map out a strategic path forward that solves the problem and shows executives that their resources and money are being put to good use.
Make an experience level agreement (XLA) with your employees and/or executives on what can be expected from here on out. And of course, start making improvements, but be sure to measure the success of those improvements in real time along the way.
The importance of actively managing and continuously improving the employee experience cannot be understated. Engaged, satisfied and efficient employees who feel their companies are supporting them with the latest technology and tools stay at a company, drive success and help to bring in new talent. I strongly believe that by taking the time to quantify your employee experience and continually measuring the pulse of your organization, you will be sure to succeed.