Only 38% of employees are happy with their current company, yet happy employees stay at their job four times longer than their unhappy counterparts and are 12% more productive. These are a few reasons why more organizations are putting effort into improving the employee experience at their company.
There are a variety of factors that impact the employee experience either negatively or positively within an organization, and it’s important to be aware of them in order to make useful improvements.
Some of the factors this article will discuss include:
- How well HR and IT work together.
- Leadership and team structures.
- Company culture and morale.
- Recognition and feedback.
- Learning and growth opportunities.
While this list is not exhaustive, it’s a good place to start.
Now, let’s start at the beginning. A candidate interviews with your organization and accepts a position — they like what they heard about your org, the job itself, and the benefits and pay.
Now that they’ve accepted a position with you, it’s time to onboard them.
HR and IT Partnership
Two departments that play important roles during onboarding are HR and IT — HR collects vital information from the new employee, which IT then needs some of to properly assign access to devices and physical infrastructure, digital infrastructure such as apps and other online resources, and more!
If this partnership is not well aligned before onboarding new users, those employees will likely have a disjointed and frustrating experience with onboarding, which is not an ideal first impression.
Great employee onboarding can improve retention by 82%.
The importance of a solid working relationship between HR and IT (which includes automation, clear and immediate communication, well-integrated software, and more), trails way past onboarding. When existing employees have role changes or information changes that directly relate to access levels, HR and IT need to be on the same page right away to ensure that the employee is able to continue doing their job efficiently and securely.
On top of that, when it comes time for an employee to depart, it’s partially up to HR and IT to ensure that the employee has as positive of an offboarding experience as possible, while maintaining organizational security by immediately revoking all access to resources.
From the beginning of employment to the end, the partnership between HR and IT has a major impact on the employee experience, and these departments need to be well-aligned to ensure that impact is highly positive.
Leadership and Team Structures
During onboarding, new employees are typically introduced to the organization’s leadership and team structures, whether this is through direct interaction with leaders or through pre-made presentations explaining how the org is set up.
This can immediately create positive feelings amongst new employees, especially if they have somewhere to reference team structures later, because it’s much more clear who they will need to go to for different questions, tasks, and discussions. Plus, the information that gets shared about leaders up front will influence how connected new employees feel to them, sparking more positive feelings.
However, only 48% of employees view their company’s leadership as “high quality.”
Past the initial onboarding process, how leaders act, communicate, and manage others can make or break an employee’s experience at your organization. Great leadership is important to create and retain a happy workforce, so be sure to hire and train leaders in an extremely thoughtful manner.
Poor team structures can also lead to feelings of dissatisfaction among team members, especially if they feel like it hinders their day-to-day work. It’s important to deeply understand what great team structures are, as well as how to build and maintain them. This is the foundation on which your organization is built, and it’s a lot less work to get it right the first time around and make minor adjustments as time goes on, rather than have to completely rethink your initial strategy.
Company Culture and Morale
Another important factor that affects the employee experience is a combination of company culture and the morale that it creates. Almost 70% of employees and leaders say company culture is more important to business success than strategy and operations.
There are typically five pieces that make up company culture, and each one builds on the one before.
Those pieces are:
- Vision and Mission: Establishing and communicating clear vision and mission statements is essential when starting a business, because everything you build going forward will stem from those early declarations.
- Values: The core of a company culture stems from the values that the organization chooses to focus on. It’s important to choose these very wisely, as all future employees will hear about your values and make snap judgments about your organization based on them.
- Practices: While coming up with an amazing mission, vision, and set of values is a great start to creating a great employee experience, arguably the most important piece of company culture is if and how you practice what you preach. All of your practices need to fall back to your values — you need to base every decision you make on the values you have outlined to back up your words with actions.
- People: Another extremely important part of company culture comes from the people you hire. People should be hired based on value alignment, their hard and soft skills, and diversity principles. This type of hiring fosters a great company culture where employees are happy and feel at-home.
- Environment: Another factor that influences company culture is the environment in which your employees work. To create a positive employee experience, it’s essential that the environment people work in is positive, engaging, comfortable, and much more.
A few other important factors that affect morale in an organization are: diversity, inclusion, and work/life balance. Modern organizations are focusing on all three of these elements more than ever before, and employees are taking notice.
76% of job seekers and employees polled said a diverse workforce was an important factor for them when evaluating job opportunities and companies.
Recognition and Feedback
A great company culture makes employees feel recognized and comfortable giving constructive feedback to others, but even in this scenario, it’s still important to hone in on where improvements can be made to keep employees happy.
Strong employee recognition programs reduce turnover rates by 31%.
Improve your employee recognition program by finding the best ways to provide praise to different personality types. While some employees might live for public recognition, others cringe at the thought of that and prefer private praise. Ensuring that recognition happens on a consistent basis is another great way to improve the overall employee experience at your organization.
Along similar lines, providing different avenues for upward and lateral feedback from employees is a great way to make them feel heard.
90% of workers say they’re more likely to stay at a company that takes and acts on feedback.
Try offering anonymous feedback opportunities, face-to-face, via email or Slack, etc., so that people can choose what feels most appropriate and comfortable for them. This will surface a lot of feedback that might’ve never been given otherwise, which can substantially improve parts of your organization. Asking all team leaders to request feedback consistently is also a great practice.
Learning and Growth Opportunities
The last factor that affects the employee experience that we want to discuss is learning and growth opportunities. Even if everything else that we’ve touched on in this article is spot on in your org, if employees aren’t given learning or career development opportunities, they become stagnant and unhappy.
Only 34% of surveyed workers are satisfied with the level of skills development investment received from their organization, and only 56% of respondents see a meaningful opportunity for themselves in the org.
To combat this, you can either work on creating a culture that encourages employees to create their own specific growth plan based on their goals, or put together very clear paths to raise and title changes… or do both!
The former option is better for startups and organizations that pride themselves on being flexible. But, if you do this, you need to be prepared for many employees to create new roles tailored perfectly to them, which might not always benefit the org.
The latter option is usually better for more established organizations that want to take most of the questions out of the career development process by creating clear guidelines. Allowing both options simultaneously typically happens when you’re moving from startup culture to a more established organization but you haven’t quite gotten everything laid out as clearly as you’d like.
Evaluating the Employee Experience
Once you think you have all of the pieces in place for a phenomenal employee experience, we recommend sending out an employee net promoter score survey. This is a great way to gather scores and feedback from employees, as well as to find specific areas of improvement. Use this employee feedback to gauge satisfaction at least once a year, if not twice.