In any online search for current trends in HR, “improving employee experience” is highlighted as a critical way of increasing not only engagement, but also the employee value proposition (EVP). In fact, a report based on a survey of 800 global HR leaders recently released by Gartner, lists “Employee Experience” as one of the top 5 priorities for 2021 (Source: Gartner 2021 Future of HR Survey).
The pandemic has prompted businesses to realign their human resource strategies and to look at ways to innovate and create a more personalised, flexible and attractive working environment for employees, as well as to position the organisation to attract the best talent in the future.
So, what practical steps can you take to help personalise the employee experience in your organisation?
Consider adapting your recruitment model to reduce dependence on the interview process. The fact is that some people excel at interviews and others find them an impossible hurdle. In either case, interviews are not always the best indicator of future performance. Recruitment, hiring managers, and candidates all benefit from more creativity in the hiring process, and from assessments that consider personality, fit to corporate values, and potential. Consider recruitment activities not focused on specific roles, but on identifying where individuals could fit and add value across the organisation.
Typical onboarding usually involves the new employee arriving at the office to be introduced to their new team, and then visiting HR to read through numerous documents on company rules and regulations. Consider whether you can personalise the experience by tailoring to suit individual new joiners. Can you allocate a “buddy” from the team whose responsibility includes supporting and guiding new joiners through basics to help them feel taken care of in the initial few months of joining? Try to ensure that what they learn is relevant – both in terms of their role, but also in timeliness. It’s frustrating to be told all about the annual performance review process when they won’t experience this for at least 3 months or maybe more, but it’s very important that they know how their performance will be monitored and what role they are expected to take in the process.
03. Job Roles
Wherever possible give employees the chance to influence their job roles. If an employee can help craft their role and define their own objectives, not only will buy-in be greater, but they are also likely to perform better.
04. Compensation and Benefits
Traditional salary-focused compensation has taken a hit with the impact of the pandemic meaning that salaries have been frozen and sometimes even reduced in real terms. As an alternative, consider offering employees the option to select from a range of benefits to suit their own circumstances, needs and values.
Be aware that these preferences and needs may change over time, and so it’s good practice to revisit periodically. For example, employees may choose from free or subsidised child-care facilities or free fitness classes. Another option could be between flexible working time or an extended vacation allowance. Benefits need to be sustainable to implement and manage, but this is a potential competitive edge to attract talent.
05. Physical work environment
Working environments have long suffered from being victim to the latest trend or idea on the optimum use of space. To some extent new models are being forced by social distancing requirements, and now is a good time to re-look at working spaces and consider the value that individuals place on open plan vs. cubicle, team vs individual, or standing vs. seated space for example. An added layer is location – at home or at head office, in a café or formal rented working space closer to home, or in a rural or urban setting. There is no one solution that works for all organisations, but a flexible mindset to consider options for individual employees and teams is now more important than ever. This also crosses over into recruitment, where one consideration for new employees will be where they can be based.
The pervasive influence and accessibility of technology means that there are now many ways to communicate with employees. Consider whether it is feasible to introduce a wider range of communication options, particularly when employees are working remotely or on flexible hours.
Other than the standard email route, options to consider include corporate and peer to peer online communication channels such as Yammer, personal channels such as WhatsApp or Instagram, use of visual communications rather than text – for example, video or infographics, and the inclusion of QR codes or NFC smart posters to link employees to more detailed information.
07. Performance – Mapping to Managers and Teams
Traditionally performance reviews are used to identify strengths and gaps in performance and identify ways to develop and fill those gaps. Why not consider using the review to also consider mapping the individual to the best team or manager to maximise performance? For example, an employee that values freedom in the workplace is not going to perform to their full potential if placed with a directive manager, whereas some employees require a more directive management style.
08. Learning and Development
Consider broadening your view of learning and development to looking at how you can support informal learning or learning “in the flow of work”. This leads to a more personalised approach and engages employees with their managers and supervisors for development and performance improvement. Giving employees choices as to how they learn a particular skill or gain knowledge is another way to increase buy-in and encourage a culture of self-development. This changes the role of learning and development teams to guides, coaches and producers or curators of content, supporting individuals to identify relevant learning opportunities and resources from a variety of options to suit individual needs and preferences.
09. Systems and Processes
A core factor in improving employee experience is ensuring that HR systems and processes are able to leverage the latest technology, provide you with the data you need to be able to monitor and adapt your working practices, and are simple and accessible by employees to provide them with visibility and opportunities to interact directly with HR teams.
In summary, improving employee experience is something that touches upon each stage of the employee lifecycle. It’s about creating an environment where employees can influence their experience, and where there is flexibility about where, when, and how they work, and how they are recognised and rewarded.
Thinking creatively about how to improve the employee experience is now a core success factor for HR teams in developing a positive organisation and in impacting bottom line results.
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