Guest Post by Salma El-Shurafa
Many companies are thinking about improving employee experience and what facets make a great employee experience. The answers to these questions are constantly changing.
There was a time when the focus was on incentives and bonuses on top of a competitive salary. But more recently, improving employee experience evolved beyond solely giving perks with monetary value.
Since businesses rely so much on how well their staff performs, it’s only natural for them to find ways to keep employees happy. If you’re an employer, you might find yourself typing things like “how to boost employee engagement” or “job coach near me” into Google’s search bar at this point.
Lucky for you, this article lists the top five ways how companies can improve employee experience in 2021 and beyond:
Enhance the work environment (both physical and technological)
Employee experience (EX) is defined as what people observe, encounter, or feel during their tenure as an employee in an organization. And the very foundation of a great EX is a comfortable working environment.
This covers two things: the physical workspace and the technological tools.
As an employer, you must ensure that your employees have everything they need to perform their tasks well, including the following essentials:
- Equipment and furniture, such as computers, work tables, and chairs
- Tools, both physical and digital, for basic and technical tasks (e.g., file-sharing, document processing, graphics design, etc.)
- Leisure lounge or break area
- Transportation for fieldwork
Aside from the basics, you should also think of more ways to help your employees focus and perform their work the best way they can. An example of this is offering female staff members support for motherhood.
An alarming statistic revealed that 43 percent of top female talent with children leave their careers or off-ramp for a certain period. A lot of these women fail to return to their work because of non-parent-friendly work environments.
Providing on-site childcare solutions or flexible work hours is a great way to keep them on board as it accommodates their unique needs.
You can also offer generous paid parental leave. This has become an appealing benefit for working parents as it eases the financial burden on families. It also supports employee retention and has been linked to lower postpartum depression rate and infant mortality.
Open and expand communication lines with employees
When you start a company, you must remember that employees aren’t mere cogs that should blindly follow orders. In the era of knowledge and modern business, employee opinion is vital.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that decisions will no longer come from the company executives. Rather, employee opinions need to be taken into account before any decision is made.
Employers who openly get their employees’ feedback and suggestions tend to be more successful than those who don’t, not to mention they attract and retain the best talent. This is because they invest in their employees not just by paying them for their work but also by paying attention to what they have to say.
Of course, this also means using top-notch communication tools like Zoom, Slack, Google Hangouts, and many others for the unhindered back-and-forth of opinion and information.
Soliciting employee feedback and suggestions is very crucial, especially during the planning stages of any changes related to the daily workflow and working conditions. Below are some sample scenarios when you should seek employee opinion:
- Changes in office times
- Reorganization of existing departments
- Changes in security procedures
- Office renovation
- Standard operating procedure updates
- Employee benefit adjustments
It is also better to ask employees first before implementing additional benefits or perks. This will ensure that you choose the ones that are best suited for your workforce.
Recognize employee contributions to improve the experience
When people do a good job, make sure you acknowledge their efforts through employee recognition. This is critical, especially when an employee goes above and beyond what is expected of them.
You can show your appreciation for their help in your business in several ways:
- Compliment them personally
- Offer them a symbolic gesture of appreciation, like treating the team to lunch
- Provide an incentive, a salary raise, or even a promotion for those who have made something quite substantial, like devising a method for better company productivity
The idea is to do something that will send this message loud and clear: “I appreciate and recognize all your efforts. Thank you.”
Take note, however, that there are certain situations you need to be wary of when implementing this:
Managers take all the credit for the hard work and ideas of their subordinates. This happens all too often, so you need to make sure that you choose managers who will defend, promote, and highlight the work of the team (members) and not take all the credit.
Acknowledging employees is great but be careful not to focus too much on a few specific people as this can be detrimental to your other employees’ morale.
Even if some are always much more productive or creative, be sure to spread the praise across the team, especially if there are members who exceeded their usual performance.
This small change in feedback can help prevent jealousy and frustration. It can also encourage those who don’t perform well to try harder next time since they know their efforts won’t go unnoticed.
Give employees the right perks
Most companies today won’t be able to get by without offering basic benefits like paid holidays and health insurance. But if you want to create a better employee experience, you must try to go beyond the norm.
Based on a LinkedIn study, employees care more about the following employee perks than others:
- Health and wellness – Besides insurance coverage, consider offering wellness perks, like group meditation or yoga classes or morning dance aerobics to kick-start the day.
- Paid time off (PTO) – This shouldn’t be limited to sick and vacation leaves. Consider letting your employees get time off for a wider variety of reasons, like parental duties, mental health days, and so on. Even better if you can provide unlimited time off.
- Work flexibility – Consider offering remote work options, flexible log-in and log-out time, or time-shifting arrangements.
There are lots more you can offer to create an employee experience that will boost retention. If you’re not sure what to pick, ask your people directly. This is much better than making assumptions.
Open up growth opportunities
No one likes to remain stagnant, especially when it comes to their career. This is why you need to open up clear advancement paths for your employees to keep them happy and motivated to grow with the company.
Besides promotion, you can do this by giving them lots of chances to prove themselves. But before this, you need to offer them an opportunity to acquire and hone new skills through career and leadership development coaching and training programs. It’s also important to allow them to make mistakes.
Doing so ensures that your employees have the necessary technical know-how for the company’s growth, not to mention give them a goal for themselves.
Optimize Employee Experience
Employee experience can make or break employee productivity and retention. Create the ideal work environment and ensure that your people are satisfied, happy, and motivated by optimizing their whole experience.
Salma El-Shurafa is an experienced Executive Coach and founder of The Pathway Project. She is a Professional Certified Coach by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach from The Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and a graduate of CTI’s Co-Active Leadership program.