The workplace is changing, blurring the lines between typical divisions of work and life as organizations shift their focus from customer satisfaction to that of the employee.
Welcome to the era of the employee experience (EX).
For many Americans, work was historically something to obsess over, and long hours were the mark of success. But, this expectation causes burnout, unhappiness, and inequity as people struggle to find time for their lives beyond the paycheck.
Working like this, non-stop, has led employees to expect a new kind of relationship with and to their work as Gen Z and Millennial employees in particular continue pushing back on traditional notions of work-life balance. They demand flexibility: paid leave for a new baby, unlimited PTO, the ability to work remotely, or just to take a mental health day.
Most smart companies have been catching on.
The Future Workplace and Beyond.com study entitled "The Active Job Seeker Dilemma" found that 83 percent of HR leaders now believe that the employee experience is either important or very important, 56 percent plan to invest more in training, 51 percent plan to improve the work spaces, and 47 percent plan to give more rewards.
However, for non-desk workers, these changes have not been so apparent.
These employees out in the field, on the factory floor, or on the road represent 70 percent of today’s workforce, and yet they often lack access to basic communication tools like company intranets and emails. Communication silos and information loops have become a persistent problem for many companies with desk-less employees.
Luckily, most employees do have constant access to their smartphone. With the growing number of freelancers, gig workers, and Gen Z-ers flooding the workplace, communication that relies on mobile technology will become common practice.
This pressure to embrace new digital communication formats are putting pressure on employers. Not only must they keep up in order to attract and retain talent, but their need for expansive mobile reach is greater than ever before. They're competing with social media for their employees’ attention, and they're being asked to provide a more consumer-like workplace experience for their employees.
Why Should Employers Focus on Employee Experience?
According to Gallup's "Engaged Workplace" study, US employee engagement has remained stagnant over the last several years at a meager 32 percent, despite the fact that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share.
So, while smart companies have become adept at finding ways to effectively tackle the customer experience, smarter companies are now learning how to master the employee experience to achieve maximum engagement. This yields:
1. Reduced Turnover
In order to attract and retain the young talent of millennials and Gen Z, a holistic employee experience in the workplace is needed. This improved EX is then likely to result in a positive employer brand—a perception that is becoming more and more relevant to business success.
And that's not all.
Millennials currently approaching peak presence in the workplace with roughly 41 percent of the population, are job hoppers, generating turnover rates that cost the US economy $30.5 billion per year.
2. Maximized Individual Performance
The Globoforce Employee Experience Study has found that EX is positively associated with work performance. The more satisfied and appreciated a company’s employees are, the more likely they are to work harder, ultimately resulting in greater performances.
So, What Constitutes Employee Experience?
1. Physical Environment
Jacob Morgan, author of “The Future of Work,” defines the physical environment as “the one we can see, touch, taste, and smell. It’s the art that hangs on the walls, the office floor plan, the demographics of the people we work with (old, young, diversity, etc.), and any physical perks we might get, such as catered meals in a beautiful cafeteria.”
We spend most of our time at work—it’s important to be in a place where you feel comfortable. If you had the choice, would that be a dark cubicle, or a loft with bookshelves and plants growing on the windowsills?
Working in a comfortable environment isn't only connected to vague feelings of engagement, but having more light, air, and space results in improved physical wellbeing that influences our productivity, reducing headaches and fatigue, for instance.
2. Tools and Technology
The technological environment refers to the tools your employees need to do their work. This includes telephones and computers, but it also pertains to apps, software, intranets, and e-learning opportunities.
The main goal of workplace technology is to make your day easier. Slow, antiquated, or lack of these tools makes processes strenuous and wastes time that could otherwise be spent more efficiently. Popular technological devices currently implemented include smartphones and laptops—tools most of us depend on every day—but younger generations in the workforce are asking employers to step up their game to utilize even more advanced technologies such as virtual reality and wearables.
While these new technologies are no doubt exciting and hold many possibilities, one challenge will be to balance the practicality of their use with their potential to distract.
3. Culture and Environment
Culture is likely the most talked about aspect of the employee experience—the "feeling" you get when you're working somewhere or the vibe of a workplace, in essence. It’s generally not something that can be physically altered so much as it is simply a set of guidelines and behaviors that are encouraged.
What Steps Should You Be Taking?
If you're thinking about creating an employee experience that reaches all of your employees—including the ones who aren't sitting at desks or are working remotely—mobile communications may be the solution. Not only does mobile communication with an employee app align with the digital roadmap, but it also directly influences the employee experience at every step of the employee lifecycle (ELC), which consists of all the steps or processes in which an employee participates during his or her relationship with an organization.
In the above graphic, each step contains example use cases. Together, these use cases create a positive and ultimately human workplace experience that enables your employees to do their best possible work and attain their fullest potential.
It doesn't matter to your employees if corporate news is published by Internal Comms, the annual employee survey is sent by HR, and the e-learning course is developed by the training team. In their view, it's all coming from the same place: your organization. It makes sense then that it all be accessible through one portal in order to create an enjoyable, unified employee experience.
Private smartphones offer the best possible channel for reaching all of your employees. With an internal communication app at the foundation of your employee experience initiatives, you will be giving your workforce a single point of identification with your company. Branded with your own logo, an employee app will become the go-to place for interacting with your company.