Employees and job candidates now look far beyond salary when deciding whether to remain at or join an organization. While great compensation and benefits still matter, factors like inspired company culture, and truly engaging work are more important than ever. In short, people are looking for a great employee experience that lasts from the moment they apply for a job until the day they leave the organization.
Building an effective employee experience strategy presents many challenges. These range from a lack of meaningful feedback from employees to leaders or teams outside HR not buying into the plan, to HR tech that doesn’t offer the features you need to develop, implement, and track your employee experience strategy. But with the right knowledge, preparation, and tools, you can build an employee experience that every team member at your company will value.
What is an employee experience strategy?
The goal of any employee experience strategy is to make as many of a team member’s interactions with an organization as possible positive and satisfying. Employee experience is collectively made up of all these interactions: beginning with the application, interview, and onboarding process, and continuing through every subsequent work activity and cultural experience.
An effective employee experience strategy can benefit every area of your organization. It helps combat consistent high rates of employee turnover, reducing the significant costs that come with it. And employees who are happy and engaged are more likely to have positive interactions with customers and act as advocates for your organization, doing wonders for your employer brand.
4 steps for developing an impactful employee experience strategy
Your organization should customize its employee experience strategy to meet the unique needs of its workforce. What works for one business may not work for another — a small business with around a dozen remote and hybrid team members won’t have the same needs as an enterprise with hundreds of in-office employees, for example. But regardless of your company’s size or industry, there are four steps you can follow to develop an effective employee experience strategy.
1. Establish objectives and key performance indicators
The first step is to determine what your organization really wants its strategy to accomplish. Maybe your goal is to decrease employee turnover. Why are employees leaving the company? Or perhaps your focus is on employee performance. Are employees motivated enough and empowered to succeed?
Once you decide what area of your organization you want to improve, pick the key performance indicators (KPIs) to track how effective your strategy is at addressing the issue. Some of the most common KPIs include sales goals, positive feedback from peers and managers, and turnout for engagement and community-building activities.
Let’s say your organization wants to combat turnover by making sure employees feel valued and rewarded for doing great work. You could choose the following KPIs to measure an employee recognition program:
- Number of employees who nominate others
- Number of employees who get nominated
- The diversity of who nominates or gets nominated
- The number of nominators from different groups, like leaders vs. team members
Start by measuring where your organization is before implementing the strategy, then set milestones you want to hit as you put the strategy into action. And, of course, regularly collect data to see whether you’re on the right path. Since the employee experience strategy is all about making team members happy, this data should include employee feedback so you can truly understand how workers feel about the organization.
2. Solicit feedback from your workforce
One of the biggest challenges organizations face in improving the employee experience is a lack of meaningful input from their employees. Luckily, there are many ways to conveniently interact with your entire organization, ask the right questions, and obtain key insights with the right employee engagement platform. These tools are designed to collect and analyze feedback from your entire workforce in real time, letting you both measure the success of your employee experience strategy and discover areas for improvement.
Your employee engagement platform should include pulse surveys, focused questionnaires that go out on a regular, relatively frequent basis. They gauge the current “pulse” of your organization when it comes to the key drivers of engagement and the employee experience. Your system should also include always-on options for providing feedback, like HR chatbots that employees can use to submit input whenever something comes up.
Review and analyze the data from all your feedback sources to identify employee pain points and develop initiatives to resolve them. You can use visualization tools like heat maps to identify the most pressing insights and charts to track whether you’re making progress. Prioritize pain points that have the lowest scores or with scores that are steadily declining, then Work with team members and leaders to review these insights and create collaborative action plans that target the most important issues your workforce cares about.
3. Focus on each stage of the employee life cycle
Every organization should provide a cohesive employee experience throughout each stage of the employee life cycle. That requires you to consider the purpose and challenges of every stage when creating an effective employee experience strategy. Let’s look at the six stages of the employee life cycle and how you can make each stage as smooth as possible.
This stage focuses on what draws people to apply to work for your organization. Make your organization a great place to work by demonstrating that you value your employees. This means hosting employee engagement events and programs, taking action on feedback, practicing employee recognition, and clearly communicating the benefits of working at your company.
The recruitment stage involves both evaluating candidates and those candidates evaluating your organization as a prospective employer. Focus on hiring people who align with your company culture and values. And collect feedback from candidates about their experience with the hiring process to ensure your company is putting its best foot forward from the start.
Onboarding encompasses training, learning the company’s mission and history, acclimating to the work setting, meeting team members and colleagues across the organization, and setting initial goals. Consider a months-long onboarding process that aims to steadily weave a new hire into the fabric of the organization. New hires aren’t the only ones who need onboarding, either. Build an onboarding process for employees transitioning to new roles within the organization as well.
This stage involves everything your organization does to keep employees fulfilled and engaged. Implement initiatives like recognition programs that demonstrate that the company values employees’ hard work and accomplishments. Regular reviews and check-ins with direct managers and other leaders allow employees to set goals, get feedback, and stay motivated.
The development stage progresses simultaneously with the retention stage and focuses on an employee’s professional and personal growth within the organization. This aspect of employee experience relies on giving employees opportunities to explore their professional interests, expand their responsibilities, and take on new challenges.
This goes far beyond checking in on an employee’s interests during their annual review and offering a modest training stipend for a course or two a year. Instead, demonstrate that your company is invested in the success and growth of employees. Establish one-on-one mentor relationships, develop customized learning paths with modern training platforms, and make talent development a key part of your company’s employee value proposition.
This final stage is where an employee leaves the organization, whether to join a different company, to retire, or to move onto some other part of their journey. This stage can be instructive and positive for both the organization and the employee with an offboarding process focused on gathering information about how to make the employee experience better. An exit interview preceded by an exit survey are both great aids here. And if you’ve gotten every part of the employee experience to this point right, there’s a great chance that the former employee will serve as an advocate for your organization, or even boomerang back down the line.
4. Ensure your total rewards package is competitive
Total rewards encompass all the financial and non-financial benefits that you offer to your employees. These include items like compensation, benefits for healthcare and retirement, tuition reimbursement, paid time off, flexible working arrangements, and employee rewards. No company can offer everything that each employee could want. But your organization can create a total rewards package that prioritizes the aspects your employees truly value. Again, encouraging employees to exercise their voice and listening to what they have to say is critical here.
5 key parts of an employee experience strategy
You now know the principles to follow when developing your employee experience strategy — but what specific initiatives should you pursue? Here are five ways to put the primary drivers of employee engagement and positive organizational culture at the forefront of your employee experience strategy.
1. An organization-wide employee recognition program
It’s only natural that your employees want recognition for all their contributions to your organization’s success. Recognition is one of the top reasons employees choose to stay at an organization: 65% of people believe that getting recognized would keep them from job hunting.
There are many types of recognition, including monetary recognition — like raises and bonuses for a job well done — and social recognition — like public kudos or digital badges on their employee profiles. The best employee recognition and reward programs combine all of the above and more with a fully-featured recognition platform that empowers all employees to show appreciation whenever and wherever the urge strikes them.
2. A culture of belonging
Everyone yearns to be a part of a community where they feel like they truly belong, both on and off the job. A sense of belonging can improve employee loyalty, promote positive engagement among team members and across the organization, and make your organization a psychologically safe place where individuals can truly be themselves.
A culture of belonging rests on five pillars: making employees feel welcomed, known, included, supported, and connected. You can start establishing these pillars by pursuing initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI), promoting cultural awareness, and empowering your employees with everything they need to succeed.
3. Employee empowerment
Employee empowerment involves providing team members with the resources and support needed to get the job done and grow along the way. When employees feel empowered in the workplace, they’re more likely to contribute ideas and engage in the work they’re doing.
To promote employee empowerment in the workplace, start with the fundamentals: providing employees access to resources and training they need to succeed. If employees don’t have the tools or know-how to succeed, nothing else matters. Creating a mentorship or coaching program between managers and employees or veteran employees and new hires is also a great idea. And be sure to recognize employees for pursuing professional development, contributing ideas, and taking on new, challenging projects and responsibilities, even if things don’t work out perfectly the first time.
4. A compelling company vision and set of values
Your company vision is a statement that describes your organization’s goals and where it sees itself going. It’s complemented by your company values: the principles that should guide and inform every decision, big or small, your organization makes. Candidates need to understand an organization’s vision and values so they know whether they align with the organization’s purpose and culture. And employees need to see them front and center in the company’s long and short-term actions, so their belief in the company’s present and future doesn’t falter.
Ensure your organization’s vision statement and company values are true to what it actually stands for, and ensure both are drafted using clear, understandable language. Place them front and center in your organization’s branding endeavors, communicate them to employees and candidates, and recognize those team members who exemplify them on a daily basis. Finally, review and update your company values and vision statement so they stay current and relevant as your organization, industry, and workforce change.
5. Employee wellness and flexible work arrangements
Employee wellness is a huge win-win for your organization and its workers. Healthy employees are less likely to miss work due to illness, which means better overall productivity and increased engagement. Invest in your employees’ physical and mental well-being through employee wellness initiatives like gym memberships, complementary health services and education, and wellness goal tracking and incentive programs. Encourage managers to look for signs of burnout as well, and set up programs and processes for helping employees recover, such as mental health days and work habit reviews.
Boost employee experience at your organization
An effective employee experience strategy relies on HR tech for gathering insights, implementing key programs, connecting employees, and tracking progress. The Achievers Employee Experience Platform allows organizations of any size to build a company culture that supports a positive employee experience from day one. With a dedicated employee engagement solution in Achievers Listen and a science-backed recognition tool in Achievers Recognize, the Achievers Experience Platform includes everything your company needs to take employee experience to the next level.
See for yourself and try a free demo today.