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employee experience

7 Ways to Create an Unbeatable Employee Experience

What do your employees say about their experience with your company? Have you asked them lately? When you have a job opening, do you have top candidates reaching out to you for consideration? A Bersin survey finds that “Nearly 80 percent of executives rated employee experience very important (42 percent) or important (38 percent), but only 22 percent reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.” Furthermore, 59 percent of these respondents reported that they are not fully ready to address the challenge of creating a great employee experience. The key goal in today’s accelerating digital landscape is not merely to fill jobs, but to fill them with top talent and then retain that talent. You’ll only achieve this goal if you know how to create an unbeatable employee experience. Here are seven ways to make your employer brand compelling to future and current workers:

1. Think in Design Terms

Design thinking informs some of today’s most important innovations, and its principles are now being applied to the employee experience. A Bersin research report states, “Using the new idea of design thinking, I believe most HR teams will stop designing ‘programs’ and start designing ‘experiences.'” Design professionals have various tools for approaching the concept. Some of these tools, such as experience mapping, originated for the purpose of understanding customers better, but they are adaptable for gaining insight into what employees need.

2. Improve the Onboarding Process

Even when you manage to snag one of those elite job candidates, their good skills will inevitably need some fine-tuning in order to settle into their new role. Each workplace has its own style and demands, and effective training is one of the key factors in successful onboarding. A report by The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes that 11 percent of HR professionals say their training budget has decreased within the past year, while another 31 percent state that their organization has no training budget whatsoever. If your company falls into one of these bleak statistics, this means you have a big opportunity for improvement.

3. Adopt a Coaching Stance

Today’s workplace approach is changing from performance management to “performance development,” according to a Gallup report. The report states, “To master this new approach, managers must take ownership of their employees’ development and think of themselves in a new way: as a coach, not a boss.” This management style includes frequent check-ins with direct reports and a strengths-based approach to guiding their development.

4. Check the Outside Perspective

While employer reviews on Glassdoor or LinkedIn are not always easy to read, Deloitte’s report on employee experience reminds HR professionals that these critiques provide a valuable perspective. Anonymous posting by current and former employees means that nothing is censored, and the unvarnished commentary can be invaluable in pointing out gaps and opportunities in your company culture. Along similar lines, Deloitte recommends exploring how your competitors handle the employee experience. Benchmarking such as this yields an actionable appraisal of where you stand in a competitive field.

5. Ask for Feedback

This suggestion sounds pretty obvious, right? If you want to know how anyone feels, the first step is just to ask them. Yet Deloitte reports that 79 percent of companies survey their employees only annually or less, while 14 percent never survey them at all. An always-on, intelligent, open channel and pulse surveys are excellent for providing insights on your staff’s overall wellbeing. And making change requires action, not just insights. With the right employee feedback platform, you can deliver bite-sized, personalized actions for both employees and managers so everyone is empowered to impact engagement right away. If employees feel empowered, and they see that their feedback is taken seriously, they will develop a better employee experience and feel more aligned with your company’s culture.

6. Offer Frequent Recognition

Frequent employee recognition is valuable in maintaining morale and engagement. Best practices in providing employee recognition include being prompt and specific when you deliver praise and recognition. Even though engaged employees will have their own internal reasons for putting in maximum effort, it’s human nature to feel good about being recognized for hard work. Similarly, providing opportunities for co-workers to recognize and reward each other will facilitate a greater sense of social belonging for everyone at the workplace.

7. Allow Autonomy

Recent research published in Science Daily draws a direct line from the amount of employee autonomy to the degree of satisfaction those individuals feel. This autonomy can include the nature and prioritizing of job tasks, or it can cover the location and timing of work. Either way, the researchers add this sobering note: “Despite the reported increased levels of well-being, in many cases managers remain unwilling to offer employees greater levels of autonomy and the associated benefits, because their primary role remains one of ‘control and effort extraction’.”

Just as consumers are becoming more empowered to demand a positive experience, employee expectations are also undergoing change. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends study, which reports on a survey of 10,400 global business and HR leaders, has this takeaway comment for you: “Accelerating change creates the need for new rules for business and HR.” To learn more about how you can stay competitive by rewriting your own rules, download our white paper: “Personalization: The Missing Link in Employee Experience.”

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Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author

Diane Scheidler is a business focused Human Resources executive with significant functional experience in all areas of HR. She has worked in both early start-up and established high growth, Software and SaaS organizations supporting North American, LATAM, and European business units.

Diane is currently the Head of HR for Achievers, where she continually focuses on the employee experience, ensuring a culturally rich and engaging work environment.

Prior to Achievers, Diane has acted in a Sr. Leadership capacity to lead functionally diverse areas of Human Resources for employee populations ranging from 200 to well over 100,000 employees for Samsung Canada, Amazon Canada, Blackberry and Altana Pharma.

Diane currently holds a Master of Human Resources and Organizational Development degree from the London School of Economics and a Bachelor degree from the University of Western Ontario. Diane is also a Certified Compensation Professional.

 

Assess Company Culture

5 Simple Ways to Assess Company Culture

Leadership structure, office environment, core mission and values, interpersonal relations, team engagement and communication style—these are just some of the many organizational details that shape company culture, something that is becoming more and more important to businesses of all kinds. A strong company culture improves:

  • Identity of the organization
  • Employee retention
  • Corporate image

What’s more, more people rank “workplace well-being” over monetary or “material benefits,” according to the Harvard Business Reviewand that well-being is created through a positive company culture.

This is why it’s important to assess company culture, just as you would your finances or sales process. If you’ve never done so before, use these five action-steps to critique—and ultimately improve—the culture of your organization.

  1. Evaluate the Onboarding Process

If your goal is to recruit people who are innovative, competent and dedicated to your mission, then it’s crucial to earn their loyalty and respect in the hiring and onboarding process. If the process is unorganized or they’re waiting around for someone to meet with them, they expect the organization to follow suit.

Consider if your training methods are outdated, monotonous and derivative—such as reading a company manual—or if the approach is personalized, engaging, creative and participatory. New hires are eager to learn their positions and acclimate to the team, but if the onboarding process doesn’t “provide the resources and tools they need to ramp-up, they can end up stagnating,” suggests SaplingHR.

Show a strong company culture from the beginning, with an onboarding process that’s as engaging and interesting as it educational.

  1. Gauge Openness Within Leadership

It’s important that you foster a culture of embracing change, especially if you want to be seen as relevant and accessible to young professionals. A recent headline in Harvard Business Review confirms this, Changing Company Culture Requires a Movement, Not a Mandate. The authors explain why this can be challenging:

“Innovation demands new behaviors from leaders and employees that are often antithetical to corporate cultures, which are historically focused on operational excellence and efficiency.”

When assessing company culture, determine whether leadership has the ability to be agile and fluid. Are they stuck in the “9-to-5” mindset, which can be stiff and resistant to change? If so, the next question is: how can our culture evolve despite hesitancy among executives? There may be the need for change at the top or a board meeting with those who have a say in the direction of the company.

  1. Look at Incentive Programs (Or Lack There-Of)

The act of praising and incentivizing employees who perform well or provide value to the company is critical—but you don’t have to break the bank with bonus checks that are taxed at an extremely high rate.

Instead, make this aspect of the company culture more personal. Take into account each employee’s interests, lifestyle and hobbies, and find ways to reward them with these personal details in mind. For example, if someone loves cooking, show appreciation with a gift certificate for cooking classes.

Conversely, you can give employees an option for how they want to be recognized with something as simple as gift cards, suggests Jason Mauser, VP of Sales at Hawk Incentives. They’re are ideal for satisfying a “diverse group of recipients” because “they’ll appreciate the ability to make their own decision.”

  1. Observe Team Interactions

The strongest and most sustainable company cultures are forged on relationships and human connections. As you assess culture, analyze the dynamics between co-workers and notice how they communicate or collaborate with each other.

  • Do they respect one another’s ideas and opinions?
  • Do they relate on an interpersonal level?
  • Do they function cohesively as a team?
  • Does the setting promote a free exchange of dialogue and unique perspectives?

“In a teamwork environment, people understand and believe that thinking, planning, decisions and actions are better when done cooperatively,” suggests Human Resources expert Susan Heathfield in an article for The Balance.

If there aren’t strong team connections, consider adding more team outings to the roster. These give employees a chance to get to know each other outside the stresses of the office, while you show appreciation for their hard work.

  1. Determine Attitudes from Answers

The right questions will elicit the most valuable insights about your company culture.  Instead of asking directly about culture, gauge how the current climate is affecting attitudes by asking about the success and challenges of the business. If negativity is coming through in answers, you know a change is needed to steer the ship back toward calmer waters. Certain topics may also elicit the same response company-wide, which can also be telling in terms of how the organization is handling a specific issue or challenge.

Here are a few questions to try from Lessons Learned in 29 Powerful Questions to ask in the New Year:

  • What didn’t go so well last year?
  • Were there any cringe-worthy moments?
  • What is the one thing your organization was worst at last year?
  • What did we learn from our mistakes?
  • What lessons can our company leverage?
  • What could our organization do differently over the next 12 months?
  • What break-through moments did we experience last year?
  • What is holding our company back?
  • What can each of us do to be more helpful to the team?

Assess Company Culture—Regularly

The culture of your organization impacts everything from productivity and engagement to retention and growth. While there isn’t a “company culture 101” blue print for every business to follow, you can assess on a regular basis to uncover the unique culture pillars of your organization. Use these tips to do exactly that, slowly creating a company culture that retains top talent and facilitates success.

If you don’t regularly assess your company culture and pay attention to what your employees want, you risk facing the high cost of employee disengagement. To learn more, download this white paper: Is HR a Cost Center? The True Cost of Employee Disengagement.

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Find out more about your employees’ needs and expectations by downloading this report: The Retention Epidemic: Why 74% of the North American Workforce Plans on Quitting.

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Are you ready to improve your work culture? Learn how to enhance your culture and increase employee engagement by attending Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2018 in Toronto, October 23-24. Get the early bird rate and save $200 off the regular rate today. Buy now here.

Do you have any thoughts on this article? Share your comments below.

About the Author
Jessica ThiefelsJessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and is currently a professional blogger and freelance writer. She spent the last two years working tirelessly for a small startup, where she learned a lot about running business and being resourceful. She now owns her own business and has been featured on Forbes. She’s also written for StartupNation, Manta, Glassdoor and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 or connect on LinkedIn.

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Increase Employee Retention

Who Owns Retention? The Real Employee Turnover Problem

What’s the biggest problem when it comes to employee turnover? No one owns retention!

At many companies, when turnover rises executives point to HR to fix it – whose plate is already overflowing with terminations, payroll, benefits management, and back-fill recruiting. HR then blames bad managers for running off good people, and the managers push back complaining that executives do not give them enough time or training to manage their people properly. They all have a point, but this blame game is costing those organizations tons of money!

Stop Focusing on the Symptoms…Find & Fix the Cause!

After much finger-pointing, companies often come to the conclusion, “We have so much turnover, we need to hire another recruiter.” Are they kidding? That’s like trying to fix a water main break with duct tape. You may temporarily slow down the deluge, but not for long! If turnover is the problem, then you don’t need to hire someone who’s good at recruiting – they’ll just struggle to fill all the positions that keep unexpectedly being vacated. You need a dedicated retention specialist who will diagnose the core issues, work to resolve them, and maintain a stable workforce moving forward.

So why is the default next step to add another recruiter? Because everyone knows what a recruiter does and which line item that goes under on the P&L.

Now before you get upset, I assure you I’m not anti-recruiter! Recruiters are great, when you need a recruiter! If turnover is a problem, it is very possible that reworking your recruiting processes might be needed as well. Perhaps you really are hiring the wrong people and/or it is time to revamp the interview process, selection criteria, and applicant communication plan. You may even need to improve your employer brand in your community if you don’t have a positive reputation as an employer in your area. These are all things a good recruiter could handle, but these changes are rarely enough if retention is rising.

So if you can get approval for a new position, how about pitching the idea of a retention specialist instead? It’s a tougher sell to get approval from the higher-ups – they’ll wonder what a retention specialist is, complain the role sounds fluffy and become convinced it’s going to add overhead costs that seem unnecessary – but you must fight for it! It’s time to get more resources to fix the real issue.

What Is a Retention Specialist Exactly?

More organizations are creating this type of position and the responsibilities certainly vary from company to company, but their primary roles are to determine why people are leaving, and to build relationships and initiatives that extend employee tenure. This often includes, but is not limited to:

  • conducting and analyzing employee surveys and stay interviews
  • building employee networks/committees
  • serving as an employee ambassador who can answer staff questions or listen to feedback
  • ensuring the onboarding process is welcoming, thorough and incorporates the company culture
  • determining gaps where additional supervisor/management training is needed
  • coordinating (and possibly conducting) supervisor/management training and development programs
  • identifying operational/system changes that help adjust to a shorter-term workforce
  • analyzing compensation, advancement opportunities and scheduling for models that better align with today’s workforce’s needs
  • implementing recognition and appreciation programs across organization
  • ascertaining ways the organization and managers can be more transparent with employees
  • developing effective staff meeting schedules, agendas, and tools for those leading meetings
  • crafting organizational messages that instill the company’s mission and core values

Sounds like a full-time job to me! Who on your current staff has time to do all these things that are needed to reduce unnecessary employee turnover?

One Person Won’t Resolve the Issue – Retention is Everyone’s Job

While having a dedicated staffer to focus on diagnosing and resolving turnover issues is essential, leaders at all levels must take turnover seriously. Just like customer service, retention should be part of everyone’s job and everyone’s training. Keep in mind, workers today will leave their jobs if they don’t like their immediate supervisor, the leadership team or their coworkers, so encouraging your entire staff to attract and retain talent is critical.

Is your organization incentivizing peer referrals? Is your company rewarding managers for improved retention within their departments? Or are they setting bonus plans according to the concept of “do more with less,” which is driving away the talent you can’t afford to lose.

Become a Champion for Retention

So where do HR professionals start? Here a few ways to attack the turnover crisis:

  1. Create recognition and/or incentive programs for employees who reach certain milestones (after one year, not five!).
  2. Demand more management training for everyone who has direct reports.
  3. Make a case for hiring (or becoming) a retention specialist.

Same Approach = Same Results

If the trajectory of your employee turnover is headed in a positive direction, keep doing what you’re doing. But if your retention is getting worse every year, it is time to try a new approach for attracting and retaining today’s new workforce!

If you want to learn more about how to effectively retain employees, join me at Achievers Customer Experience (ACE) 2017 September 12-13 where I will be speaking on Leading the New Workforce: The Evolution of Employee Expectations. Check out details of my speaking session and the event here.

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About the Author
Cara Silletto
Workforce thought leader Cara Silletto, MBA, is the President & Chief Retention Officer at Crescendo Strategies, a firm committed to reducing unnecessary employee turnover by bridging generational gaps and making leaders more effective in their roles. Cara is a highly-sought-after national speaker and trainer, having conducted more than 100 engagements in 2016 alone. She has spoken to more than 10,000 leaders across the country at companies including UPS, Toyota, Humana’s Learning Consortium, and Cintas. Workforce Magazine named her a “Game Changer,” Recruiter.com included her in their 2016 “Top 10 Company Culture Experts to Watch” list, and she is a co-author of the book, What’s Next in HR. Follow Cara on Twitter @CrescendoHR.