Building blocks for providing a great employee experience

04 July 2019 6 min. read
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With the heightened level of competition most employers now face to attract and retain top talent, offering a great employee experience has become an ever more important facet of modern business. In order to assure they are offering staff the best experience possible, companies are advised to focus on seven key building blocks, which can help organisations up their respective games. 

Google shows 570,000,000 hits when ones searches for ‘EX’ (‘employee experience’) and there are many different definitions circulating of what it means practically. So what is employee experience? According to experts at Quintop, a HR consultancy based in the Netherlands, employee experience can be best described as: ‘Everything an employee perceives during his/her time within an organisation, from first to final contact.’ In other words, it relates to the full employee life cycle. Meaning, the moments that matter for an employee from first contact with the company until they leave their employer. 

As many European countries enjoy their highest employment rates since the 1970s, meaning that talent is scarce, firms are upping their experience offering on multiple fronts to help attract the cream of the crop. In order to successfully court the best candidates, companies are not only taking into account pay and benefits, but are also working to lure potential employees to their firms with the promise of innovative and vibrant work spaces. At the same time, higher EX likely also leads to improved performance, with staff finding it easier to go the extra mile for customers and clients. 

In order to help companies consolidate and improve the employee experience, Quintop has produced an overview of key areas where priority should be given to. According to the consulting firm, there are seven essential areas that must be worked upon by most businesses. 

Building blocks for providing a great employee experience

Onboarding – the procedure of integrating a new employee into an organisation, familiarising them with a company's products, services and culture in the process. This is key for employee experience because a growing body of research reveals that onboarding efforts have a positive impact on employee retention. New hires will remember a warm welcome as a moment that matters, a touchpoint that positively influences their experience, or one which does the opposite, prompting them to seek new pastures more quickly. 

Compensation and benefits also need refreshing. It is common for bosses to expect their employees to stay in-step with ‘modernisation’ strategies throughout the company, but companies often forget this is a reciprocal process. Today’s rapidly changing workforce similarly expects organisations to modernise their reward strategies, and one size fits all offerings will no longer cut the mustard. Offering an individual experience to each employee is key, and that requires to find out what really motivates and challenges employees.

Learning and development is key for employees in a world where today’s skills can often become redundant tomorrow. Constant training therefore helps individual employees to grow as professionals, something which benefits both them and the company. Without the offering of an opportunity of being challenged to learn new skills, many employees will look elsewhere to strengthen their employability.

Workspace, as mentioned earlier, has also become a major EX battleground. Not only the technological environment impacts employee satisfaction, but so does the physical environment. First and foremost, the workplace should enable employees in doing their job. According to Quintop, there is a highly visible trend that employees prefer their workplace to support their lifestyle, resulting in company gyms, communal areas and healthy lunch options. Employees that are satisfied with their physical surroundings, are more likely to improve their performance, feel more creative, engaged and connected to their employer. 

Diversity and inclusion is a vital part of any modern organisation, presenting staff with more than just a place to work, but a place where they feel safe to be themselves. For a positive EX, employees need to have a sense of belonging and authenticity. Despite this, a large share of European workers say employers have not progressed on diversity & inclusion goals, something which means they feel under threat when the time comes to speak up about ideas, concerns or mistakes. The report finds these components contribute to an enhanced EX, while failing to address them hinders a company’s ability to address problems, and stifles growth. 

Offboarding is just as important as onboarding according to Quintop. Despite the fact that treating an employee poorly when they are exiting a company opens the door for a myriad of very public criticism, organisations still spend less attention to employee offboarding as compared to onboarding. Whether it is a voluntary or involuntary resignation, offboarding is often forgotten, and while HR takes care of exit calculations, Quintop’s study asserts that it is the responsibility of line managers to ensure employees feel recognised, leaving the company with a positive feeling. 

Mitigating negative touchpoints. Good EX is not just about building positive experiences, but also minimising the negative impact on employee experience aspects of work can have. One key example, relating also to diversity and inclusion, is ‘being discriminated against’. Research by Gartner recently revealed that when discrimination occurs, no matter what happens next, it remains the most memorable moment at work for an employee. Effective policies to adequately deal with such scenarios are therefore key to maintaining EX levels. 

Quintop’s experts conclude that for progress to be effective, an integrated approach is essential. “Creating, improving and maintaining an EX that meets (future) workforce expectations requires a holistic approach.” Further, collaboration between stakeholders involved is advised. “While HR is best equipped to drive and orchestrate the employee experience strategy and initiatives, employee experience ultimately extends way beyond HR’s remit and influence.”