Employee engagement, employee experience and the employee wellbeing. These are some of the major challenges occupying business leaders across the UK. Of course, there are signs of inflation, some material shortages and driver shortages, but why is ‘the great resignation’ happening? How did we not see this coming? What are the expectations of employees? Read on as we discuss measuring employee experience and how to make it better.
What is employee experience (EX)?
Employee experience (EX) involves all interactions with other employees, management, customers, suppliers and the working environment. Factors that influence employee experience include workplace policies, workplace design, employment benefits, learning & development, health and wellbeing support and more.
Expectations of employee experience vary by industry, by discipline and by company. They may even have evolved during and following the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many HR departments and board are busy concocting initiatives to improve EX and prevent or stop ‘the great resignation’. Why, we hear you ask? Put simply, attrition, recruitment and training can be disruptive and expensive. Many HR departments are measured on a range of KPIs, one of which is staff attrition.
How do we know what great employee experience looks like?
This is a major area of discussion. Most companies already have workplace policies, employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and employee surveys. One estimate placed the combined loss to UK business of ill-health and poor mental health at £91.9bn. Of that, around £45bn relates to poor mental health which is a manifestation of poor EX. Both of these equate to lost productivity that holds back UK plc.
Unfortunately, we already know that traditional surveys, focus groups and interviews suffer from bias. We also know that employee surveys, employee focus groups, employee exit interviews and more are not always anonymous. In fact, according to Gartner, only around 1 in 5 employees is honest about what will improve employee experience.
We also know that if we orientate the questions towards employee experience initiatives, the employees may develop greater expectations of EX. Furthermore, it is also true that expectations of employee experience differ based on where you have worked, your personal life, your upbringing and other memories and experiences.
How do you measure employee experience?
First of all, we need to establish a baseline on where we are today. Most companies would use an employee satisfaction survey to measure the baseline. All future survey results may then be measured against this baseline. However, the trouble with any baseline is making sure that it is accurate. So, how go you go about measuring employee experience? Simply asking employees how to improve EX may yield biased and confusing ideas that are difficult to implement. As an example, if we asked restaurant customers what they want on the menu, many may ask for something they rarely consume because they think that is what they want.
There are ways to improve the accuracy of feedback and your baseline. One common approach to reduce error is to survey a larger sample. Another might be to suggest an elected and trusted person collect the results. Creating a psychological ‘safe space’ to voice opinions is another idea. Some shadow boards create an interesting dynamic to bring employee thoughts to senior leaders. There are also neuroscientific techniques to reduce bias in employee research in much the same way as market research. In summary, measuring employee experience and building an accurate picture of how your people feel is crucial to making it better.
How to make it better
The key to improving employee experience is to keep the expectations realistic. We know that pay and reward are only one element of the employee experience. We also know that if there are no rules to work within, trust in management may be undermined when requests are not delivered. So, they key is in understanding that not everything is fixable immediately and also that good things do happen in the organisation. Perhaps it’s time to start planning how internal comms supports organisational goals.
If we truly understand the emotional state of our employees then we can look at what their underlying needs are. Crucially, many employees don’t feel comfortable using EAPs, lie on employee surveys and say that everything is great when they leave.
It is also important to acknowledge that not everything can be fixed by EAPs (which cost an average of £15 per head) or HR. There are aspects of the workplace environment, poorly designed job roles and management that contribute to poor employee experience. Additionally, a lack of leadership training creates ‘accidental leaders’ and this was felt more acutely during the pandemic when people didn’t know how to lead effectively.
Insight into your employees
Think Beyond offers value add solutions to help you find new opportunities and accelerate business performance. We offer a range of survey solutions to find those golden nuggets that improve your business, marketing, customer and employee experience.
If you would like to speak to one of our business consultants, simply call 01565 632206.
Finally, why not check out our other research related articles and insights.