Enhancing The Employee Experience
By Alex Rodriguez
The idea of the employee experience is an expansive one with lots to unpack. However, there are three main components that really matter when you look at the employee experience in relation to an organization's success.
I think we can all agree that employees will progress with an organization for success. Nobody would say otherwise. And frankly, if you do, I would love to hear why.
However, the reality is that employees make up the organization, thus they are the driving factor of success. It would make logical sense that their experience is going to align with how much they want the organization to succeed. It’s a direct line from their enjoyment, happiness, contentment and belief in the organization that will propel them to help the organization succeed — however that is defined.
What Draws People to Your Organization
I've never worked with a CEO or a CFO who’s said, “I'll just hire anyone.” The goal with recruitment is to attract the best talent — the people who will align perfectly with the organization and its goals.
When an owner or C-level executive mentions “best talent,” what they really mean is the person who can do the open job better than anyone and help the organization accomplish its goals with minimal to no supervision, limited resources and without creating risk. In other words: Do your job well, don’t ask too many questions, don’t ask for more than you’re given and don’t create a problem. It’s probably pertinent to state here, that there are a lot of individuals who fit this bill. (Some organizations may say otherwise. With a 30-minute conversation, I would be able to say why it is the organization’s fault that people feel that way.)
So, what is it that draws people to an organization? That's first component of the employee experience.
A lot of organizations miss or overlook this step. A lot of companies believe, “Hey, we're a company and people need to work.” That approach just doesn’t cut it anymore — if it ever did. Instead, understanding and identifying what draws people to your organization is one part people management and one part marketing/brand management. Let’s break down each of these areas:
• People management: Your internal employees are your greatest recruiters. Take a major company like McDonald’s, for instance. Most locations are franchised, meaning ownership differs from store to store. In my experience you have two types of stores. You have stores where it is common to never be served by the same person twice. Even from day to day. This is a sign that they have extremely high turnover. In fact, in one instance, I overheard an employee trainer mention that the ownership never really told them what they wanted one way or another so they would make it up in front of me, the customer. That was the last time I saw the trainer and trainee. The flip side is the McDonald’s where it is not uncommon to find a mother, daughter and granddaughter working together with many years tenure among them. That is because, generationally, they saw value working under that McDonald’s leadership. If you treat your employees well, pay them well, develop their skills and show them daily a path for personal growth and success, they will tell everyone, and you will have a line of amazing candidates showing up hoping to get hired.
• External branding/marketing: Today, information travels fast — and that’s really an understatement. A bad customer experience or a bad employee experience can be trending on social media and reported in the media before the business owner has a chance to explain anything. As such, hiring a brand ambassador, or even outsourcing this to a team, makes a lot of sense. Responding to Google reviews, managing Glassdoor and checking Yelp are all essential to an organization’s external brand that people are researching before they accept a position. If the business owner has a 3-star rating on Google and has only responded to one review with a 5-page rant on why the customer was wrong, chances are that the employee will have reservations on going to work for someone who, they may assume, is not a very understanding person. They may even seek out a competitor.
How to Manage Candidates’ Initial Perception
The second component of the employee experience occurs when an employee is still a job candidate. Some companies misunderstand this as being an employee’s first day on the job. However, initial perception can run a spectrum that runs from the day a candidate applies to their first interview, all the way through their first year of employment.
There is a lot to unravel but it is easily described as an interested candidate’s initial perceptions of what they learn about an organization. When something they experience for the first time becomes known and is no longer their first time. For instance, a candidate normally only applies once, has one interview with HR, meets their supervisor for the first time, has an offer letter once, etc. These “first-time situations” are key to creating the right perception.
These structural moments will create a sense of security, ease and safety within an employee’s psyche. That mentality creates a springboard to what comes next. If all their experiences are convoluted, confusing and they are left to “figure things out” for themselves, a new employee could naturally conclude that the entire organization operates in the same way.
What HR and leadership must do is develop a pathway for each employee to ensure the best perception as they go through the recruitment process. It may differ by department or position, but it should be an experience rather than a checklist. Think of the difference between going to Disney World and going to the grocery store. At Disney World, yes, there are so many things that any person would want to see. There are “must dos” on the agenda from riding certain rides to seeing certain attractions. However, it’s an organic experience. It feels different than going to the store, with a checklist, looking to hurry along, cross the items off and leave. HR and leadership need to assure that “why” of each item is just as important as the “what.”
As a perfect example, a client of mine made it a point to have a “shadow” day for every floor person. This day was a flat $100 fee, and they could stay as little as one hour or all day if they felt it necessary. The day was meant to make the candidate more comfortable in the process, to take the big scary “new” out of the picture. They also provided breakfast, went out to lunch and invited all other team members. Now, what the candidate didn’t know is that on that day, they would also gather necessary information needed, like I-9 information, security protocol information, as well as create first day logins, etc. This drastically changed their first-day experience as they were 100% onboarded and prepared when they arrived for their real first day. This Disney World experience for new hires led to a 50% drop in turnover year over year. It saved the organization so much cash in the short-term, and their most tenured reps also sold more. As such, they saw amazing growth in numbers and were able to sell the organization only two years later at 5x multiplier. This one thing aligned them well and created the best chance to achieve their organizational goals twice as fast as they expected.
Fighting for the Success of the Organization
The third and perhaps most crucial piece of the employee experience are your tenured employees. These are the people who have been with your company for five, eight, 12, 15 and 30 years. What makes me as an employee want to continue to fight for organizational success?
Over the next couple of weeks, we'll be pushing out some videos that unpack these three areas of the employee experience and why it matters, and then how certain things can play into each one.
To recap, the employee experience is comprised of those elements that draw people to your organization, their perception upon deciding they want to be part of your company and what keeps people from leaving. That's the employee experience. And we'll talk a lot about more about it in the coming weeks.
Looking forward to having the conversation and unpacking each piece to help your organization improve its employee experience and achieve its goals.