Bush of dollar bills on the green grass against the blue sky. Employee Experience Investment Concept
PHOTO: Shutterstock

This is the final installment of a three part series sponsored by PeopleDoc.

A company’s employees are their most valuable resource, especially when it comes to the knowledge economy. While your competition can try to copy your production features, it can’t replicate your engaged, talented workforce. But a positive workplace culture, where engaged employees thrive, isn’t a given. It takes constant care and feeding — centered on providing a personalized, positive employee experience every day, and across the employee lifecycle.

When your employees have numerous negative experiences — be it with frustrating, outdated HR technology or feeling as though their job isn’t making the most of their strengths — it increases the chances they’ll decide to leave for greener pastures. In fact, recent research from Gallup found that half of U.S. employees are actively searching for a new job.

But there is some good news. The research also found only 37% of engaged employees are looking for jobs or watching for opportunities, as compared with higher numbers of not-engaged and actively disengaged employees who are doing the same (56% and 73%, respectively). Focusing on employee experience can help turn these numbers around, both by improving employee retention, and making hiring easier by becoming a valuable element of your employer branding strategy.

With all this in mind, it’s time to make a case for investing in improving the employee experience.

Related Article: How AI Creates a More Human Employee Experience

The Hidden Cost of Employee Dissatisfaction

When talking about employee turnover, the conversation typically centers on the money it takes to recruit, hire, and re-train the new hire in a role. But that’s only one part of the cost associated with disengaged employees. The dynamic duo of low engagement and high turnover can result in some potentially significant hidden costs — including decreased customer service satisfaction, workplace safety issues, and loss of institutional knowledge.

  • The association between engagement and workplace accidents: Disengaged employees can mean more on-the-job accidents. According to a Gallup study of over 1.8 million employees in 230 organizations, employers with higher engagement scores have 70% fewer safety incidents compared to organizations with low engagement scores.
  • Decreased customer satisfaction: Customer service is vital to any organization, and it hinges upon the ability of your employees to build rapport with your customers and establishing trust. But if you experience high levels of turnover, those customers end up talking with new hires who don’t understand them and their needs, which leaves them frustrated and dissatisfied.
  • Lack of knowledge transfer: Each employee brings their own unique set of skills and abilities to an organization, which are then honed with their experience over time. And when they leave, they take that experience and institutional knowledge they’ve amassed with them. Thus, the quality of products and customer service can decrease with each person who leaves.

With this perspective, it’s clear that improving the employee experience doesn't just have benefits for the HR department; it can benefit the entire business. Likewise, employee experience isn't only an HR priority — it's a potentially crippling business problem.

Related Article: How Technology Can Help HR Avoid Breakdowns in the Employee Experience

The Increased Value of Productive Employees

While disengagement negatively impacts your workforce productivity, the opposite effect is also true — companies with engaged employees have seen a 4% increase in sales growth. Your employees’ work experience is what determines their level of engagement.

When employees have a great experience at work—thanks to the great culture, latest tools and technology, and physical workspace — they're much more likely to be engaged. As HR leaders, you are ideally positioned to influence employee experience, and in turn, engagement.

For example, consider the numerous interactions employees have with HR:

  • The recruitment process
  • Completing new hire onboarding paperwork
  • Tracking work hours
  • Requesting paid time off
  • Healthcare open enrollment
  • Determining 401(k) investments
  • Inquiring about sick leave
  • Relocating to another office

When completing tasks like these is time-consuming and confusing for employees, it takes them away from the work they were hired to do. But, when these processes are redesigned through the lens of employee experience, employees not only have an improved relationship with HR, they also have more time in their day to do their real job, resulting in a more productive workforce overall.

In addition to the concrete financial ROI that comes from improving employee engagement and experience, it also can have a positive impact on business goals such as globalization, growth, and efficiency. For example, having a consistent employee experience across the globe supports globalization efforts, and standardizing HR processes prepares the organization to serve a growing employee base better.

“In the very near future, if it is not already the case, receiving an offer letter by mail will be seen as outdated when companies are now electronically transmitting offer letters with electronic signature to approve and accept in a click,” said Jean-Michel Estrade, SVP, HR Global Digitization & Services, Atos. “This is basic. Sometimes the business case is just that — we have to keep up with what the market is doing. We have to keep up with the type of people we are trying to attract.”

5 Steps to Get Started With Improving Employee Experience

Once you’ve made the business case for investing in employee experience, where do you start? Follow these five steps to create a foundation for ongoing employee experience improvement.

  1. Modernize your HR tech stack: Take a look at your HR technologies and evaluate how well they measure up to your employees’ current consumer technology expectations. Are there tools that employees — including your HR team — dread having to use? Replace outdated tools and platforms with ones that provide a better employee experience.
  2. Regularly survey employees about the experience: Commit to ongoing qualitative surveying of employees throughout the employee lifecycle to gain an understanding of employee needs. Use AI and machine learning to analyze the resulting data, combined with other employee data points, to create an exceptional employee experience.
  3. Implement a voice of the employee program: In alignment with your voice of the customer program, provide a process for employees to give feedback to the company leadership on a regular basis.
  4. Develop a formal new hire orientation and onboarding process: A new hire’s employee experience begins on the first day of their new job. If they show up and aren’t greeted by their new manager, don’t have a computer and a badge, and don’t have an itinerary of meetings in place to set them up for success, you’ve tainted their employee experience before they’ve even gotten settled in. That said, it’s important that the positive employee experience doesn’t lose steam after the new hire onboarding. HR should make a point of making all employee lifecycle moments a great experience.
  5. Remember HR in the employee experience: Because HR is focused on serving the workforce, they can often forget about their own team’s employee experience. But it’s critical that HR is using new technology that streamlines their own back-end processes, so they're able to support employees and provide them with an exceptional experience.

To get started on improving your employee experience, learn more about employee experience products that help HR give their employees the same level of service that their customers receive.