It’s easy to consider positive ‘employee experience’ (EX) as a natural by-product of a successful business. But this isn’t always the case. Employee experience is in fact a key component of a profitable and innovative business, and if overlooked, can negatively impact employee retention, productivity and ultimately the success of your business.
But improving EX isn’t just about ticking boxes and providing your employees with a competitive salary and attractive benefits. Organisational culture, engagement, purpose and motivation are all intangible factors that directly influence whether an employee is satisfied or not. In this article, we deep dive into EX, looking at why it’s multi-faceted and 7 ways that you can improve EX within your own organisation.
What is employee experience?
Employee experience (‘EX’) refers to how employees feel about their job, role, and on a broader scale, the company and its culture. It’s a fairly broad term that captures the whole employee lifecycle and impacts an individual’s well-being, motivation, sense of belonging and how satisfied they feel about the work they’re doing. A simple definition of EX that help as mental framework to understand its meaning make improvements is the following:
Employee experience is interlinked with business outcomes and how successful performance management strategies are.
How does employee experience affect business?
Businesses shouldn’t underestimate the importance of employee experience. It’s a key element for determining business success and has an impact across organisations. For e-commerce and SaaS companies, employee experience should be a key consideration as we move out of the COVID-19 pandemic and grapple with how it has fundamentally changed business with an emphasis on digitalisation.
Negative employee experience correlates directly to increased rates of staff turnover. Since the tech and retail sectors have the highest turnover rates - 13.2% and 13% respectively - EX should not go unaddressed.
Investing in enhancing employee experience pays off in increased talent retention (even in the most competitive fields) and the ability to quickly fill skill gaps.
Employees that are satisfied and motivated generally work harder and more productively, thus enhancing the overall business’ performance. In fact, the IBM Smarter Workforce Institute reported that businesses scoring in the top quartile for employee experience also see double returns on sales compared to organisations in the bottom 25%.
For SaaS and e-commerce companies, continual innovation is key to maintaining a competitive edge in fast-paced digital industries. Businesses that score highly for employee experience see increased innovation, with 51% of revenue stemming from new products and services that have been introduced in the past 2 years. This is just over double for similar companies with lower EX scores.
Improved customer experience
Employees who are unhappy in the workplace are unlikely to be positive advocates for your company. This is particularly poignant in an e-commerce setting. Negative employee experience can lead to damaged customer relations and reputation. On the other hand, studies have shown that companies in the top quartile for employee experience boast double the customer satisfaction as those in the bottom.
Lastly, but certainly not least, it clearly pays to invest in employee experience, given that companies with positive EX are 25% more profitable than companies with low scores. Motivated staff also create twice the return on sales. In markets with relatively low margins such as e-commerce or retail, this uplift has particularly strong impact on bottom line, even more so than in other high margin areas of the tech industry.
7 Ways to improve employee experience
Improving employee experience is not a surface level exercise, but requires a holistic cultural shift within your organisation. With the rise of remote and hybrid working patterns, DEX (digital employee experience) has become a key aspect of overall employee experience.
Employee lifecycle: from start to finish
Employee experience is about an ongoing relationship and interaction between the company and its employees. For this reason, it’s important to consider the employee lifecycle holistically from recruitment all the way to departure.
It’s good practice to critically assess your employee lifecyle and identify any clear points of friction or areas for improvement. This could include recruitment and onboarding, key workflows, useability of enterprise software, or more cultural considerations such as how supported your employees feel.
Employee-centered tech stack
Change the way you think about your business software and tech stacks. They shouldn’t be implemented with the administrator in mind, but for the key end-users: employees. In addition, if you’re still reliant on many different tools that scatter data that is important for employees across silos and don’t integrate deeply, don’t be surprised if employees do not engage.
Your tech stack should proactively enhance and support your employees’ work, and should never represent a barrier to their productivity. Opting for centralised and consolidated software can make a world of difference. And can help you become a more people-centric organisation:
A new generation of unified employee platforms, including Rippling in the US and Zelt in the UK, are promoting a new way of looking at employee management, where employee experience is the ultimate purpose of all business management software used in functions like HR, finance or IT.
Automate & improve workflows
One of the most simple but effective ways to make stark improvements to EX is by improving and automating admins, managerial overhead, and key workflows. Unified employee platforms help connect disparate processes across HR, payroll, expenses and IT and remove friction from employee-employer touchpoints.
Invest in & support employee well-being
Improving EX in your organisation also means investing in and valuing employee wellbeing. According to WHO, depression and anxiety disorders caused a loss of US$1 trillion last year in lost productivity, hence why employers should not take their employees’ mental health lightly. Another increasingly important topic is financial wellbeing as an increasing share of the population lives paycheck to paycheck.
There are many different ways that employers can demonstrate their support, such as:
- Providing health insurance (with explicit coverage for mental health)
- Investing in the physical workplace and creating a productive and safe environment
- Use emergency savings schemes and salary advance products offered by modern payroll tools
- Offering hybrid and flexible work arrangements that cater to individual needs
- Providing useful educational materials for professional and personal growth such as online courses or self-development podcasts
- Creating a job aid for a difficult task so employees can successfully complete it by following the instructions.
Listen to your employees
Your most valuable, and often untapped resource, are your employees themselves. Create opportunities for your employees to express themselves, their doubts, and discuss any pain points. You can ask for opinions through questionnaires, anonymous surveys based on survey templates, or during performance reviews.
Ensure to take it one step further and action the feedback you collect by involving high-level business leadership. Implement an accountability framework that helps you to keep track of employee feedback over time so that you can assess whether you’re addressing key issues. You can collect your employee's feedback survey using feedback emails, these can be fully automated, just like other types of email marketing.
Cultivate productive & inclusive culture
Though this won’t happen overnight, demonstrating a commitment to creating a workplace culture that is genuinely trusting and supportive is vital for improving EX. For example, you should strive towards encouraging open and transparent communication, ask for employee feedback, and show your employees how much you value them.
Future-proof your business by prioritising EX
EX is a worthwhile investment, not only for your employees, but for your company. As we’ve seen, from a business perspective, positive EX contributes directly to productivity, innovation, overall growth and improved customer experience. On an internal level, high levels of employee satisfaction will mitigate against employee turnover, attract top talent, and result in a happier and more motivated workforce.
While it takes time to create lasting cultural change, an easy way to start is to adopt business management software that takes a people-centric approach and puts employees at its core, removing friction from employee interactions.