The magic formula for employee engagement exists and I’m going to share it with you.
The key to employee engagement won’t be found in once-per-year surveys. It won’t be found in free lunches either. Or in flexible schedules (although we like them!). And you’ll be hard-pressed to find it even in a generous employee benefits package.
Reams of research all point to one formula: a well-crafted employee experience leads to better employee engagement. It’s really just that simple.
The Path to Engagement
Of course, improving employee engagement is not truly easy. Most of us have tried the “perks path”: offering free lunches, work-from-home days, BYOD programs and other goodies. But we’re wise to remember that these perks don’t replace what employees crave, and that is an authentic experience rich with fulfillment and belonging.
Employee engagement also isn’t a trendy buzzword for the boardroom. It represents a real connection between an employee and an organization. Increased productivity, higher devotion to work, less employee turnover and higher profitability are the tangible results of an engaged workforce.
Setting the Course
Most of us know that employee engagement doesn’t spontaneously bloom at each organization. We need to nurture it with support, planning and all of the tools necessary to make the initiative a success. A supportive culture, easy-to-use tools, and a plan are also necessary to encourage engagement.
Often, there is a disconnect between how employees view work juxtaposed against how employers see work. Employees look at work and see community. Employers frequently see the employee-employer relationship as a contract.
Here’s what employees tell me they want at work:
- Contributions: Their organization values them
- Presence: Their organization appreciates their very being
- Connection: They want to experience the connection that comes from doing good work with good people
- Acceptance: Their organization values and needs their ideas and experience
- Fulfillment: Employees want to experience a sense that their work matters
Below, we’ll look at ways to craft a great employee experience in three steps.
Create a Better Employee Experience Tip #1: Do the Research
Raise your hand if you’ve ever created an employee program and then found out later it didn’t really address a specific need or problem. We’ve all done this: jumped in to be the HR hero without knowing the full story. It happens.
With our new-and-improved employee experience, however, we are going to do the hard work up front. Find out what your employees need and want. Use focus groups, surveys, and manager input to gather information. Taking the time to discover and gather insights into how employees perceive their work is vital.
A word of caution before you begin: make sure at this point that you understand the short and long-term strategic goals for the business. This knowledge is crucial to ensuring the employee experience aligns with business goals.
Create a Better Employee Experience Tip #2: Define the Employee Experience You Wish to Create
Once you’ve completed your research, it’s time to put some definitions on paper. What kind of employee experience do you intend to create? It’s hard work to shape these ideas into concrete definitions, so consider these two questions as a guide:
- How do you want employees to feel about their experience at work?
- What kind of experience and culture do you need?
At this point, it’s important to get leaders involved. First of all, they will have ownership if they participate in the definition stage. Secondly, as they wade into defining the employee experience, they will get to understand their teams better and this should enhance their leadership.
Feedback is the next necessary step. Put the definition out for honest feedback. Your employee experience definition might get a few bruises and things will be definitely be tweaked. But the beauty of good feedback is that after the dust has settled, a motivating and foundational employee experience definition will be born.
Asking your employees for feedback is necessary
in order to create a better employee experience.
Create a Better Employee Experience Tip #3: Look for Gaps That Need to Be Addressed
Okay, it’s truth time. With your fresh definition in hand, it’s time to assess and measure against it to create, align and address gaps. Consider policies and practices. Create cultural reviews. Examine systems.
You want to find out how the actual experience aligns with the desired experience. And if it’s out of whack, leadership and HR can address what needs to be adjusted.
Use HR technology tools to measure the “pulse” of your organization all year long so you can learn about the needs and expectations of employees. Use this data to adapt to the changing needs of your colleagues. Over time, this regular feedback will clarify the employee engagement “picture” and allow you to easily craft action plans to address the areas of need whether it’s learning and development, compensation or recognition.
Just by reading this story, you’ve taken one step toward improving your organization’s employee experience. You can look forward to driving engagement and improving retention, development, and productivity both now and in the future. Where will you go from here?
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