Last year saw just the beginning of what has been dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’. Brits, predominantly those working in leisure, hospitality, retail and healthcare, have voluntarily left their jobs at “historically elevated levels” that were last seen in 2009. While reasons were varied, unhappiness with the way they were treated features frequently in studies.
It has become resoundingly clear that the employee experience is more important for business continuity than ever before. As business leaders take stock of the lessons learnt and set fresh priorities for employee experience in 2022, a more robust employee experience strategy should be at the top of their list. So, where should they begin?
Draw inspiration from the practices of customer-obsessed brands
Luckily, there is a thriving area from where business leaders can draw inspiration: the customer experience. In recent years, companies have taken strides in creating more personalised, in-the-moment omnichannel experiences for their customers. They understand that every customer interaction is made up of multiple data points – from an online chat to the purchasing experience – that can be indicative of customer satisfaction and even business performance.
The world of employee experience is similar in many ways. Employees are present in companies’ digital systems; they provide feedback and display patterns of behaviour. Companies that have invested in analysing similar data for customer experience management should now apply the best practices to their workforce.
Three ways to bring the employee experience in 2022 on par with the customer experience
While many companies will have dedicated customer feedback channels, employee experience programmes are still often infrequent and produce few actions. But there is no reason for the quality of employee experience initiatives to lag behind. Companies can recharge their strategies in three steps. These should be driven by a dedicated employee experience lead – or, in smaller organisations, a combination of HR and business functions, including line managers.
1. Listen and analyse
Over the past year, four in ten UK workers have experienced burnout. Stress, anxiety and general uncertainty has made it especially important for companies to open avenues for frequent communication. This is so that employees feel safe to voice their feelings – frustrations, concerns, and fears – share their ideas for improving processes and celebrate their successes.
Besides conducting regular well-being surveys, companies should explore creative ways to solicit feedback. This could be done by crowdsourcing ideas on specific topics or challenges the business should solve. Recognising the need for “always on” channels of feedback – that is, employee-initiated communication methods such as quick surveys embedded into the company’s intranet or applications – is the first step towards creating meaningful dialogue.
On the other side of the coin, we have indirect feedback. Much like customers, employees’ unexpressed sentiments can be detected in the traces of digital interactions. We call these employee experience data points ‘experience signals.’
Experience signals can come from various sources such as performance reviews, team interactions, meetings data, service tickets, Slack, social media, and even sentiment captured from video and survey data. By analysing these signals, businesses can uncover trends operational inefficiencies and pinpoint where communication breaks down. These insights are vital to get the full picture of the employee experience.
2. Respond continually
The next step is to create outcomes based on employee feedback and experience signals in a timely manner. Providing a continuous response – that is, taking quick, effective, and continuous action – builds trust and demonstrates that the organisation listens to employees. Even the smallest changes such as embedding a small survey in an internal tool to ask employees how they want to be supported can empower and motivate them to stay engaged in the process.
Of course, organisations should aim high when setting goals. The most effective employee experience strategies gather feedback from the ground up and create change even for the highest echelons. Leaders – whether that’s a dedicated employee experience team, HR or a business function – should involve people at all levels of the organisation to participate in driving sustainable change based on key opportunities identified through employee feedback.
3. Invest in your insight
Finally, employee experience excellence is a matter of consistent learning. The same way a customer can never be ‘fully understood’ nor their journey ‘complete’ in the eye of the organisation. Therefore, keeping up with evolving employee needs calls for a growth mindset and the right technology stack. Once a piece of vital employee insight has been unearthed, don’t stop there – data always tells a bigger story when understood in the context of other business functions.
One Medallia customer that understood the synergies between customer experience and employee experience developed a programme that included monthly employee surveys to support regular meetings between both HR and customer-facing teams. It worked wonders. Pressing issues were quickly resolved – giving time back to employees and eliminating frustrations for customers – and it showed employees that they are a key part of the solution.
This is especially important for companies that want to improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Tools such as text analytics can help organisations uncover possible unconscious biases in employee feedback and experience signals. Knowing where inequitable practices and experiences occur can help companies find new ways to create fair opportunities, improve interpersonal relationships and prioritise actions that deliver meaningful change.
Looking ahead for employee experience in 2022
Businesses cannot make compromises when it comes to the employee experience in 2022. They must implement the same principles and rigour in their employee engagement programmes as they use to design their customer success operations. This way, they can not only develop a deeper understanding of their workforce, but they can also uncover new ways to delight customers and underpin revenue-impacting decisions with reliable and vital data.