Many companies care more about sales and productivity than employee experience

It is becoming very common to hear things like growing up is a scam, from the inability to find a job to acquiring an underpaid one, worse the work experience most dreamt of having is very far from their realities. Some find themselves in fields different from their course of study and even those with jobs relating to their fields, both groups attest to similar experiences; poor employee experience.

Employee experience has been seen over time as a vital, yet overlooked, means of attaining maximum organizational goals as well as ensuring that workers achieve job satisfaction at the workplace. People are motivated to give their best when they can align their work with their company’s larger goals — when they enjoy the role they play at the organization and finally when their contributions to the organization are recognized. It gives them ownership of what they create and helps them to support organizational causes with more purpose.

The search for meaningful work, stability and mentoring on a foundation of collaborative communication has made people become unsatisfied and frustrated employees with little or no means of expressing themselves to their employers as their organizations stifle employee engagement/communication.

A survey on employee experience carried out in South Africa by a digital engagement company, Wyzetalk, showed 57 percent of respondents indicating that employee experience was important as they are most productive when they feel valued. 27 percent felt that employee experience was non-negotiable and that they cannot work in an organization that does not prioritise its people. while 1 percent indicated that employee experience was not important to them.

Painfully, a positive experience has been unattainable for many employees around the globe and not only in South Africa. While there are no data to corroborate people’s experiences, many employees are not adequately communicated to and the available channels many employers use to communicate, give employees little room to voice opinions and provide feedback.

According to analytics and consulting company, Gallup, 85 percent of employees globally are not engaged in the organization for which they work, leading to negative consequences, including increased absenteeism, lower productivity levels, accelerated staff turnover and increased work-related injuries.

In the survey by Wyzetalk, it was discovered that almost half of the polled employees (41 percent) feel that there is an inconsistency when it comes to adequate communication provided by top management in South African organizations. Another 25 percent believe the current communication within their respective companies is inadequate.

The predominant channels of communication in many organizations are emails. Over two-thirds of (68 percent) of respondents indicated that their organizations mostly use traditional digital channels such as email or intranet. 14 percent noted that collaboration tools were adopted in the various workplaces. Meanwhile, 9 percent stated that their companies still use printed collateral such as newsletters, posters, noticeboards and suggestion boxes.

Many organizations have realized the benefit of focusing on customer experience, but many have not grasped the parallel human-centric approach that is needed when it comes to employees. According to Wyzetalk “No matter the medium, sentiments around whether their employers are investing in creating a positive employee experience was split, with 33 percent saying it was not a priority and 27 percent indicating that they are thinking about how to improve things, but there is nothing currently in place.”

Relationship between employee experience and company culture

Employee experience is not just another catchword but a critical component of the changing nature of work. More like a bottom-up concept where processes, places, and workflow are designed around the pre-existing tendencies of the employees. There is no better place to begin the improvement of employee experience than changing the company culture. Company culture is the personality of a company, it defines the environment in which employees work and no employee can successfully function, as well as reach their full potential in a crippling environment.

From a top executive perspective, a good employee is a person who works hard, is self-driven and achieves organizational goals. The employee may or may not see it from this same perspective, especially when what is communicated is far from their day to day experiences; when their employers are demanding more than they are giving. Employees want direct and personable communications and many companies are yet to realize the importance of this.

“Organisations provide a corporate email address for executives and middle management but cannot afford to do so for blue-collar workers. This typically means that these workers receive no news, they do not know what is happening in the business and it’s very difficult for the organization to communicate with its people,” says Wyzetalk, CEO Gysbert Kappers.

Analytic company Gallup states that companies with superior employee engagement records are proven to be 17 percent more productive, have sales records that are 20 percent higher and are generally 21 percent more profitable.

Creating a positive employee experience

According to Wyzetalk’s polls, autonomy, where employees are trusted, accountable and empowered to do their job; opportunities for growth, supported by training, learning and fair performance appraisals; as well as a flexible working environment that’s inclusive and humanistic, where the well-being of each person is important, all contribute to a positive employee experience.

Companies are not oblivious of the things they are required to do to create a positive employee experience; however, many are reluctant to do so. 43 percent of respondents cited the lack of interdepartmental collaboration and integration as the main reason, 41 percent cited a lack of focus saying companies’ focus on sales/production rather than people. Inefficient communication and resource limitations to focus on employee engagement was also cited as additional reasons.

When trying to boost participation and employee experience, many organizations may mistake employee engagement for employee experience. Employee engagement says, here is what the company did. How happy are you with it? Whereas, employee experience asks the question, how can we enable you to do your best work and connect with your purpose? And it does not end with asking questions as actions should follow, the welfare of employees to be taken into cognizance to ensure a productive environment.

How to become an employee experience-focused organization

Create good and lasting first impressions. When a candidate becomes an employee, the first step is to make sure the employee gets a career roadmap that outlines their first few weeks and months on the job. This lets the new employee know that the company has thought through their arrival and is prepared to set them up for success. In addition to that, when the company is explaining its culture and practices, it needs to reassure the employee that it will deliver on the promises it stated in its mission statement or during the interviewing process.

Secondly, support employee’s career goals with coaching and performance management: Efforts should be put in employees’ growth, they should go through various courses that would enable them to improve their performance for future opportunities. Both employers and employees should have regular one-on-one meetings to discuss goals and progress.

Finally, positive behaviours should be reinforced with rewards and recognition. Employees should know that they are doing a good job. Employers should be specific and give employees sincere and concrete information about what they did right.  While showing genuine appreciation for the employee’s achievement, the employer should reinforce those behaviours and actions as well as offer an immediate reward.