How to build a successful employee experience strategy

Ever since the pandemic changed the corporate world, organizations have rededicated themselves to excelling at employee experience strategy. A successful employee experience strategy (EX strategy) is the best way to recruit and retain top talent, as employees increasingly make decisions on where to work based on how they respond to employee needs.

Organizations can prioritize overall employee experience by being thoughtful about how to serve their workers during all stages of the employee journey, from the hiring process to the onboarding process to the employees’ work at the company to the exit interview.

It usually involves executives and HR leaders producing a strong and employee-centric company culture, employee engagement and performance management in coordination with each other. Each one contributes something unique to the overall employee experience, as detailed below:

  • Company culture: Building a corporate mission and values that puts employees first and creating mechanisms to put those into action.
  • Employee engagement: Creating programs and initiatives that ensure employees feel connected to their employer and comfortable and content in their jobs.
  • Performance management: Analyzing workplace performance through the use of insights and tools, which can identify ways to improve workplace performance.

During the early phases of the employee lifecycle, such as the onboarding experience, human resources leaders should convey to recruits and new hires the organization’s mission and how they can contribute while staying true to their authentic selves. For example, converting prospective hires to new employees can hinge on whether the organization demonstrates it will provide a positive employee experience.

While employees benefit from organizations prioritizing a great employee experience, their employers benefit as well, as it is likely to produce several key business benefits that impact the bottom line, including increased profitability, lower employee turnover and enhanced customer satisfaction.

As such, employers are incentivized to invest in the employee experience and communicate it to the overall business community as part of their company’s mission.

Five ways to improve your employee experience strategy

Focusing on providing a positive employee experience is the first responsibility. But how do you affect change?

1. Prioritize empathy

Organizations that are truly interested in creating an effective employee experience strategy should demonstrate that they care about their employee’s lives and overall health. In return, those organizations are likely to get dedicated, happy employees who want to help their organization thrive. But empathy cannot be faked or applied in half measures. The organization and its executives must make day-to-day caring for employees a key mission or value and put in the work to demonstrate they care about their employees’ well-being. They can show that by how they assign work, how they prioritize employee recognition, how they allow employees to take care of their out-of-work needs and how they communicate how an employee can maintain a strong work-life balance. To produce empathy, the organization must invest in workplace culture so their approaches feel genuine.

2. Customize initiatives

While every organization has certain foundational approaches to the employee experience that it wants to create for every employee, it may choose to customize certain elements for individual employees. One way to do this is to create employee personas, where, like customers, you put employees into groups and identify ways to appeal to them.

For example, some employees may have extenuating circumstances requiring them to work from home more than other employees. Some employees respond to different incentives than others. For instance, one employee may want the flexibility of working from home, while others care more about wellness benefits like better healthcare or paying for gym memberships.

3. Encourage employees to speak up

Employees want to feel included in the organization’s decisions in the work environment, especially if those decisions directly affect their lives. Encouraging employee feedback is the best way to identify new ways to improve employee satisfaction.

Organizations can solicit employee feedback through official employee surveys, such as engagement surveys, and other day-to-day touch points like weekly one-on-ones and creating an open door policy for direct reports. Encouraging employees to speak up when they’re unhappy or they see a way the organization can better serve their workers will improve the overall employee experience, help discover issues, and create a better employer-employee relationship. Asking employees to submit ideas for how the organization could improve is a great win-win, where employees know they’re being listened to and the organization benefits from fresh thinking.

4. Celebrate accomplishments

There are plenty of opportunities for an organization to recognize its employees. Organizations can acknowledge milestones like anniversaries or completing a large project and talk about how important that employee has been to the business. Celebrate ways the organization is succeeding as well. Track metrics like overall job satisfaction derived from surveys and honor the HR team and other stakeholders who are creating positive experiences for employees and the overall organization. Organizations can do this through traditional communication channels like email and the intranet and in small groups and individual meetings.

5. Empower middle managers

The more managers feel trusted to make important decisions, the better they will feel about their jobs. And this also improves their direct reports’ employee experience as well because they directly know and work with the people making decisions that most directly influence their jobs. Middle managers can have a huge influence on career development, employee retention and identifying and nurturing high-performing talent.

HR departments can work directly with managers to help them identify development opportunities they can either discuss with their direct reports in an informal capacity or turn into formal development training.

They also are key stewards of:

  • Pointing out how much their team members’ work has meant to the business and how appreciative the organization is for their contribution.
  • Checking in to ensure they have everything they need to accomplish their activities.
  • Asking team members how they are feeling and if there are any work-related stressors that the organization could improve or fix.

Fulfilled employees: An organization’s superpower

Creating a strong employee experience is a win-win for employers and employees. Employees are more likely to stay at organizations that prioritize their needs, and they’re also more likely to create a positive customer experience because they are happy and fulfilled at work.

Equip your workforce with the skills of the future. Transform your talent acquisition and skills strategies and processes with the right balance of people, AI and data. Whether you are looking to address high turnover, enhance the recruiting technology stack, improve workforce productivity, address skills shortages or create an effective learning experience for a diverse workforce, IBM can provide customized strategies and tools across consulting, technology and managed services.

Re-imagine your employee experience with generative AI

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