Today’s employees aren’t satisfied with being clock-watchers. They want more than a job — they want a sense of purpose and belonging. They want to understand their connection to their company and how their work contributes to their organization’s mission. They want to know how their contributions impact business results.
Statistics show that today’s average college graduate will hold 9.8 jobs, working until the age of 65. This, combined with the fact that unemployment in the U.S. is the lowest it’s been in 18 years, means that companies must change their approach and focus on offering an employee experience (EX) that is irresistible to prospective and current employees.
Last year, Forbes predicted that EX would soon become the “preeminent corporate priority” and the “next competitive frontier” for businesses after customer experience — with good reason. Companies turning their focus towards EX are seeing some significant results.
The business benefits of investing in employee experience
In fact, according to research conducted by The Employee Experience Advantage author Jacob Morgan and published in Harvard Business Review, companies that invest in EX outperform those that don’t, are four times more profitable, and overshadow other businesses in the S&P 500, the NASDAQ, Fortune’s 100 Best Companies to Work For, and Glassdoor’s Best Places to Work. Similarly, the Center for Information Systems Research (CISR) at MIT Sloan School of Management found that organizations with the best EX benefit from double the customer satisfaction and twice the innovation of companies that ignore it. The next competitive frontier, indeed.
So, how do companies that are still learning about employee experience make this shift? The first step is to understand what exactly EX is, and why it’s so important for companies to implement.
Employee engagement versus employee experience
The first hurdle, for many companies, is differentiating between employee engagement and employee experience. Neither term refers to work perks, like Friday beer carts or lunchtime run clubs, events like company offsites, or incentive programs.
Employee engagement is the commitment that employees have to their company and the roles they play within it. It’s an ongoing part of the overall employee experience.
Employee experience is the entire journey an employee takes within a company. EX starts before an employee is even hired, continues throughout the person’s path within a company, and extends right up until that final exit interview. A good EX provides an environment that enables employees to deliver great results. DecisionWise further describes EX as “the sum of the various perceptions employees have about their interactions within the organization in which they work.”
Three dimensions of the employee experience
Digging even deeper, Jacob Morgan explains that EX comprises every interaction and/or experience within three distinct workplace environments: cultural, physical, and technological. He breaks the three dimensions of the employee experience down like this:
- The cultural employee experience: This is how employees feel when they’re inside the organization and their interactions with others. This experience is impacted by influences such as leadership style, compensation, organizational structure, benefits, and more.
- The physical employee experience: This is the employee’s environment. Morgan describes this as “anything that can be seen, heard, touched, and tasted like desks, chairs, art, and meals.”
- The technological employee experience: This relates to the digital tools that employees need to do their jobs, from mobile devices and desktop computers to user interfaces and collaboration tools.
Where many organizations fall down on EX is by not looking at these three dimensions holistically. Remember: EX is the sum of these parts, not individual pieces, so if a company redesigns an office space, but fails to pay attention to the cultural or technological aspects of the employee experience it will come up short in its efforts.
Creating an effective digital workplace that keeps employees motivated, informed, and engaged may prove challenging for many organizations. To make this happen, employers need to be strategic and think about the big picture. In part two, we’ll discuss how to decide upon and implement the right employee experience strategy. In the meantime, you might want to read how you successfully communicate change to a global audience in this era of disruptive innovation and technology-driven growth.