According to Kelly Keegan, Senior Director of People here at SnackNation, “Unemployment is the lowest it’s been in the last 18 years. Companies have to change their approach. When it comes to recruiting… We’re not just vetting talent anymore. We have to court talent.”
That’s where employee experience comes in. What is employee experience, exactly? It spans from the moment the prospect learns of your company through the application process and continues through their on-boarding, time at your company, to years after they’ve exited.
An exceptional employee experience is hugely beneficial to acquiring and retaining top talent and in today’s competitive candidate market, it’s essential.
So, you must be asking yourself, how do I create a stellar employee experience? First, you have to view the employee’s time at your company in the same way you’d view the customer experience. Ask yourself, how do we create the ultimate experience for the employee through every step of their journey with the company?
This may require redesign your company and the way the employee navigates it in order to create a workplace where employees want to work each day. That may sound like an overwhelming amount of work which is why we’ve broken down the 10 key steps to creating a foolproof employee experience strategy.
1. Make it simple to apply for a job at your company
A common misconception is that the employee experience begins when your new hire walks through the door on their first day. But even your employees’ experience as a potential candidate plays a huge role in their overall satisfaction. The best way to win out over the competition and prove your employee experience is one to be had is to remove all possible barriers to applying to a job at your company, while maintaining the integrity of your job app process. Candidates are juggling full-time jobs on top of submitting job applications and a hassle-free process will be greatly appreciated.
2. Court talent
As Kelly Keegan said, it’s an applicants’ market these days. Competition for top talent is fierce. As a result, applicants’ are weighing their options and expectations are high. The best way to get noticed? Exceed their expectations with gestures that get your company noticed. Set reminders to check in with them and send a kind word, be mindful of pain points or concerns they mentioned in their interview and address them directly, and keep communication as open as possible during the application process.
For this reason, Kelly says “companies should be asking less of, what can you do for us? and more of, what can we do for you?”
3. Lead with WHY
In Simon Sinek’s legendary Ted Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, he discusses what differentiates inspired organizations from the uninspiring. What makes the organizations that are creating the most innovative products, attracting the best talent and selling the most, different?
According to Sinek, it’s that these companies lead with why. They market to customers and talent by sharing their company’s unique perspective on the world. “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
To top talent that’s being courted by all the most impressive companies, paychecks, growth opportunities and perks are all table steaks. Ambitious young talent wants to be inspired–they want to join a movement. So don’t hold back; share what your company believes, tout your company’s mission, discuss its aspirations and do this with confidence. What’s the mission that you want talent to come be a part of? What career and training opportunities can you offer? How is your company going to impact their career?
Sinek adds, “If you hire people who just need a job, they’ll work for your money. But if you hire people who believe what you believe, they’ll work for you with blood, sweat and tears.” It pays to lead with your company’s mission.
4. Onboard employees thoroughly
Research shows that a thorough onboarding significantly increases employee productivity and retention. Position incoming employees for long-term success with a thorough onboarding process–one that provides your new hire with the practical tools, the unspoken rules of the land and the connections he needs to succeed.
We’ve already broken down everything you need for a seamless onboarding process, but here are a few essentials.
- Supply a cheat sheet with all the wifi, login and software info.
- Share company history and core values, along with the unspoken social rules that influence how the company operates and employees behave.
- Introduce your new hire to his teammates and colleagues across departments so he has the connections he needs to ask for help.
- Set clear expectations regarding what he needs to accomplish in his first few months on the job.
- Make sure he has a one-on-one with his manager to discuss his responsibilities and the role he’ll play on the team.
5. Acknowledge contributions and accomplishments
Here at SnackNation, we have something called a Crush It call. Every Friday, the company gets together to give shoutouts to people who have done something really well or made an impact in the business.
Everyone looks forward to Crush Its. Why? Because it feels good to be acknowledged for your contributions. In fact, research shows that “69% of employees say they would work harder if they felt their efforts were being better recognized.” But Crush Its aren’t only about your work being acknowledged; it’s equally about celebrating your friend’s accomplishments and being part of a community where great work is applauded.
Some might say that this is an extravagant use of the entire company’s time. But we think these calls are worth their weight in gold. While you may not be able to organize a company-wide Crush It call, even an unexpected compliment for a job well done can do wonders in creating a positive employee experience over time.
6. Solicit employee feedback (frequently!)
When working to improve employee satisfaction, the greatest resource you have at your disposal is the employee. Ask them what’s working at your company and what’s not working. Send out engagement surveys, but don’t stop there.
Keep a pulse on your company’s culture and how it’s evolving. At SnackNation, our Senior Director of People hosts weekly culture lunches. At a recent culture lunch, a few employees mentioned that one of SnackNation’s strengths is that the company cares about the “entire human.” This information is valuable not only to leadership, but also to prospects assessing whether SnackNation is the right place for them. So don’t shy away from asking about your company’s strengths and weaknesses.
7. Implement this feedback
Sometimes improving the employee experience is about building upon something that your company already does well. Other times it’s about addressing a problem area or redesigning an experience that wasn’t serving employees.
Whatever initiatives you decide to take on, set yourself up for success by making sure each initiative is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. By implementing feedback and making improvements that serve employees’ concerns, you can effectively show that their voices are being heard by leadership that wishes to help them excel.
8. Keep employees in the loop
Nobody likes to feel out of the loop. Especially employees whose livelihoods and day-to-day existence is tied to the ebbs and flows of a company. A lack of communication between leadership and employees often leaves employees feeling vulnerable, powerless and ambivalent. None of these emotions are good for employee acquisition and retention.
So even though communication can be hard to maintain, it’s worth the effort. Urge senior leadership to communicate with employees frequently to discuss and clarify the mission, vision and goals of the organization, whether that communication is in the form of fireside chats, town halls or over email. Cultivate a culture of candidness and vulnerability. Take the stance that building a company is a constant evolution and we’re all in it together.
9. Regularly evaluate employee progress
According to a PwC study, nearly 60% of respondents reported that they would like feedback on a daily or weekly basis. Employees, especially millennials, crave feedback on their performance. So be transparent with them. Be clear on how their performance will be evaluated and whether their progress is where it should be.
This comes back to communication. When people don’t know what’s going on, they’re left feeling vulnerable and defensive. But when a manager tells them where they stand, even if there’s a problem, they’re empowered.
10. Offer flexibility
There’s nothing more off-putting than a micromanaging boss. Instead, trust your employees. This could mean giving them the opportunity to work from home or sit wherever they want in the office. When employees have flexibility, they feel they have more autonomy and like their workplace more. This not only lends to a more positive working environment but helps increase employee loyalty as a result.
Employee experience is all about designing a place where employees want to work. When employees like where they work, they work harder, they stay longer, and they spread the word to other great talents. But that’s not all; research published by Harvard Business Review shows that companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those that don’t. Put the effort into developing your company’s employee experience–it delivers results!
What step do you find most important? Let us know in the comment section below!