How to Improve Employee Experience – 8 Proven Ways in 2023
What does a positive employee experience look like? Let me assure you, it’s more than office perks like having a fully stocked kitchen with endless coffee and soda water options.
The answer can vary based on individual needs, but ultimately an employee experience should be positive and powerful – and human, in which employees are able to bring more of their whole selves to the workplace.
In this post we’ll look at proven methods on how to improve employee experience in 2023 and the benefits this leads to in things such as employee performance, reducing employee turnover, and the overall company culture as a whole.
8 proven ways to improve employee engagement
Day-to-day operations in an organization can be overwhelming and sometimes lead to unintentional employee neglect. It’s important to remember that business outcomes and your company’s success depends on employees’ knowledge, engagement, and most importantly, happiness.
High levels of employee engagement promote job satisfaction, retention, and improve organizational performance. This topic was discussed at the most recent Workhuman® Live conference in Atlanta.
Based on information and data from the “Turning Insight into Action” content track, we’ve highlighted eight ways to improve employee engagement and create a high-performing, human-centered organization.
Prioritize employee satisfaction
The cliché, “Money doesn’t buy happiness,” is true. A positive employee experience is not determined by salary alone. There are alternative ways to keep your employees happy, besides handing out a raise or promotion.
Companies are utilizing flexible work environments, allowing employees to control their own schedule. This flexibility allows employees to get work done in a way that works for them – shifting the focus from where work gets done to how work gets done.
This is especially relevant for those with children at home who need balance between their professional and personal lives. However, with the rise of hybrid work, we must ensure that human connection does not dissipate.
“Be sure that our people who are remaining in a 2D work world and those returning to a 3D work world are still able to connect with each other in meaningful ways,” said Lynette Silva-Heelan, principal consultant and practice lead at Workhuman®.
Indeed our research confirms there is a 2D vs. 3D divide. Compared to on-site workers, fully remote workers are less likely to say they feel confident and more likely to feel uneasy about change.
Fifty-two percent of hybrid workers and 44% of remote workers said they feel obligated to work while sick when working remotely. And 39% of hybrid and 29% of remote workers agree with the statement: “When I work from home, I don’t receive as much recognition as my on-site colleagues.”
Lead with empathy and authenticity.
Understand and be conscious of the employee journey. Put yourself in another’s shoes and think: How do they feel right now? Why are they acting this way? Who could help in this situation?
Research shows those who are not feeling a sense of authenticity and belonging will leave and find it elsewhere – hence the need to focus on the whole employee journey at work.
“People who are intentionally connecting with those at work through weekly check-ins are 2x as likely to say that they see a path to growth for themselves in the organization, and to feel like they belong at work” explained Lynette.
A better workplace culture is a better way for employees to be connected. Connection breeds trust, meaning, growth, happiness, and belonging, which in return builds a resilient and growth-oriented community.
Here is how we define employee connection:
Connecting to people: The relationships employees build with their peers and managers is the single most valuable element to cultivating a more human workplace.
Connecting to values: Employees have increasingly made clear that they want their employers to stand for strong, meaningful values. They are drawn to companies making a positive difference in industries and in their communities.
Connecting to the work: When someone is connected to the work they’re doing, they’re more motivated, driven, and they deliver their best work. They’re learning and growing in their role.
Promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Understanding bias and building awareness is the first step towards diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. Workplace diversity encourages creativity and innovation because every team member, from leadership to frontline workers, brings their own unique background, experience, and perspective to the table. When employees feel they belong at work, they perform better.
DE&I is an ongoing priority. As companies continue on this journey toward equity, the challenges of moving forward can feel intimidating.
Our solution? Develop a strategic plan with manageable steps.
There is so much to do in this area that it can feel overwhelming, but putting a progressive and feasible plan in place allows you to prioritize and reach achievable goals.
Create a positive, collaborative company culture.
When employees are in an environment that encourages them to share ideas, thoughts, and doubts, they are more connected to both their own and the company’s goals and success. To promote this kind of environment, have fun with the way your company communicates to its employees.
LinkedIn often leans on their social recognition program, Bravo, as a communication platform. When they have big company news, it comes from the CEO and through their Bravo program.
Another communication form is an engaging monthly campaign, with content relevant to what’s happening in the company, the world, and your employees’ lives. Consider bi-weekly video updates of new product features, with a chat forum for employees to ask questions.
This line of internal communication brings employees and leadership closer to each other, builds trust and social transparency, and forms a collaborative workplace culture.
Make work more meaningful.
Often, we get caught up in a recurring nine-to-five, causing moments that really matter to slip away. Forward-thinking companies are utilizing solutions to help shine a light on these moments by recognizing and celebrating pivotal milestones in their employee’s lives.
Research shows when we recognize and celebrate somebody within their first 30 days, they are 70% less likely to leave within their first year. Other celebratory actions to consider include promotions, new roles, retirements, and even employees leaving the company to pursue their dreams elsewhere.
As Lynette explained in a Workhuman Live session: “Think about the power, if somebody is leaving your organization, to do essentially the same job in another company and you’re still celebrating them and encouraging them. What does that say to every other human in your organization? ‘We care about you as a person, most of all.'”
Here are three simple ways to add meaning:
- Create reminders of connectedness. When people are reminded of human connection, they behave more altruistically. The Greater Good recommends making shared values visible around the office. Share photos of warmth and friendship at work.
- Recognize employees’ contributions. This is #6 on Great Place to Work’s 7 Ways to Connect Employees to Purpose. “Whether it’s via birthday or anniversary celebrations, a personal thank you card, kudos at a staff meeting, or a high-class celebratory gala, the recognition and appreciation of employees is important to the understanding that they – as a person and as an employee – make a difference to the company.”
- Share recognition best practices. Some people might need a refresher (or two) on how to give and write meaningful recognition. Share the Manager’s Field Guide to Gratitude or this peer-to-peer recognition post on how to say “thank you” to a peer.
Offer employee development opportunities and coaching.
Continuous performance management isn’t just about increasing your business’s success or maximizing individual productivity. Rather, it’s about helping your people be the best versions of themselves at work.
By thinking about feedback all year, managers can stay informed on all aspects of employees’ performance. Ideally, these regularly scheduled 1:1s allow for continuous goal setting, feedback, and engagement.
It’s critical to offer continuous performance development across an organization. After all, an investment in employee development is an investment in your company’s future. Having a plan in place helps employees with career growth opportunities, career mobility, and even personal development.
Invest in employee health and well-being.
With a partially remote or hybrid workforce, it can be difficult to see or know when an employee is at risk of burnout. Utilize time during check-ins to have open conversations about workload management and even topics unrelated to work, like how things in their personal life are going.
But be mindful that not everyone will – or wants to – open up. In a more private or anonymous matter, employee resource groups can provide guidance on mental health concerns, facilitate open dialogue in a safe space, reduce stigma, and sustain a culture of workplace mental well-being.
Whether it’s taking a more flexible approach to employee reviews, facilitating more staff surveys, or holding voluntary focus groups with internal teams, employers have options to make work better for employees. Continuous monitoring of the workforce’s emotional well-being will help ensure the right measures are taken so that employees remain happy.
Act on feedback.
The word “feedback” can feel intimidating and is almost always associated with bad news. Instead, think of it as advice.
Approaching feedback from a neutral standpoint can be the difference between obsessing about our own mistakes and putting in the effort to generate work that gets noticed.
“If we can think about feedback and reframe it to this idea of supporting each other on the journey to mastery, we can short-circuit the lizard brain reaction we have, the fear reaction we have when we hear that word feedback,” said Lynette. “It’s a reframe, to helping others on the journey to mastery.” At the end of the day, every manager, leader, and employee in the workplace plays a part in cheering each other on.
Use the right tools.
A new study conducted by Gallup found only one in four employees strongly agree they feel connected to their company culture, and only about one in three strongly agree they belong at their organization. Taking into consideration the tips listed above, and with the help of Workhuman®, your organization’s culture will improve greatly, and engagement scores will soar.
Develop a recognition and rewards program.
Think about the last time you were acknowledged for a project you were so deeply proud of. That feeling of accomplishment is uplifting on its own and multiplied exponentially when others take notice.
The simple act of acknowledging achievements is a major boost for employee morale and performance. “Thank you” at work is like “I love you” in your family.
“I love to scroll through the [recognition] feed, just to see what’s happening out there,” said Dave Bendetti, Sr. Compensation Manager at NCR. “You don’t see those little day-to-day wins like helping a customer. Then somebody being recognized for that on the platform in real time, to me, is awesome.”
When employees are rewarded for their contributions, they feel pride and are willing to work just as hard, or harder, on their next project. Effective employee recognition programs help to attract and retain top talent, and ensure that employees feel valued, appreciated, and motivated to achieve company goals.
Send employee surveys and act on feedback.
Surveys are one of the most valuable tools an organization has, but often underutilized. Employee engagement surveys allow organizations to ensure they form an emotional and mental connection with their employees, which also can help improve other metrics like job satisfaction and customer experience.
Workhuman’s award winning employee survey tool, Moodtracker®, continuously monitors a company’s culture by providing your HR and business leaders with new insights and early warning signals on team member mood, morale, and energy as you create a workplace culture focused on growth and trust.
Measurable concepts vary from:
- What is employee energy like inside the company?
- How is employee engagement? How does it compare to this time last year?
- Did a recent organizational change affect our culture? How will it affect culture in the future?
Satisfied employees feel personal gratification when doing their job. Keep in mind that satisfaction fuels engagement.
Employee engagement surveys should make the workforce feel heard and show that employers value their thoughts and feelings. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when fielding surveys:
- Not striking the right survey cadence: Pulse surveys should feel like an every-once-in-a-while check-in.
- Relying solely on third parties: The entire communication and change management process must come for your senior leadership team.
- Leaving biases unchecked: Make sure data scientists are engaged with both the survey design and the analysis of results.
- All talk, no walk: Surveys are useless unless they are acted on.
- Assuming correlation is causation: Recognize the need to investigate the root causes of issues like attrition and engagement within the organization before jumping into action.
If you want to learn more about how to field employee surveys, check out this guide to employee engagement surveys, which shares six essential best practices. You’ll learn how to communicate the results of the survey and next steps to act on results.
Measure at all stages of the employee life cycle.
The moment an employee joins your organization they rely on support from the HR team for their onboarding experience, regardless of their geographical location.
Creating this positive employee experience is important. Research shows when employees have intentional connection with each other at work, psychological safety increases.
Utilizing items mentioned above, like surveys, performance management, and open communication, HR leaders can improve every aspect of the employee experience – from recruitment and career growth, to exit interviews and beyond.
To help you recruit and develop your employees, reporting tools and powerful dashboards can track workforce metrics and chart progress as improvements are made.
We all have the power to make work more human by thanking each other more, talking with each other more, and celebrating together more throughout the employee life cycle.
Now is the time to turn insights into action.
About the Author
Employee Experience, Workhuman Live