Employee Experience: The Why & How of it!

Whether you’re an operations head or in support functions like HR or Finance, your internal customer remains the same – ‘The Employee’. Every company spends a considerable amount of time & money in hiring quality talent and training them to perform optimally. The employees thus are able to generate profitability for the business. While we focus on external customer satisfaction, it is imperative that we also spend a thought on the internal customer a.k.a. ‘the employee’. This is in alignment with what J.W. Marriott has to say about employee satisfaction – Take care of your employees, they will take care of your customers and your business will take care of itself.

Talking about ‘customers’, the nature of customers has evolved over a period of time. There were times when people traded in goods. These were the times where traders made the profits and the customers had to work hard at procuring these from the traders at the traders’ terms. Then with the industrialization revolution came the era of the products, where finished goods or ‘Products’ were sold. These products were designed keeping some of the needs of the end consumer in mind. The industries started to move in the direction of designing these products which would appeal to the customer. Probably for the first time, the customer was given precedence over a mere transaction. A few short decades later, the focus started to tilt towards customer ‘service’. This was the time where standardized produce was fast getting replaced by their customized counterparts. Also, after-sales service formed a large part of the purchase decision for the end consumer.
Today, however, the service industry is also undergoing a huge transformation. You don’t spend 10-15 times the price of coffee on a single cup at a local coffee shop where you catch up with friends or you don’t empty your pocket for a tub of popcorn at the movies just for the ‘service’ alone. The customer today is buying something else. It’s the ‘experience’ that the customers relish at that premium cost. Today with a huge choice of experiences that a consumer has, the battle is not of the better product or more courteous service alone. The premium is charged by the company offering the best experience to the spender.
EXPERIENCE IS KING!

The scenario with the internal customer is no different. With the plethora of job opportunities available with a variety of industries, the employees prefer companies that give them the best experience. Companies today invest in creating a whole fun & relaxed ecosystem along with work. From painted walls to TT tables, from gym setups to Foosball tables, from in-house theaters to bunk beds, from office Wi-Fi access for mobile phones to sporting events…. the companies are going that extra mile for making the employee experience a memorable one. Sadly the companies not investing in these are losing out on talent as employees are giving higher precedence to facilities than just the package alone.

 

The only question left is ‘How’ does one create an employee experience the counts? A company who wants to seriously look at the ‘experience’ element of their (internal) customer – the employee, needs to have its ears on the ground, always listening for and reliably delivering on the employee desires. Sometimes, the employee could be asking for the sun & the moon which obviously cannot be delivered but if someone’s listening, then they have a greater opportunity of enhancing their employee experience.

One of the greatest human need is to be noticed and appreciated. Hence the rewards & recognition program has to be an integral part of the employee experience enhancement program. If a company has a larger younger crowd, then providing them with space, both physical and mental is gaining popularity. If a company provides structured autonomy to its people, they tend to produce more and stay longer as compared to a micro-managing company. Providing a break-out area or a smoking cafeteria (maybe a terrace cafe) also assists in enhancing the experience. Basically, the company needs to be creative in enhancing the customer experience without (and that’s a big without) compromising any of their core values.

A few things worth considering on making the employee experience count:

  • Provide autonomy in their roles after clearly defining the KRAs and their measures.
  • Be on the lookout for people doing things right rather than people doing things wrong. Recognize even small improvements and reward them.
  • Provide a safe & comfortable working environment. Ensure the premise is free from anything that could hamper the employee’s well-being (sexual harassment and personal safety included).
  • Involve employees in decision-making as far as possible. There is no better engagement exercise that this.
  • Plan an annual calendar of events to celebrate with everyone and communicate it.
  • Start abolishing the cabin-culture. Today more & more directors & senior leadership sit along with the junior staff.
  • Based on budgets, consider providing them with a break-out room, access to movies, video games, access to Wi-Fi, gyms, etc. And if we cannot manage this in-house, arrange for tie-ups with nearby places to get discounts for your employees.
  • Give a lot of importance to exit interviews. This is where you’ll get the best feedback of your company and the work environment.
  • Do whatever would make them feel at ‘home’ rather than at ‘work’.

This is just an indicative list. I’m sure you have a few other ideas that work. Feel free to leave them as a comment below.