Every generation brings its own sense of values into the workplace. Of course, that very notion entails a unique set of challenges as organizations attempt to efficiently evolve along with the ever-changing workforce. In the particular case of millennials, a distinctly new set of expectations for both job and employer has created a new challenge to organizations trying to effectively absorb what is already a dominant voice and generation into their workforce.
Furthermore, an extraordinarily tight labor market makes it absolutely imperative for organizations to enhance employee experiences as much as possible. Failure to do so increases the time, effort and money necessary to deal with ongoing employee turnover and talent acquisition, especially as it pertains to millennials and their specific expectations for the workplace.
Given the competitive marketplace and slim margins across most industries, companies need to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of communication with their employee base to identify any issues that might impact employee satisfaction, both now and in the future.
Therefore, it’s imperative that companies foster a positive employee experience as an engaged and satisfied employee is more likely to ensure better customer relationships. In the modern workplace, the pillars that define this experience are evolving as quickly and dramatically as the marketplace itself.
Pillars of the Modern Employee Experience
Quantifying something that is inherently qualitative in nature has always been something of a challenge. Everyone has a unique sense of their environment and surroundings that isn’t necessarily emblematic of reality. Lending an overarching, quantifiable structure to measuring employee experience is difficult but not impossible.
HR professionals are finding that employee feedback tools, such as Hyphen, as well as other innovations like gamification in training modules and marketing platforms for recruiting and onboarding, are imperative to a comprehensive, analytical and effective employee satisfaction strategy.
Outdated and incomplete concepts such as the employee life cycle or employee value proposition measurements now struggle to provide organizations with insight into the overall experience of their employees, particularly when viewed through the spectrum of the pillars that, collectively, define that experience.
Connection and Sense of Belonging
Since our days as hunters and gatherers, we have thrived from a broad sense of community. While we no longer live in caves or hunt for sustenance, the same desire for a sense of community and belonging still exists, even at the workplace.
When employees have a distinct connection with a company, workers feel a satiating sense of inclusion and importance, making all individuals want to exceed expectations and do their own respective part for the greater good.
Humans have an innate and overwhelming need to work in communicative and cohesive groups. When such a feeling is created and maintained within an organization, employees naturally strive for excellence. If that sense of belonging is missing, and workers feel isolated or excluded, the capacity to succeed on behalf of the team is severely diminished.
Define the Bigger Picture
Employees thrive on clarity and a sense of purpose. They want to have a deep understanding of an organization and their place within it. As such, job roles, responsibilities and tasks must be clearly spelled out and succinctly communicated to every individual within the company.
Without such guidelines, employees are likely to feel insecure about those specific responsibilities and doubtful about their role in general. These insecurities can snowball and cascade, affecting job performance and the customer experience that drives revenues.
Without well-defined guidelines, an employee typically performs just well enough to maintain some semblance of stability and rarely engages in the thoughts and creativity that are so important to a successful organization. Employees thrive and are engaged when roles, boundaries and effective communication lines are established. This process begins during the onboarding stage and continues indefinitely.
Acknowledgment of Impact
Human beings have a specific set of motivators that breed personal and organizational success. Employees don't want to work in a vacuum, never having their work acknowledged by fellow team members or the company. From an employer's perspective, acknowledgment works on two separate but connected fronts: positive feedback and constructive criticism.
Whether it's in the form of public accolades, rewards, pay raises or a simple handshake, employees want to be acknowledged for their successes and innovative thinking. Although not always welcomed with open arms, constructive criticism from supervisors in moments where the employee fails to meet expectations is equally necessary to better define responsibilities and boundaries.
It's not enough to simply acknowledge an employee's successes. An organization needs to concisely state the beneficial impact that individual success has within a team and the overall organization. Appreciation contextualizes the positive difference individuals have on company-wide operations, putting them in a perspective that both exemplifies and defines what those differences mean to the bigger picture.
Appreciation ties the other three pillars together, allowing employees to feel connected with the company, better understand the meaning and place they occupy within the organization, and how their work operates as a whole. Appreciation breeds the desire to continue to excel, another factor with cascading effects for the entire organization.
Putting It All Together
Quantifying and measuring these four pillars plays a significant role in establishing the metrics that help companies actively track and analyze the experience of their employees. Companies should view the employee journey with the same light as the customer experience.
With ever-expanding budgets devoted to analyzing and improving customer bonds, companies would be best served integrating tools that strengthen the employee relationships that drive the customer journey in the first place. Utilize a similar journey map that integrates all points of employment, from onboarding to continuing education to advancement, charting employees' progress and making any necessary changes before problems arise.
Engagement surveys alone are no longer sufficient to provide the needed metrics, particularly given the specific demands of the rapidly-expanding millennial workforce. Pulse polling and ad-hoc, bottom-up feedback mechanisms are now equally critical to quantifying the employee experience in an immediate and insightful manner.
Collectively, these tools give employees an important, demonstrable voice while seamlessly providing the resulting metrics to the appropriate managers and leaders in an efficient, timely manner. Such communication and data-driven analysis might very well be the difference between a company that constantly treads water and one that thrives in a competitive marketplace.