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Steps Small Businesses Can Take to Improve the Employee Experience

5 Mins read
  • Small businesses need to take major steps to improve the employee experience to reduce turnover and attract the best talent.

Did you know that around 47 million people voluntarily left their jobs during the pandemic? This is a growing trend that is largely driven by people feeling unhappy with their jobs.

When you are running a business, it can be easy to focus on the needs of your clients at the expense of everything else. You may take your employees for granted, which can lead to serious problems down the road if the quality of their work suffers.

The average company has an employee turnover of 18%. Companies that try to give the best possible experience for their employees tend to have lower turnover rates. However, some companies don’t know what measures to take to keep their employees satisfied.

Take the Right Steps to Provide the Best Employee Experience

The coronavirus pandemic has shifted both employers’ and employees’ attention to wellbeing and health, and more broadly, to the employee experience. This is important for boosting employee retention.

“The great resignation” or “the big quit” is an ongoing phenomenon in which employees are resigning from their jobs in huge numbers. This trend began in early 2021, largely as a result of COVID-19 and the opportunities it afforded workers to revaluate and rethink their careers, working conditions, and work-life balance. Organizations are now scrambling to retain and attract top talent by enhancing the employee experience they offer.

If you’re a business owner or leader, what’s the best way to deliver an exceptional employee experience that will encourage your current staff to remain loyal to the company and entice new talent to join?

What Does “Employee Experience” Mean?

Employee experience (EX) describes what people experience and perceive during their time working for a company. It encapsulates the entire employee journey, from application and interview to onboarding, working at the company, promotion, and finally, the exit experience.

Many factors contribute to the EX, including the physical workspace, technology, working conditions, benefits, and the company culture. Companies that understand these principles will have a better relationship with their employees.

Employee experience should not be confused with employee engagement. The former encapsulates the employee’s entire experience with an organization — how they think, feel, and perceive it. In contrast, employee engagement is concerned solely with how committed that person is to their job and the level of enthusiasm they have for it.

Business Benefits of Delivering a Positive Employee Experience

Why should you invest the time and money in improving the employee experience?

  • Higher employee engagement

It stands to reason that an individual who has a positive perception of their workplace will feel more engaged and loyal to the organization. According to a Gallup poll, disengaged employees have 37% higher absenteeism, 18% lower productivity, and 15% lower profitability than their more engaged counterparts. This translates to a business cost of 34% of a disengaged employee’s salary. If poor engagement is a widespread issue, it could be costing your company thousands of pounds every year. In contrast, engaged employees are more productive, healthier, take fewer sick days, and are less likely to leave the company for pastures new.

  • An Improved Customer Experience (CX)

Satisfied employees are more likely to convey a positive image of the company and give their all to delivering the highest levels of customer service. For this reason, EX and CX are inextricably linked. Invest in the employee experience, and you will reap the benefits in customer satisfaction levels and reviews, which will, in turn, boost brand reputation and encourage sales.

  • Lower Rates of Absenteeism

Employees who are content in their work are less likely to take sick leave. An unhappy employee will be more inclined to take leaves of absence which can have a knock-on effect on the morale of colleagues who may have to take on extra work.

  • Enhanced Productivity

In a study by the University of Warwick, happiness made people 12% more productive. Investing in boosting the employee experience can deliver an impressive return, as greater productivity typically results in higher profits.

How to Deliver the Best Employee Experience

So, you’re sold on the benefits of improving the employee experience in your workplace, but how can you achieve this?

  • Take a Holistic Approach

Unlike employee engagement, delivering an exceptional employee experience relies on your company impressing in all aspects of the workplace. From the office layout to how the leadership team interacts with team members — it all contributes to an employee’s perception of the organization.

Invest in an experienced and qualified HR team to monitor and evaluate the employee experience at all touchpoints, from recruitment to exit interview. Establish a rigorous system of policies and documentation to ensure the key decision-makers have easy access to all the data they need when reviewing the support on offer to employees. This will probably involve investing in software that can compile and assimilate key data, such as the number of sick and annual leave days taken throughout the company, employee feedback, how workspaces are used, and much more. Without the people and resources necessary to track and analyze the current employee offering, making improvements will be nigh on impossible.

  • Make an Excellent First Impression

How an employee is welcomed into a company on day one will significantly impact their perception of the organization.

Make sure that everyone likely to come into contact with a new hire — from the receptionist to the head of department — knows to expect them and is armed with some basic information, such as their name, position, and where they need to be directed first. Prepare all the onboarding information, logins, and permissions they’ll need to get started and prepare a workstation for them to use.

Being prepared and ready with a warm welcome will make a new employee feel immediately valued.

  • Create a Flexible Working Environment

If the last few years have taught us anything, it’s that employees love being able to work more flexibly than the traditional office nine to five. A recent poll revealed that half of employees would quit their jobs if flexible working were removed post-pandemic.

If going fully remote is not suitable for your business, embrace a hybrid working model. More businesses than ever are allowing employees greater control and flexibility over their work hours by splitting their time between working remotely and in the office. Be sure to implement the systems and processes necessary to make a hybrid work environment convenient for both the business and its employees. For example, establish a desk hoteling system to allow people to book the workspaces they need ahead of time.

  • Invest in Technology

Technology is key to all businesses, regardless of the sector they operate in. Without the right systems in place, productivity and results will suffer, which can negatively impact employee morale. Furthermore, failing to invest in automation can result in highly-skilled staff spending hours fulfilling mundane and repetitive tasks that take them away from their main job role and diminish job satisfaction.

Upgrading outdated tech or investing in new systems can be daunting. The costs can be considerable, not to mention the time and effort required to integrate new systems with existing ones and train staff. But if you take the time to find software and hardware that meets the needs of your business, or better yet, is customizable, allowing it to scale as your business grows, the impact on productivity and the employee experience can be impressive.

  • Provide Opportunities for Development

Of course, not every employee wants to climb the career ladder, but many do, and even those who are happy maintaining the status quo may want to know there are opportunities for progression if they choose to pursue them. It’s all part of making your employees feel valued, which is a key part of the employee experience.

Implement a professional development program with regular check-ins, develop in-house training as well as supporting participation in relevant external training, and invite feedback from employees about what they want to learn more about — all of these actions will positively impact how people perceive the organization and their role within it.

Improving the Employee Experience is Essential for Companies Trying to Reduce Turnover

With many organizations losing their top talent to the “great resignation,” now is the time to focus on improving the employee experience. The shift towards remote and hybrid working means that many people have more career options than ever before — there’s no need to focus solely on employers within a commutable distance. By understanding the employee experience, monitoring it, and taking steps to improve it, such as offering development opportunities and attractive working conditions, you can put your company ahead of the competition when it comes to retaining and attracting the best people. You will also boost retention and lower the costs of turnover in the process.

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About author
Ryan Kh is a big data and analytic expert, marketing digital products on Amazon's Envato. He is not just passionate about latest buzz and tech stuff but in fact he's totally into it. Follow Ryan’s daily posts on Catalyst For Business.
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