As it becomes increasingly clear that we simply won’t be returning to the ‘normal’ of old, many companies are beginning to search for new ways to improve their employee experience. The pandemic has tested employers on many fronts, and the impending ‘turnover tsunami’ is painful proof that not every organization rose to the occasion. For those looking to make up lost ground, or simply stay ahead of the many upcoming curves, we wanted to pull together a list of low-lift solutions that can make a big impact for your employees. Plus, since we’ve got a flexible software platform designed to help companies of all sizes improve their employee experience, it only made sense to orient those solutions around Workrowd’s functionality.
That said, we know that not everyone has Workrowd at their disposal (yet!), so these ideas can all be implemented without the help of the platform, albeit with a bit more prep on the frontend and ongoing legwork. Don’t let that dissuade you, though; investing in ways to improve your employee experience is one of the best things you can do as team members start to return to the office, or settle into non-pandemic remote working for the long haul. Many of these ideas came up in conversations with Workrowd users or prospective users, so trust that there are a lot of brilliant minds behind the ideas on this page. Read on to learn why it’s so crucial to improve your employee experience, and check out our top strategies for doing so.
Why it’s more important than ever to improve your employee experience this year
Delivering a quality employee experience is crucial to ensuring your organization can recruit and retain top talent, the biggest factor in contributing to your company’s success. According to Deloitte, 80% of HR and business leaders say that employee experience is “important” or “very important” to them. Of these respondents however, only 22% feel that their organization is “excellent” at creating a differentiated employee experience. This is especially critical at a time when employees have an array of options available to them.
More than 80% of employers are already hiring or plan to hire during 2021. What’s more, 76% of companies believe that the demand for talent in 2021 will near or exceed pre-pandemic levels, which is good news given that more than 60% of full-time U.S. workers plan to look for a new job this year. What’s more, 3 million women have left the workforce since the pandemic began, and it’s unclear how many will return in 2021, or at all. As if these compounding elements weren’t enough to stress how important it is to improve your employee experience, the gig economy grew by 33% during the pandemic, providing yet another bucket of opportunities you could lose your top talent to as part of the ‘turnover tsunami’.
Beyond the recruitment and retention piece though, you also need the talent you have to be productive and engaged while they’re at work in order for your organization to be successful. Unfortunately, in addition to the aforementioned ‘turnover tsunami’, experts are also predicting a ‘mental health tsunami’ as we begin to emerge from the clutches of pandemic lockdowns. According to the American Psychiatric Association, employees living with untreated depression experience a 35% reduction in productivity, at a cost to the U.S. economy of $210.5 billion. Ensuring that support for your team members’ mental health is a part of your efforts to improve your employee experience will go a long way towards helping both your people and your bottom line thrive as the economy bounces back from the prolonged, pandemic-induced downturn.
Our top 5 ways to improve the employee experience in 2021
Now you know why you should invest in improving your employee experience, so how do you do it? There are many strategies you can pursue, but the most important thing you can do is to start talking to your employees. As with any effort to develop a product or experience consumers love, you have to begin by listening to the intended buyers themselves. Your current and prospective employees are the customers of your employee experience. If it’s not one they find attractive, you’re going to struggle in the impending war for talent. Additionally, this post doesn’t address compensation and benefits, but this is another make or break element of a world-class employee experience, so make sure your packages make the cut.
Once you’ve collected employee input via both surveys and conversations, here are some programs you might want to consider launching or increasing your investment in as part of your employee experience revamp:
- Professional development. According to LinkedIn’s 2019 Workforce Learning Report, 94% of employees say they would stay with a company longer if it invested in helping them learn. Professional development can come in a number of different forms, and focus on a number of different topics. While self-study environments can be great for some, others learn better in groups. Plus, by enabling employees to learn together, you can double your potential benefits as you’ll be strengthening relationships between colleagues at the same time that you’re upskilling your workforce. One easy and inexpensive way to get started is to support employees to launch professional development groups such as Toastmasters at your company. Fear of public speaking can restrict wages by 10%, and inhibit promotion to management by 15%, so there’s really no downside to helping your employees improve their presentation skills.
- Employee resource groups. In case we haven’t said it enough yet on this blog, we’ll do it again: employee resource groups are a massively underutilized tool. Every organization that has grown to the point where everyone doesn’t personally know each other should offer employee resource groups. These associations are not just crucial for driving diversity, equity, and inclusion, but they can do a lot to surface and solve unreported employee needs before they start hurting your business. Employee resource groups don’t have to be difficult to start, either. In fact, the Global ERG Network makes it extraordinarily easy to get them up and running with best practice templates and toolkits, monthly virtual events, and 24/7 networking and knowledge sharing with peers. There’s no reason to not start or ramp up your employee resource groups this year.
- Social impact programming. Approximately three-quarters of the working population believes that companies must advocate and work on social issues. This represents a dramatic rise in recent years, and it does not appear to be slowing. Helping your employees to feel that they’re part of something larger than themselves and be proud to represent a company doing good work in the world is a key way to improve your employee experience. Rather than running one of those monolithic days of service that no one really likes though, empower employees to champion the causes that are important to them. Colleagues will learn about each other, they’ll appreciate that your company is supporting important efforts, they’ll build new skills as part of their charity work, and the positive branding opportunities for your organization won’t hurt either.
- Wellness initiatives. As mentioned above, we’re standing on the precipice of a widespread mental health crisis. If you don’t take steps to get out ahead of it, your employees and your bottom line will suffer the consequences. Wellness initiatives can include things like yoga and meditation courses, but they can also encompass things like childcare to help working parents manage their many responsibilities, inclusive access to therapy and mental health services, and an environment that encourages people to ask for help when they need it. Making it clear that it’s okay to not be okay will help ensure your employee experience fosters an environment where team members can move beyond just surviving, to truly thrive within your organization.
- Intrapreneurship. Last but certainly not least, give your employees the ability to change the game at your company. Many employees want the opportunity to use their whole skillset, beyond just the elements they utilize in their day-to-day jobs. Making time and space for intrapreneurship, where employees get to innovate on new ways of doing things, new products or services, and new approaches to the industry, can do wonders for both your employee experience and your company’s prospects in the market. Consider organizing a hackathon to start off with, start an employee innovation group, or you could even go so far as launching an internal incubator. Intrapreneurship has done wonders for companies like Google and 3M, so what’s stopping you?
Improving your employee experience should be a key focus for your company during the second half of 2021, no matter where you’re starting off from today. Not only will it help you succeed in recruiting and retaining top talent, but the impact on your employees will drive increased productivity, engagement, and more. If you’re interested in pursuing any of the ideas listed above, drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to chat about ways to support you in your efforts, whether it’s sending over some free resources or discussing how Workrowd’s platform can help you launch, manage, and measure the impact of your programming. You can learn more on our website, but whether you decide to chat with us or not, we encourage you to reimagine how you’re approaching your employee experience in order to provide the most benefit to employees as we begin to process the full extent of the pandemic’s effects. Your colleagues and your bottom line will thank you for it.