Satisfied, engaged employees are the heart of any successful business. As a business owner, though, it’s easy to focus on customer satisfaction instead of employee happiness. After all, your customers are the money-makers—right?
While it’s true that a positive customer experience is key to generating consistent revenue, the reality is your employees are the ones who keep operations running smoothly. Especially now, in the wake of the pandemic and Great Resignation, employees matter more than ever before. If you don’t create a positive employee experience, you’re missing out on important opportunities to support your team—and better your business.
How does employee experience affect business?
The employee experience in your workplace informs countless other aspects of your business, including individual job performances, employee retention levels, workplace culture, company culture, customer satisfaction, and business profits.
Here’s why: when employees are happy at work, they’re more likely to engage with their job duties and responsibilities. Engaged employees tend to be more invested in their job performance—and in your business’s growth. According to a 2021 Gallup poll, 74% of actively disengaged employees are looking for or open to new employment.
With engaged employees, however, you could see greater workplace productivity, more satisfied customers, increased revenue, and lower employee turnover. Plus, the stronger your employee retention levels are, the more money you’ll save on hiring and training new people. Simply put, your business is more likely to profit and retain loyal customers when you invest in your employee experience.
7 ways to transform your employee experience
You don’t necessarily need a big budget or a complete policy overhaul to improve your employee experience. You just have to be willing to learn and make changes. Here are seven simple but impactful ways to improve your employee satisfaction and well-being:
1. Survey your employees—and implement their feedback
The first step to transforming your employee experience is figuring out what your employees want and need. Start by sending them an anonymous email survey asking questions about their workload, roles, schedules, compensation and benefits package, coworker and manager relationships, workplace onboarding and training processes, and business practices. You may also want to hold one-on-one meetings with employees to gather additional information.
Once you’ve received feedback from your employee surveys, it’s crucial to take action. The Achievers Workforce Institute found that only 16% of companies actually implement their employees’ feedback. To avoid being a majority statistic, take the time to thoroughly review your employee responses, brainstorm solutions, and create an action plan complete with a timeline and regularly scheduled progress check-ins.
2. Help your employees find purpose at work
Sixty-two percent of employees said they want more purpose at work, according to a 2021 survey by McKinsey. Having goals at work isn’t enough to keep employees engaged and excited; they also want to do meaningful work and feel connected to something beyond their day-to-day job duties. You can help your employees discover more purpose at work by:
- Sharing your business’s mission: Tell employees why their work matters. Maybe your local coffee shop’s larger mission is to bring the community together, for example, or perhaps your ecommerce business donates a percentage of profits to funding cancer research.
- Creating giving initiatives: Get your employees involved in a volunteer day, or offer to match employee donations to a particular cause or organization.
3. Prioritize employee recognition
Giving your employees more recognition goes a long way toward boosting their confidence and happiness on the job. Sixty-five percent of employees surveyed in Bonusly’s 2022 employee appreciation poll said they’d work harder if their managers recognized their work more often. Recognition also affects retention; in the same survey, almost half (46%) of employees said they’ve left a job due to feeling under-appreciated.
That’s why it’s important to find ways to regularly recognize employees for their talents and efforts. You can:
- Offer feedback often: Encourage managers and supervisors to schedule weekly or monthly check-ins with employees. During these meetings, managers should take the time to explain what an employee is doing well, then offer constructive criticism for improving.
- Be generous with praise: Instead of only offering positive feedback during meetings or annual performance reviews, work on praising employees on the spot. Try complimenting someone for their excellent customer service skills, or thanking the employee who always shows up on time. Encourage employees to give each other praise, too. Over one in five employees from the Bonusly survey said they want peer recognition.
- Give rewards: Monetary recognition is just as important—maybe even more so—than verbal recognition. According to Bonusly, the majority of employees want recognition in the form of bonuses or perks, followed closely by salary increases. You could also offer gift cards, monthly entertainment stipends, or an extra day of paid time off (PTO).
4. Expand your benefits
Offering better benefits is a way to empower your employees and show them you care about their personal well-being and happiness outside of work. Behind a strong salary and regular employee recognition, a benefits package is the top driver of employee well-being, according to MetLife’s 2020 Employee Benefits Trends Study.
Employees want options for their benefits; 61% of employees surveyed by MetLife said having a wider variety of benefits would help lower their stress levels. Fortunately, great employee benefits go beyond health insurance. You may also want to consider:
- Mental health benefits, like employee wellness stipends, covered therapy sessions, employee assistance programs, or paid mental health days
- Financial wellness benefits, like 401k matching, life and disability insurance, reimbursements for accountant services, or financial education courses on topics like budgeting and investing
- Subsidized family care, such as paid parental leave, daycare stipends, or paid caregiver leave
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5. Be more flexible
Giving your employees more flexibility in the workplace drastically improves their health, job satisfaction, and job performance. MetLife’s benefits study found that not only is a flexible work arrangement one of the top five mitigators of stress, burnout, and depression—flexibility is also one of the top 10 drivers of employee productivity, engagement, and loyalty.
That’s why flexibility and high retention go hand in hand. When employees have more flexibility over when and where they work, retention increases 77%, according to O.C. Tanner’s 2022 Global Culture Report. Here are some different ways you can give employees more flexibility and improve their work-life balance, no matter what your operations look like:
- Offer flexible or custom working hours.
- Give employees more choice over their shift times.
- Give employees remote work options.
- Give employees more flexibility with how and when they use their paid time off.
- Give employees more flexibility during the work day to take a doctor appointment or run an errand.
6. Focus on professional development
Many employees want more support with their professional growth and career progression. In fact, one in five employees surveyed in the Work Institute’s 2020 Retention Report leave their jobs for career development reasons.
When you give employees more tools and time to develop their confidence and hone their skills at work, they tend to be more fulfilled and engaged on the job. O.C. Tanner’s report found that career development opportunities increase employee engagement by 83%. Here are just a handful of ways to show your employees you value their professional growth:
- Create a robust job training program, one where employees can learn about different roles within the business and gain new work experience.
- Set monthly and quarterly goals with each of your employees, then meet to review their progress.
- Be transparent about the promotion or advancement opportunities for each role, and explain which benchmarks employees need to reach to move up.
- Work with your employees to outline a career plan. Ask them about their long-term goals and interests for their employee journey, so you can figure out how to support them.
- Give employees stipends to attend conferences, take an online course related to their work, or purchase books or materials to help them improve on the job.
7. Create a sense of belonging in the workplace
How welcome and comfortable your employees feel when they’re at work can make or break their experiences. As an employer, it’s your responsibility to create a positive work environment, one where every employee feels valued and included. Consider the following strategies as a starting point:
- Examine your workplace policies: Work with human resources to review your workplace policies regarding pay, promotions, leaves, termination, and raises to ensure equity and inclusivity. Employees of every race, ethnicity, nationality, gender, sexuality, and ability should have access to the same opportunities and accommodations.
- Train managers and supervisors: Enroll your business leaders in a program that teaches them how to manage employees fairly, how to communicate effectively, how to demonstrate empathy, how to understand and minimize their biases, and how to recognize and respond to discrimination or bullying in the workplace.
- Encourage coworker bonding: The O.C. Tanner report found that connecting with coworkers increases employee retention rates by two times. You can encourage healthy bonding by hosting social events, creating a mentoring program, or celebrating employee birthdays and milestones.
A great employee experience translates to higher retention
Transforming your employee experience is a worthwhile investment in your business’s growth. If you’re not sure where to begin, review your employee feedback. Even making one change to start—like enrolling your managers in a leadership course or introducing flexible arrival times— can have a positive chain reaction.