Lessons Learned: How to Improve the Employee Experience
It is no secret that the pandemic has had a huge effect on businesses and employees across the world. Businesses have had to change and adapt their working processes. The majority of the workforce worked remotely, and traditional 9-5 working was a thing of the past.
As well as communication and change of processes, employers have also had to reconsider how they reward and motivate their employees in these strange and unprecedented circumstances. Things that were once considered perks of the job such as modern offices, funky furniture, and a good coffee machine – are no longer as relevant.
Instead, it is more important to focus on a meaningful and lasting emotional connection between the employee and their employer. Employers can use the lessons learned in the past year to improve the employee experience.
Lessons Learned: How to Improve the Employee Experience
The shift in working patterns forced by the COVID-19 pandemic revealed organisational issues that may have previously gone unnoticed. Employers were faced with addressing these issues, often with no clear protocol in place.
Some of the issues that arose included:
- Contacting employees at scale.
- Relaying communication across the entire workforce.
- Ensuring that employees are able to engage in meaningful interactions.
- Maintaining services and relationships in a virtual working environment.
- Providing appropriate training on new protocols and / or tech.
- Ensuring employee wellbeing is prioritised.
Overcoming these issues has driven a shift in the workplace. We’re looking at 5 of the key areas where the lessons learned can improve the employee experience.
Typically, rewarding employees has been in the form of a bonus scheme. If, for example, employees reach their targets set for the year, they will receive a reward. This is often financial.
Last year however, many businesses had to change this due to the financial impact on them because of the pandemic as well as due to large portions of their workforces being put on furlough.
Instead, employers focused on employee wellbeing and supporting productivity whilst working remotely. As we begin to return to “normal”, these are areas that employers should continue to focus on as we begin to return to normality.
In the recent 2021 Performance Management Report Commission by Clear Review, 0% of HR directors said pay and ratings should be a focus of performance management. 46% said productivity and engagement should be the focus.
However, it is still important to recognise that some employees are highly motivated and driven by bonus scheme rewards. The key is for employers to understand that each staff member is different. Individuals will have varying motivations and circumstances.
The return phase presents an opportunity for companies to rethink the employee experience in ways that respect individual differences. These may include:
- Home lives
- Skills and capabilities
- Personal characteristics
Leaders can now address employee experience in a more targeted and dynamic way.
Employers supported flexible working as a way of supporting their employees’ individual circumstances during the pandemic. School and nursery closures had a huge impact on childcare, meaning that people now had their work and family life to balance.
Supporting employees with a more flexible approach to work meant that staff were more engaged and aligned to their organisations. Although schools and nurseries have re-opened, flexible working should be continued. It is a great way to keep employees engaged and motivated. It’s also a great way for employers to show their support for their employees’ work-life balance.
Remote working has been the norm for many organisations in the past year. So much so, that certain organisations are looking to forego the office workplace entirely. Big brands like Twitter, Google and Microsoft have even announced plans to allow employees to work remotely indefinitely.
Other businesses are offering what is being referred to as a ‘hybrid’ working model. That is, the option for employees to work partially from home, and partially in the office.
Remote working has helped save employers and employees money. Low to no commuting costs, lower overheads in the workplace, and more. Many have also benefited from the gift of time.
Like with other learnings from the past year, remote working has not been everyone’s cup of tea. Employers should consider the individual preferences of their employees. Remote working should be an option, as should office-based work. Providing this flexible approach is a great way to improve the employee experience.
Improving and updating communication processes was hugely important whilst employees were working remotely. Ensuring everyone was updated on business plans, company updates, as well as the impact of the pandemic on the business, played a significant part in ensuring staff were engaged.
It was important for employers to get continuous feedback to ensure the workforce were ok during a mentally challenging time.
Technology played a key role in ensuring staff could continue to keep in touch with each other. It also proved a key way to keep teams engaged. This should be a fundamental part of an employee’s experiences going forward.
One of the most important changes in the workplace as a result of the pandemic, was employers taking a more personalised approach with their staff. This had the biggest positive improvement for the employee’s experience. A personalised approach fosters a culture in the workforce where each employee can collaborate and help pave their journey with their organisation.
By recognising differences between employees and considering their specific needs, it allows them to help steer their own journey in their career, engaging them and aligning them to the company. The benefits of this for both employee and employer should result in a workforce that requires less sick days, less staff turnover and staff that are more positive and productive.
It’s fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic threw mental health into the spotlight. During the first lockdown, 82% of Brits questioned were experiencing anxiety, depression, or low self-esteem. Yet almost half admitted that they had not spoken to anyone about it.
As the year rolled on, mental health became increasingly important. The ongoing stress caused by restrictions saw mental fatigue hit an all-time high.
Employers were faced with supporting the mental health of their employees. In order to ensure a productive and healthy working environment, mental health and employee wellbeing had to become a core issue. Employers were ensuring their employees had access to mental health resources. Conversations around mental health were encouraged.
This supportive environment should perhaps be the greatest learning we can take from the past year. This can help businesses promote a true culture of growth and collaboration.
Organisations that focus on employee experience will create meaningful impact now and well into the future. Tal Gilbert, CEO of Vitality USA, sums up the reason why employee experience continues to be a top priority for HR leaders. “The way employers treat their employees during the Covid-19 pandemic will define what type of employer they are, and this will impact employee loyalty, motivation, and overall employee and customer satisfaction.” (source)
If you’re looking for actionable insights that can offer a deeper understanding of your workforce, hug can help. Our platform has been developed with the employee experience at its core. Find out how hug can bolster your employee experience by requesting your demo today.