Entrepreneur Richard Branson hit the nail on the head when he said, “A company’s employees are its greatest asset, and your people are your product.”
Branson’s words echo the transition we continue to see as businesses rethink how they treat employees. While companies have historically operated in a “conveyer belt approach” to hiring talent, modern, savvy employers understand the power in recruiting, developing and retaining the right talent through an employee-centric workplace.
Why the shift? A recent Harvard Business Review study found that there’s a direct correlation between engaged, empowered and satisfied employees and human performance, resulting in higher revenue attainment. Meaning, to create the happy, satisfied interactions customers want, companies must look internally at their own employees’ happiness and satisfaction.
This shift is also reflected in the power today’s workforce has in selecting their employer. Employees want to work for brands that foster growth and value its workers. They are therefore quick to turn to social media platforms and sites like Glassdoor when evaluating potential employers to better understand the brand and culture from current and past employees. They’ll likewise look at employer recognitions through industry and media groups. Those that often underperform in these areas send red flags to prospects, causing them to look elsewhere.
As such, let’s take a deeper dive into ways businesses can create employee-centric workplaces.
Human-centered design addresses employee friction points
All companies have friction points, but companies that actively work to identify and address them are more likely to keep their employees engaged, performing and, ultimately, retained.
Regularly review your company data and talk to your employees through surveys and focus groups about the friction points they experience with technology, operations and HR-related processes required to do their jobs. Combine data with your employees’ point of view. Where appropriate, make changes to ensure employees can remain successful in their job.
For example, we know of an organization that wanted to fly new contact center agents to the company headquarters during onboarding to expose them to the corporate culture and executive leadership team. After soliciting feedback, the organization realized that employees found more value in building relationships with their local teams, especially early in their onboarding experience. By listening to their employees, the company reworked its onboarding processes to provide better experiences and meet employees’ needs, all while significantly reducing onboarding/travel costs.
Likewise, another company we know of found that productivity was down in the morning. Since parking was unavailable near the building, the organization ran shuttle buses from the parking lot to the call center once an hour. Upon talking to the employees, they realized when employees missed the bus, they were forced to walk or run to ensure they made it to work on time. So, rather than starting their workday fresh, they took client calls when they were out of breath, late and stressed, which was a subpar experience for all. After communicating with the employees and being made aware of the problem, the company deployed shuttle buses more often to the parking lot to reduce friction and create more pleasant mornings for its employees.
These examples show how talking and listening to your employees can ultimately lead to better work environments and more trusting employees who feel heard.
Cultivate a culture of growth and engagement to drive loyalty and retention
It should come as no surprise that engaged employees far outperform their peers. Yet, Gallup reports just 21% of employees worldwide and 33% in the United States are engaged at work.
One means of narrowing this gap is to align employee and HR interests. In fact, our recent employee experience (EX) study, Humanizing Human Resources: The 2023 State of Experience in the New World of Work Report, validates the gap that exists between how employees define experience excellence and how HR organizations are shifting service delivery approaches in response to workforce expectations. This is critical as the study found 73% of employees surveyed believe their HR-related interactions impact their feeling of loyalty to the company.
Further, companies need to define and embrace their culture, while ensuring it’s put into practice. Leadership teams must work to specify what the organizational culture is and what that means to the employees. If possible, have your employees help to ensure they buy into the process. Creating an inviting and engaging work culture will not only increase employee engagement but will also strengthen the overall brand.
Listen and respond to employees’ individual needs
We know customers want personalization and human connections. For that to happen, we need to treat employees that way, too. An employee-centric workplace understands that no two employees are the same and is flexible enough to meet each of their unique needs.
For example, do they have unique scheduling needs that require flex hours to take children to daycare or school or aging parents to doctors’ appointments? Would they benefit from consumer-directed wellness programs such as Lifestyle Accounts, where employees are reimbursed a fixed amount for approved expenses? Think yoga classes, gym memberships, running shoes, pet care and childcare. Are there particular training programs that would make them more successful in their role, or for their own professional development?
It’s time for organizations to stop looking at employees as one entity with the same needs and, instead, work to understand and accommodate them individually. Doing to will make them feel more appreciated, resulting in greater productivity, and will also further build their loyalty.
Change internal culture to meet evolving necessities
Today’s customers want personalization and human connections. To make that happen, organizations must start treating employees the same way customers expect to be treated.
By getting company culture right and having an employee-first mindset, customer experience and the pathway to business success will follow. The Happiness Trifecta is more likely to become a reality.