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Creating a people-first approach to the employee experience

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by GoCo - September 20th, 2022

In recent years, it’s become obvious that employee experience is one of the most significant facets of modern business. It’s how your employees perceive and encounter the workplace, their colleagues, and the role they carry out each day. 

Many successful businesses build a robust employee experience from the hiring phase to their exit interview strategy. They understand that they do not own employees, and appreciate the time they have as part of an employee’s career journey. 

As the war for talent rages on and the Great Resignation shows no sign of slowing, how can leaders create a people-first approach to the employee experience? What techniques and strategies will ensure people stick around longer, enjoy their careers, and achieve superb results?

Key ideas for creating a better employee experience

Let’s take a look at a number of ways to create an exceptional employee experience. We’ll cover career progression, stay interviews, diversity and inclusion and more. 

Provide opportunities to grow and succeed

If there’s one thing most employees want, it’s a clear career path. The opportunity to achieve more is one of the major reasons for moving jobs. And that’s closely followed by a lack of challenge. 

The reason this point comes first is that it’s likely the most significant of all those mentioned below. Employers must provide some form of career development and progression if they want to retain top talent. 

This means online courses, lunch and learns, 1-2-1 career coaching, and, of course, promotions. The list does go on, and leaders must get creative with how they provide opportunities to grow and succeed. Regardless of budgets, there are opportunities for all organizations to provide career progression schemes. Think mentoring from another employee, or a buddy system with someone from another department. To put it simply, progression and development don’t need to break the bank.

Create an inclusive workplace culture

Diversity and inclusion (D&I) are highly important to successful workplaces. It’s companies that can bring people together from different backgrounds that truly build great products and services. 

Without diversity and inclusion, companies will lack the ability to attract talent and fail to grow. Employers also run the risk of losing talented individuals who will seek out more accepting workplaces. 

From an employee experience perspective, it creates a more accepting environment and one that educates people on different lifestyles, cultures and more. Finally, by hiring employees from all walks of life, you are able to continue building a team in that very way.

Take a look at your recruitment strategy and ensure you’re hiring with D&I in mind – not just for the happiness of future talent, but that of your current workplace culture.

Carry out stay interviews with your employees

Often underestimated, stay interviews help leaders retain talent by finding out why they choose to stay and what could cause them to leave. It sounds simple, but the information leaders receive can really make a difference when it comes to retention. 

As part of the employee experience, stay interviews also ensure that employees' thoughts, feelings, and ideas are heard. Nobody likes to feel ignored, unappreciated or unheard, and stay interviews give concerned employees the chance to speak up. 

This approach also transforms workplace culture, creating more openness and honesty among your workforce. Below, we’ve included just a few stay interview questions to ask your team: 

  • Have you considered leaving in the past six months? 

  • For what reason would you leave, right now, if any?

  • How can leadership improve the employee experience for you?

  • Do you feel there are ample opportunities for growth?

  • What are the negatives of your role?

Remember, the best way to adopt stay interviews is to learn to listen. It’s no good to have a conversation with your employees without action, as this will render the stay interview strategy pointless – act on their concerns and thoughts. 

Communication is key in a remote-first world

As the world turned to remote and hybrid working, communication had to remain robust. Some companies failed, others prevailed. As we navigate these post-pandemic times, many employees have suffered from loneliness while working from home. 

In fact, a 2021 survey reported by the Metro found 81% of respondents between the ages of 18 and 34 to have expressed concerns about loneliness while working remotely.

While workplace culture can be difficult to achieve in a remote-first environment, leaders must do their best to create a sense of belonging, and a solid employee experience. This means regularly checking in with employees on how they are doing, whether that’s through applications like Slack or video-call software like Zoom. 

Some companies even create their own channels and group conversations for certain topics of interest. Communicate effectively with your employees about all matters of business and personal life for a better employee experience. If there’s one thing the world has learned from working remotely, it is that small talk really does matter. 

Construct your employee journey map

Finally, let’s talk about employee journey maps. This provides leaders with a bird’s-eye view of your employee experience. It helps HR teams keep track of the different stages and events that happen during the employee experience – from the onboarding phase to exit interviews. 

Like anything that you’re trying to revamp, the employee experience is no different. Having a better grasp of what stage different employees are at gives you a clearer idea of what to do next (or how to improve a certain stage). 

Coupling your employee journey map with surveys and stay interviews will provide a powerful mix of strategies to increase retention and truly connect with your workforce. While the points above provide ideas for your employee experience, your journey map details how they will all fit into place. 

Without one, it’s just a collection of events and ideas that should happen at some point, but without any real structure – and that’s exactly why we’ve included constructing an employee journey map. 

Final Note

Hopefully, you found the above points extremely helpful when thinking about how to create a people-first employee experience. For too long “employee experience” hasn’t been taken seriously by HR teams and leaders. 

It’s time to act on the creative and engaging ideas for increasing retention, job satisfaction and building a successful team – all of which can be achieved with a solid employee experience.