August 16, 2021
Alexa Baggio and Saul Lookner of PERKSCon joined host Rich Rininsland on the TeamBuilding Saves the World podcast to talk about a very important topic: cultivating your company experience. PERKSCon hosts events around the country focused on creating immersive experiences for the professionals that manage people in their organizations. Listen to the latest episode, and for FREE tickets to a PERKSCon event near you click here.
The Importance of the Employee Experience
The term “employee experience” is used to describe how staff feels about everything from the overall culture to the daily interactions they experience with one another. It also encompasses things like the software programs they use, how well the hardware — such as computers — work, and how much they enjoy communicating with their colleagues, bosses, and other team members.
It is NOT things like how well the floorplan works or what health insurance the company offers. Rather, it is specifically what they think and feel about the various touchpoints they experience on a day-to-day basis.
It’s important to have a good overall employee experience because it supports more than just the time spent at work. “You have to be able to support and create a lifestyle for your employees,” said Baggio during the discussion. She also notes that today’s employees expect both benefits and experiences- things that engage them and go beyond just the basics.
Creating a strong employee experience can increase retention, improve productivity, and increase employee satisfaction, so it is essential companies make the employee experience a core component of their overall HR strategy.
Building Your Employee Experience Strategy
Your employee experience strategy needs to start with a realization that you must go beyond the standard medical, dental, and vision packages. Baggio said, “It used to be that, 30 or 40 years ago, if you had healthcare and dental and vision and a 401k, you were the cream of the crop as an employer… Right now it’s become this kind of test for how many services and what are [they], and what’s the right combination of services that actually creates the culture and the brand you are trying to instill. This concept that you just provide health insurance, dental, and vision, and then you’re done doesn’t work anymore.”
Benefits such as these are no longer a differentiator and are now just expected benefits at any company, no matter the size or industry served. Rather, the employee experience strategy needs to focus on the little things that can make or break an employee’s workday.
To start, sit down and really think about the kind of lifestyle you want to promote. And not just the lifestyle in the office, but what types of people are you looking to attract? Family-oriented parents? Young, ambitious professionals? Seasoned experts? “That’s a much more intentional way to build a team, to build a culture, to build benefits,” Baggio noted.
The benefits your company provides will signal the company’s overall priorities. This can help attract the right talent and make employees feel welcome and engaged, which in turn leads to better work and more productive time spent. While having benefits that go beyond the basics is critical, just putting in a sports lounge or games isn’t enough either.
“It is no longer about butts in seats and dry gray cubicles,” she said. “And none of that stuff is going to fly anymore if you want to be competitive, but it’s also not ever going to go back to, ‘oh, well we have a foosball table and a Kegerator.’” Instead, be prepared to test different options, and measure how employees feel and engage with various options. See what employee experiences really benefit your specific team, and which are just distractions, or worse, actively create negative experiences.
One thing to consider is making mental health a top priority when designing the right experience for your company. Organizations need to make sure employees are taking care of themselves and make the right services available to ensure that if they need help, they don’t have to ask — they already have it.
This can include everything from ensuring that therapist services are included in the benefits package, to offering yoga classes, to providing Uber lifts to doctor appointments, to offering DoorDash once a week for lunch. There are a huge number of possibilities.
Something For Everyone
One thing to keep in mind when designing your company’s employee experience strategy is that one size won’t fit all. Just having one or two options that a few people enjoy isn’t going to work — many workplaces today have employees from different generations, at different stages in their careers, and with different home situations. Your employee experience strategy should touch on all of these and ensure there is something for every employee to engage with.
For example, the Millennial generation might respond best to financial assistance with their education, while Gen Z employees might respond better to benefits that focus on creating connections and networking as they get established in their careers. Take note of the actual makeup of your team and ensure the benefits you offer speak to what you want the culture to be, but also don’t alienate the workers you already have.
Breaking it Down
Baggio noted that one of the biggest barriers to implementing an employee experience strategy is the myth that it is going to be too hard to do, or that utilization will be too low to be worth it. But “we absolutely have to get rid of [that idea] because it’s not hard.”
She continued, “this idea that ‘if my whole team can’t use it or I don’t get 75% engagement with this, why would I do it?’ Well, let me reverse the question: if you could get 10 of your team members an eye exam at the office instead of 0, would that be worth doing? And the answer is almost always yes. But, when you have four generations of people in the workforce, and you’re offering this sort of smattering of things, you’re never going to be able to hit a home run every time.”
Not everyone will use every benefit and that’s okay. A segment of employees will use each one and will be engaged and very happy with the benefits offered — if there is something for everyone, everyone will have something to engage with and feel like they are recognized as individuals, rather than just cogs in a corporate wheel. And companies like PERKS, she said, can make it a lot easier to break down those options and ensure the right overall employee experience that the brand wants to build is implemented across the board.
Getting Started With Your Employee Experience Strategy
Don’t know how to start building an employee experience strategy? Here are a few tips on how to start building an individualized employee experience strategy that addresses the needs of many.
- Gather as much feedback as possible
Increase the frequency of one-on-one meetings and anonymous pulse surveys at your company. The more feedback you have, the better you will understand what is standing in the way of employee satisfaction.
- Identify commonalities in the feedback
Once the feedback has been gathered, look for commonalities and find creative solutions that can address multiple pain points. For example, say one of the main pain points from the millennial segment of employees is a lack of work-life balance and one of the pain points from the Gen X employees is not being able to drop their kids off at school during the week. Consider a work option that includes flex hours, or optional work from home days.
- Assign employee experience representatives across all departments
Designate a trusted employee from each department as an employee experience representative. Other employees can go to their respective employee experience representative with any feedback, ideas for improvement, or issues they are facing. This will help HR gain more visibility into employees across all departments and will increase the frequency of feedback.
To hear more about why the employee experience is so critical to an organization’s success, and how to get started building the right implementation strategy, listen to the latest episode of TeamBuilding Saves the World.