Employee experience: how it can solve the employee engagement crisis

Aug 28, 2019

One of the main issues faced by employers is poor employee engagement. Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace report states that 85% of the global workforce is disengaged, resulting in a yearly productivity loss of approximately 6.3 trillion euros.

Employee engagement is a top priority for many businesses. However, even though businesses continue to allocate more money every year to boost employee engagement, the numbers are stagnant.

The main reason why companies are not successful in boosting employee engagement is because many fail to address it with a holistic approach. Some companies invest in short-term perks, like yoga on Wednesdays and drinks on Fridays. While these perks can temporarily boost morale, they do not solve the core problem.

According to Forbes’ Jacob Morgan, employee experience (EX) is an organization creating a place where people want to show up instead of assuming that people need to show up.  Creating a positive EX is essentially the solution to poor employee engagement. Not to mention, companies with positive EX, generate higher profits.

According to Morgan, EX is affected by 3 environments, namely:

  • Cultural
  • Physical
  • Technological

Cultural environment

Creating a positive cultural environment is vital for EX. Company culture is very hard to pinpoint. It is best described as a “vibe” or a “tone” of a workplace.

In order to create a pleasant cultural environment, companies need to stop treating their employees as human resources and start treating them as individuals. It is important to analyze individual goals and provide support in personal development and growth.  

Managers have a big impact on company’s cultural environment. Have you ever heard the phrase “people leave managers, not companies”? Today, people want managers who act as coaches and mentors and lead by example. Managers are responsible for empowering and encouraging people, as well as setting clear goals. They are also responsible for creating a culture of recognition, where people receive credit for the work they do and understand how their input affects the company as a whole.

A positive cultural environment encourages a good work-life balance and flexibility. Top companies are ditching a 9-5 mentality and allowing employees to work on their own terms. Employees who are given this freedom are far more likely to check their e-mail over the weekend, or stay up late working on a project. In other words, they are far more engaged.

Physical environment

Physical work environment is composed of the physical office space, as well as the physical perks like catered meals, massages, PlayStation, gym and relaxation areas.  A pleasant physical environment is important for a productive and positive EX. Companies are also leveraging their physical environment as a new strategic competitive advantage.

Forward-thinking companies are ensuring that their office space caters to different types of employees and different ways of working. Gone are the days of traditional desk space. These days, work can be done while relaxing in a lounge chair, drinking coffee in a café, in solitude or surrounded by people.

There is a reason why giants like Apple and Google invest billions in their office spaces. Providing a varied and exciting workspace increases productivity and results in employees wanting to spend more time at work.

Physical perks like catered meals, child-care and dry-cleaning are not only “nice to have”, but they also relieve stress and allow employees to focus more on work.

Gyms and recreational areas blend the lines between work and personal life, making work seem less work-like and providing the much-needed distraction. In addition, recreational areas allow co-workers to bond with each other.

However, in today’s digitalized world, a pleasant physical work environment can also be achieved by abolishing a physical work environment altogether. Many startups, like InVision, are ditching a physical office in order to save costs, without compromising productivity. They do not care where, when, or how many hours their employees work. To them, it’s all about the results.

This means that employees can work while sipping a cocktail on the beach, looking after their kids at home, or traveling the world. Employees choose their own work environment. Freedom and flexibility are the biggest reasons why people choose to work for these companies.

Considering these companies are all about results, and people can get work done on their own terms, employee engagement stops being an issue. These companies firmly believe that showing up at the office every day does not guarantee that people actually do something productive. They might be right. A study has shown that an average office worker spends 2 hours and 53 minutes doing work-related tasks.

Technological environment

Companies without physical offices would not exist if it wasn’t for technology. Those companies fully embrace technological advancements and the opportunities they create.

Many traditional office-based companies can learn from that when it comes to improving EX. According to a study, 60% of all jobs could have 30% more automated activities. People generally don’t enjoy performing repetitive and monotonous tasks which can be automated with the help of smart tools.

Cutting corners when it comes to technology can lead to frustration and a bad EX. Companies need to consider how their technological environment affects all aspects of their EX and be open to investing in new technologies.

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