However, knowing the benefits of an engaged, happy and high-performing workforce is one thing.
Knowing how to make this engaged, happy and high-performing workforce a reality is something else altogether.
What’s needed to achieve this level of employee engagement is an in-depth knowledge of – and consistent commitment to – the employee experience.
In this deep-dive guide, we’ll cover some of the key things you need to know about employee experience (or EX for short).
We’ll look at what it is, the impact of it, and the factors that influence it, but most importantly, we’ll also examine the crucial aspects that thought leaders in management consulting and HR often leave out of their employee experience strategy.
Read on to find out all there is to know about employee experience, and how communication and technology actively raise employee satisfaction.
Employee experience defined
Before we get into this, let’s start by defining what employee experience means.
Like many common phrases in the business-to-business sector, it often gets overused to the point that it loses all meaning.
Put simply, employee experience refers to how a worker feels about the organisation they work for – from when they first hear about that organisation, until long after they’ve left.
It’s about every interaction they have with the entity that employs them, and how they interpret those interactions.
This means when a member of your HR team responds to an email from a prospective job candidate, it’s a part of the employee experience.
And how that same candidate is welcomed into the building for their first interview is also a part of the employee experience.
Then from settling in, to every day at the office, to every day working remotely, to every review meeting, to every Christmas party – it all contributes to the impression that an employee has of the organisation they work for.
This breadth of experiences is known as “the employee life cycle”.
The “employee life cycle”
We don’t need to dig too deep into this concept, but it’s worth briefly covering.
Because as mentioned, employee journeys stretch well beyond their actual period of employment.
The employee life cycle is the full scope of their experience – when it begins, when it ends, and all that happens in between.
How many total stages there are in the employee lifecycle depends on who you ask – Gallup claims there are 7, Tech Funnel says 12 – but across all interpretations of it, these core components are always present in some form:-
1. Hiring 2. Onboarding 3. Development 4. Retention 5. Exit
So remember, if you want to deliver a great employee experience every time, commit to doing so from that very first interaction.
A high-level employee experience drives high performance while an employee is with you, and has them singing your praises long after they’ve moved on.
Why EX matters more than ever
Since the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, workplace dynamics have fundamentally changed for good.
According to Benefex, 96% of HR leaders felt the pandemic made employee experience a more important priority.
For those who were furloughed, the feeling of life being put on pause offered them time to reflect on things, and reassess their priorities.
While for those who continued working, it proved employees could be just as productive outside of their usual office environment, and even outside of their usual hours.
For more traditional industries in particular, it showed senior management that it was in fact possible to modernise their operations without everything falling apart.
In short, 2020 saw a big sea change in ways of working, the ways people thought about work, and how they thought about life itself.
Employee disengagement is VERY costly Low engagement costs the global economy around £6.9 trillion GBP (US $7.8 trillion) and accounts for 11% of GDP globally.
Current standards of EX are poor Only 21% of the global workforce is considered “engaged” – 60% of people are emotionally detached at work (not engaged) and 19% are miserable (actively disengaged).
Research from Gartner supports this, with one of their surveys revealing that only 13% of employees were fully satisfied with their experience at work.
Optimal employee experience = profit & performance According to research conducted by Jacob Morgan across 250 organisations, companies that invest in employee experience are 4x as profitable as those that don’t.
Meanwhile, analysis of 100,000 business units in Gallup’s State of the Global Workplace Report concluded that teams with thriving workers see significantly lower absenteeism, turnover and accidents, while actively increasing customer loyalty.
Recognising these more conceptual aspects of EX means applying strategic management practices, and implementing positive cultural changes within your organisation.
These things are vital, no doubt about it.
But it’s important to remember that there is much more to optimising employee experience than simply management and culture.
In many ways, these things are just the tip of the iceberg. Underneath, there is the entire operational infrastructure that the organisation rests upon – the systems and technologies that your team use to collaborate and communicate.
The communications infrastructure of your business impacts employee experience as much as anything else – if not more so.
Every interaction, every task, how employees connect to their peers, or access the materials and resources they need.
If your employee experience efforts aren’t built upon a robust communications infrastructure, then they can all come tumbling down rapidly.
On the other hand, by investing in your communications capabilities, you can significantly enhance your standards of EX by empowering employees to…
- serve customers better - manage their workload more effectively - enjoy greater work-life balance - receive more training and support.
How communications technology can improve employee performance
91% of employees recently reported frustration with work systems.
What’s worse, in this same research, 71% of leaders acknowledged that these failures would likely force their employees to seek employment elsewhere, if not given the technology needed to perform their jobs well.
The truth is: employee experience can either live or die by communications technology.
Let’s look at some of the EX challenges created by substandard communications, and how businesses can look to solve them instead.
The challenges of hybrid working
In a recent report conducted by Benefex, struggling to adapt employee experience for a hybrid workforce was ranked third out of the key factors that undermined employee experience and wellbeing efforts.
At its best, hybrid working can instil employees with a greater sense of freedom and autonomy in their work – a feeling of being trusted by their employers to manage their own time and duties, rather than being micromanaged.
But if not structured and supported effectively, poor experiences of remote and hybrid working can lead to employees experiencing greater feelings of stress, anxiety, and isolation.
In many cases, the difference between these two scenarios can be as simple as having the right communications capabilities.
In an online survey of US employees conducted during the first wave of national lockdowns, 27% of respondents claimed that feelings of isolation were the biggest drawback of working remotely.
While 20% of respondents stated that poorly functioning remote collaboration tools were the biggest drawback.
If businesses want high-levels of employee experience to translate effectively to a hybrid working model, employees need the same capabilities and reliable connectivity that they would have if they were in the office.
Enter: Cloud Communications
loud communications technologies can enable everyone in your team to connect to the same communications network via internet connection.
Meaning that from any location, and on any mobile device, teams that are dispersed around the world can all connect to an enterprise-level phone system, with the same clear, resilient connection, and crisp voice quality they’d get from their office phone.
Cloud communications also allow all members of a hybrid team to be contactable via one single business number.
Overall, this supports a seamless hybrid working set up, which reduces stress, rather than creating it, helping to improve employee experiences.
For sales, support and contact centre teams, having robust communications capabilities is crucial to serving customers better.
Employees (or agents) in these teams are responsible for resolving customer queries across multiple communications channels. Using customer data to investigate the nature of each query, and provide a resolution.
Customers in these scenarios are particularly demanding.
For context, data shows that 38% of customers expect agents to immediately know who they are and the context of their query in order to be satisfied with the support they receive.
This means for agents to be able to perform effectively, and in turn be happy and productive in their job, they need technology that grants them instant access to rich customer data.
Otherwise, their ability to perform as an employee is limited by the technology available to them.
The key to sales, support and contact centre agents having a positive employee experience, is having access to technology that empowers them to be effective.
Enter: CRM integration
For your sales, support, service or contact centre team to perform at their best, they need seamless integration between your business communications systems and your company’s CRM or ERP system.
Having access to historic customer data empowers agents to respond to customer queries with immediate knowledge about both the query itself, and of that customer's previous interactions.
This empowers employees to deliver a faster, more effective, and more personalised customer service, and actively raise customer satisfaction.
This then helps sales, support and contact centre employees to perform better, unrestricted by the limits of substandard technology – instead feeling productive, happy and fulfilled in their role.
Lack of training and development
In contact centre environments, lack of training and development is a prevalent issue, and one of the most common causes of employee turnover.
According to a study from ICMI, over 50% of contact centre agents leave due to a lack of training and development opportunities.
Lack of training can quickly lead to employees feeling unsupported, and less prepared for their daily duties, which leads to knock-on effects of increased stress, anxiety and unhappiness.
Employees need to feel like they’re part of a team that cares for them. One that wants to see them flourish and develop in their role.
In an ideal world, all businesses would be able to dedicate enough hours to observe and analyse the performance of each individual employee – gathering a detailed picture of how they’re performing, and their strengths and weaknesses.
Unfortunately, monitoring and reporting of employee performance is time-intensive, and contact centres often cut it back to save on operational costs.
So how can businesses hope to give employees the training and development they need?
Enter: Automated call recording and reporting
Automated call recording allows you to monitor the performance of an entire sales, support or contact centre team – with no extra resource required.
This means businesses can massively scale up employee training and development, with no extra operational costs – instead, simply using the repository of data from each recorded call to refine the approaches within their team.
This gives you a wealth of performance data to help you train and develop your team, and help them fulfil their potential, in a way that is lean and incredibly cost effective.
With this technology, everyone wins – employees get the training and development they desire, and can continue to thrive and perform well in their role, while businesses are able to keep costs down.
All there is to know about employee experience: The takeaway points
Employee experience refers to how a worker feels about the organisation they work for – from the moment they first hear them, until long after they’ve left.
Employee attitudes to work have fundamentally changed, businesses are struggling to hold on to talent, which makes EX is more important than ever.
Optimal employee experiences raise profitability and customer loyalty, while reducing absenteeism, turnover, accidents and more. But current standards of EX around the world are not of a high standard.
Much of employee experience is about applying strategic management practices and implementing cultural changes, but all of this must rest on the foundation of a strong communications infrastructure.
There are numerous ways in which communications infrastructure can raise employee experiences, namely:
By facilitating seamless hybrid working across locations and devices
By granting sales and support teams the data access they need to quickly and effectively resolve customer queries
By allowing teams to massively scale up performance monitoring and reporting, at no extra operational cost.