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We live in an unprecedented time of employee freedom and choice. In January 2022, 4.3 million workers quit their jobs, and they had 11.3 million job openings to choose from. Many businesses are desperately scrambling to create and introduce new perks, bonuses, and benefits that will attract and retain the employees they need, but this method of retention isn’t as effective as it could be. The race to create employee loyalty is like rushing to stack as many bricks as possible on a foundation of sand.
It’s time to rethink this approach. New benefits and awards don’t correlate with engagement and retention. Many employees are looking beyond the material benefits of a position and are focusing more on how they feel when they're at work and what they think about the company. In other words, they want a good employee experience instead of more bricks.
What Is Employee Experience?
The employee experience is basically the sum of every interaction your employees have while at work. While benefits and perks are part of this, other vital aspects include the culture and the physical and mental work environment.
Do employees feel cared for while at work? Do they feel emotionally healthy? Do they know that they can be open and honest with leaders? All of these tie into the employee experience.
Why Is Employee Experience Important?
Put simply, employee experience affects employee engagement and loyalty. When employees feel cared for physically, emotionally, mentally, and financially, they’ll feel more engaged in the work they do and more loyal to the organization they work for.
After all, nearly 50% of employees said that they were more stressed now than at any other time in their careers, and stress makes people 3X more likely to quit their jobs. Many of these employees are looking for companies that help them feel safe, secure, and cared for.
With the above the knowledge in mind, you can be confident that a powerful employee experience can give you a competitive advantage, including the following benefits:
- Engaged employees provide 17% more productivity and 21% more profit.
- Engaged, happy workforces have a 31% lower turnover rate. And because turnover can cost up to 2-3X the quitting employee’s salary, you save thousands.
- Engaged employees have a lower rate of absenteeism. Happy people show up to work more often and get more done.
- Employees who feel mentally and emotionally supported are less likely to underperform, less likely to miss work, and have a higher job satisfaction rate.
Think of it this way. Instead of throwing bricks on the stack trying to make a hut of loyalty, first build a strong foundation of employer loyalty. Show employees that you care about them as humans and that you’re willing to support them. Then, with that foundation firmly in place, you can start building on top of that to gain employee loyalty.
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How Can You Improve Your Employee Experience?
You’ve flipped the script, and now you want to focus on supporting employees in a way that they want. But how do you do that? We’ll go over some strategies that can help you build up your employee experience to really show that you’re in their corner.
Support a Good Work/Life Balance
The pandemic allowed people to re-center their lives on what is really important to them. Spending so much time at home and with family has shifted the employee mindset toward having a healthy life outside of work, and that shift is going to be a permanent one.
Work/life balance is finding an equilibrium between job demands and personal life demands. When employees feel imbalanced in their work and life, this can lead to increased stress and burnout. And burnout costs U.S. companies over $300 billion each year in absenteeism, turnover, diminished productivity, and insurance costs.
What can you do to support a balanced life for your employees? Here are some ideas:
- Focus on productivity more than hours. Good employees get work done. Some even get work done ahead of time. Instead of strictly enforcing the 40-hour work week, focus on getting work done at a high quality. And if the work gets done sooner than expected, let employees off early!
- Encourage breaks and time off. One thing you should always do is encourage employees to take breaks. Get them out of their chairs (or off their feet, if applicable) and give them time to unwind. Also, be generous with PTO. Look at the average PTO given for comparable companies, and then give extra, and encourage employees to take the time off they need (you can even incentivize vacations with Awardco Pay).
- Review workloads and be open to adjustments. Check in with your employees to see how they’re feeling. Are they overwhelmed but don’t want to say anything? Or are they looking for more responsibilities? Make sure everyone feels comfortable talking about their workloads, and be willing to add or subtract work based on how people are feeling.
- Offer support for parents and families. One of the greatest challenges parents face in the workplace is childcare needs. Support them by offering on-site childcare or reimbursed childcare funds. Give parents the ability to work from home to spend more time with their families. You should also provide mothers and fathers with adequate maternity and paternity leave (the International Labour Organization recommends 14 weeks for mothers and fathers).
The key for this is to realize that each employee is different. Find out what stresses out your employees and then help them find relief. If people feel that their company supports them not just at work, but outside of work, they’ll be much more likely to stick around.
Offer Greater Flexibility
The mindset of every employee must come into the office five days a week for eight hours each day is outdated. Employees crave the flexibility that became the norm during the pandemic, and with digital tools at our fingertips, we should embrace that freedom. After all, nearly 65% of employees say the flexible scheduling and remote work would improve their experience and loyalty.
Flexibility doesn’t only have to mean offering work-from-home options, though. If you can offer that, do it! Even a hybrid model, where employees can choose to work from home a few days each week is awesome. But for jobs where working from home is impossible, you can still offer flexibility.
Let employees choose when they come into work. Maybe certain people really like sleeping in for a few hours—let them work 10-6! Or maybe someone has an emergency and needs to miss part of a day—let them make up the hours throughout the week!
Being flexible just means giving employees the freedom to work how and when is best for them. And that flexibility won’t come at the company’s expense; greater flexibility can raise the number of high-performing employees by 40%!
Show Employees Your Trust
This is more of a reaffirming point than a separate tip. Employees love being given autonomy and freedom, whether that means more flexibility or greater work/life balance. When you let employees work in the way that suits them best, you show them that you trust them and the work they do. And when employees feel trusted, they perform at a higher level, give extra effort, and go beyond expectations.
Provide Personal Growth Opportunities
Did you know that 92% of employees that professional development opportunities are important parts of their jobs? And did you know that employees with these types of developmental opportunities are 15% more engaged and have a 34% higher retention rate? What are you waiting for?
What does professional development mean, though? Here are some ideas of opportunities and benefits you can offer:
- Continuing education support such as tuition reimbursement
- Participation in professional organizations or events
- Skill-based training or courses, including both hard skills and soft skills
- Opportunities to shadow and learn from leaders and other departments in the company
Whether you employ a mom who wants to go back to college or an introvert who wants to improve their public speaking ability, offering growth opportunities shows that you care about the development and success of your employees.
Recognize Employees for the Value They Bring
Each of your employees is a valuable member of your team, whether they’re in the spotlight or behind the scenes. When you recognize them for the work they do, whether through a verbal “thank you,” a handwritten note, or a cash prize, everyone will feel noticed and cared for.
If you’re ready to update your employee experience, Awardco is here to help with easy recognition, rewards, and celebrations for your employees.
Show Loyalty, Get Loyalty
The old saying goes, when you put good in, you get good out. Employee experience is a lot like that. When you build an employee experience strategy around the people of your organization—when you treat them like humans and respect their wants, needs, and desires—you reap the benefits of a highly engaged, focused, and satisfied workplace.
Build a strong foundation of employee experience, and then construct a solid structure of benefits and perks on top of that. Sooner than you might expect, you’ll have a home where employees are content to stay.