If you think your brand is your most important asset, think again! You are right to think that it is the beacon around which everything else orbits, a symbol to the world representing your business purpose and values. But it’s nothing without your employees. They are the ones that make your brand ‘live’. They communicate it, act it, they personify it. Your employees are your brand, and so they are your most important asset.
A happy and motivated employee is one that ‘goes the extra mile’ for the customer, the brand and the product. The employee needs to work in a ‘frictionless’ environment where processes and technology are built to enable them to be as productive and fulfilled as possible, rather than creating barriers to success. If an organisation can achieve this it is far more likely that their employees will live their brand values.
Many companies are already working to develop the employee experience, investing in employee feedback programmes. However, these tend to start as an annual satisfaction survey. But let’s be clear; employee experience insight is about far more than asking them if they are ‘satisfied’… once a year! Would you do that for customer experience insight? It just totally misses the empathic actionable point. So here are my 5 top tips to improve the employee experience with the feedback necessary from the people who know.
1. Informal Employee Feedback
This one is as simple as it comes: create an ‘Open Door Policy’. If you’re unsure what that means — Firstly, it’s not a policy, it’s a culture. It is about feedback, but it’s also key to the tone of the whole employee experience program. Secondly, it’s not about creating lots of meetings. Thirdly, it’s a physical act, not an email box. Finally, it’s really easy. The principle is simple; you want all employees (no matter what their hierarchy) to feel that they can pop into see you at any time, about anything.
I know many senior directors of large businesses will now be crying out “that’s not realistic, I’ll get nothing done”. But in reality it regulates itself; no one wants to be nuisance. Your involvement is fundamental to success, to demonstrating a value commitment. People learn by example, so if it happens in the C-Suite then it will flow down throughout the organisation. It’s employee experience culture “101”. I encourage you to start here.
2. Employee Experience Pulse Surveys
Don’t settle for an annual or bi-annual employee satisfaction surveys. Use a regular ‘pulse’ survey — an ‘Employee Pulse Monitor’ once a monthly or bimonthly. Make it short and to the point. Don’t just ask for satisfaction scores! Structure it to identify barriers to work. Remember my point earlier in the blog, that you are not really interested in the % satisfaction? What you need to uncover are the obstacles to and frustrations with operational fulfilment. Then you need to ensure the right processes and again, culture are set up around the Employee Pulse Monitor, otherwise it will remain an un-actionable score or dashboard.
Create a team, give someone the responsibility to ‘own’ it, involve all senior management so that the feedback permeates throughout the organisation. Change will happen if everyone is bought in. And you don’t always need big official change programmes or working redesigns, sometimes the right culture alone will lead to organic development.
3. Employee Experience Net Promoter Score (NPS)
We all know about NPS in terms of the customer experience. But it is it an equally valuable metric when tailored for use within employee experience management programmes. The goal should be to have employees that recommend you as an employer to their friends and family, not with the aim of increasing your recruitment pool, but to demonstrate whether the workforce is positive and motivated enough to talk positively about your business and your brand. Whilst I am against metrics used in isolation for reasons already explained, this is a critical one to have in the boardroom. Make it a senior Key Performance Indicator (KPI) and set bonuses around it to fuel improvement. Culture will embed at the top of the organisation if the incentive is there.
4. Voice of the Employee (VoE) Focus Group Programme
Another really important step is to listen to employee views, opinions and suggestions. A great way to do this is to create a Voice of the Employee (VoE) programme with regularly scheduled focus groups. An online live chat approach will ensure that your geography is represented in its entirety, that groups are convenient to attend and that the discussion remains anonymous. This programme is not just about identifying internal process and working environment challenges. Make it positive. Actively use the time to collaborate with employees. Ask them to come up with solutions to the challenges, to make the workplace ‘a better place to be’.
5. On-going Digital Feedback System
This could be an online community or ‘suggestion box’ whereby people feel encouraged and empowered to come together to develop their own employee experience. The online community is the most collaborative the two approaches and will foster the better culture, but either can be done simply and cost-effectively using online applications like our community platform tools or BrainstormMR. If you do opt for a community of any kind it must be properly moderated. The moderator forms the link between the community and the organisation. They will ensure that feedback is filtered back to those responsible for improving the relevant element, be it a dedicated employee experience team or a department head.
Investing in any, or all, of the above will result in more creative, actualised and motivated employees, employees who live the brand and its values. Investing in improving the employee experience is, by far, the cost effective way to build a successful brand. It will also reduce employee churn and reduce recruitment costs. Truly a ‘win-win’ scenario!