Improving employee experience or employee engagement

WeThrive Team · February 2, 2020

We are living in an age of greater workforce mobility, and we are smack bang in the middle of an employee-led recruitment market. In today’s fast-paced global business environment, staff retention is one of the greatest challenges businesses face.

It’s no wonder that there has been so much discussion about how to make the workplace more attractive. Losing and replacing staff is notoriously expensive and time-consuming. It makes far more sense to hold on to valuable staff members.

The key is to create a business environment in which employees feel happy, fulfilled and involved.

The trouble is, it seems that in Europe we aren’t particularly good at engaging our staff.

Only about one in 10 British workers (11%) is engaged at work, while the majority (68%) are not engaged, and two in 10 (21%) are actively disengaged.

Gallup, the respected analytics and management consulting company, released a comprehensive report in 2017 on the State of the Global Workplace. It wasn’t cheerful reading. Their global survey revealed that: “Only about one in 10 British workers (11%) is engaged at work, while the majority (68%) are not engaged, and two in 10 (21%) are actively disengaged.” The results for the rest of Europe were similar. As a comparison, in America, it was found that a third of the workforce felt engaged.

Does engagement really matter?

In a word, yes.

The Gallup report highlighted exactly why. Their findings included some dramatic statistics. They found that highly engaged business units have:

  • 41% lower absenteeism
  • 17% higher productivity.
  • 24% lower staff turnover
  • 28% less shrinkage (the dollar amount of unaccounted-for merchandise)
  • 40% fewer quality incidents (defects).
  • 70% fewer safety incidents
  • 21% higher profitability

The authors warned that if these trends don’t change, European countries’ productivity levels will continue to lag behind those in the U.S. The problem is exacerbated by the fact that Europe’s largest economies are facing ageing populations without enough young workers to replace their rapidly rising number of retirees.

Engaged businesses have 41% lower absenteeism.

What can we do?

The obvious thing is to ensure the work environment is attractive and to enhance the employees’ experience. The trouble is too many employers get this wrong.

When we imagine an idealised workplace, it is easy to conjure images of vibrant and informal offices – places like Google and Apple in Silicon Valley spring to mind.

But setting up a ping-pong table, scattering some bean-bags and providing barista quality coffee just doesn’t cut it.

There is a great deal of debate about what ‘employee experience’ actually means. It is often defined as a holistic approach to an employee’s journey from recruitment onwards.

Employee experience is important throughout the employee lifecycle from candidacy through onboarding, performance, growth, and even exit.

It sounds straightforward, but all too often employee experience is misunderstood and simply reduced to the scattered bean-bags and occasional neck and shoulder massages.

David Roe at CMS Wire explains why a policy of enhancing the employee experience can be limited in practice: “Employee experience is largely one way. It is about the company providing the employee with an environment and systems that meets their need for comfort and efficiency.

“Employee engagement, on the other hand, is an element of employee experience and is more focused on building a two-way communication between management and the employee.”

Engage and succeed

So what is engagement?

It can simply be described as the mental and emotional connection employees feel toward their places of work.

Employee engagement is the key to a successful business. Happy, engaged employees stick around, go above and beyond and make your business more profitable. In a nutshell, engaged employees share your values and believe in your vision.

Businesses with engaged employees have 21% higher profitability.

The Gallup survey emphasises its importance: “Businesses that orient performance management systems around basic human needs for psychological engagement get the most out of their employees.”

Note the emphasis on management.

It goes on: “We’re often struck by how little stock European management teams put into leading their people — despite survey after survey showing that good management and leadership are by far the strongest drivers of how engaged people are.”

Of course, it’s easier said than done. How can an organisation help its managers lead in a way that engages and motivates the staff? A great manager should be trained in leadership skills, understand how the staff really feel, and be an effective coach and mentor.

The starting point is to create a listening strategy to really understand how staff engage with their work and the company. Then take action.

Fortunately, the resources are out there.

WeThrive’s employee engagement software empowers your line managers with easy to follow action plans from the second your engagement survey closes.

By all means, bring in the pool table and the great coffee, but unless you listen to your team, you will just have a continual recruitment panic and an alumni of ex-staff members who smash it in the local pub pool league.

Are you ready to listen? Call the We Thrive team now to find out how.