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By Ammara Naeem, Senior HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute
By Ammara Naeem, Senior HR Auditor, Top Employers Institute

Inside the Mind of the HRD on … the employee experience

Over many years, we have become used to data showing us how disengaged employees are at work. According to Gallup, for example, only 15% of employees worldwide are engaged in their work, while 85% are either passively or actively disengaged. In attempting to convert the latter into the former, however, the HRD first needs to understand the difference between engagement and the employee experience.

Engagement vs the employee experience

The employee experience is a broad and increasingly powerful weapon for the HR Director. It means nothing less than the long-term resdesign of the organisation, with people strategy at its core. It is effectively the sum of all the touchpoints that a potential employee has with his or her employer, from the starting point of being a candidate to becoming part of an organisational alumni upon departure. It gives HRDs the opportunity to work with the business on organisational design to give a fair chance of employees feeling engaged enough to want to make a difference.

It’s taken most organisations a long time to get to this level of understanding. A century ago, the workplace wasn’t a place people went to to be happy or engaged – it was simply a means to an end. Fifty years ago, the focus was on productivity, with companies openly looking to get “more for less” from their people. In the last twenty or so years, employee engagement (augmented by attractive benefits and incentives) came to the fore. It is only much more recently that the needs and wants of the workforce have come to be seen through the more holistic idea of the employee experience.

What makes the biggest difference?

Research by Josh Bersin earlier this year - “Employee Experience: The Definitive Guide” – in partnership with one of our Top Employers, Microsoft, reveals that the modern employee experience is driven by many factors, but with trust, transparency, inclusion and caring to the fore. Among the specific factors that Bersin found, the most significant included:

  • A mission and purpose beyond financial goals.
  • Transparency, empathy and integrity of leadership.
  • Continuous investment in people.
  • Inclusive, diversive and sense of belonging and community.

The impact of a great employee experience

Another study by Jacob Morgan of 252 organisations found that only 15 companies (6%) are doing a great job at creating employee experiences. Rewards for the few organisations that achieve this are signficant in terms of business, people and innovation:

  • Business Outcomes
    • The successful are 2.2 times more likely to exceed financial targets than the unsuccessful.
    • 4 times more likely to delight customers.
  • People Outcomes
    • 1 times more likely to create a sense of belonging.
    • 2 times more likely to be a great place to work.
    • 1 times more likely to engage and retain employees.
  • Innovation Outcomes
    • 7 times more likely to adapt well to change.
    • 3 times more likely to innovate effectively.

How to get started

One of our Top Employers, Accenture, published research in 2020 showing that winning the war on talent means that the HRD must improve the employee experience in three ways:

  • Co-creating the experience. Customers are regularly engaged re their desired experiences and companies must do the same with their employees. There must be a co-creation of what the experience means, through human, physical and digital lenses.
  • Reimagining the model. Traditional levers like compensation and benefits are not enough. There must be clear single accountability for all of the people processes, experiences and tools to achieve the desired outcome.
  • Empower both humans and machines. This is necessary to deliver new models at scale and speed. Expanding in this way can unlock new sources of value through innovation.

Top Employers and the Employee Experience

Finally, our Top Employers Certification Programme gives us a unique perspective on the employee experience because it begins with our HR Best Practices survey covering every aspect of an organisation’s people practices. To help HR Directors in their thinking on this important subject, we have brought together what best practice looks like in a three-part series of e-books, Optimising the Employee Journey.

You can download our first e-book to discover what Top Employers are doing to improve their Employer Branding, Talent Acquisition and On-boarding efforts. These topics fall under the “Attract” domain in our HR Best Practices Survey. Our second e-book focuses on Top Employer people practices for improving Performance, Career and Learning under the “Develop” domain. The third and final e-book looks at the “Engage” domain, with a specific focus on Well-being, Engagement, Rewards & Recognition and Off-boarding.