This article was originally published on forbes.com by Ryan Scott.
I spend a lot of time thinking about employee engagement, especially as it relates to employee volunteering and giving. Why? Consider the PwC study which showed that employees most committed to their organizations put in 57% more effort on the job — and are 87% less likely to resign — than employees who consider themselves disengaged. Or the Gallup study which demonstrated that companies with highly engaged workforces outperform their peers by 147% in earnings per share. Unfortunately, that same Gallup study found that 87% of employees worldwide are not engaged.
Then see how America’s Charities points out that employee volunteer and giving programs address all ten major reasons why people leave their jobs. And note the study by Cone Research showing that 79% of people prefer to work for a socially responsible company.
Employee engagement has been feverishly analyzed for years now, including by me. But there’s a newer concept in town, and its name is EX.
EX is short for the Employee Experience, a term that has become increasingly popular in HR circles over the past few years. What is EX? DecisionWise is specific about what it is not:
• EX is not the Employee Life Cycle, which is a part of the larger EX concept.
• EX is not the Employee Value Proposition, which is also a subset of EX.
• EX isn’t talent management or human resources development, which once again is a part of the larger idea of EX.
• It’s not a set of perks like Foosball and free sodas. It’s not even CSR policies.
• EX isn’t employee satisfaction.
So what is the employee experience? DecisionWise defines it as the sum of the various perceptions employees have about their interactions with the organization in which they work. EX is the totality of an employee’s experiences, so it encompasses all of the narrower aspects of how an employee perceives his everyday life at the office, both good and bad.
Deloitte University Press reports several trends around the EX challenge:
• Organizational culture, engagement and employee brand proposition remain top priorities in 2017; employee experience ranks as a major trend again this year.
• Nearly 80% of executives rated employee experience very important (42%) or important (38%), but only 22% reported that their companies were excellent at building a differentiated employee experience.
• Fifty-nine percent of survey respondents reported they were not ready or only somewhat ready to address the employee experience challenge.
The challenge of EX is immense. As reported by Deloitte, this year’s Global Human Capital Trends research shows that the work environment has become increasingly complex and organizations’ ability to address these issues of engagement and culture has dropped by 14% since last year.
Companies must understand that the employee experience is connected to the customer experience. Anthony Grasso, a managing principal at global design and innovation consulting firm Continuum, believes that in a hyper-competitive job market, employees are as important as customers. “When we work with clients to improve customer experiences or create innovative products and services,” he noted in an article for WorkDesign Magazine, “we now focus equal attention on our client’s employees. We ask them, why do you work here? What are you passionate about? In short, we learn what will motivate them intrinsically to engage in the work at hand.”
Grasso understands that employee engagement comes from understanding what employees value, which these days is usually a balance between money and a job that employees love, filled with work that they find meaningful.
Millennials also expect digital tools to optimize their work experience and allow them to be as productive and connected as possible. That should include modern technology for volunteer and giving programs.
For company leaders trying to get their arms around EX, Deloitte offers several takeaways:
• Elevate the employee experience and make it a priority
• Designate a senior leader or team to own it
• Embrace design thinking
• Consider experiences for the entire workforce
• Look outside
• Enlist C-suite and team leader support
• Consider the impact of geography
• Measure it
The employee experience may be broad in scope, but it starts by optimizing every touchpoint that an employee comes in contact with, to create an integrated experience that feels holistic throughout every stage. Improving the landscape for employees comes from treating them as you would your customers, so consider the attention you put into the customer experience and replicate that effort with EX.