Any organization that expects to be successful for the foreseeable future has realized the importance of the employee experience. And any organization that isn’t focused on elevating the employee experience can expect to encounter some major challenges.
But even companies that are wholeheartedly invested in the happiness, engagement and satisfaction of their workforce haven’t necessarily mastered the art of the employee experience just yet.
How Organizations Stack Up
As part of Deloitte Insights’ report, 2017 Global Human Capital Trends, executives discussed how they feel about their company’s commitment to the employee experience. Not surprisingly, among the employee experience capabilities employers rated themselves most highly on were:
- Aligning employees and personal goals with corporate purpose
- Helping employees balance personal and professional life/work demands
- Integrating social, community and corporate programs
Why is this not surprising? Because these elements are fast becoming the bare minimum of what employers must offer their workforce. The ability to claim your business is satisfying these objectives doesn’t set you apart in the battle for top talent; it simply means you’re eligible to compete.
Here’s the thing: The vast majority of employers want to create an exceptional employee experience (80 percent, to be specific), but they struggle with how to actually make the necessary changes. In fact, only 22 percent of executives surveyed by Deloitte said their businesses excelled at offering a “strong and differentiated employee experience.”
So what are those 22 percent doing? Ditching annual employee surveys, using pulse surveys and adopting design thinking.
The Shortcomings of Annual Surveys
Too many employers ignore the best source of information on how to elevate the employee experience: their employees.
Deloitte found that almost 80 percent of employers only survey employees once a year, and 14 percent don’t capture feedback at all.
Consider how much an employee’s life changes over the course of 12 months – or even six months. What matters to an employee in January will likely be much different than what he or she cares about in December. So if an employer asks for feedback just once a year, any changes it makes to the employee experience may not even be relevant or impactful anymore.
Plus, it can take several months to even analyze the responses from employee surveys and enact changes based on responses. Then by the time any updates are made, it may already be time for the next annual survey.
The Advantage of Pulse Surveys
Rather than getting a single snapshot of the employee experience once a year, employers have begun setting up what is essentially an employee experience “live stream” through pulse surveys. Pulse surveys are short questionnaires employers send to employees once a week that provide near real-time insight into employee engagement.
Not only does a pulse survey help employers identify ways to improve employee engagement and satisfaction, but a pulse survey is itself a way to elevate the employee experience. By regularly asking employees for their input, the company is showing it values the opinions of its workforce and is committed to making the lives of its employees better.
In addition to using pulse surveys, employers have begun adopting design thinking as a way to more effectively meet the needs of their workforce. Tim Brown, CEO of global design company IDEO, defines design thinking this way: “A human-centered approach to innovation that... integrate[s] the needs of the people, the possibilities of technology, and the requirements for business success.”
Design thinking leverages data about employees such as their motivations, challenges, values and self-perceptions to help guide employers as they evaluate each aspect of the employee experience. This includes the onboarding and training processes, physical workspaces, communication with colleagues, workplace tools and technologies and performance management. Employers acquire workforce data from multiple sources – such as pulse surveys and direct observation, among others – and use it to build a more enjoyable employee experience, from recruitment to retirement.
Employers who replace annual surveys with pulse surveys and adopt design thinking recognize the importance of the human element of the workplace. By focusing more on the person and less on the processes, employers can create a truly human-centered work environment that offers better workforce collaboration, more effective performance management, a comfortable workplace, more efficient onboarding and training and easy-to-use mobile technology.