How to Give Employees the Experience They Want

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By: Jason Averbook for Human Resource Executive, Photo by Ales Nesetril on Unsplash

Modern enterprise is obsessed with workforce experience. That’s because we live in an experience economy. We are a society of digital natives. And we are surrounded by a mobile-first world in which information, goods and services come to us easily, at the sound of our voice or the tap of a screen.

If you don’t think you’re a digital native, consider this: Do you use email or write handwritten letters? Do you own a smartphone? Know how to text? Have you ever ordered anything online? And I’m not talking about technological prowess; we adapt to technology more than we adopt it. Over time and without batting an eye, in every generation and across the globe, our everyday lives have made us digital natives.

Today’s workforce sets the experience bar higher than ever before, but the workplace itself struggles to adapt. Organizations must provide a competitive, compelling and meaningful workforce experience in order to compete and thrive. But you can’t give employees what they want if you don’t listen to what they say. It seems there’s a massive experience gap to be addressed.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, two million employees turn over every month because of negative experiences in the workplace. There appears to be a significant gap in perceptions of employee engagement as well: A survey by found that 69% of employers believe employees are engaged, while only 34% report they actually are. Similarly, 81% of employers believe employees would recommend their company as a great place to work, yet only 38% actually would. The experience gap is particularly hitting younger workers: 43% of millennials envision leaving their job in two years, according to Deloitte research. Of this population, 62% would join the gig economy as an alternative to traditional, full-time employment. Only 28% would consider staying more than five years.

What does all of this mean to the business?

Organizations need to tighten up and elevate hiring, screening and onboarding practices—setting the tone for workforce experience out of the gates, and driving engagement as quickly as possible. You have two years for a new hire to churn out enough productivity to cover their own cost. Every day literally counts.

Only 20% of companies are deploying HR and productivity solutions on mobile. We’re nearing full employment; millennial and Gen Z employees who can afford to be picky assume they’ll be able to do everything via mobile, and they’ll be turned off when they can’t. Additionally, offer a great experience coming in, but going out as well—or you’ll see none of those boomerang hiring opportunities that may benefit you down the road.

So how does an organization provide the kind of workforce experience that will drive business results like customer experience, engagement, retention, productivity, brand loyalty, advocacy and referrals? Organizations successfully navigating the modern workplace need to understand the everyday employee experience and use multiple data sources to address workforce opportunities through a system of action. This requires both a mindset shift as well as a technology shift—from call center to experience center, from service agents to experience agents, from service-level agreements to experience-level agreements and from point-in-time feedback to journey analytics spanning key workplace experiences.

This also requires a fundamental shift in the way we organize and handle data. Providing a personalized, relevant experience that meets employees where they are requires us to integrate employee data within a single system, garner relevant insights from them to drive decisions, measure and optimize outcomes the business cares about and shift the mindset of the business to be employee-centered rather than organization-centered. I’ll be talking about this mindset shift at the upcoming HR Technology Conference & Exposition in Las Vegas in October.

This shift is necessary, but it’s also worth it. Organizations will fall into obsolescence if they don’t transform workforce experience to match the experience of our everyday lives, but there is great reward to be reaped if they do. Employee experience drives customer experience, garners loyalty and high performance, and translates directly to business value.

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