The words ‘Employee Experience’ seems to be the new buzzword when discussing HR trends (Jerath, 2018). What we are experiencing is organisations scrambling to remain attractive in an increasingly competitive economy and individuals becoming accustomed to instant gratification. These factors have led to a rapid increase in demand, sales of tools, systems and services designed to analyse and make recommendations towards a better “employee experience” (Moran, 2018, Bersin, 2019).
Recent statistics show that more employees are leaving organisations voluntarily each year. Workinstitute (2019) reported that 27% of U.S. employees voluntarily left their jobs in 2018, and the figure is set to rise by 8%, with predictions at 35% by 2023.
Before we begin to analyse the barriers to effective deployment of the “Employee Experience”, it is important to understand what it means. Lisa Sterling (Ceridan, 2019) explains this concept as “the sum of everything an employee sees, hears, feels and believes about their employment throughout the employee lifecycle”. This means that the ideal employee experience goes beyond how engaged employees are with their work or the quality of their interactions with other employees. It also covers how being a part of that organisation resonates with employee’s emotions.
This position is what has led to the rise of the “human-centric” approach to creating employee experiences. Organisations are beginning to create experiences tailored to the individual by periodically investigating what is important to them and developing strategies and programs based on this analysis.
One mistake while implementing a proper employee experience approach is when organisations choose to invest in technology at the expense of investing enough time in understanding and delivering great employee experiences. Even though technology can aid the effective delivery of great employee experience, organisations should see it as an enabler rather than the core. Technology should be seen as a means to an end rather than the end itself. A study carried out by Cadigan, Card and Will in 2018 shows that 45% of acquired HR technology is under-utilised by organisations and this reason is not far from the already stated. Bersin (2019) argued that a success factor for creating great employee experience lays in designing programs that occur whilst work tasks are being carried out. Volini et al. (2019) in their Deloitte article on 2019 Global Trends, further explain this to mean less emphasis on work add-ons such as perks and an increased focus on job fit, job design and job meaning for the individual employee. For example, if insights gotten from the employees of an organisation show unhappiness because of too much bureaucracy within their system, creating a system where approval limits are renegotiated and instituted might be a good way to improve the total employee experience within the organisation.
In conclusion, it is important to have an empathetic mindset towards employees and approach employee experience initiatives with a balance of “Top-Down (Organisation Goals) and Bottom-Up (Employee insight) approach (Haak, 2008). This means taking into cognisance employee insights when crafting organisational goals. In an increasingly competitive labour market, where the demand for key skills do not match the market supply, the quality of an organisation’s employee experience strategy will have a huge impact on its ability to attract and retain top talent.