The pandemic and subsequent rise in remote working have given many employers a previously unseen glimpse into the homes and lives of their people. It has also become clear that employee experience is an absolute strategic priority for HR right now, with our recent survey revealing that 99% of HR leaders believe that good employee experience has a positive impact on the bottom line, while 74% said the pandemic has driven them to change their approach to employee experience.
As a result, some HR leaders have been considering how they can improve the lives of their staff and boost the employee experience. Yet budgets are tight for many organisations, so how can employers show they care without spending a fortune? We’ve spoken to some experts to find out.
Adopt a flexible working style
The dramatic increase in remote working during the pandemic had a huge impact on working practices, leading many employees to demand more permanent flexible working arrangements, including hybrid working, to enable them to retain a more flexible schedule and improve their work-life balance. It also happens to be a low-cost perk to implement.
“Hybrid working isn’t going anywhere, and people want flexibility,” remarks Lizzie Benton, company culture coach and founder of Liberty Mind. “Working fewer hours is the most significant workplace benefit most people now look for in an employer. Rather than spending hundreds and thousands of pounds on workplace benefits that nobody is going to use, working fewer hours provides people with what they really want - more time. So, before you go adding on gym memberships, free lunch Fridays, or looking at any other quirky HR trend doing the rounds, think about what you’re really paying for and if people are going to actually use it.”
Communicate and co-create
The most crucial thing to do when looking to improve the employee experience is to communicate with your employees to avoid wasting money on perks that nobody wants, advises Teresha Aird, co-founder and CMO at Offices.net. “Talking to your employees and identifying areas of improvement will allow you to figure out what perks and benefits will be best received.”
Anthony Sutton, managing director at Cream HR, agrees. “The most important thing is communication. Speak to your employees and understand what drives them or concerns them and help with support that is tailored to that driver or concern. For example, if someone’s worried about the rise in cost of living, but you can’t afford a big pay increase, you could instead look at paying for them to speak to a financial advisor.”
It’s essential to involve your team in creating a positive culture and experience, adds Lizzie Benton. “Rather than an outdated, top-down approach to improving the employee experience, include your team. After all, they are the ones who it will impact, and they are the ones who are living life at the front of your company. Come together to share ways in which you can create rituals and events which help to build the culture, and enable people to feel connected, but also able to do their best work. “
Celebrate success with reward and recognition
According to our research, 69% of HR leaders said that reward and recognition was the most important area of employee experience.
“Having your efforts recognised is one of the biggest factors that drives job satisfaction, so be sure to prioritise this,” advises Zoë Morris, president of Frank Recruitment Group. “It could be as simple as organising a weekly team call to share any significant achievements that week or setting aside time in your schedule to send personal emails directly to hard-working individuals - it's a quick fix that ensures people feel seen.”
Teresha Aird describes their employee awards nights as an affordable and impactful initiative that positively impacts workplace morale. “We organise employee recognition nights each quarter over Zoom, and ship small plaques to the winners to be opened on-camera throughout the night. This was a massive success, largely due to the tongue-in-cheek nature of the awards and the spotlight that it placed on the hard work being done by all of our employees.”
Our survey showed that 92% of HR leaders believed that technology is either vital or important to employee experience, while 77% of employees said that poor workplace technology impacts their experience and 16% admitted that poor technology makes them want to leave their job.
This illustrates the vital role that technology plays in a positive employee experience and is definitely an investment worth making to enhance communication, engagement and job satisfaction.
“We communicate to our employees through the monthly newsletters sent via bulk email, pulse surveys, automated messages via the HR database, MS Teams chat function, the HR portal and the benefits portal, all of which have the capability for push notifications to obtain real-time feedback from colleagues. Using these channels of communication, in addition to annual events, team meetings, focus groups, one-to-one meetings and committees, demonstrates to employees that their opinion matters,” comments Funke Sadare, HR director at Global University Systems.
Zoë Morris adds: “Technology can be your greatest ally when your budget won’t stretch any further, especially when it comes to improving employee experience. One of the main things we are seeing in employees now, especially in the younger generations, is a desire to grow. Providing online training and development helps them develop their skills and confidence within their trade; and by facilitating professional growth, you demonstrate your interest in individual progression as an employer, something employees value more than ever.”