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Why a positive employee experience matters – and how to deliver it


Johannesburg, 02 Dec 2021
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Henri Fourie, Head of Client, Mint Group.
Henri Fourie, Head of Client, Mint Group.

Businesses that do more than pay lip service to the adage “our employees are our most important asset” by not only engaging with their employees, but actively seeking to deliver the best possible employee experience, often gain unexpected bottom-line benefits.

That’s the view of Henri Fourie, Mint Group’s Head of Clients, who says the shift to widespread remote working during the pandemic has exposed weaknesses in businesses’ abilities to support and connect employees, let alone maintain the corporate culture.

Yet even before the pandemic began, research shows that most employees, particularly the growing Generation Z cohort – already felt disengaged from their jobs and are placing more emphasis on workplace well-being.

Employees want to be valued

Contrary to widespread belief (supported in South Africa by its fraught history of hostile wage negotiations and strikes), what truly motivates employees most is not being paid more, but having a sense of value, identity and belonging.

As Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage notes: “In a world where money is no longer the primary motivating factor for employees, focusing on the employee experience is the most promising competitive advantage that organisations can create.”

Companies that invest in employee experience are four times more profitable than those that do not. Happier employees perform better, are more productive and always strive to exceed expectations.

Unpacking the employee experience (EX)

Fourie explains that employee experience goes beyond conventional employee engagement. Instead, it’s the worker’s perception of their journey through all the touch points of an organisation.

“Employees want to feel connected to their organisation wherever they work. They want to feel part of the community and culture, to feel valued and supported in their career growth, and to be able to contribute to the company’s overall success. Organisations must therefore invest in solutions and strategies that enable employees to achieve this and deliver an overall positive employee experience,” he says.

Driving efficiency in the hybrid environment

Building efficiency has become much more difficult following the shift to remote and hybrid work in which location barely matters and everything has become digital and moves faster. The toll on employees has been significant, with a study revealing that employees experienced 70% higher stress levels in 2020, with 40% reporting a decline in their mental health.

Fourie points out that productivity is not just about efficiency; it also takes into consideration the health and well-being of a person. How they feel, how they interact with their colleagues, and whether they have a sense of belonging will all contribute to their productivity and efficiency.

How to boost your organisations employee experience

He believes that boosting employee experience in today’s hybrid work environment can be achieved by focusing on the following factors:

Well-being – Ensuring employees feel safe and valued, are treated fairly and with dignity. Employees can only deliver their best if they feel safe and comfortable in their work environment, with easy access to all the tools they need to do their job. This also includes ensuring employees’ privacy and security in the digital space.

Connection and communication – These are key to ensuring employees feel they are still an integral part of the organisation.

Knowledge networks – Access to information, people, tools and resources. With no one around to ask, workers are having to search for solutions themselves – and often end up wasting time recreating information that already exists within the organisation. A Microsoft-commissioned study in 2021 found that people spend about an hour a day – up to seven weeks per year – searching for or recreating information.

Growth – Skills requirements are changing all the time. Organisations must ensure that their employees have the necessary skills to do their jobs confidently and effectively.

Access to resources – Not only to resources that enable them to do their jobs, but also internal resources such as the HR system. The days when manually filling out a leave application and taking it to your manager for sign-off before dropping it off at the HR department are over.

Performance insights – While it’s widely recognised that leaders and managers require insights into how well (or not) employees are performing, providing employees with insights into their performance will empower them to optimise the way they work.

Flexibility – With change occurring at breakneck speed, it is essential that employees are given the support they need to adapt quickly and painlessly to new conditions, requirements and circumstances.

“All these components that contribute to great employee experience should ideally be available to employees as part of their natural flow of work. Now that employees are no longer all in the same place, the only way to achieve this is through the smart use of technology,” Fourie says

Using technology for success

The solution, Fourie maintains, is an integrated, digital employee experience platform that places the employee front and centre by enabling communications; growth and development; physical, mental, emotional and financial well-being; communities; access to company resources; insights and analytics; and access to content and knowledge.

“This kind of technology is immensely important and useful, but it’s also important to remember that employees are people. We also need to leverage the technology to deal with human issues – like consciously scheduling ‘catch-up chat’ time before online meetings start, or making check-in calls to colleagues with whom you used to have a quick non-work-related chat at the coffee station or in the bathroom. That too will contribute to a positive employee experience,” Fourie concludes.

Conclusion

There are many different applications available that could enhance aspects of the employee experience. However, if employees have to source what they need from a host of different applications, that will merely add to the complexity and stress of their daily lives. The Modern Workplace Employee Experience guarantees that your employees are enabled to thrive in their roles, and in turn, positively impact the business towards growth and success.

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