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Deep Thoughts

Why your employee experience is important now more than ever

Ah, the mystical employee experience, the mainstay objective that sits on every yearly HR strategy like a good old tick box.

Before the pandemic, most organisations looked at building a better employee experience as a nice to have. It was the thing you’d say you value most to the external world to prop up your employer brand. But, most likely the element you least invested in or understood.

The term “employee experience” kinda felt like one of those HR buzzwords that people love to use at company events, right?

However, all this changed in early 2020.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit and the world shut down. We were all scared, confused and looking for support, not just in our personal lives but from our employers too.

For the first time in a long time, we had a real genuine collective focus on the welfare of people.

Almost overnight, organisations across the world were building wellbeing strategies, remote productivity funnels and new ways of working. Instantly we began to look to organisations everywhere and judge their response to employee welfare.

How would they react? Will they support their people? What experience are they providing that focuses on the health of their workforce?

Suddenly that nice to have became the centerpiece of everything. The employee experience now took centre stage for the first time.

In these strange times, we’re all looking for that bit of support and reassurance. Many looked to their employers for this. Social media has been flooded for the best part of 2020 with stories of the supportive and the not so supportive organisations during this global event.

The not so old news of sustainability and environmental initiatives had been thrown out the window. And, in its place came wellbeing, D&I and people experience strategies.

Not having a publicised and active focus on the experience you were proving to your employees became the taboo this year. We’ve all begun paying more attention to not only the experience an organisation provides but how they and others are treating their employees during this turbulent time.

It’s always said that you can tell the real character of someone during the tough times. The things that organisations do or perhaps don’t do now, will be remembered by not only their people but others around the world who are connected into these stories too.

The thing about life threatening and ever changing events – they force you to think and focus harder on what’s important.

Granted, this is hopefully a once in a century event. Yet, it made all of us reflect on what matters most in life. And an organisation whose not investing in a robust employee experience is going to have a tough time.

There’s no doubt, we’re all evaluating our lives and why we do what we do on some level. The threat of mass death will do that to you. This means more of us are looking at things with more intent than ever. We want to be somewhere with people that support us through the good and the bad.

This is why your employee experience is top priority.

(Defining the employee experience: The 7 stages of the employee life cycle from Gallup)

Some of us have organically reevaluated the idea of a career, and sadly some of us have been forced to due to the impact of the pandemic in our industries. When looking at perspective new employers and career opportunities today, more questions on the following are rising:

  • How are you supporting people’s wellbeing?
  • What opportunities to learn and re-skill are available?
  • What culture do you have and strive to build?
  • What are your attitudes to remote working?
  • What benefits are available to support staff and their families?

We want to know that organisations recognise what matters most to people in their personal lives and care deeply. Now more than ever, investment in the employee experience is essential and it’s the criteria that your people and prospective candidates will assess you on.

Yes people will still look at money and ridiculous job titles but we’re less concerned about those now. Instead, we’re looking for a form of comfort, of ease in a place where one can be themselves, thrive and be part of a culture that cares deeply.

The age of the people centred experience is now. 

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