The Employee Experience Should Come Before Everything
Happy employees = happy customers. It seems obvious, so why do so many companies overlook the employee experience when they set out to improve the customer experience? For one, companies often struggle to justify internal initiatives when those resources could be put toward revenue-driving activities. On top of that, employee satisfaction and engagement are still seen as soft goals with no direct impact on the bottom line. Basically, companies don’t want to invest more in their employees if they don’t see a business case for it.
However, the tides are starting to turn as younger generations enter the workforce and tech redefines corporate culture. A 2016 Temkin Group study found a direct correlation between employee engagement and customer experience - the companies with the best customer experiences also tend to have the most engaged employees. Why? Employees impact customers daily, both directly and indirectly; whether they feel valued or invisible, motivated or discouraged, their attitudes will trickle down into their work, impacting customer satisfaction and loyalty.
In this post, we’ll discuss why the employee experience is increasingly important, and share some fresh ideas for business leaders who want to improve theirs without breaking the bank.
Why the Employee Experience Is So Important
Engaged employees work harder, contribute more to company culture, and generally bring more enthusiasm to their roles. They also indirectly drive revenue. According to Gallup, highly engaged teams achieve, on average, a 10% increase in customer ratings and a 20% increase in sales. On top of their direct contributions, happy employees also cut costs by sticking around longer. That’s huge, since it costs around 33% of an employee’s annual salary to replace them. That figure doesn’t even account for other “productivity costs,” like the loss of institutional knowledge, the time it takes to rehire, and the amount of ramp time their replacement will need.
Beyond all that, people often stay in jobs because they’re loyal to the people they work with every day. The loss of one good employee can create a ripple effect. We see it happen all the time - one highly-respected employee leaves and their coworkers follow suit. If anything, that should inspire companies to invest more in employee retention, but outside more progressive industries, we have yet to see major shifts in employee experience efforts. That lack of effort shows. Gallup reports that over half of the U.S. workforce is “not engaged.” What’s more, EBN found that employees who leave their jobs do so for preventable reasons, like lack of career development, work-life balance, and effective management.
The Millennial Movement
You can’t talk about employee experience without mentioning Millennials. The generation makes up more than 40% of the workforce today, and in 10 years that stat will double. Millennials aren’t just changing the way modern companies operate — they’re reshaping the concept of the workplace entirely. For one, Millennials value company culture much more than previous generations. They’re even willing to make less money — $7,600 less a year, to be exact — if it means they’ll be happier at work.
So what makes them happy? Research shows that Millennials are most engaged in environments that focus on career growth, social good, inclusion, and work-life balance. For example, a Lightspeed study found that 90% of Millennials value corporate sustainability, and 1 in 10 would quit if they found out their employer was not sustainable. In order to attract and retain the bright minds of tomorrow, companies need to focus on creating exceptional employee experiences today.
4Simple Ways to Improve the Employee Experience
1. Get technical.
71% of employees want the same level of access to technology at work that they have in their personal lives. When you invest in technology that makes their jobs easier, productivity increases, as does employee satisfaction. Save your employees time by investing in tools that automate tasks, make communication easier, provide access to big data, organize workflows, and more. Collaborative tools like Slack, Basecamp, Trello, and Asana help simplify mundane tasks and improve communication organization-wide.
2. Invest in your work environment.
Full-time employees spend almost half their waking hours at work. That means the work environment can have a huge impact on overall satisfaction and wellbeing. Even if you don’t have a huge employee wellness budget to play around with, you can make a difference by investing in small improvements. For instance, studies showthat upgrading to standing desks can boost morale and productivity, and free food can go a very long way. Though these additions may seem basic, they show employees that you care about their wellbeing and are willing to invest in it.
3. Offer flexible schedules and remote work opportunities.
Recent reports suggest flexibility is one of the most attractive qualities in a workplace. In fact, a global PGI survey found that 60% of employees would leave their current job for a remote opportunity with the same pay. According to PwC, it’s even more important to Millennials, who say they would give up pay or delay a promotion in exchange for a more flexible schedule. Many high-performing companies are accommodating by opening up work schedules and offering remote options, and they’re seeing the benefits. Remote work is proven to boost productivity by eliminating workplace distractions and reduce turnover by over 50%. Telecommuters are also up to 82% less stressed than in-house employees.
4. Gather and leverage employee feedback.
It’s not enough to collect employee feedback during yearly reviews. Employees are at the forefront of your business, and their opinions guide your future success. Collecting employee feedback consistently—whether it’s with pulse surveys or periodic check-ins—can help you identify common challenges impacting their happiness. On top of that, employee feedback can reveal powerful ways to improve the customer experience. No one knows your customers better than the people who interact with them daily. Give employees opportunities to voice their opinions regularly, and make them part of the solutions. Deloitte found that Millennials care greatly about making an impact both in the workplace and outside of it. By involving employees in the action plan, you’ll give them a greater sense of purpose.
We know that a great customer experience is key to growing a business, but without engaged employees, it’s a losing battle. No matter how much time and money you devote to your customers, you won’t get far if you’re not looking inward too. Engaged employees contribute immeasurably to the growth and success of their companies.
Though the correlation between employee experience and revenue may be indirect, the connection is obvious. Just look at the Facebooks and Zappos of the world. These innovative companies prioritized their customers and their employees from the start, and they’ve thrived. By prioritizing your people, you’ll empower them to move business forward.