Leadership’s Impact on the Employee Experience
It is said that every employee goes through seven stages while working at any given company. Those stages include initial attraction to a company or a role, being hired by that company, their onboarding experience, the employee’s engagement and performance, the development of the employee and finally, the employee’s departure from the company.
It is imperative that a company intentionally engage an employee at every stage of the employment cycle so the company brand and culture are effective and perceived in a positive manner. In a day and age where employees are viewed as company workplace consumers, their experience and the reports of other’s experiences are key to retaining and attracting the best talent. Careful consideration of the employee experience cycle will encourage employee engagement, decrease absenteeism by up to 51%, decrease safety incidents by up to 64% and improve quality ratings by almost 29%. (Gallup, Designing Your Organization’s Employee Experience).
Glassdoor, Indeed and Vault are online resources where existing and future employees and potential employees share valuable feedback regarding a company culture. No longer are companies able to hire under the guise that wage is their only leverage. According to the Gallup organization, over 90% of employees report having left a job in search of opportunities that afford them a better work-life balance. As such, leaders must re-evaluate the way they attract new employees. Leaders must take an active role in creating role descriptions and expectations.
The Hiring Process
Hiring should be a search for the best employee/organization fit, rather than the most expedient placement. Leaders must take the time needed to properly vet the prospective employee using assessments and interviews.
The prospective employee should be allowed to vet the company, learn about the organization’s culture, gauge the prospect for work-life balance, and learn of the purpose of the organization. A discussion of purpose is important to ensure the meaningful work of the company is seen as meaningful to the employee. The pursuit of purpose leads to meaningful work. For the experience to be beneficial, the employee needs every opportunity to understand all that is involved in the company and the role, in the same way, the company must evaluate the skills the employee brings to the relationship.
Traditional onboarding procedures often involve a one-way conversation whereby a new employee learns about the company history and purposes, as well as functional information about the role they will fill. By opening the onboarding process to a two-way communication, where a new employee can engage with future teammates and ask questions to better understand their new manager and team, the onboarding process is improved. Employees deserve the opportunity to fully explore the organization and people to achieve an optimal fit.
Engagement, Performance and Development
Without engagement, the employee will be sub-optimized in their role as an asset to the company. Engagement begins with the leader. Leaders must encourage and reward in honest and genuine ways. Effective leaders look for ways to coach their team, invest in their career growth and provide opportunities that support the employees’ desired goals. The role of a leader in an engaging culture is to ensure the employee has the opportunity to make daily progress toward meaningful work.
Beyond the Exit Interview
Employees will leave an organization. It is a natural occurrence that should be understood and harvested for meaningful information. By using an exit interview, a leader can positively impact the departing employee, encourage them to return with new skills and talents in the future and encourage them to promote the company as they leave with fond memories and appreciation for their time with their former employer.
The absence of a well-planned exit interview can leave the employee with negative impressions as they leave for new opportunities. Be proactive and make an employee’s departure an opportunity to offer coaching and encouragement and a time to learn of necessary improvements to your organization and culture.
Employees are consumers and talent competition is high. Leaders must support the organization and potential employee by intentionally examining their organizational culture and taking proactive steps to improve every phase of the employee experience cycle.