How to Improve Employee Experience: Strategies to Act on Today

February 23, 2024
How to Improve Employee Experience

In recent years, the labor market has been very tight. In October 2022, the U.S. Department of Labor reported the ratio of job openings to hirings hovered around 10.5-to-6. In October 2023, it hovered around 8.7-to-6. In employee numbers, that represented more than 2.8 million more openings than hirings.

In this labor-hungry environment, businesses that want to attract top talent must strongly appeal to job seekers. At the same time, their current employees must feel satisfied enough to not leave for a "better" job elsewhere. This drives employers, managers and HR professionals to ascertain just how to improve employee experience, satisfaction and retention.

A generous compensation package is one way to attract and keep good employees. But not all companies can afford to compete in that realm. As a small or medium-size business leader, you may need to find other ways to create and sustain a positive employee experience. In 2017, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Center for Information Systems Research reported notable positive business outcomes related to the employee experience. For example, companies with top employee experience ratings had 25% more profitability and double the customer satisfaction compared to lower-rated companies.

Employee experience is defined by two primary factors, the report says: work complexity and job-related behavioral norms. Clearly, there are values that money can’t buy. Here's a look at employee experience management, from the initial hiring process through the entire employee life cycle, that could change the game for you.

1. Healthy work-life balance

Employee burnout is a real problem in today’s workforce. It can affect everything from attendance, loyalty and employee productivity to the quality of products, services, customer care and beyond. So it warrants thoughtful consideration within the context of the employee experience framework.

Better work-life balance can help improve employee engagement, increase productivity, reduce burnout and decrease employee turnover.

That said, work-life balance means different things to different people, so gather employee feedback about the concept. Find out what your employees want and why, and let the insights help shape your employee experience strategy. For some, employee satisfaction means flexible working hours and/or location, if the position allows for it, to- better accommodate personal responsibilities, like caring for family.. Show understanding that there's life outside of the office. Satisfied employees will likely reward you with appreciation, loyalty and greater employee performance.

2. Strong company culture

Employees should know they're putting their time to good use when they show up for work every day. One of the best ways to do this is by creating a strong company culture, but that has become more difficult as more people work from home. A great deal of creative thinking has gone into the matter of building a positive company culture for both in-office and remote workforces.

One solution is to create company traditions that bring people together. Consider holding weekly morning get-togethers, perhaps in a conference or break room, over coffee or breakfast for example. Stream remote employees in via video calls. Employees can bring their favorite morning beverage; it's a fun way to find out who's "team tea" versus "team coffee," etc.

Give employees the option to connect informally after the start of the work day. Allow flexibility in work schedules to accommodate this, and ensure that employees understand the meetings are voluntary. Employees will be thankful for the chance to re-energize and connect with their peers.

Lead by example. Make sure that company values and culture are demonstrated daily. Reinforce how the company truly stands by its words and supports a welcoming, diverse workforce.

3. Prioritize good communication

There's an easy, budget-friendly way to build positive employee experiences and help reduce turnover rates: Promote communication within your workforce. Honest and open internal communication assures employees that they are being heard, regardless of role. Clearly identify the management or leadership personnel they can approach about matters they deem important. Those leaders should actively listen whenever an employee has an issue, regardless of how big or small. This is an effective approach, as the lack of open, honest communication can negatively impact overall employee morale.

When working toward better communication, there are key components to consider. For example:

  • The style and tone of any leader's response to employee feedback influences the employee's perception of all company leadership.
  • Employees should feel comfortable speaking to management and confident that they won't experience negative repercussions for doing so.
  • To actively encourage communication, offer employee engagement or pulse surveys throughout the year. These help management better understand how employees feel about their positions, the company culture and their organizational roles. Regular surveys give you a chance to address issues before employees become disgruntled. That elevates the employee experience and reduces turnover risks.

4. Transparency in the workplace

Workplace transparency involves deeper levels of communication between leadership and employees that demonstrate trust and the value of employee input. It often means being forthcoming about workplace and/or company information that will help flesh out a bigger picture of what challenges everyone involved is facing. While employers must be discerning about what to share with whom and why, it's worth considering what parameters could be reasonably expanded. Employees should be encouraged to think that way as well. The mutual understandings that ensue can increase employee engagement levels, improve retention and even boost the degree to which employees function as brand ambassadors.

Lack of transparency, on the other hand, can hold a company back from the growth and success it seeks. Embrace transparency to better align team efforts and achieve company goals.

5. Opportunities for growth

Providing employees with career growth opportunities is another effective way to motivate and inspire teams. Give employees a chance to take on more responsibility. Give them the opportunity to mentor other employees. Allow them to demonstrate their potential promotion-related capabilities.

During the hiring process, seeking internal candidates for open positions shows that there are opportunities for professional growth. Hiring from within can help promote employee engagement, morale and satisfaction, and it can help reduce recruiting costs.

Managers should reach out to employees and inquire about their goals, aspirations and overall job satisfaction. While some may be comfortable in their current roles, others may seek change. Supporting employees' desires for growth and success will often help improve the employee experience long-term.

6. Recognition and appreciation

Letting employees know their hard work is recognized and appreciated is a great way to improve employee satisfaction. Many people feel proud when someone points out their achievements; it makes it clear that they are an asset to the organization.

Making a habit of formally and informally acknowledging individual and group contributions is a powerful and inspiring workplace practice. As applicable, include real-world customer feedback that highlights the effects of an employee's good work.

7. Create an employee journey map

An employee journey map visualizes the stages an employee travels through during employment. Pain points and critical moments can be identified so that preparations can be made for feedback and support actions. Start by defining clear outcome desires and include all the company groups and teams involved. By mapping the employee journey, you can help anticipate concerns in the employee life cycle and can address them before things escalate.

8. Offer wellness initiatives

Employee well-being extends beyond the workplace. Employee wellness programs can help bring awareness to mental and physical health, provide access to fitness resources, and offer stress management. Offering this as part of the employee journey reflects a holistic approach to wellness. Often the result is a healthier and more engaged workforce.

Inexpensive ways to consider includes company walks, morning exercises, and group yoga sessions. Other options include onsite gyms or fitness rooms, flexible time off, paid parental leave and company-provided healthy snacks. Although some things may involve additional costs, the benefits often outweigh the expense.

9. Build better onboarding

There's no shortage of sad stories about poor onboarding experiences. From outdated, clichéd videos to clunky handouts or no orientation at all, common missteps become leading downfalls. A good, informative and connective onboarding process is critical to success.

Design a program that helps new employees integrate with company culture and embrace goals, training, performance management and measurable results. Tailor the onboarding to specific job functions, and state clear objectives. Inform employees about communication openness, advancement options and how the company strives to improve the employee experience.

10. Simplify the application process

The candidate experience starts with a job application. Requesting multiple pages of information before even offering an interview is frustrating and off-putting from an applicant's perspective. They are already juggling portals, formats, layouts and requirements when searching for a new job. Simplify your process to avoid missing out on potential top talent.

11. Use stay interviews

Exit interviews are a standard industry practice, but they don't help retain talent. In contrast, stay interviews are conversations between management and employees that focus on what means the most to them. The insights help businesses head off impediments to their employee retention efforts.

Start with open conversations to build trust and better understand employee experiences. The results provides you with more information on why they stay with the company. It points to goals that help keep talent on board. Positive effects of stay interviews often include improving internal talent pipelines and company practices overall.

12. Learn from benefits surveys

Along the lines of stay interviews, employee benefit surveys offer valuable insights. Many employees would willingly accept more benefits over a raise if those benefits were desired and useful. Employee surveys can reveal what benefits are important, the quality of current benefits and how yours compare to those of other companies. Topics might be paid time off, retirement, stock/profit sharing, insurance and company-sponsored wellness initiatives.

13. Offer a mentor at the start

Don't wait for new employees to tuck a few years under their work belts before getting them involved with a mentor. Those first days can be tough, so start mentorships right away. New employees need greater guidance to help alleviate confusion, navigate the corporate culture and manage communication. Create a roster of mentors willing to help new hires meld with the company's culture and practices. Many workforce surveys find that employees strongly agree on the value of a mentor’s help and counsel. Support new employees' potential to succeed by connecting them with that from day one.

14. Give the support employees may need

At the start of their employee lifecycle, many people may not have children to care for. Once they do, life changes substantially.

It's common for companies to overlook parental needs. But there's high risk of parental employee turnover due to stress, exhaustion and burnout. Consider time off policies to help accommodate employees and minimize their parenting stress. Things like flex hours and remote work opportunities can also help. Show understanding when their priorities may shift requiring them to unexpectedly do school pickups, medical issues and childcare problems.

15. Focus on team-building

Team-building activities can improve the employee experience by fostering a sense of connection and belonging at levels outside the normal job scope. Consider games, contests and other forms of friendly competition. These can be held in-office, during company outings, at lunch, or whatever makes sense. Companies that offer volunteer time off can tie team-building activities to a charitable cause.

16. Embrace and integrate technology

A positive employee experience starts with reduced stress, and process efficiency directly influences stress levels. Consider technology integration as part of a supportive employee experience strategy.

By using convenient project-management platforms and easy communication tools, the digital employee experience allows more time for core responsibilities. A tech-savvy work environment reduces cumbersome company processes, improves collaboration and builds better interpersonal relationships. In the aforementioned MIT report, companies ranking in the top-quartile of employee experience provided 66% more digital capacity for employees.

Experience begets experience

A positive employee experience isn't something you can buy off the shelf. It's a result of a company investing in thoughtful, useful actions. One of the best ways to improve the total employee experience is to outsource HR functions and make them accessible, convenient and satisfying.

As a professional employer organization, TriNet provides small and medium-sized businesses access to big-company benefits with top insurance carriers. Our premium employee benefit plans go beyond access to exceptional health and retirement coverage to include additional nontraditional benefits such as accident and illness policies, access to auto and home policies, commuter benefits and more. Employees also will appreciate our enhanced technology platform with mobile app feature, which gives them the flexibility to manage their HR needs from anywhere.

This communication is for informational purposes only, is not legal, tax or accounting advice, and is not an offer to sell, buy or procure insurance.

This article may contain hyperlinks to websites operated by parties other than TriNet. Such hyperlinks are provided for reference only. TriNet does not control such web sites and is not responsible for their content. Inclusion of such hyperlinks on does not necessarily imply any endorsement of the material on such websites or association with their operators.

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