After a surreal employee experience in 2020, and an uncertain one in 2021, it’s time for a change. Time for an improvement. Time for stability.
More than 90% of employers plan to make enhancing the employee experience a top priority in 2022, according to research from Willis Towers Watson. That’s a good idea after many companies and their employees strived, but didn’t exactly thrive, since the pandemic.
“The role of the leader has changed and will continue to change,” says Jennifer Kraszewski, VP of Human Resources at Paycom. “As a manager in the current environment, it’s imperative to make an intentional effort to create a bond with your employees, allowing them to feel certainty, significance, connection and ultimately, empowerment.”
In the new workplace, employees won’t be looking for the perks that made some companies uber-attractive in the past decade – such as stocked break rooms, catered happy hours, on-site game rooms and dry cleaning services.
Not now. An enhanced employee experience will take a more holistic approach this year. So here are eight ways you can make the employee experience better in 2022.
Show more empathy
Perhaps the best thing to do now is start from a place of empathy. When you approach the employee experience from their point of view, you’ll likely come up with impactful ways to engage them again.
“Leading with empathy means understanding and accepting that people are not always operating at their very best,” says Kathleen Quinn Votaw, CEO of TalenTrust. “Issues from home affect work lives. Working within and around that reality is the best way to create a place where people want to come to work.”
Quinn Votaw offers these tips for all leaders. So you’ll likely want to pass them along to your front-line managers, too.
- Be authentic. Take extra steps to ask questions to show you care about and are interested in what will make employees’ experiences better.
- Add a personal touch. Consistently communicate with a personal touch – specific employee praise, genuine concern for well-being – to build morale and increases engagement.
- Make time to connect. Give employees time and opportunities to connect personally at least weekly. Ask them to cultivate ideas for better experiences during the social time – and bring them to you.
- Respect boundaries. Don’t assume everyone’s definition of a great employee experience involves experiencing everything with everyone! Find out where employees want the line drawn between life and work.
Go to the source
The reasons employees leave and the reasons employers think they leave don’t line up, according to a Joblist survey.
For instance, more than 70% of employees say their companies can prevent turnover by improving benefits. Yet, just 42% of employers thought benefits were an issue. Another disparity: Nearly 60% of employees would stay more loyal if the company offered unscheduled raises or promotions. Meanwhile, less than 40% of employers have done that.
You don’t necessarily have to serve up better benefits and pay to improve the employee experience. But you do want to find – through surveys, town hall meetings, focus groups, etc. – what would make employees’ experiences better. Then determine what’s possible – and explain what’s not and why.
Make value matter
The workplace isn’t that much different than any place employees do business. They talk about the stores and restaurants where they felt they were valued.
To improve the employee experience, you might consider – and treat – them as customers in 2022 and beyond.
“It can be something as simple as setting up consistent one-on-one time with employees and giving them the space to ask questions, discuss their development and gauge progress,” says Kraszewski. “Let them lead the conversation. The key is to not only address professional topics, but also to get a measure of how they are feeling personally.”
Increasing engagement won’t just improve the experience in 2022.
“Highly engaged teams experience greater profitability, a reduction in absenteeism, and decreased turnover,” says Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, Chief Workforce Scientist at the Achievers Workforce Institute. “To foster an environment of engagement, start with creating a culture of recognition.”
The key nowadays: Give everyone opportunities and tools to recognize and reward others in the organization. If you just wait for scheduled ceremonies, leadership’s time and big prizes to come in, you’ll miss organic chances to boost morale and improve culture.
“Consider developing a recognition strategy to provide employees with a dedicated channel to acknowledge one another, whether it’s through written kudos or physical rewards,” Baumgartner suggests. “This allows team members to give more frequent and meaningful feedback, even when physically distant.”