Meaningful brand interactions can forge positive relationships with customers. This is amplified when employees also feel good about their company.
Many of today’s most successful businesses have a relentless focus on their customers' brand experience. They work to make products and services delightful by taking into account customer needs at every touchpoint, from their first inkling of its existence, up through, and beyond engagement with it. Companies that understand and optimize the customer journey stand to gain long-term fans.
Why is it then that so many companies don’t also consider optimizing the employee experience?
According to Gallup, workplaces with highly engaged employees outperform their peer-company earnings by 147%, yet only 33% of employees are actually engaged at work. This suggests an opportunity to improve customer experience by designing more engaging employee experiences.
So what is employee experience and what steps can be taken to improve it?
Work is a place where employees spend a significant portion of their lives, and their experience of the company—similar to customer experience—is holistic, across every interaction.
Many modern companies are known to provide exciting perks like foosball tables, all-day free snacks, and unlimited vacation. While those offerings can certainly help enhance the experience of work, they need to be implemented thoughtfully, in a way that clearly communicates the company's expectations and goals. If not, they can actually encourage more time at the office, and leave less time for the personal activities that encourage employees to recharge and come to work refreshed and ready to be productive.
A study by SAGE Business Researcher (PDF) shows that when companies offer unlimited vacation it can lead to less time-off taken by employees. In response, some companies have been experimenting with mandatory time-off programs. This makes sense in light of the State of American Vacation 2018 report by Project: Time Off, which states that businesses encouraging vacation see it as a competitive advantage that their “employees who feel supported in taking vacation are happier with their job, company, relationships, and health, allowing them to bring their best selves to the job when they are on the clock.”
Experiences outside of work like travel, socializing, exercise, hobbies, and of course sleep, bring refreshed minds and perspectives to work. Leaders who give their employees the flexibility they need to balance work with other aspects of life, actually contribute to a more positive employee experience and a more productive company.
Benefits, perks, and work-life balance are part of the experience, but what about a company’s values? Each company has its own set of values that embody the ethos of the culture, but failing to clarify and practice them can lead to low morale. Setting aspirational yet realistic company values that are authentically ingrained through every aspect of the company culture can have the opposite effect; raising morale and generating a sense of purpose, especially if those values contain concepts like trust, transparency, respect, mentorship, and employee growth.
That sense of purpose is enhanced when the company has a strong vision and mission. TED, for example, espouses the following:
VISION “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and, ultimately, the world.”
MISSION “Spread Ideas.”
This type of established purpose can generate a sense of passion among employees, and once everyone agrees, the company can develop objectives to help clarify priorities and alignment as they reach toward that mission and vision. TED’s main objective is to find ways of spreading great ideas. Once an objective is established, teams can develop strategies and tactics—like the production of conferences and talks—to help them achieve measurable results, learn from failures, and celebrate successes.
Jacob Morgan’s Employee Experience Advantage points out that companies investing in employee experience are not only four times as profitable as those that don’t, but they’re listed in the American Customer Satisfaction Index twice as often.
Organizations that are committed to their vision, mission, and values working in concert with the other benefits they offer, can achieve the kind of holistic employee experience that will undoubtedly raise the customer experience of their brand, and ultimately make for a more healthy, productive, and sustainable business.
If you have an example of a positive work environment contributing to company productivity and customer experience (or vice-versa), we’d love to hear about it in the comments below.
For more on this subject, check out the Employee Experience Flipboard magazine.
You can find Jake tweeting on this and other subjects @jtrus.