5 steps to a great employee experience in 2020

Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

2019 has been the year of the employee journey. As the war for talent ratcheted up yet again, the struggle to attract and retain talent has led more and more employers to realise they need an optimal employee experience.

And this war is expected to continue unabated in 2020. So, what can you do to stay ahead of the competition next year? Here are five things to consider:

1. Focus on building a personalised relationship

As Employee Journey Mapping becomes increasingly normal – visualising the entire employee journey from recruitment, to career opportunities to moving on – forerunners can start to think about taking it to the next level: building personalised relationships with employees. By using design thinking and sentiment analysis to innovate in the workplace and increase employee engagement, HR departments can better understand and serve the needs of the 2020 workforce. At work as well as elsewhere, millennials expect convenience, connectivity and functionality. That means online. Giving them fast access to a system that offers them the training and mentoring they need will help your business thrive in the 2020 workplace.

2. Focus on retaining talent, especially in the first 12 months

As the war for talent continues to bite, retaining talent is going to become even more important in 2020 – and especially at the start of an employment contract, where there is so much to gain. Research shows that 33% of new employees start looking for a new job in the first six months of starting their current one! And 23% actually up and leave within 12 months. Obviously, this costs significant time and money when it comes to finding replacements, especially in a tight labour market. It’s therefore essential to give ‘retention’ the same degree of attention as ‘recruitment’, with the key question being: How do we keep more of our people? There’s no simple answer to this, and the answers are organisationally dependent, too, but here are a few tips:

The more clearly defined and honest your promise is to employees, and the clearer their expectations are before they sign on the dotted line, the more focused your talent recruitment will be. Based on this it makes sense to invest in a strong or stronger employer brand and persuade your recruiters and management of its importance.

Once a new employee’s onboarding period is over, analyse it with them and listen to the feedback they give. How can you improve your onboarding programme? What does new talent need to really feel at home in your organisation? How can you facilitate them so they can contribute to your organisation’s ambitions?

Use Artificial Intelligence and Big Data as part of employee journey mapping to identify where the points for improvement lie in your employee journey. Thanks to digital communications and digital processes, organisations have far more data to work with than just annual appraisals, exit interviews and employee surveys. The key is to analyse, rationalise and order data such as top of mind position amongst future talent, the position in, for example, Universum’s Global Employer Branding ranking, and the number of positive reviews on sites like Indeed and Glassdoor, conversion rates (quantity and quality), time to hire, operational health index, onboarding experience rating, employee satisfaction/engagement, offboarding data, etc.

3. Identify your influencers and show as well as tell

Never underestimate the power of role-modelling. It’s long been common knowledge that about 70% of someone’s workplace happiness is influenced by their manager. This means that ‘showing’ is just as important as ‘telling’, particularly in times of organisational change. Managers who fail to demonstrate behaviour that is line with what employees are being told they must do or how they must act undermine change and make progress harder. Just as important is peer-to-peer influencing. Both negative and positive. Take the famous coffee-machine chat between colleagues: is the tenor for or against? Do they generally support what’s happening or dig their heels in?  It matters, because peer reactions influence people as much as what management says and does. So, get to know who your influencers are and start thinking with them about spreading change like a ripple through your organisation.

4. Treat all employees the same, regardless of their contract

The forces driving the flexibilisation of work are increasing. Sometimes out of personal desire – as with digital nomads – sometimes from the luxury position of being in a sector that is experiencing chronic labour shortages (such as education, healthcare and construction) and sometimes because employers demand it, as with delivery and courier work. But whether they’re on a permanent contract or self-employed, every person who works for you commits to your organisation on a daily basis. The job happiness of flex-workers matters just as much as those on permanent contracts and contributes just as much to the happy customers/winning organisation value proposition. So, communicate with your flex-workers in the same way you communicate with every other staff member.

5. See diversity and inclusion as part of your licence to operate

Customers and consumers increasingly expect the organisations they do business with to reflect the society they live in – age, gender, ethnicity, religion, able-bodied and disabled, sexual orientation, education and national origin. This not only attracts more new employees, but research shows that being inclusive – making all employees feel welcome and equally treated – helps companies perform better, too. The smart move is therefore to invest in diversity and inclusiveness in the broadest sense. One that not only covers who you employ, but your employment terms, your organisation’s leadership and leadership styles and corporate social responsibility as well. Research by McKinsey has found that more diverse and inclusive companies grow faster and are more profitable. Among other benefits, diversity and inclusion boost innovation and creativity, improve a company’s reputation and business decisions, help companies attract high-quality candidates and improve knowledge sharing and employee engagement and retention. Beyond the obvious – hire different people – strategies for becoming more diverse and inclusive include creating a sense of belonging, being clearly fair to all employees, truly offering equal growth opportunities, changing the language you use in job ads and job descriptions, educating employees on diversity and inclusion and supporting collaboration and flexibility at work.

Sascha Becker

As head of strategy at communications agency PROOF | internal & employer branding, Sascha Becker has inspired leading brands in both the Netherlands and internationally to turn the entire employee journey into a successful and structured employee experience. Sascha’s personal mission is to help shape the future of work and create a better, healthier future for everyone.