Using Holistic Listening to Retain Employees—and Customers

It’s popular to believe that COVID-19 created the unprecedented employee exodus we’ve all come to know as The Great Resignation. For months now, we’ve seen brands struggle to retain employees as millions of workers across virtually every sector of the economy and society leave their jobs, citing a similarly diverse range of reasons for leaving. These include, but are by no means limited to, insufficient pay, hazardous work environments, and having to put up with belligerent customers.

What’s at the Root of the Struggle with Employee Retention?

Though it’s natural to assume that the timing of this event means it’s strictly a product of COVID, the truth about the Great Resignation and employee disengagement in general is that the pandemic didn’t create either phenomenon; it simply exacerbated existing employee issues. Factors like low pay or dangerous work existed long before COVID, which means that the disease isn’t the root cause of The Great Resignation so much as it’s the straw that broke the camel’s back.

The other hard truth that feeds into The Great Resignation is that, frankly, a lot of companies are having trouble retaining their workers because they never understood or invested in improving the employee experience (EX). These brands thus lack the resources, infrastructure, and capabilities necessary to rescue at-risk employee relationships, acquire new talent, and deliver on customer expectations in a time of great turmoil. 

No matter where your organization falls on the EX maturity spectrum, one thing has become clear: improving employee engagement, retention, and acquisition requires a new, more holistic means of addressing employee behavior and commitment.

A Quick Note on Employee Burnout, Disengagement, and the Like

Before we get to those holistic means, though, I think it would be helpful to briefly touch on the difference between disengagement, disconnection, and another term I’m sure you’ve heard a lot recently: burnout. 

The terms are not interchangeable; disengagement and disconnection refer to an employee’s lack of interest and/or investment in their work and organization’s mission. Meanwhile, burnout denotes feeling overwhelmed and mentally unwell as a result of said work or mission. 

My goal with this piece is to help you anticipate and solve for disengagement before it leads to that burnout.

3 Elements of Holistic Employee Engagement

Element #1: Anticipate Changing Needs

The first element of thinking about employee engagement and commitment more holistically is being cognizant of how employee needs and systems will change tomorrow, not ‘just’ what they’re like today. This is particularly important to consider as Millennials’ and Gen Z-ers’ slice of the workforce continues to grow. One of the most important things these digital natives want is a chance for meaningful growth, and if they feel that your brand isn’t considering that or how their needs will change, they will quickly turn elsewhere to find it. With the rise of remote and hybrid work environments, respectively, employees have more options here than ever before.

Element #2: Readily Recognize Value

A second element that can affect employee engagement and commitment is whether or not they feel valued. It’s easy for employees who contribute to organization success to disengage if their contributions aren’t being recognized. In other words, if they feel underappreciated despite their commitment and day-to-day effort, they’ll become discontent and, ultimately, churn. 

There are a number of ways to solve for this problem, such as creating a closed-loop process by which employees can contribute their insights and ideas. These processes are well-honed at best-in-class organizations—some brands not only incentivize idea submissions, but also give employees a cut of the savings their ideas generate.

Element #3: Foster Meaningful Connections

Finally, with the significant workplace changes we’re seeing, creating meaningful connections amongst coworkers and teams has become a critical challenge for leaders. Building sustainable workplace camaraderie in an often-remote work environment, the kind that truly leads to high-performing teams, is easier said than done. 

But the same principles leading to healthy workplace relationships (communication, trust, vulnerability, empathy, kindness) must still exist and be built anew as team composition evolves. Brand leaders who can pull this off will have not only driven improved business outcomes like operational efficiency, but also have built a culture of high employee engagement, commitment, and retention.

Ensuring employees feel heard, understood, and connected are essential to your organization’s success, so the ability to ingest solicited, unsolicited, structured, and unstructured employee feedback is invaluable to finding actionable intelligence. This is especially important when you consider that employee perception of work is the next great diversity frontier. Sex, race, and gender identity are all highly important for organizations to consider, but I firmly believe that diversity in how we as employees  perceive an efficient, effective workplace should be considered in a similar context.

A Better Tomorrow

Considering employee needs, making employees feel valued, creating sustainable camaraderie, and appreciating workplace diversity are all vital to engaging employees holistically, not just to preventing disengagement. Creating and sustaining a workplace environment built on these four pillars is no small task, but it’s what brands will need to achieve if they want to create meaningful experiences for their employees. 

Do that, and your employees will return the favor in the form of greater passion and, ultimately, a greater investment in your customers’ experiences, creating greater success for your organization.

3 Factors to Consider if You Have a CX Incentives Program

Though customer experience (CX) programs are always changing and evolving, one element that many brands constantly consider is whether to add a CX incentives program to those initiatives. 

On its face, such a program may seem quite straightforward—directly reward experience outcomes or add incentives to existing programs, and you’re good to go. However, there are actually quite a few factors that organizations need to look at while weighing an incentives program, not the least of which is ensuring that such programs aren’t subject to abuse or distortion (check out this eBook to read about the cons of incentivizing your CX program). We’ve put together a few lenses through which to view CX incentives. Let’s go through them!

  1. Behaviors
  2. Feedback-Based Incentives
  3. Incentivizing Existing Behaviors

Lens #1: Behaviors

This lens is fundamental to any rewards program because it challenges you to consider which behaviors you’re trying to change. Perhaps more importantly, in whom are you trying to change those behaviors? Taking a behavioral magnifying glass to a potential rewards program helps define its purpose. At the same time, though, brands need to be mindful that behavioral reporting can be skewed. Consider that possibility as you establish which behaviors you’d like to see change and how such changes are reported; that consideration goes a long way toward skew-proofing your CX incentives. 

Lens #2: Feedback-Based Rewards

This question is a bit more specific to EX initiatives, but we’ve seen it come up a lot when working with clients on their rewards programs. It’s hardly uncommon for organizations to reward employees, but whether you’re incentivizing above-and-beyond behavior or encouraging higher engagement, there’s always the risk that some reporting could be exaggerated. The best way to sidestep this potential obstacle is to base your incentive rewards on customer feedback. It’s a pretty safe bet that your employees deserve recognition if the insistence on it is coming directly from your customers!

Lens #3: Incentivizing Existing Behaviors

Most CX incentives programs are built with the goal of changing or improving certain behaviors in mind, but what about staying the course? If your brand is in a good place right now (i.e., most of your employees are passionate about your organization’s mission and you’ve formed bold, human, and invested relationships with your customers), there’s nothing wrong with incentivizing everyone to just keep doing what they’re doing. Even if you see room for improvement in your CX or EX spheres, incentivizing existing behaviors can help provide a good foundation for rewards initiatives before taking things higher. As always, though, remember to consider how that behavior is being reported and how else it could be tamper-proofed.

The Next Step

Considering the purpose and effectiveness of your CX incentives program is of obvious importance, but what else do organizations need to strategize as they build or refurbish such initiatives? Additionally, how can incentives programs help directly stimulate meaningful change and Experience Improvement (XI)? 

Click here to read our full-length white paper on the world of CX incentives programs, in which expert David Ensing considers these initiatives from every angle and presents a carefully researched perspective you can leverage.

Elves Rule: Employees ‘Make’ The Customer Experience, and Should Be Recognized for It

This article was originally published on CustomerThink

Santa Claus (with the help of Mrs. Claus) gets much of the credit for spreading Yule joy; but, isn’t it really the elves who are most responsible? Several years ago, business consultant Matthew T. Grant interviewed me for his blog site (http://www.matthewtgrant.com) and the subject was how, through their employees, companies can move beyond satisfaction to create real customer loyalty behavior. Years later, much of what we discussed still rings true, like a silver carol bell. Here is some of what was covered.

  • Positive customer experience with employees at your company has a far greater impact on loyalty than does satisfaction with a product or service. Indeed, studies have shown that 70 percent of customer behavior is driven not by product quality or efficiency of delivery or advertising, but instead by interactions with your people.
  • You cannot create, or sustain, customer loyalty behavior without committed employees. More than commitment to the company or the brand, more than commitment to productivity or innovation or even the organization itself, we are talking about commitment to the customer. The key is to focus on developing and supporting employees so that they, in turn, focus on the customer. Ideally, you want every employee to be not just a brand champion, but an advocate for the value provided by the organization.
  • Employee advocacy is a framework for linking employee commitment to business results by emphasizing the need for the entire organization to create unique, value-add customer experiences. Optimizing customer experience, then, is everybody’s job.
  • The focus on customer experience, inherent to employee advocacy, reflects the core concept of ‘value’. Value has two components: a rational, functional side and an emotionally-based, relationship side. Most companies focus on optimizing the functional side through quality management and process improvement.
  • Functional elements of value can be important when it comes to meeting customers’ basic expectations, but they often aren’t particularly differentiating and they don’t drive long-term customer trust and customer loyalty behavior. The latter are more frequently engendered by the emotional connection with the company, which in turn is fostered by the attitudes and actions of employees toward the customers.
  • While “loyalty” is generally a term associated with marketing, organizational behavior and employee development are not. Accordingly, the impetus for change usually comes from outside marketing. The move toward commitment and advocacy is generally driven, and championed, by senior executives, though, of course, they can’t do it alone. A traditionally successful partnership will consist of senior leadership working in concert with operations, market research and human resources.
  • Market research provides the employee advocacy data and the insights. The biggest impact this has rests in demonstrating the difference between internal perception of value and external perception. Service managers and representatives, salespeople, and other employees are often out of sync with customers in terms of perceived value of services, products, and features.
  • One way to uncover just how in-sync or out of sync employees are is to ‘mirror’ customer surveys. For example, ask representatives from the organization to answer questions posed to customers as they believe the customers themselves would answer them. Conducting this kind of research will quickly uncover the gaps in perception and help highlight the need for change.
  • For their part, HR can help institutionalize and formalize employee advocacy, and can help cascade this out to the rest of the organization. You want and need their help, but you also need to make sure that you are building in redundancies and diagnostics so that they feel comfortable.
  • Senior management needs to get everyone marching behind the banner of ‘optimizing the customer experience.’ They need to state and restate this again and again. Before they do that, of course, they have to accept that organizational focus and stakeholder centricity are issues of concern. And that can be a real challenge.

Who in the organization doesn’t own the relationship with the customer, either directly or indirectly? Recalling the work of W. Edwards Deming, he believed that everyone in the organization is “either serving the customer or supporting someone who does.” This means that the ideal of commitment and advocacy needs to permeate the entire enterprise.

Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. Instead, many companies find that about 10 percent of their staff exhibit advocate qualities, 15 percent may be actively sabotaging the customer relationship and experience, and the remaining 75 percent are neither saboteurs nor advocates, but could, potentially, move in one direction or the other. What is needed is the kind of research and analysis which will find out where there is overlap between the advocating and committed elite and the rank and file. What is dragging them down toward negativism, and what are they already doing that just needs to be encouraged?

The real question is this: Do you want everyone to be like the advocates and is the enterprise willing to do what it takes to get them there? We can take a lesson from Santa and his corps of elves, the advocates of a joyous Christmas.

Employee Advocates: Their Role as Committed Company Assets, Active Communicators, and Key Contributors to Stakeholder Value

This article was originally published on CustomerThink.

Whenever the subject of employee satisfaction and engagement arises, it is often difficult to differentiate between them. Just as customer satisfaction doesn’t equate to loyalty behavior, if you believe that “a satisfied employee IS an engaged employee”, it’s likely that you can’t articulate a distinction.

A satisfied employee can pretty much be described as one who is relatively happy or more than complacent about their day-to-day job experience: the work, pay, benefits, possibilities for growth, promotions and possibly more – – like training, work environment, and reward and recognition. These employees start their work day, they perform their job at acceptable levels, and they go home (or, are already at home due to traditional workplace restrictions resulting from the pandemic). Although satisfied employees are generally supportive of the business and what it represents, they likely won’t go beyond doing the basics of their job descriptions.

Rules of Engagement

An engaged employee, to follow the accepted range of definitions by HR professionals and consultants, is a fit for his/her role, is aligned with the goals of the organization, and is a productive individual. These employees have some potential to impact the customer experience; and there is documented, often incidental, evidence of correlation between the two. However, today more is needed of employees: Namely, proven direct causation, the specific defined linkage, and intersection, of employee thinking and behavior to customer brand/company loyalty and advocacy in the marketplace.

In part because of today’s greater emphasis on the emotionally-based components of customer experience and customer value delivery, and how this must be an enterprise cultural priority, employees have become center stage in optimizing customer behavior. Company goals now include building a corps of employees who perform at proactive, customer-centric levels beyond engagement and satisfaction. These “employee advocates” have three key and core behavioral traits:

  • Commitment to the company: Commitment to, and being positive about, the company (through personal satisfaction, fulfillment, and an expression of pride), and to being a contributing, loyal, and fully aligned, member of the culture
  • Commitment to the product/service value proposition: Commitment to, and alignment with, the mission and goals of the company, as expressed through perceived excellence (benefits and solutions) provided by the employer’s products and/or services
  • Commitment to the customers: Commitment to understanding customer needs, and to performing in a manner which provides customers with optimal experiences and relationships, as well as delivering the highest level of product and/or service value

Additionally, and not unimportantly, these employees are often vocal, social supporters of their employer and the value its products and services, and fellow employees, represent to stakeholders. In other words, similar to the behavior of vocally loyal customers, they are advocates.

The Missing Link

In looking at the progression from satisfaction to engagement to advocacy, we have examined research conducted over the past three decades. What we have observed are studies that examined some contributing factors of employee experience and value, such as reward and recognition, job fit, career opportunities, work environment, and departmental and management relationships. But the critical component often totally missing, or lightly addressed, from all of this material is the definitive linkage and commitment to customers.

Employee advocacy identifies new categories and key drivers of employee subconscious emotional and rational commitment, while it is also linked with the emotional and rational aspects of customer commitment.

When offering results of research on employee satisfaction and engagement, companies will often emphasize things like brand image and social media activity as part of employee training and responsibility. These are certainly important; but, just because employees have a solid understanding of the brand does not mean they will deliver on the product or service promise the enterprise has made to customers.

Tony Hsieh, the late founder and CEO of Zappos, said: “The brand is just a lagging indicator of the company’s culture.” He hit the mark with that statement. Brand image needs to be complemented and supported by a culture and set of processes dedicated to both employee and customer experience. That brand promise has to be delivered for customers every time they interact with the company. Contribution to customer experience also needs to be fully, and strategically, baked into the organizational DNA and into every employee’s job description.

The Path to EX Maturity

Consider how frequently your customers interact with your employees, either directly or indirectly. Whether it is through a computer screen in a customer service chat, on the telephone, or in person, every employee, whether customer-facing or not, should be an enthusiastic and committed representative for the brand. If employee satisfaction and employee engagement are not designed to meet this critical objective of the customer experience, almost inevitably there will be a sub-optimal downstream result with regard to customer behavior.

In any group of employees, irrespective of whether it’s a service department, technical and operational division, or a branch office, there will be differing levels of commitment to the employer’s brand and the company itself, its value proposition, and its customers. If employees are negative to the point of undermining, and even sabotaging, customer experience value, they will actively work against business goals and outcomes. However, if employees are advocates, and whether they interact with customers directly, indirectly, or even not at all, they will better service and support customers.

For companies to create and sustain higher levels of employee advocacy, it’s also essential that the employee experience be given as much emphasis as the customer experience. If employee commitment and advocacy are to flourish, there must be value, and a sense of shared purpose, for the employee as well as the company and customer – in the form of recognition, reward (financial and training), and career opportunities. Combined with advanced analytics and other employee-related data, the advocacy concept can lead and enable any organization to be more stakeholder-centric and dynamic.

This is a clear path to EX maturity. Where is your company on the maturity spectrum?

COVID Changed Workplaces. Here’s How Yours Must Adapt

COVID-19 may finally be receding from many parts of the world, but the changes the pandemic left behind aren’t going away anytime soon. The workplace, for example, changed virtually overnight, as many employees suddenly found themselves working from home and under strict lockdown. This shift in the Post-COVID workplace created a number of paradigm changes that a lot of organizations are still trying to catch up to.

If your brand is one of those organizations, we have you covered! What follows is a brief discussion about the post-COVID workplace. We’ll set the stage by going a bit more in-depth on those changes we mentioned earlier, and end by leaving you a few ideas on how your brand, workplace, and culture can adapt!

The Work-from-Home Paradigm Shift

For a lot of people, starting to work from home wasn’t as simple as setting up a laptop in the living room. Concurrent school closures meant that many employees had to balance homeschooling their kids with work responsibilities in real time. Childcare wasn’t the only home responsibility to blend into work, either—errands, laundry, and the like came together with work to create a previously unthinkable new paradigm. Couple that with waiting for lockdowns to end, and you have what one of our thought leaders fittingly calls “time soup,” a home reality in which everything is stirred together.

Working from home brought about some macro-level changes, too. It’s more difficult for employees to create connections when they’re physically separated, and this poses new challenges for brands that want to create cohesive cultures. Every company that wants to succeed needs a good workplace culture, so the question must be asked: how can brands like yours navigate this new work-life balance and this new culture landscape to find success and Experience Improvement (XI)? Don’t worry; we have a few ideas on that!

How to Adapt

The first key to adapting to the post-COVID workplace isn’t just to accept that working from home is the new normal—it’s figuring out how to make that new normal work for your organization. Think about the work factors unique to your organization—office footprint, nature of work, local COVID restrictions, and your employees’ current setups—without being afraid to try new things. Leaders at the messaging service Slack have said they want to take this time to question everything they thought they knew about the workplace… and that’s a great attitude! Challenge long-held assumptions as you establish what the new normal looks like for you.

Additionally, always be on the lookout for ways to create human connectivity at a time where physical contact is still a relative rarity. Your teams have already probably had Zoom happy hours and the like for the last 18 years, but don’t stop there! Get teams who don’t usually interact with each other into the same chat if you can. Connecting people whose paths don’t normally cross helps create that workplace culture that is so important to brand success. It also gives you a chance to sync different teams’ perceptions of your customer, which is vital for consistent experiences.

The overarching theme here is that adapting to this new workplace the right way isn’t ‘just’ good for employees; it can help you meaningfully transform your workplace culture and positively impact customer experiences, too! To learn more, click here to read the full-length point of view on this subject by our CHRO, Wendy Rand, who can show you more on how to not just adapt to this new normal, but thrive in it.

How Business Leaders Can Navigate Staffing Challenges in a Post-COVID World

COVID vaccines have finally arrived after a year of anxiety and uncertainty, which means that businesses can begin to seriously think about the post-COVID employee landscape. Of course, the reality is that that landscape is already here, and it brought with it a host of challenging changes. Today’s conversation provides a quick rundown of staffing challenges and other employee related obstacles, as well as what brands can do to overcome them.

Why Many Employees Aren’t Returning

One of the biggest trends we’ve seen these last few weeks is employees’ seeming reluctance to return to pre-COVID careers. This is especially true for verticals whose turnover rates were high even before COVID, like hospitality and retail. Turning to our experts, we have discovered a few reasons for this reluctance to return.

First, from what we’ve been seeing and hearing, a lot of employees who were laid off at the start of the pandemic have spent the last year cultivating side gigs into sustainable (and profitable) sources of income. These side hustles are more personally rewarding for these folks than their old jobs, which is why they’re hesitating to come back even if a conventional position offers more income and benefits.

Second, a lot of employees across many industries have become accustomed to the COVID-era work/life balance, a phenomenon that one of our experts calls “time soup.” In other words, employees have gotten used to work and home life responsibilities mixing together; a lifestyle that is not so easily untangled. Thus, many employees are only seeking out companies whose positions allow that flexibility, a paradigm shift that many employers are struggling to contend with. 

It’s also important to note that some employees are reluctant to go out into the world because they or members of their family are not vaccinated. Though numbers are lower in the US, we aren’t quite out of the woods according to the CDC (or globally for that matter).

How Brands Can Respond to Staffing Challenges

Many organizations are having a hard time pivoting to this new employee reality, especially in industries where working from home is difficult or flat-out impossible. However, the post-COVID employee landscape is not a loss for brands; it’s a new set of conditions. Adapting to change isn’t easy, but we have a few ideas for tackling this challenge and being able to hire the talent you need to deliver meaningful experiences.

The first and most immediate thing brands can do here is to survey their employees. Conventional wisdom says to survey everyone, but we believe that this problem is best addressed by surveying new hires who’ve been with your organization 90 days or less. Ask your newer employees not just the usual questions, like how things are going so far, but what drove them to your brand so recently. If they’ve joined you as COVID is subsiding, that means your brand must be doing something correctly to attract new employees, right?

Once you have that intel handy, apply it to your hiring and messaging as soon as possible. Identifying your newer employees’ key drivers and values will give you a good idea of who else to look out for as you regrow your workforce. This tactic will also help you hone in on employees who will be great fits for your brand. Hiring the right people and delivering on the values that encouraged them to apply to your organization is a true win-win.

Another factor that brands should bear in mind about this new workplace reality is how much we’ve learned about remote work; specifically, that more jobs can be performed from afar than anyone thought before COVID. Your organization can take advantage here by hiring the best talent wherever they’re located. Sure, it’s nice when people can get together in person, but after the last year, it’s become clear that some teams can function effectively even when they’re entire time zones apart.

The Customer Element

If you’re reading this, it’s probably because the current staffing and labor issues we’re seeing are having an impact on your brand and, ultimately, its customer experience (CX). Fewer employees means that organizations are stretched thinner, which unfortunately increases the chance that customers will have longer wait times or other adverse interactions with your brand. We believe that time and additional research will yield other tools you can use to bridge this employment gap—until then, though, short-term methods like our survey suggestion are the best means of mitigating this issue.

The post-COVID employment landscape is challenging, and adjusting to it is no small task. But the brands that arm themselves with insights and feedback from newer employees will be better-positioned to not only adjust to this new world, but also to find the best talent for their organization and thus provide Experience Improvement (XI). 

In the meantime, you can be sure we’ll continue to monitor these changes and provide brands like yours with the best employee experience (EX) advice out there. Follow the InMoment XI Blog to stay connected and to take this post-COVID journey with us!

How Employee Experience Impacts Your Business

You’ve heard it time and time again: employees are your greatest asset for business success. 

We all know it’s true, but only a few experts can articulate (and prove) how the employee experience directly impacts the bottom line. And perhaps that’s why so many brands stick to the customer experience and fail to include employees in their efforts. The thing is, however, that the customer experience and the employee experience overlap in so many ways.

In the first episode InMoment’s “XI Expert Take” video series, VP of Global Employee Experience Stacy Bolger dives into that overlap and explains how businesses can leverage their employee experience for organization-wide success. Here are a couple of takeaways we want to highlight for you:

Lack of EX Investment Equals Significant Revenue Drainage

As a part of her role at InMoment, Stacy Bolger often visits brands to brainstorm solutions to their greatest EX challenges. Despite the fact that these brands span across industries and the globe, Bolger has found that she often sees the same phenomenon unfold: brands that don’t have a strategy in place to survey their employees lose money.

In her “XI Expert Take” episode, she uses the example of a call center to bring this point to life. In her story, call center agents regularly take the same call about a process inefficiency that causes customers frustration.

“Let’s say that [in that call center] 150 representatives take a call [for the same issue] twenty times per week. That comes out to three thousand times per week. At eight dollars per call, that now has translated to $24,000 a week on the same call. And when we annualize it? That comes to $1.2 million a year that we are spending on a single call type and a process that a frontline employee has the insight to fix, knows the solution to, and yet that brand simply does not have the process with which to gather that feedback.”

That’s right. If the brand in Stacy’s example simply surveyed its employees asking for insights about the customer experience, it could save over a million dollars! And though this situation is hypothetical, the same kind of revenue drain is all too real for brands that fail to invest in the employee experience and examine the voice of employee (VoE).

Failure to Listen to Employees Leads to Lower Engagement

Voice of employee initiatives definitely excel at removing customer-unfriendly processes, but they also are absolutely vital to keeping employee morale up and churn down. Why? Because employees who feel listened to feel valued, are more engaged, and are likely to stick around a lot longer.

Put yourself in your employees’ shoes. If you kept bringing up a recurring process or operations issue to your manager, but nothing was being done to fix that issue on a large scale, how would you feel? You’d feel small, you’d feel ignored, and you’d feel as if all the work you put in day after day amounts to nothing in the eyes of your employer. If you felt that way, would you stick around?

It’s safe to say that no one would enjoy that situation. And when unsatisfied employees leave, your organization loses tenured, passionate employees and a significant amount of money. In fact, turnover can cost a company about 33% of

an employee’s annual salary. How? Because when an employee leaves, the business has to take on multiple costs, including the cost to recruit and the cost to train! 

Putting a voice of employee program into place prevents this drainage. It creates a strategy with which brands can survey their employees about the customer experience. And when you combine strategic listening with advanced analytics that unearth trends in that data, you can alert the right teams within the company to take action and make change. 

When the employee sees a process they’ve flagged as an issue transformed into something more customer friendly, they feel like an imperative part of the organization (which, in truth, they are).

Tying Business Value Back to Employee Initiatives

In the rest of her episode, Stacy highlights other areas where employee initiatives excel, does some quick math to quantify the results, and tells you the steps you should take to get the ball rolling. 

But don’t take our word for it. You can watch the full twenty minute session for free here!

Why Your Brand Should Start (or Dust Off) an EX Program

A customer experience (CX) program is the best way to collect feedback from your audiences, glean useful learnings, and use that knowledge to meaningfully improve your brand experience. Initiatives like these usually determine whether your business is a leader within your vertical, or a follower. As such, they’ve become commonplace over the last decade or so.

What about employee experience (EX) programs, though? What value do they provide, why should your brand have one if it doesn’t already, and how can they help you improve your customer experience? Today, we’re going to briefly walk you through these and other questions within the EX world.

Creating Considerable Cultures

The first (and most obvious) case for starting an EX program is the benefit it provides workplace culture. Your brand needs to recruit and retain the best employee talent out there if it hopes to become a vertical leader—an EX program can help your organization identify its cultural strengths and fix breakages that might be repelling new employees or leaving current ones feeling disengaged.

On a more fundamental level, EX programs help employees find meaning in their work. We all want to be good at our jobs and to find them fulfilling, which is why it’s important to give employees a chance to speak up. Moreover, employees must be given an opportunity to make a difference, and meaningfully applying EX program learnings sparks that very phenomenon.

Saving Up

There’s another benefit that comes with using an EX program to positively affect your company’s workplace culture: saving money. Whether it’s recruiting a new employee, dealing with absenteeism, or contending with churn, there’s no aspect of employment that doesn’t come with a price tag. Employees are a company’s greatest resource, but they’re also usually the greatest expense.

This is why EX tools like voice of employee (VoE) and employee engagement (EE), among others, are vital to the success of your brand. Identifying improvement opportunities in your workplace culture helps employees find more meaning in their work, as we said, but it also helps your brand avoid some pretty substantial costs. With an EX program, you can better retain your workforce, avoid costly churn, and save a big chunk of change all the while.

Connecting with CX

It’s not uncommon for brands to think of CX and EX programs as wholly separate entities, but that’s not the case. If your employee has an improved experience with your brand—takes more pride in their work, feels that their feedback is valued—that positivity is highly contagious. A happier employee translates directly to a happier customer, even if that employee doesn’t interact with customers face-to-face.

In essence, EX programs create a more meaningful workplace culture for employees, and that passion improves the customer experience. Everyone wins with an EX initiative, and brands can ride the changes these programs help bring about to the very top of their verticals.

Click here to read our full article by EX expert Stacy Bolger on these programs’ benefits, including solutions and strategies you can start applying to your own organization today!

How the Perception of Productivity Affects our Engagement at Work

Weekends in my household are often consumed by time well spent with my wife and two young children, who enjoy everything from hide & seek and board games with crazy rules, to baseball and bike riding.  While I love these activities and the family memories they create, I too enjoy weekend time spent alone on personal projects around the house.  I call these “garag-ects”—projects generally accomplished in the garage.

Over the years, the bikes and sports equipment, toys and old ping-pong table, tools and materials have taken over my work space, each time requiring me to prepare a space to get started. It’s an unmotivating and incredibly inefficient environment, but I know that until I dedicate the time to organize the space required to tackle many garagectsin a single weekend, I will continue to lack the motivation and resources to engage in even a single item on the growing list of ‘to-do’ items.  In years past, I found myself able to fill a weekend with a list of accomplishments and was highly productive in the garage.  When I could start and complete a garagectin one sitting, I found myself entirely engaged in the process and motivated by the accomplishments each completion would bring.

Perception of Productivity Drives Employee Engagement

In this way, I have something in common with the vast majority of employees who work in any role across all types of industries and organizations.  Perhaps not just the family aspect or the growing list of projects in the garage, but the continuous intrinsic need to be productive in order to feel truly engaged.  In fact, research suggests that employee happiness and engagement at work is driven by the perception of productivity – an employee’s sense of being able to effectively execute his or her duties and role for the organization in an effective and efficient manner.  Coupled with the ability for an employee to see his or her contribution, the feeling of productivity is powerful in establishing and maintaining high engagement levels.

The social and physical environment for an employee in the workplace may be just as important as an organized garage when it comes to enabling a higher sense of productivity.  As organizations invest in employees by regularly asking for feedback and insight in order to make effective changes and promote a culture for employee-generated insights, it can be valuable to include measures that connect productivity and the outcomes of the work done day in and day out.

Bridging Concepts of Productivity with Employee Surveys and CX Measures

Many organizations are beginning to find ways to include such measurement within regular employee engagement surveys, where for example, employees are presented with specific items connecting the concepts of productivity while also bridging data between employee surveys and customer experience measures.  These items may cover processes & procedures and incentives, to goal-setting and technology, and might include items such as;

  • Our organization always acts in the best interests of our customers.
  • Our organization eliminates processes and procedures that interfere with best serving my customers.
  • Staff in our organization are given incentives to provide the best possible service to our customers.
  • My co-workers consistently think about how to better serve our customers.
  • Our organization hasformal programs and processes for improving customer experience.
  • Our organization sets specific goals for achieving and improving customer experience.
  • Our organization effectively uses technologyto deliver a consistently positive customer experience.
  • Our organization commits the resources required to exceed the expectationsof customers.

employee engagement diagram

Such measures offered to employees serve as a great way to connect traditional siloes between HR and CX Professionals who independently measure the employee and customer experience respectively and provide a mechanism for employees to weigh in foundational concepts affecting their work and the outcomes for customers.

Asking the Right Employee, with the Right Measures, at the Right Time

Another growing strategy organizations are deploying includes the use of employee experience (EX) surveys to monitor the more standard aspects of the employee life cycle.  This process includes asking the right employees, the right measures, at the right time – while they are top of mind and while the employee is most invested in a particular experience.  By measuring the initial impressions of an organization during the recruitment and hiring stages, through onboarding and acclamation, to communication and recognition, and typically ending with exit experience, an organization can identify employee-driven ideas for improving the experience in each of these areas affecting nearly all current and future employees.  These surveys can be administered in a more intelligent, automated fashion by leveraging employee record files to distribute certain survey types based on tenure, employment events (such as promotion or training) and communication processes by the organization, including quarterly townhall meetings. By including even just a single item on an employee’s perception of productivity, the organization can better identify quick wins across processes in the employment life cycle to improve this concept and engagement.

Make Sharing Experiences Easy

One other emerging trend includes the use of open-ended prompts, either as part of the regular employee survey process or as part of an open listening strategy where employees can share a story/idea at any time through a dedicated portal or open exchange.  Just as we do as customers when we experience something very positive or negative, employees also want to share their stories.  One positive and inspiring method is to provide a mechanism for employees to identify any instances where colleagues, processes, or the work environment allowed them to be overly productive and/or provide an exceptional experience to a customer.  Every employee has days where, from their vantage point they accomplish an incredible feat or series of feats in one day.  Providing opportunities for employees to share these stories will generate ideas for how to foster such productivity while recognizing employees for their accomplishments.  Such stories can even be shared publicly in electronic employee boards and in recognition mechanism across the organization to further drive engagement.

Speaking personally, I can physically feel the difference in my engagement when I’m in an environment that promotes focus and productivity.  Whether provided to me by the leadership at my place of work, or self-created in my garage, my working conditions including the processes, tools, space and people should foster productivity and be intentional in design to allow for my best work.  When this occurs, I’m most likely to remain engaged in my efforts and connected to the purpose of my work.  In my case, this means a weekend engaged in making my garage a more productive environment.

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