To differentiate themselves as great places to work, companies are thinking further outside the box than ever. While always-full snack closets, company game rooms, and offices that double as doggy day care are attractive perks, do they—and other employee engagement efforts—truly deliver the return on employee loyalty companies are looking for?
It’s no secret that engaged employees are more productive: less likely to spend a good portion of the day scrolling through their Facebook feed, or worse, job hunting on LinkedIn. They’re also much more likely to provide a better experience to your customers, and this less/more combination both saves and makes your business more money. But what leads to the type of sustained engagement that maps to positive bottom-line outcomes? Is it competitive pay, creative benefits, and room for professional growth? The opportunity for a positive work/life balance? Being equipped with the tools needed to do the job effectively?
Of course, all these factors matter immensely in the employee engagement formula. But years of research and working with some of the world’s leading brands has led me to a surefire way to ensure your employees deliver for you and, in turn, your customers: make sure they know they are valued.
Notice I didn’t say make them feel valued.
Think about your friends and family. How do you know they value you? In my experience, it comes from trust, respect, and being asked for my input or opinion on important issues. And while the employer/employee relationship is different in many ways, the general idea is the same: If you want your employees to know they are valued, you have to actually demonstrate—consistently—that you value them. And a good place to start is asking for their honest ideas on how to deliver a better customer experience (as well as what’s preventing them from doing so).
Customer experience is more than a soup de jour. It’s a data-backed way to outpace your competitors. The employee’s perspective on improving the brand’s delivery of customer experience—known as Voice of the Employee (VoE)—empowers employees to take ownership of CX outcomes. And when you ask employees for their advice on improving CX—at established touchpoints and intervals, through ad hoc invites and “always-open” portals—and then act on that advice, they know they’re trusted, respected, and valued. They know this because you have made them part of the solution.
While the traditional mentality focused on creating the right working environment for employees, this new model takes a collaborative approach to problem solving and innovation, asking “What can we do together…and how?” It moves away from asking employees if they feel valued to ensuring value is manifest through action. It’s about getting to a point where you don’t have to ask—because you know. It’s not just one-time feedback; it’s the beginning of an ongoing conversation.
With technology, what was once a complicated, siloed, and often ineffective web of processes can now be streamlined and expedited. Sophisticated listening tools allow companies to systematically collect and run complex analyses on both customer and employee feedback, surfacing correlations and trends, and identifying both failures and successes. Tech can even automate some tasks for employees: prioritizing cases, routing customers to the places and people where they can get the right answers, and serving up content personalized to their preferences. Automated systems can also arm your front line with in-the-moment intelligence, empowering them to have the most effective interactions possible. And with processes like machine learning and artificial intelligence built into some of the more innovative solutions, these systems get smarter and even more effective over time. In essence, technology is a value-building tool that empowers employees to be your greatest CX advocates.
The result: Employees are providing more value to your customers and your brand, and they are more successful in their roles. In other words, you are helping them be—not just feel—more valuable.
While a number of aspects factor into employee engagement, VoE goes beyond salary, benefits, and foosball tables. It gives your employees a permanent seat at the decision-making table. By making employees part of the solution, companies are rewarded with not only a passionate, empowered workforce, but also new ideas and insights even their customers can’t provide.