Jan 18, 2023
Nov 29, 2023

Ultimate guide to improving the employee experience

To succeed, businesses must improve the employee experience. But how? Here’s your Ultimate Guide to creating a five star experience for everyone.
Amy Kirkham
Senior Content Marketing Manager
Ultimate guide to improving the employee experience

A positive employee experience is a crucial indicator of a successful business. Happy employees tend to stay longer, try harder, and produce better results than those who are unhappy. But employee experience can be a tricky metric to measure. After all, there are plenty of different factors that play into each individual’s employee experience–coworkers, culture, and workload to name a few.  It means that improving the employee experience can be a big task. Knowing where to start and how to meet employee expectations–especially within a time of budget constraints and hybrid work–can feel overwhelming. That’s why this post covers everything you need to know about improving the employee experience. We’ll go over:

  • What does employee experience really mean?
  • Why does improving the employee experience matter?
  • The role of the workplace in improving the employee experience
  • 5 steps to improving the employee experience

What does employee experience really mean?

Employee experience is made up of all the different interactions you have at work. It encompasses the way you interact with technology, people, and the environment at work. Employee experience covers everything from company culture, career development, workload, manager and coworker relationships, and more. A great employee experience directly correlates to the success of each business. The more folks enjoy their experience at work, the better they perform and engage with your company culture and mission. Here are five core areas that make up employee experience throughout every employee lifecycle.

5 core categories of employee experience
  1. The manager-employee relationship. The relationship each employee has with their manager plays a crucial role in creating a positive employee experience. A manager is the key person who direct reports engage with, learn from, and look to for help and development. The better the manager-employee relationship, the more valued and confident each individual becomes within the organization.
  2. The role. According to Gallup, only 41% of people agree that their initial job description aligns well with the work they are asked to do once they start. While this gap can lead to skill development and adaptability, it can also be detrimental to the employee experience if not managed well–especially if folks are increasing their workload with responsibilities outside of their role.
  3. The team. Working well and collaborating with coworkers plays a huge role in creating a great employee experience. In fact, employees who collaborate with coworkers in the workplace are 17% more satisfied with their job than those who don’t.
  4. The workplace. The best way to build relationships is in-person. That’s why it’s crucial for organizations with hybrid or full-time return to office policies to utilize the workplace as a critical lever to improving the employee experience.
  5. The culture. Toxic workplace culture is 10 times more likely to drive away employees, according to a recent study. To avoid this, organizations must cultivate a healthy, positive culture for employees to enjoy. This, in turn, drives a more positive employee experience and can lead to a variety of different benefits, like talent retention and a strong community.

What’s the difference between workplace experience and employee experience?

The workplace experience is just one part of the overall employee experience. Workplace experience focuses on how people interact with space, people, and technology within the physical workplace. Employee experience, on the other hand, encompasses peoples’ workplace experience and so much more. For example, employee experience encompasses how folks feel towards workplace culture, their relationships with other peers inside and outside of the physical office, how they are supported when it comes to workload and professional development, and more.

Why does improving the employee experience matter?

A Gartner study found that only 13% of people felt satisfied with their current employee experience. On the flip side, organizations that invest in creating a positive employee experience see a 31% rise in employee intent to stay and a 47% increase in performance. The reality is that it pays to improve the employee experience–both from a people and business perspective. The greater experience employees have, the more engaged they are and able to better represent your company and brand. This, in turn, enables them to replicate a positive experience for others–including customers, prospects, and other folks who interact with your organization.

The role of the workplace in improving employee experience

Return-to-office policies are in full swing and more people than ever are working in an office full-time or as part of a hybrid work policy. This makes the role of the workplace even more important in upleveling the employee experience. Here’s why:

The workplace provides a variety of spaces for employees to work

Whether it’s having a catch-up with a coworker on the couch, getting invaluable focus time, or collaborating as a team–it’s important that the workplace can support a variety of interactions and uses during the day. Ensuring your office space strikes the right balance or work spaces is crucial for employee experience. This means having areas like meeting rooms, desks, quiet zones, social spots, 1:1 pods, mothers’ rooms, a social kitchen area, and more.

The workplace provides an opportunity for employees to ask for help

When people are onsite with coworkers and managers, they are able to book desks next to folks so they can ask questions on the fly. This not only leads to better productivity, but also improves the employee experience through organic learning and development. The more folks can learn from each other–either through questions, conversations, or meetings–the better experience they’ll have at your company.

The workplace offers a better work-life balance

The workplace helps people achieve a better work-life balance by physically separating home and work. Unlike remote working, where folks spend 10% longer working than those onsite, folks can come onsite to be productive and get work done. They can then leave it at the office when they go home for the day. Returning to the office doesn’t mean people can’t tick off personal to-dos while onsite, either. In fact, according to our most recent At Work survey, the majority of leaders (64%) do not view personal time during the workday negatively.

The workplace drives community through team building and workplace relationships

According to our newest At Work report, 46% of executives say building relationships is more important than productivity in the workplace. This is a recent switch, and productivity was the clear driver in previous years. This means that, despite organizations needing to drive results, the value of the workplace actually sits more within building community than it does getting work done. The reality is, when people are physically together in the workplace, it helps to drive community and culture through things like conversations, learning, and collaboration. This will naturally lead to results over time.

6 ways to improve the employee experience

Creating a positive employee experience takes work. It’s unlikely that you can please every individual person in your organization, especially as return-to-office policies and hybrid working divides employers and employees. But what you can do is continually iterate and improve the employee experience as a whole. You can do that by simply checking in with your employees regularly, listening to their pain points, and improving the workplace so that it supports your people in the best way possible. Here are six ways to improve the employee experience in your business.

1. Harness the power of the workplace

Employees working in the office have new needs to help them be their most creative, productive, and collaborative selves. That could look like plenty of snacks and coffee on tap to keep them fueled for the day. Or it could look like lots of comfortable workspaces to get into the creativity-zone.Employees are expecting more of their workspace. Consider how to improve the workplace to meet these expectations. For example, do you need smarter space solutions that can automate your workplace and find efficiencies in old, clunky processes? Or perhaps you need to implement hot-desking to enable folks to sit where they like to be most productive? Evaluate your current workplace and ask yourself where the gaps are. Only then can you look for the right solutions to improve.

2. Get the right tech stack

The technology folks rely on plays a major role in their overall employee experience. This might be as simple as the laptops they use (is it Apple, Microsoft, or a very old model with missing keys?). Or it could be the technology (or lack of) behind room booking in the office. Ensure you have the right tech stack to power your workplace and your people. When you do, you can drive things like collaboration, productivity, and most importantly, employee experience.

3. Provide learning and development opportunities

Investing in your employees’ education and skills can be a great way to improve their experience at work. Employees will feel like a valuable and important part of the workforce and excited to bring their new skills to the table. Offer a training stipend for employees to take classes on topics they’re interested in. Or bring in trainers with various skill sets to host team-wide training. For more budget-friendly options, you could explore simply lunch’n’learns, where coworkers offer to teach others about new skills.

4. Focus on manager training

Good leadership is a crucial way to improve the employee experience and retain your best talent. Did you know that 82% of people leave their job due to a bad employee-manager relationship? Turns out that old adage that people quit bosses, not companies might have some truth to it after all. Relationships between managers and employees is a key part of a good employee experience. Provide in-person training for managers and leadership to make sure they are able to create a community of development and can build confidence in their team.

5. Don’t forget about social events

Organized fun during the pandemic was… not so fun. As it turns out, a virtual happy hour just isn’t as fun as clinking glasses in real life. But just because we’re now through to the other side, doesn’t mean we should forget about the importance of social time together. To improve the employee experience, consider holding regular social events that folks can join. This might be as simple as a happy hour, or it could be in-person games, a themed evening with entertainment, or a movie. The more people can connect with each other, the better–and this doesn’t always have to be about work.

6. Survey employees, regularly

You might think you’re doing all the right things to improve the employee experience, but how do you really know? The easiest way to understand and improve how your employees feel is by asking them. Send regular surveys out to employees to gauge how they feel about their experience in your organization. Are they feeling burnt out? Is there a confusion about something like returning to the office? All these questions can help paint a picture of how your employees are feeling on a larger scale. –These days, employees have a ton of options for where to work. And while organizations spend up to one trillion dollars in turnover expenses every year, there might actually be a very simple solution to the problem. Simply put, employees want to feel valued, confident, and happy at work. It’s the ultimate recipe for success. Take the best practices laid out in this post to improve the employee experience today–it will pay dividends to your organization as a whole. Plus, you’ll have a happy workforce behind you. A win-win.

Want to know more about improving your workplace for your people? Check out our Ultimate Guide library, filled with blog posts covering a whole suite of different workplace topics. You’ll be a workplace pro by the end of it–promise.

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Amy Kirkham
Amy Kirkham

Amy is a content creator and storyteller at Envoy, where she helps workplace leaders build a workplace their people will love. Outside of work, you can usually find Amy exploring new places, planning her next trip, or enjoying a coffee and croissant in her favorite cafe.

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