2020: The year of employee experience

Workplace Organization
November 27, 2020

Of all the challenges the pandemic has brought, it’s also arguably forced many to focus on what is truly important. The initial lockdown days of virtual happy hours and team get-togethers seem like a distant memory since the realization that we’re in this for the long haul. The same can be said for businesses. While many workplaces have shifted from cubicles to dining room tables, it's employee wellbeing that has taken center stage this year. Employee experience - the summation of everyday employee interactions and experiences that occur within an organization -  has come sharply into focus during these unprecedented times. 

Why you can’t dismiss employee experience

Even before the pandemic, fostering a positive environment for teams has always been a worthwhile investment. Employee experience is directly related to how internal and external audiences view your company - which has a very strong influence on your ability to attract and retain top talent. The pandemic has put employee experience under a microscope. So what’s the cost of not prioritizing your employee experience? 

Well for starters, highly engaged employees are 75% less likely to look for work elsewhere.  There is no cookie-cutter formula for achieving an optimal employee experience, since every workplace culture is different, as are the needs of employees. However, common themes include employee recognition, open communication, or accessibility to employee support resources. In addition to improving retention, productivity, and performance, an improved employee experience helps reduce lurking threats like stress, exhaustion, and burnout. The important thing is to stay transparent with your team so they feel comfortable discussing options as their needs may change (should we happen to face a global pandemic, for example). 

Related Article: Overcoming remote employee burnout 

Mental health takes a front-row seat 

In the last number of years, we have seen society work towards dismantling the stigma surrounding mental health issues. This year, between lockdowns and isolation, has brought an onslaught of anxiety, forcing organizations to reevaluate their employee health and wellbeing. This plays a particularly crucial role as we enter the second wave of lockdowns, during a time of year where shorter days and limited sunlight are synonymous with seasonal depression. 

The World Health Organization estimates that every dollar spent on resources helping those struggling with common mental health issues see an ROI of 4 dollars. Considering today’s widely available telehealth and virtual access to health professionals, there really is no excuse for skimping on employee wellness. Establishing a playbook to support employees when they need a little extra help improves both transparency and trust. Although discussing mental health issues at work is never easy, providing your employees with the appropriate support systems should make the conversation less daunting. 

Related Article: Recognition and retention: the perfect match 

Flexible work environments become the norm 

While some people have grown to love working from home, others are itching to get back into their pre-pandemic office routine. In fact, remote working was one of the biggest trends in employee engagement of 2020 and likely won’t be going away any time soon. If possible, offer employees the option to choose between working remotely or at the office (with COVID precautions in place). Giving employees the agency to determine their own working arrangement means finding the work-life balance that best suits them. Work-life balance has also become a concern this year as it has become increasingly harder to separate work from the other areas of our lives. It’s estimated that 28% of employees report a lack of work-life balance as a reason to jump ship from an employer.

Today’s smorgasbord of working environments requires fostering a culture that can transcend geographical locations and computer screens. While team messaging tools have become the new go-to, we can all admit they can be exhausting at times. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and call your team members. Furthermore, just because we’re in a pandemic doesn’t mean employee development has to go on pause. Encourage employees to take advantage of any training resources or courses online that grabs their attention to promote continuous learning.

Thanks to today's technological advances, you can engage employees and keep business going just about anywhere. 

Taking employee recognition online

Did you know that lack of recognition is one of the top contributors to employee turnover? I think we can all agree that everyone could benefit from some positive reinforcement after everything this year has thrown us - and there's no time like the present! According to research by Officevibes, 82% of employees would prefer praise for a job well done instead of money

The ideal rewards and recognition program? A customizable program to fit your company's unique goals and objectives. Reinforcing company culture is an important step in keeping employee morale high during these uncertain times, so choose a program that can engage employees through core values. By leveraging the power of recognition, you can motivate team members both in and out of the office while simultaneously driving productivity and performance. Encouraging positive interactions and celebrating achievements creates an environment where employees not only feel appreciated, but where they can also thrive. 

A company is only as successful as its employees, so it’s imperative to create a positive and supportive space for your team members. Employee experience is an investment that will return time and time again. Although this year has been one for the books, your best bet for remaining agile and adaptable is putting people first.

Optimize your employee experience with peer-to-peer recognition - request a demo with Qarrot!

Jamie Doyle