An integral part of defining the employee experience has to do with whether people want to show up at work instead of people feeling they need to show up. This shift from “need” to “want” is a fundamental change that organizations around the world are starting to experience. This is why we see so much investment in new offices spaces, health and well-being programs, workplace flexibility, and much more. A lot of things can go into creating an employee experience but there are three key concepts that all companies regardless of their industry, geography, or size, need to focus on to develop their employee experience. That is the physical environment, the cultural environment, and the technological environment.
The physical workspace is the one we can see, touch, and taste, and smell. It’s the art on the walls, the office floor plan, the demographics of the people we work with (old, young, diversity, etc), and any physical perks we might get such as a great cafeteria, an on-site gym, a lounge area that employees can use to socialize in or a ping pong table where employees can unwind a bit.
The physical work environment should support employees in how they actually work, and it should reflect the company culture. Not all actually do their work at a desk. Instead, they need other spaces to be able to work productively, such as conference rooms, silent areas, lounges, or creative spaces to spur idea creation.
Creating spaces that spur innovation, collaboration, networking or silent areas for concentration, reflection and productivity is not about buying nice interior, bean bags or ping pong tables just for the sake of it. Instead, it should be regarded as a strategic investment in corporate culture and values. And just as with everything else, the physical environment needs evolution and upgrades from time to time. Experiment! Be bold, try new things, and see what happens!
There are many ways to describe what corporate culture actually is. Some say “it’s what happens when the manager leaves the room”, or ”it’s what’s in the walls”. Others say culture stems from the values, attitudes, work methods, and the mission of the organization. Regardless of what you believe culture is or where it comes from, the one thing that is common is that culture is about feeling. If the physical environment is about the one that you can see, touch, taste, and breathe, then the cultural environment is the one that you feel; it’s the “vibe” you get when you walk in the door and it’s the mood and the tone that the workplace sets. It’s the leadership style, the sense of purpose your employees feel, the organizational structure, and the people that make up your organization. It’s not written and it’s not stated yet it is one of the most important elements of creating and designing the employee experience. Typically corporate culture is what energizes us or drains us, it motivates us or discourages us, it empowers us or it suffocates us. We all experience the corporate culture of our organizations every single day, whether it be positive or negative.
Even though it is a slightly more intangible concept than the physical environment it can be observed, measured and evaluated, and for sure one of the most important reasons you succeed or fail in attracting and retaining your most important employees.
The technological environment of the organization refers to the tools employees use to get their jobs done. This includes everything from the internal social networks to mobile devices, laptops, desktops, and video conferencing solutions that employees have access to. This also includes apps, systems, software, and user experience and design elements that impact how employees use these various tools and how they feel about them. Technology is central to any organization and most concepts and themes related to the future of work are not possible without technology.
It’s not hard to see why technology has such a big impact on the employee experience. If you show up to work and are forced to use technologies that were considered “cool” in the 90s then clearly you’re going to get frustrated with getting your job done. Using outdated and poorly designed technologies will: make it harder for you to communicate and collaborate with employees, drastically increase the amount of time it takes to get the job done, and create frustration, instead of engagement, happiness and productivity.
The future of work is all about the employee experience and this is something that organizations around the world are realizing and investing heavily in. What kind of experience are you creating for your employees and how are you doing it?
We help our customers develop and strengthen their employee experience by offering listening platforms and efficient tools for continuous improvement through our services. By taking in feedback, creating insight, and getting it into actionable plans and changed behaviours we see employee pride sky rocket and companies prosper. And this is just the beginning of an interesting time where employee experience will get as much attention as customer experience!