Companies that perform well over time have one thing in common: highly motivated employees. But motivated employees don’t just happen naturally, and they don’t always stay that way.
To improve motivation companywide, leadership teams need to know why their employees show up to work and what makes that work fulfilling. This is the same concept at play when companies put themselves into their customers’ shoes to understand what they want at a detailed level.
Just as you might ask customers what they need to make a sale happen, you should ask your team members, “What do you need to be successful?”
When leaders understand what employees want, the entire company benefits. After all, studies show that when employees are happy, their productivity levels jump by roughly 12 percent — but will decrease by 10% if they are unhappy.
Here are four steps to focus on the employee experience and boost business in the process:
1. Weed out the weak. Like customers, employees need to be engaged the moment they walk in the door. The hiring process is a great avenue for weeding out applicants who simply aren’t strong fits and whose engagement levels will be low.
Of course, figuring out whether a candidate will be a decent fit requires a clearly defined company culture. So take the time to determine your core company values, the pace of changes, and expectations for employees.
2. Consider culture over the dusty handbook. Software development firm Clevertech created a living document called a culture deck, which includes visual representations of its internal practices and culture. The company uses the deck not only to let employees know what they can expect and how to succeed, but also to ensure that new hires will fit with the culture.
So throw out the employee handbook, and write a culture handbook instead. Fill it with tips about how to get started in the organization and testimonials from existing employees who love coming to work.
3. Conduct regular employee surveys. Employees should be surveyed at least twice a year. An annual questionnaire is not enough; pigeonholing the employee experience will provide useless data.
Remember, the more often you survey your teams, the shorter the surveys need to be. Collect employee data often and rapidly, and be transparent on how the information will be used. Then, give it to managers who should track the trends and act on them.
4. Debrief quarterly. A culture debrief is a way to give everyone on the team a chance to talk about values, core behaviors, and how they each feel about the processes they follow. Regularly scheduling time for this allows leaders to understand how direct reports are reacting to their environments so they can make adjustments that will improve performance.
Find out what makes employees excited to come to work, and identify action items that can improve the team’s experience. Most importantly, be accountable by reporting back to your staff on the status of those next steps.
Creating a positive, holistic employee experience is your responsibility as a leader, and it requires a deliberate approach and consistent attention. Our internal research shows that managers who don’t actively discuss company culture or seek to engage employees often see gaps develop between leaders and their direct reports.
To sustain your business, look to increase the lifetime value of your customers. Likewise, to achieve long-term success, focus on the lifetime value of your employees.
With a passion for helping companies identify their unique cultures in order to find and retain top talent, Catherine Spence co-founded Pomello, a San Francisco-based company that utilizes an HR technology tool to determine company culture.
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