Ultimate Software's Blog https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com Thoughts on Putting People First in the Workplace Fri, 19 Oct 2018 17:28:06 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 The Employee Experience Imperative: Q&A with David Johnson https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-experience-imperative/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-experience-imperative/#respond Thu, 31 May 2018 12:19:31 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=1445 From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work. Earlier […]

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From time to time, we invite guest contributors to provide their personal perspectives about trending HCM topics. The views, opinions, and comments expressed below are solely those of the author and do not represent Ultimate Software. This post was commissioned by Ultimate Software and the author has or will receive compensation for their work.

employee experienceEarlier this year, David Johnson, principal analyst for Forrester, joined Cecile Alper-Leroux, Ultimate’s VP of human capital management innovation, for a comprehensive webcast detailing some of the disruptive trends reshaping the future of work. Today on the blog, he’s offering a deep dive into one of the most significant issues facing employers today — the employee experience — including common pitfalls and suggestions backed by the most up-to-date analyst research.

1. How does employee engagement/employee experience have an impact on business success?

In Forrester’s view, the engagement is an outcome of the employee experience. And employee experience is a combination of what each employee brings with them to work each day (emotions, perceptions, motivations, etc.) and what they experience while there. Our research has identified four outcomes of a better employee experience that significantly improve business results, including financial performance and growth.

  • Better work performance. A 2016 IBM study showed that 96% of employees in the top quartile of employee experience report high levels of work performance, as opposed to 73% for employees in the bottom quartile. Positive employee experience leads to higher job performance and productivity. Several other studies prove the links between EX and objective performance measures as well.
  • Higher discretionary effort. The IBM study also showed that 95% of employees reporting a positive experience with their company say they engage in activities that are beneficial to their organization but aren’t necessarily part of their job. The number drops to 55% for employees reporting a poor employee experience. And discretionary effort makes the difference between typical and extraordinary business results. An academic study summarized in the Harvard Business Review found that when employees are willing to go beyond their formal roles and engage in “extra-role behaviors,” companies are more efficient and effective.
  • Lower employee turnover. The factors that affect employee turnover vary by industry and job role, but excessive workload is a top culprit across the board. Conversely, several studies show that when employers pay close attention to employee workload and help employees balance the demands of their jobs with key resources such as technology and training, they can sharply reduce burnout and employee turnover. When Starbucks rolled out mobile ordering, it analyzed how the initiative affected employee workload. Starbucks enjoys an annual employee turnover of only 65%, in an industry that averages 150% to 400%. Industry data pegs the cost of replacing store employees at 16% of annual pay, so the company saves $3,000 for every employee it retains. With 162,000 store employees, every 1% increase in retention saves the company $1.7 million.
  • Improved customer experience. Dell found that the customer Net Promoter Score (NPS) was twice as high for experiences delivered by highly engaged employees.* Similarly, a 2016 Yale study with a large rental car company showed that employee engagement has a positive and statistically significant effect on NPS: “Going from low employee engagement to high employee engagement will increase the likelihood of a customer being highly satisfied by 2.5 percentage points.” In addition, the study found that satisfied customers are more likely to keep doing business with the company and that employee engagement programs should focus on building customer centricity.

2. How is employee experience linked to customer experience?

As far back as the service-profit chain theory in 1994, firms have understood that happier employees correlate with happier customers — and happier shareholders. Research by Aon Hewitt reveals a statistical correlation between employee engagement and revenue growth: a 5% improvement in employee engagement leads to a 3% increase in revenue. And many firms, like Maersk Line and Mercedes-Benz, quantify the impact of engaged employees on their own customer experience (CX) delivery and business outcomes and use the insights to guide investments in technology.

And there are many other studies that show these links. Insights from Forrester’s Customer Experience Index (CX Index™) prove that, with few exceptions, CX leaders outperform CX laggards in revenue growth because customers find it more effective, easy, and enjoyable to do business with them. Studies show that that this is most likely to happen when employees feel that they can get their work done, their companies do a good job of facilitating their success, and they have a strong personal connection to their work.

3. What are the key factors that drive employee engagement?

Recent studies show that the single most important factor in a positive employee experience is employees’ ability to make progress, every day, toward the work that they believe is most important. There are many reasons for this, but from a psychological perspective, it’s tied to safety. It’s also tied strongly to intrinsic motivation, which stems from the love of the work itself, and not necessarily pay or benefits. Adequate pay and good benefits matter, of course, but they are not the source of engagement. Intrinsic motivation is, and that is driven most by being able to make daily progress toward it.

Most companies fail by not thinking about the employee experience at the daily journey level. Thus, they’re not aware of what’s inhibiting their ability to make progress. If they’re not aware of those factors, it’s difficult to target them for improvement. This is why it’s so important for companies to be listening carefully to their employees about what they are experiencing and what they need to be successful. Gathering employee feedback, interpreting it correctly, and taking it seriously is vital.

4.Why do many employee engagement initiatives fail?

Part of the problem is that HR often leads efforts to improve employee engagement without the help of key groups like tech leaders, who significantly influence the tools and resources that help employees be more engaged (or not). Studies find that:

  • Employers usually analyze engagement at only the organizational level. Researchers now distinguish between organizational engagement and job engagement because people often report feeling engaged with their companies but not with their daily work. In other words, employees can be happy with the company but still not productive because something is wrong at the job level. Accordingly, employee engagement efforts that focus only on the organization as a whole will fall short.
  • Companies don’t listen to employees or remove obstacles. In a Medallia Institute survey of 1,000 frontline employees, 78% report that their leaders claim customer experience as a top priority, but nearly 60% feel that their ideas for improving customer satisfaction often go unheard. And fewer than half believe they can count on leadership to remove obstacles to delighting customers. Net-net: Employees are frustrated by work environments where they feel prevented from doing more to deliver better CX. For example, call center employees who are measured on call resolution times will feel more stress if the applications they rely on are running slowly.
  • Employees don’t believe that their employers appreciate their work. A recent study conducted by the Cicero Group asked 9,600 people on six continents what one thing their employer could do to help them do great work. The top response (37%) was “recognize me.” That insight about the importance of recognition inspired B2B accounting services firm Crowe Horwath to create a new program called Pay It Forward on top of its existing client experience survey process. Now, employees mentioned by name in client surveys get an automated alert to highlight which other colleagues, particularly behind the scenes, contributed to good client experience. In the year after Crowe Horwath implemented Pay It Forward, it recognized 50% more employees for their efforts in delivering an exceptional client experience. Unfortunately, too few firms provide this type of consistent recognition to employees.
  • Leaders recognize the problem but don’t think they can solve it. Deloitte’s Global Human Capital Trends Report 2015 offers another reason for persistently low engagement scores: Most business and HR leaders believe that they lack the capabilities to meet the challenge of engaging employees. This skills gap is even more alarming because executives cite culture and engagement as two of the most important challenges facing their organizations.What can HR and business leaders do to improve employee experience and foster employee engagement in their organizations? 

5. What can HR and business leaders do to improve employee experience and foster employee engagement in their organizations?

In Forrester’s view, the most important thing they can do is become more attuned to the factors that affect employees’ daily journeys. That requires gathering a lot more feedback from employees not only through surveys and discussions but also through structured exercises like employee journey mapping. These exercises can help them find not just obvious factors but also systemic factors outside of any employee’s individual control, like how the wrong metrics may have unintended consequences that make it harder for employees to succeed in their daily work.

This level of attunement requires not only listening but also building powers of analysis to strip away the noise and accurately identify the most important factor.

6. What tools and methods can HR and business leaders use to establish an employee experience benchmark and continue to improve?

The timing for this is excellent, as vendors are now able to use technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and natural language processing (NLP) to analyze employee feedback from surveys, voice of the employee program interviews, and even email and verbal communications to gain more insight into how employees perceive their organizations and what can be done to improve their experience with their organizations.

But even without advanced AI and NLP technologies, gathering employee feedback through surveys, interviews, and journey mapping exercises — and using it to improve employees’ experience in their daily journeys — will pay significant dividends.

 

* Net Promoter and NPS are registered service marks, and Net Promoter Score is a service mark, of Bain & Company, Inc., Satmetrix Systems, Inc., and Fred Reichheld.

Sources:

“The Employee Experience Imperative” Forrester report, December 15, 2017.

“Engineer Your Technology Environment To Improve Employee Productivity And Flow” Forrester report, December 15, 2017.

 

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Employee Engagement Evolves: The Employee Experience and Finding Your Employees’ Voice https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-engagement-evolves-employee-voice/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/employee-engagement-evolves-employee-voice/#respond Thu, 21 Apr 2016 09:22:06 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=546 Employee engagement is on every HR and business leader’s mind, in one form or another. The value of having a highly engaged workforce for an organization’s success is undeniable, but the way to get there remains elusive. As much as 51% of the global workforce feels disengaged at work, according to Gallup, outnumbering actively engaged […]

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Employee engagement is on every HR and business leader’s mind, in one form or another. The value of having a highly engaged workforce for an organization’s success is undeniable, but the way to get there remains elusive.

As much as 51% of the global workforce feels disengaged at work, according to Gallup, outnumbering actively engaged employees by 2:1. These numbers have remained largely unchanged for 30 years, despite all the dialogue on employee engagement. Clearly, something is missing.

Implement these three methods to improve employee engagement in your workforce. Reasons include paying employees on time, and respecting your worker's voices.

At our Connections conference in Las Vegas last month, we shared three ways HR leaders can help their organizations inspire engagement:

  1. Eliminate workplace hassles, freeing people up to contribute in meaningful ways.
  2. Pay people on time and accurately, because worries about personal finances can distract employees at work.
  3. Build stronger personal relationships between managers and employees, resulting in managers becoming better people leaders.

While these actions are all steps in the right direction, engagement can’t be achieved so easily. Or can it?

Perhaps the answer lies in flipping the question. Engagement itself isn’t the problem. Engagement is an outcome—a measure of the overall employee experience. Engagement is about bringing out the best in people, tapping into their full potential on a day-to-day basis. For that to happen, we must think of the employee experience as we do our customers’ experience, requiring continual, courageous, and honest communication.

Achieving an optimal employee experience requires a culture of openness, honesty, and trust; an environment in which people find purpose and meaning in their contributions; and effective leaders who encourage employees to discover, unlock, and fulfill their potential in the workplace.

The question then becomes two-fold: what do we do to create the optimized employee experience, and how do we know when we’ve got it? The answer may be creating an atmosphere in which your employees feel free to voice their true thoughts and feelings about their work and the workplace—creating a culture that respects the voice of the employee . Once you hear that voice, genuinely listen to it, and act on it, the transformation in employee experience becomes possible.

Employee voice is not the same as feedback, which often takes the form of traditional employee engagement surveys and newer pulse surveys. For your employees’ voice to truly emerge, your employees first have to believe it is okay to be honest, to reveal themselves. The voice of the employee, in essence, is a reflection or recounting of your employees’ actual experience at work.

Keep in mind that, until your people trust you’ll listen to their honest voice, your engagement data may be skewed. People might self-edit their feedback, say what they believe they need to say, or, even worse, remain silent.

Only when an organization has demonstrated, through policy and action, that it’s okay for each person to be one’s self at work, as in life, is that person able to be open and honest. In that climate, efforts to hear the employee voice will actually bear fruit. Only then can engagement be measured. Only then can your employee experience be optimized.

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12 Days of HCM – #6 Talent Management https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/12-days-of-hcm-talent-management/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/12-days-of-hcm-talent-management/#respond Sat, 12 Dec 2015 10:32:50 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=411 Employee Engagement: A Resolution The New Year is a time for resolutions. In 2016, will you resolve to increase employee engagement? Maybe you’ve thought about it for months. You even started developing a plan. But then you got sidetracked. It’s okay! We’re here to help you keep your resolution. We’ll even guide your through the […]

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Employee Engagement: A Resolution

The New Year is a time for resolutions. In 2016, will you resolve to increase employee engagement?

Maybe you’ve thought about it for months. You even started developing a plan. But then you got sidetracked.

It’s okay! We’re here to help you keep your resolution. We’ll even guide your through the first steps. Start with our on-demand webcast, 10 Ways to Wow Your New Hire, and learn how to engage your employees from day one.

With research showing 33% of new hires decide whether to stay or leave within a week (63% in a month), it’s imperative organizations start engaging employees early.

Because, much like with resolutions, what you do today can last for years to come.

Engaged employees are 87% less likely to leave an organization than non-engaged employees. (Source: BI Worldwide)

When it comes to engagement, the job is never really finished. HR leaders should engage employees early and often to help ensure ongoing organizational health.

 

Suggested Articles:

 

To follow our 12 Days of HCM series on social media, use the hashtag #12DaysofHCM.

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Getting at the Heart of Employee Engagement https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/heart-of-employee-engagement/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/heart-of-employee-engagement/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 15:38:18 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=264 By Colin McLetchie Colin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and […]

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By Colin McLetchie

Colin Mc Letchie, President of Five Ways Forward LLC, on Getting at the Heart of Employee EngagementColin is the Founder and President of Five Ways Forward, LLC, a leadership & life coaching and HR & Organizational Consulting Firm in Arlington, VA. He is a dynamic and powerful coach, speaker and facilitator, bringing passion, deep insight and his unique compassionate challenge as he helps individuals, managers, executives, teams and organizations move forward to success at work and in life. Find out more at www.fivewaysforward.com  or  colin@fivewaysforward.com.

It’s everywhere. Everyone is talking about it. Consultants build entire practices and companies around it. You hear executives and leaders clamoring for it! “WE NEED EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT!” It becomes a battle cry around which we hope to rally the troops to get our employees’ heads in the game at work and keep the floodgates of unwanted attrition from opening wider than they already are.

And therein lies the problem. It’s not in their heads.

Yes, you heard me. It’s not in their heads.

Sure, we want people to give discretionary effort, to persevere through the hard march, to get their creative energy focused on innovation, to care for and about our customers and clients. And none of that lives in their heads.

Ask your HR people. They know. They know because they hear it in exit interviews all the time. And it sounds like this:

  • My heart wasn’t in it anymore.
  • It just got too hard to care here.
  • I just didn’t have the heart for it here any more.

The etymology for “engage” is “to make a pledge to.” And when we pledge something, particularly allegiance, where does our hand go? Over our heart. The key to employee engagement, to inspiring them to want to pledge allegiance to our company, our mission, our clients and customers, is to learn how to empower their hearts. Managers and leaders will be successful at doing this when they have real dialogue, real connection with their employees about what makes them inspired to come to work, what’s getting in the way of their passion for showing up at work, and what matters to them as people.

HR professionals getting at the heart of employee engagement

And how do you do that? Talk to your team members. Ask them. They’ll tell you if you take the time to nurture a relationship with them. One tool I recommend is a “stay interview,” which is simply a series of purposeful questions aimed at getting to the heart of the matter. Identify those key team members who are most critical to the success of your organization, and take them to coffee or for a glass of wine. Let them know, “you’re important to me, as a person and a team member, and I want you to have a successful and meaningful career here at ABC Corp. Would you be willing to talk with me about that?”

Construct questions that engage (see what I did there?) the person’s heart. Things like:

  • What are you passionate about?
  • What values are most important to you?
  • What makes you want to get up every morning and come to work here? Or if that’s not where you are, what would do that?
  • Where do you see conflicts with those here at ABC Corp.?

The key is to make sure this isn’t a one time conversation but a beginning of an ongoing dialogue / relationship. You must follow up on what you hear from your team members. A powerful close to this conversation is to recap with a summary of “here’s what I heard you say that matters most to you, and here’s what I heard you ask for us to work on. You have my commitment to doing so, and I will keep you posted. In return, my ask would be that if you start to disengage, get itchy to look outside or start answering those recruiters calls, that you will talk to me first so we can see what’s going on and what we might be able to. Are you willing to do that?”

When you begin having a real, honest, vulnerable dialogue with your team members, you will begin to cultivate greater trust, honesty, and connection.

Beyond that, if you nurture the heart of your employees by making sure they are taking care of their whole person, by having real commitment to and connection with your team members, you will begin to allow the heart to show up at work. It’s time we talk about the heart at work and not act like it’s a dirty word. We want their heart to show up in equal balance with their brain and their body.

My challenge to you is this: Find three ways in the coming week to begin to show your heart more at work. How, when and where will you do this?

Because the heart of employee engagement is the heart itself.

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Kickstart Engagement for Your New Hires https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/kickstart-engagement-for-your-new-hires/ https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/kickstart-engagement-for-your-new-hires/#respond Thu, 26 Jun 2014 16:31:26 +0000 https://blog.ultimatesoftware.com/?p=169 Engagement, or lack thereof, is increasingly cited as one of the most common reasons that talented people leave their jobs. In fact, less than one-third of employees in the workforce describe themselves as “engaged” in their work (not positions). So why not change the equation by making employees feel valued by helping them unlock their true […]

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Engagement, or lack thereof, is increasingly cited as one of the most common reasons that talented people leave their jobs. In fact, less than one-third of employees in the workforce describe themselves as “engaged” in their work (not positions). So why not change the equation by making employees feel valued by helping them unlock their true potential at work?! With all the logistical challenges of onboarding, many organizations forget that the engagement process begins on or even before a new hire’s first day of work.

The companies with the highest levels of employee engagement all recognize that creating a strong, positive first impression is critical toward forging a lasting collaborative relationship in which employees can discover, unlock and fulfill their potential over and over in the work place.  And because close to 35% of new employees quit within 6 months of their start date, you need to keep onboarding simple and straightforward, eliminating the day-one clichés that bore new employees. The result is that you’ll have passionate, productive team members from day one!

Here are some things you can do to make sure you’re letting your new hires know how valuable they are:

  • Let them know why they were chosen for the job! It’s so simple and profoundly impactful in setting the stage for success!
  • Encourage socialization and connections. As we mentioned, first impressions count. Small things that help new employees feel connected and part of the team can have a huge impact. This can be as simple as helping new employees find co-workers they are already connected to via their social networks. Or it can be something as significant as setting them up with a coach or mentor and leveraging onboarding technology to help them connect.
  • Simplify the overall experience. Required tasks like verifying employment eligibility status are crucial, but time-consuming if done manually. Best-in-class onboarding solutions can automate the completion of forms and other important tasks quickly and securely.
  • Start onboarding before day one. Above all… make sure required documentation, software, assets or accounts should be ready for your new hire as soon as they start. Tracking down everything that’s missing can easily fill up a day that should be spent meeting the team and learning the ropes. Providing new hires with a clear understanding of the tasks they need to complete — and enabling them to complete these tasks before starting, even on their mobile devices — will help them feel confident from the very beginning.

To discover even more ways to engage employees from their first impression, check out our exclusive whitepaper, 10 Ways to Wow Your New Hire.

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