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There is a lot of buzz and movement towards thinking about the employee experience. Most of the HR professionals I chat with – and there are many! – are either confused about where to start with examining/defining/creating the employee experience or think they are already doing a great job because “they are an employee too”… so they know how all employees walk through the company.

The reality is, that as HR professionals, we are not currently set-up to be great at redefining the employee experience.

It’s not that our skill set isn’t perfectly aligned with it – there is a great likelihood it is. It’s not that we don’t want to deliver a great experience – even if it’s just for selfish reasons, we want that!

It’s that if we look too hard, examine too deep and realize how much we actually NEED to change to create the best employee experience possible, we have to admit to ourselves, that we haven’t been doing a great job at it.


Instead of dwelling in what we may have not excelled at in the past, here are a few ways you can enhance your current employee experience – with a focus on the future of work.

6 Steps to Boost Your Employee Experience

Step 1: Mindset Shift

One of the biggest ways you can impact your employee experience, won’t cost you any additional HR budget dollars. It starts with you – and your mindset.

To create a cohesive and effective employee experience, we have to take our HR hats off – and see our organizations through the lens of our employees – the same way we would evaluate our external customer experience.
To create a cohesive and effective #employeeexperience, we have to take our #HR hats off – and see our organizations through the lens of our employees – the same way we would evaluate our external customer experience. Click To Tweet

If you are able to remove your HR lens when you consider the various HR activities, projects and requests that your employees experience, you will do what great marketers have done for centuries – put your audience at the center of your actions and activities.

Consider this: when you get an email from your favorite retailer letting you know that they are having a 30% off sale – specifically on the pants you’ve bought in the past – what do you do? What do you think? How do you react?

If you’re like me (and most consumers), you are excited and immediately go to their website (or store) – and snag a pair! You love the pants, you are getting a good deal, you don’t have to wade through various clothing items to find the done you want to buy, and so on.

That retailer created a personalized solution that met you where you are – and made it easy for you to take action on something that was interesting and important to you.

Starting to view your employees through a customer lens by asking these five questions, will help you  take off your HR-focused hat – and consider everything as a “regular employee” would – instantly creating a better experience than the one you are currently providing.

Step 2: Audit Your Current Experience

In order to create your ideal employee experience, or perhaps even just one that works better than your current experience, understanding the various ways your employees currently interact with HR is critical.

Note: this is the step where you can go down a rabbit hole and wanting to uncover every single interaction point and process – until you’re paralyzed with not knowing where to start or what to do. And the bigger your organization, the more “things” you’ll have to explore. Don’t fall into this trap!

Instead, understand the biggest and most impactful interactive points:

  • Onboarding: recruiting and interview process; candidate to offer; day one to end of month one
  • Employee data/HRIS: how an employee can update/provide their personal details to HR (pay info, address, etc.)
  • Benefits: how employees learn about, select and enroll in their benefits/perks
  • Feedback: how employees and managers, receive and give feedback (formal and informally)
  • HR questions: how do employees ask questions/seek-out information that is HR-related
  • Possible other areas: include work environment, tools to do their job, time-off information, compensation

If you stick to the higher-impact areas of HR – where most employees are likely to intersect with HR, you’ll have extensive information to start with – and will be investing in improving the areas with the biggest potential ROI.

Step 3: Where are the Friction Points and Gaps?

Once you’ve audited your current employee experience – you will find several places where things don’t always go as planned or as smoothly as you would like. These are called the friction points – where the experience can rub your employee the wrong way. And the gaps are just that – hand offs or areas that are overlooked or missed.
Once you’ve audited your current #employeeexperience - you will find several places where things don’t always go as planned. These are called the friction points - where the experience can rub your employee the wrong way.… Click To Tweet


So, where to start to find what’s broken?

It’s time to poke holes all over the place and ask some questions! I know, I know – you want these answers to come to you without any additional work. And some of it will. BUT… we want to be more objective with our findings so when we’re ready to implement solutions, we’ll be able to do so accurately.

First, start with the feedback you’re receiving from employees. Whether it’s onboarding or exit surveys – what are your employees saying about their experiences with HR? Do you have information in your employee engagement surveys that may help – particularly verbatims?

How many calls is your HR call center getting? What are the calls about? What kinds of questions – either by topic, category, etc. are coming in and in what kind of volume?

Look externally for some feedback – although take it for what it is. Places like Glassdoor can provide you with some instant feedback around what candidates and employees are thinking… but you’ll find some outliers there. Don’t ignore what’s being said or classify all of the information as sour grapes – but don’t let it be the only resource you look at.

Second, dig deeper into why people are leaving the organization – and where they are going. An exit survey may tell you some of this, but talking to employees and/or former employees – or seeing where they’ve landed through LinkedIn, will help you get some insight into what your employees see as valuable on the other side of the fence.

A lot of times, employees hide behind “bigger” or more accepted reasons to leave a company – more money, for example. When in fact, there is a lot more behind their decision than money. Usually, it starts with money – and then their boss doesn’t have their back in a meeting, they find out their colleague makes more money, their prescription coverage doesn’t consider a medicine they need as medically necessary, and so on. It piles up.

It’s up to you to figure out what’s on that pile – hopefully before the employee leaves.

The friction points and gaps are going to… hurt a bit. Because when you uncover these items, you’ll find that they’ve likely been broken for awhile – or they haven’t been working in the intended ways. You’ll probably start out a bit defensive, then move into worry, followed by questioning why ANYONE would want to work here with such a bumpy employee experience. This is normal – but get over it quickly.

Things are broken everywhere – instead of dwelling on why they are that way, move into: how can I fix this?

Here’s where being a strategic HR partner will come in handy. Because you aren’t going to start closing the gaps and knocking down the low-hanging fruit right away. Doing so, would likely create a ripple effect – causing more friction in a different point in the process.

Make a list of the various areas that need to be addressed, and set them aside (for now). We need more information before we start fixing things – to ensure that our solutions match our current and future tech needs, strategy, ideal employee experience, and where we’re heading. To use a legal phrase, ok – if coming from Hot Bench can be considered as a resource: “don’t throw good money after bad money.”

We need to ensure we’re focusing on the most needed updates – and that they are enhancing our overall goals.

Step 4: Are Your Total Rewards Decent?

The investment your company makes every year in providing a total rewards suite to your employees – usually comprised of compensation (base pay, bonuses, incentives, paid time off), benefits (medical, dental, vision, 401k, and more), and perks (discounts, summer Friday’s), is likely the biggest HR expenses your company has.

And it’s easy for employees to pick on total rewards – making it a point of contention for them, and hyper-focus for us in HR. Sending us into a spiral of… can we provide more? Are we providing the best options available? Are we competitive enough? Are we leading the pack?

Here’s the truth. Your total rewards just need to be decent.

Before you start arguing, let me start by saying I agree with you, that the total rewards you offer is important. It is sometimes why an employee will stay or go. BUT, when it comes to creating your ideal employee experience, it’s just a component.

If the total rewards you offer are not, at a minimum, decent – employees will not want to work for you, regardless. They don’t have to be the best – but they do have to be in the same realm as your top competitors – if you want to complete for the same talent.
The #totalrewards you offer is important. It is sometimes why an employee will stay or go. BUT, when it comes to creating your ideal #employeeexperience, it’s just a component. Are your total rewards, at minimum, DECENT?? Click To Tweet

Outside of compensation, your total rewards are going to matter to different employees in different ways. Having the company pay for 65% of your medical premium may matter a lot for an employee with two kids and a spouse on their plan – but may have absolutely zero influence for an employee with employee-only coverage.

The same can be said for 401k matching. It may be a key highlight for an employee who is 55 and wants to make catch-up contributions and is soooo ready to retire. But for an employee who is 25 and sees retirement as some thing out there in very distant future – they won’t even blink if there’s no matching program.

The point is – total rewards is arbitrary and personal to each employee. There isn’t one solution or benefit offer you can provide that will be universally exciting or awesome or the best in the world.

So stop looking to your total rewards at the thing that will attract the best talent from here on out. Or the thing you have to over-invest in because… someone tells you too. Total rewards are IMPORTANT – but they just need to be decent for now.

Step 5: Do You Deliver A Consistent HR Experience?

Evaluating how consistent your HR delivery is, should be easy… but in reality, it’s difficult to ensure that the experience is the same for all levels within the organization. Not that you are delivering a one-size-fits-all experience – because nothing great can come from a lack of personalization, but is your connection, interaction points, language, etc. – the same for your front line employees as for your executives?

The answer is likely: no. Hell NO would be more accurate, right?
It’s difficult to ensure that the #employeeexperience is the same for all levels. Not that you are delivering a one-size-fits-all experience but is your interaction the same for your front line employees and executives? Click To Tweet

We often provide a white glove experience for executives and tell our line employees to contact the call center. But why are we creating such an inconsistent experience?

Would you be pleased if you had to jump through various hoops that your line employee has to – when your executive simply sends you an email and you do the work (even though they are supposed to call the call center)?

Perhaps you can’t eliminate the hand holding – but what about the language you use? Are you consistent with how you share information? Your level of transparency should remain the same, regardless of the level of the employee.

Even if you can’t change all of the ways HR provides a different experience based on your employee’s level – start with what you can easily influence: your messaging, your contact points, your availability, the ease in which people can get information.

Step 6: Start with Your Welcome Mat

Y’all know I love a good house analogy, because at the end of the day – we all want where we live, our home, to be a safe place that welcomes us at the end of a long work day.

When you’re interested in selling your house, the first thing people see is the curb appeal. It doesn’t matter how awesome your house is on the inside, if your outside appearance repeals potential buyers.

Let’s apply this to your employee experience, shall we?

It starts with step two – the various high-level touch points across your employee experience. What is the welcome mat that greets them? Here’s an example, regarding one of the biggest HR investments – employee benefits.

When an employee wants to participate in your benefits program, what does that overall process look like? When they receive an email encouraging them to enroll, and they click the link – does their landing page look and feel interesting? Does it match your HR/employee brand? Is it easy to navigate, find information, take action? Are they being led through the process in a meaningful way?

Likely – no. They go to a website that they have to be signed into the network for, so their spouse can’t review the various options and see what makes the most sense for their family as a whole. It doesn’t look or feel like anything familiar – it’s rigid, maybe has the company’s brand colors, but overall, it’s not forward-feeling. It’s crazy-hard to find any relevant information that is not in CYA HR speak (cover yo’ as$). You have to know what to search for, if there’s a search at all.

Consider this same site for a candidate. How does that look and feel as a welcome mat or curb appeal?

You can apply the same welcome mat approach to a financial or wellness benefits. If someone wants to understand how their 401k works – is where they go FIRST, the best place? The easiest place for them to navigate and find out information about your program? Can they research and then make an informed action?

Your welcome mat needs to be just that – welcoming. For your first interaction for the big, high-level impacts – are you creating the appeal that would make YOU proud and excited to walk into… and buy-into for a new candidate?