In today’s competitive workforce, companies must bring their “A” game to attract top talent. Millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force and often look for purposeful work over a paycheck. While pay is still of top value, employees of this demographic want to feel like they’re growing and making a difference. It’s up to businesses to create a valuable experience for its employees in order to increase quality performance and prevent turnover.
Before introducing new ideas and implementing initiatives to enhance the workplace, it’s best to gauge the crowd and invite a conversation. Sending out a company-wide survey or designating a specific meeting where people are free to share their ideas are two ways to hear from the people who will be affected by the changes.
These types of check-ins should occur frequently as employees shift into different roles and more people join the team. The way to enhance the employee experience is to evolve with it. Someone in their early 20s who’s right out of college may have a different viewpoint than someone in their late 30s who’s been at the company for several years. Balance these values and determine key areas that matter most.
Also, customize the solution as best as possible. Benefits and other office perks are typically standardized across the company, but identify ways where it can be changed to meet the specific needs to maintain healthy employees. People require different things in order to do their best work. To get an idea of how to achieve this, consider the following the best practices and ideas.
Communicate the Company’s Purpose and Core Values
Most companies have a mission statement that’s included in the employee handbook but how many people actually follow what it says? Don’t let the words become dusty on the page. Communicate them frequently and back them up with action. The same can be said for a company’s core values.
Core values are what drives a business and its culture. The further distance there is between the purpose and what’s happening within an organization, the less authentic the experience will feel and employees will likely look elsewhere for a job. There may be times when things go off track, but it can always be reined back in and recalibrated.
- Incorporate the company message into important meetings and illustrate it with consistent action.
- Ask your employees which core values they align with most and why.
- Use core values as a guideline to vet potential hires, when conducting performance reviews, and as motivation for the team.
Tuning into what’s important to employees empowers them to perform better and generates loyalty for a company. Gain an understanding of what motivates each employee. Some are driven solely by compensation, while others may be motivated by having independence in their work. Use this to determine the benefits, perks, and experiences your company offers to create an experience that makes a difference.
Evolve with Employee (Environmental) Values
A company’s core values is what guides a team as a whole, but consider what factors matter to employees individually as well. For example, a 2019 study showed that over 70% of people surveyed were more likely to choose to work at a company that focused on environmental responsibility. While office sustainability may not be written into the company’s core values, it can still be implemented into the workplace in various ways.
Recycling and using energy-efficient lighting are two simple ways to become more environmentally-friendly. Another key change is eliminating plastic water bottles and materials as much as possible, including utensils and single-use water bottles.
An office water filter system like Flowater’s is a smart and modern choice that doesn’t involve the need for plastic. Plus, there’s a consistent flow of purified, cold water available to service a large capacity of people. No more plastic waste or worrying about a water cooler running out before the next delivery. Other ideas to support employees’ environmental values may include:
- Creating a committee that plans quarterly initiatives to implement more sustainability in the workplace.
- Some greener office ideas may include planting an office garden or adding more greenery to the decor based on space and capabilities.
- Supporting an environmental non-profit organization with a clean up or event volunteering.
This is just one example of how employee values change over time and how companies can evolve to adapt to them. What is your workforce passionate about? The work environment is a main topic for many, but so is education, animal care, and other ways to give back to the community. Find ways big and small that contribute to what your employees care about most.
Make Personal Development a Priority
In addition to creating space for people to reach the next stage of their career, make room for personal development in the role they’re currently in. Offer opportunities for learning, such as online courses, in-office lunch and learn sessions, and conferences. Encourage employees to set goals and give them time to pursue a skill or share ideas with others outside of the normal scope of work. Other opportunities can involve:
- Shadowing a colleague for the day. This is meaningful for employees who want to learn about another role or department.
- Starting a professional book club. Read books on leadership, personal development, and other business-related matters and discuss in a group setting once a month or however often works for the company.
- Creating a mentor/mentee program to instill teaching and learning opportunities as well encourage deeper connections and interactions among co-workers.
It’s easier for employees to lose their sense of purpose when they’re feeling stagnant in their work. Personal development is meaningful for them on an individual level, but it also is a smart investment for the company to promote growth. When people are excited about what they do, job performance is higher and the culture as a whole is more positive.
Celebrate Professional Wins and Special Events
Everyone likes to be appreciated for a job well done. Highlight team and individual wins to share with the company. While they don’t always have to be announced in a meeting, recognition can be given in one-on-one manager meetings, with a handwritten card, or through a team outing to celebrate together. The goal is to emphasize the work that resulted in success.
The same goes for celebrating special events in an employee’s life. These may include birthdays, work anniversaries, and promotions. Getting to know the people you work with makes everyone feel more like a team. If they’re excited about a life event outside of work, ask them about its progress and congratulate them when they’ve achieved their goal.
- Make the moment personalized by taking note of the things each employee likes most.
- Encourage co-workers to share praise among each other rather than only relying on it to come from the top down.
- Hold after-action meetings to celebrate the wins and share areas of improvement going forward.
Sometimes all it takes is a few kind words to motivate someone or make their day.
Invite Ongoing Conversation at All Levels
Clear and consistent communication is important for a company to succeed and people at all levels should feel like they can contribute to the conversation. Feeling a sense of empowerment to make change is one of the best ways to enhance the employee experience. This can be done through employee surveys, small group brainstorming sessions, and open door policies.
- Create an agenda for every meeting and purpose of what’s to be achieved. This helps to align expectations and give everyone an equal role in contributing.
- Protect confidentiality where applicable to instill trust, especially when it comes to employee complaints or suggestions for improvement.
- Prepare prompts for brainstorming sessions to keep the conversation moving in a productive direction.
Keep in mind that people are comfortable speaking up in a different work environment. Offer a variety of platforms for people’s voices to be heard. Nothing sinks an employee experience or culture faster than miscommunication. Stop the rumor mill from running and incorrect information in its tracks by inviting a transparent conversation about all company matters, good and bad.
Focus on What Matters Most
To enhance the employee experience, it takes prioritization and strong decision-making. Focusing on what matters most means taking into account each of these areas of employee growth and satisfaction.
- Communicating the company’s purpose and core values sets the standard when onboarding new hires and serves a reminder for current full-time employees.
- Evolving with employee core values addresses what individuals want in the present day not necessarily what may have worked in years past.
- Making personal development a priority shows engaged employees you’re invested in their growth as an important part of the organization.
- Celebrating professional wins and events humanizes the experience and creates better connections among colleagues.
- Inviting ongoing conversation means that everyone is given a chance to speak up and share input on what can help the company become stronger.
Each of these concepts are best practices companies should follow in order to attract and retain the best employees. The experience a person has at the place they work makes all the difference.