Most organizations recognize the importance of customer experience as standard, encompassing approaches that impact customer satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Employee experience is also picking up steam internally in the form of a holistic focus on employee beliefs and sentiment that brings together the measures of employee satisfaction, engagement, and retention. As our President, Sherry Scott, wrote recently in Humanizing the Employee Experience, experiences shape employee thinking, which in turn shapes beliefs, behaviors, and actions.
An IBM/Globoforce study reported that employees who have a higher number of positive experiences at work 1) perform better; 2) choose to work more effectively; and 3) intend to stay at their jobs at a dramatically higher rate, compared to employees who lack such experiences.
Think about co-workers who you would describe as strongly engaged employees. While they are engaged and productive performers, that may not be the full story. They likely have a spectrum of beliefs and sentiments about the company, ranging from occasional frustration to passionate commitment. Their sense of purpose and belonging is driven by a combination of organizational, team, and individual performance, as well as the culture they experience daily.
Unsurprisingly, culture is the main contributor to employee experience. Every successful organization has become attuned to their culture, yet these organizations recognize that evolving their culture—and the employee experience—can be extremely challenging. (There is nothing soft about culture. In fact, it tends to be the most difficult work for leaders and organizations.)
Here are five ways organizations and leaders improve employee experience through effectively evolving and leading their culture:
Define a clear understanding of your current culture. Culture is not static and can’t be based on legacy views. Social, economic, technological, and other forces are constantly influencing your culture. Culture is also not a one-person show. The responsibility to evolve culture encompasses multiple business functions, including marcom, HR, operations, IT, and more.
Articulate the future culture you seek. Culture change can start with a simple exercise: as specifically as possible, describe and illustrate the beliefs, mindsets, attitudes, actions, behaviors, and experiences desired in your future culture. Articulating this culture is one thing. Bringing it to life within your organization is quite another.
Develop leadership capabilities to champion the culture you want. Define ultra-clear expectations and accountabilities for leaders, for both why and how they achieve results. In business transformations, how leaders model the desired change remains a top success indicator, as this study (PDF) confirms.
Think about the employee’s view. See situations and experiences from the employee’s view, not only from the organization’s perspective. Make sure your communications reflect this receiver focus.
Stimulate wonder within your culture. Thinking in terms of “what if” can rekindle a sense of wonder and possibility among employees. Immersive experiences and emotionally resonant storytelling can have a strong magnetic effect, helping individuals measurably adopt new beliefs, behaviors, and actions. Our infographic Unlock the Power of Storytelling details how to craft a compelling corporate story and—more importantly—activate it within your organization.
How are you and your organization stimulating wonder for employees to shape your culture and create positive employee experiences?