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Employee Experience: What it is and Common Misconceptions

Posted by EmployeeChannel on 5.4.2017

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“Engagement is an experience to be lived, not a problem to solve.”

David Zinger, Founder of the Employee Engagement Network, wrapped engagement and experience up into this perfectly explained motto. He makes it clear that employees can’t have engagement without experience and vice versa.

While most HR pros and company leaders understand the connection between engagement and experience, many miss the mark. From sporadic check-in meetings to fancy napping pods and smoothie bars, leaders everywhere are attempting to solve the employee experience crisis.

These attempts may “solve” the engagement issue for a moment, but the overall engagement and experience disconnects aren’t being nurtured from the roots.

In fact, Zinger defines engagement as "good work done well with others every day.”

Helping employees live out this definition of engagement through positive experiences means giving them the tools and opportunities to do this every day.

If you’re still looking to better your employee experience, this is where you may be getting it wrong:

Not holding employees accountable

As most HR pros know, employees need to be interested and involved in their experience at work. However, while we see interest, we don’t always hold them accountable to follow through.

“Many employees are not aware they are personally responsible for their own engagement and experience (or how they make sense of the experience) while being mutually accountable for how they influence others,” said Zinger.

By not holding employees responsible for their own experience, we stunt their growth and hold them back from being as self-sufficient as possible.

But how can you encourage employees to take accountability for their experience?

Zinger suggests setting up structures and educating on personal responsibility for both engagement and experience.

Start by changing the language throughout the organization and adding a new mantra: employees don’t work for a company, they work with the company. Giving employees a new outlook and sense of purpose will help them connect and take charge of their experience.

Then, encourage employees to start a continual chain of contribute, support, and challenge. Making this a habit in their daily timeline will help hold them accountable for their own experiences. As they take pride in their work, support colleagues, and challenge processes, your employees’ involvement in their experience at work will continue to grow.

Making employee experience about individuals

We often hear advice to sit down with each employee to discuss their individual expectations for their experience at work. While employee experiences are personal, they’re based on relationships and interactions built in the workplace every day -- even for virtual offices.

“So much of engagement is tied into relationships. So what we can do to foster strong constructive relationships is vital because we do not have a solo experience without being influenced by others,” Zinger explained.

Instead of focusing your team’s experiences solely on the individual, focus on relationships by encouraging stronger communication. Monthly brainstorming meetings are a great way to get communication flowing. As employees help one another with difficult projects, they’ll gradually become excited to collaborate and be even more passionate about their work experiences.

Encourage office luncheons or after-work dinners, provide fun fitness challenges, or organize volunteer days together. These low-pressure options will give your team the chance to get to know one another on a new level. Growing this deeper bond will, in turn, create enhanced processes in the office.

Continual experience strategies aren’t formed

Companies won’t get far in their employee experience journey without a continual strategy. Giving it attention only when issues arise or when we’re excited it’s doing well isn’t an effective plan.

Zinger said, “Raw experience counts for little unless we apply time, ability, and willingness to reflect on our experience to make sense of it and make a big difference for ourselves and others.”

Create opportunities for your team to honestly reflect on their own experiences. Have managers offer weekly, monthly, or quarterly meetings for employees to safely and transparently reflect.

Once employees have shared their opinions, immediately gather your team. After employee experience meetings are through, host a meeting with managers and the rest of the HR team. Discuss where employees stand, the commonalities in their experiences, and what the company as a whole can do better.

Topics: employee experience, HR misconceptions

Human Resources Today