Employee experience should now be seen as an important aspect of employer branding for organizations keen to attract the best and brightest in their field.
Employee engagement has been a buzzword among businesses for some time, built on the simple understanding that engaged individuals will be more bought in to company culture and values and will do their best to drive enhanced performance.
However, times are changing and it's no longer a matter of businesses being focused on driving higher levels of engagement if they wish to stand out from their competition and attract and retain the best staff. Instead, there must be a concerted effort to create a positive environment in which individuals are supported throughout their time with a business. This should be the platform on which positive employer branding is built.
What is employee experience?
Employee experience should not be viewed as a single entity, but instead is the culmination of all of an individual's interactions with a business from the day they first interview to the time they leave. Understanding and improving the employee experience should therefore be an active process that companies engage in from the very first interaction they have with new candidates.
Rather than focusing narrowly on employee engagement and culture, which many companies have done in the past, it is now essential for forward-thinking businesses to widen the scope of their employee support programs.
According to Deloitte's 2017 report entitled 'The employee experience: Culture, engagement, and beyond', almost 80 percent of executives believe employee experience to be either 'very important' or 'important', but just 22 percent see their company as excellent in delivering a differentiated employee experience.
This is therefore a significant challenge for many businesses; however, there are a number of common factors that can drive an improved employee experience for those keen to do so. Understanding and appreciating the pressures that employees face on a daily basis within their role is a positive place to start.
Moreover, Deloitte suggests organizations that work to align individual's personal goals with corporate purpose, help to balance personal and professional life/work demands, and integrate social, community and corporate programs into the employee experience will be best-placed to succeed.
Maximizing employee experience also means listening to feedback from staff, helping individuals to progress in their career, to take on new challenges and to grow as a professional, as well as promoting a culture of creativity and inclusivity that will foster collaboration and make a business simply an enjoyable and fulfilling place to work.
What is employer brand?
Having explored employee experience as the reality of what it is like to work for a business, our attention now shifts to the employer brand. Employer brand relates to an employer's reputation as a place to work, the way a company values its employees and how this is demonstrated, as well as the wider values that an organization is perceived to show.
It is important to differentiate employer brand from the more generic brand reputation, as this latter experience is more tailored to the way the consumer views a company, rather than the people who work there.
Employee experience therefore forms a crucial part of this process and is, arguably, now more important than ever, especially given the rise in social media and the popularity of sites like Glassdoor, which provide employees with an outlet to the wider world to share their experiences of working for a business - thereby impacting the employer brand in a much wider realm.
Creating a positive employee experience will help to attract and retain a skilled workforce, which in turn will drive a stronger customer experience and support positive brand reputation, further reinforcing the employer brand. It is therefore a process that should be viewed as a holistic solution by businesses to the issues of driving a positive association for their organization in the wider market.
Understanding the importance of both employee experience and employer branding is something companies will need to do more of in the years to come. The notion that a more engaged workforce simply buying-in to your company culture will lead to the best results is now not enough. As we've seen, organizations must focus on meeting the needs of their employees in order to bolster their own attractiveness within their field; anything else will simply not gain traction in the new zeitgeist of employer branding.
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