Regardless of the ever-growing impact and influence of technology, every business is still run by people, so it's crucial that you don't overlook the importance of a positive employee experience.
Research has provided evidence of the direct connection between worker attitudes and efficiency, with one study showing that people who feel happy are approximately 12% more productive.
With that in mind, it's worth taking the time to examine what you're currently doing - and what you could be doing differently - to support your staff in achieving the highest levels of satisfaction in their jobs.
1. Prioritize employee wellbeing
Looking after your employees and helping them maintain high standards of physical and mental wellbeing has always been a priority for ethical employers, but it’s become even more significant in the post-COVID world.
The pandemic created a range of health concerns and considerations for businesses and their workers, from the obvious worries about contracting the virus to the mental strain of living in lockdown conditions and not being able to see friends and family.
As a result, there’s a bigger onus than ever on employers to be proactive in helping people stay healthy. According to Gallup research, one of the top priorities for Gen Z and millennial workers - who make up nearly half of the full-time labor force in the US - is finding an employer that cares about their wellbeing.
2. Be flexible
Another clear consequence of the pandemic was an increase in remote and flexible working as offices closed and special measures had to be introduced to minimize the number of people sharing physical workspaces.
This is expected to have permanent repercussions in terms of how many businesses function, with large portions of the workforce now expecting more choice and control over when, where and how they work.
Giving your employees the option to work remotely for a certain number of days every week, for example, could make a big difference to their overall work-life balance, not to mention the time and money they spend on commuting.
Research by the Financial Times found that technology companies are the most likely to make a full commitment to remote and flexible working, while financial services firms are more office-centric and "rigid". Most other businesses are taking a hybrid approach that lets employees balance out the benefits of home-based and on-site working.
3. Provide clear learning and development pathways
It's important that people feel comfortable and happy with the day-to-day practicalities of their jobs, but they should also be able to look to the future and feel confident about moving forward and achieving their long-term career ambitions.
Mapping out clear learning and development routes for employees across all departments and at different levels of seniority will provide a clear demonstration that the company is willing to invest in its workforce.
There are various steps you can take to build strong learning and development programs, such as:
- Communicating with employees to find out where they want to expand and develop their skill sets
- Offering a range of training formats and methods to suit different types of learners
- Measuring results and collecting feedback to evaluate the success of your efforts
As well as strengthening employee morale and increasing satisfaction, these activities will directly benefit the business by helping you build a more capable workforce and bridge skills gaps .
4. Embrace diversity and inclusion
Placing a strong focus on diversity and inclusion (D&I), and introducing clear initiatives to support your policies in this area, can make a big difference to employee engagement by showing that you’re committed to providing fair opportunities to every job applicant and employee, regardless of their personal background or demographic characteristics.
Research has emphasized just how important this is to today's workers, and particularly younger cohorts. Gallup noted that members of Gen Z and younger millennials view D&I as "an imperative that is core to their personal identities", rather than simply a "nice to have".
Writing in the Harvard Business Review, Tim Minahan, Executive Vice President of Business Strategy at Citrix, discussed research by his company which showed 86% of employees believe workforce diversity will become more important as jobs, skills and business needs continue to evolve.
5. Map employee journeys
Employee journey mapping is a process that can deliver a range of benefits, and among the biggest advantages is a stronger understanding of the experiences your workers go through, which will put you in a better position to keep people engaged and positive at various stages of their tenure with you.
A key part of creating employee journey maps is conducting research on your workforce and collecting feedback from individuals. You'll also need to segment your staff into distinct groups, based on factors such as the area they work in and their professional challenges and aspirations.
These are hugely valuable processes if you want to build a detailed, data-driven picture of particular groups of workers. This foundation of knowledge and understanding will prove invaluable as you seek to achieve high levels of employee satisfaction.