What is the employee experience? Some might say it’s onboarding, day-to-day work activities, benefits (like an awesome 401(k) match), perks (like casual Fridays) or maybe even a super trendy work environment.
We would say it’s all of those … and more!
The employee experience is unique to each employee — built from the perception the employee has for the organization where they work. Every interaction a person has with the organization (even before they are hired) matters and will affect perception. Interactions should build trust with all employees — and trust is built through communication.
Perception is the employee experience. Examining every experience for each employee can be a lot to grasp. Try looking at perception in three categories — company culture, technological environment and physical environment.
Company culture. Company culture is pre-existing. It’s the company’s genetic code, and it exists before employees. Culture includes, “vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs and habits.”Company culture is one piece that affects perception. It can attract a person to the company, it could influence a person to accept the job after an interview, or it may be the reason a person stays with the company.
- Technological environment. This category includes the tools and technology an employee uses in their job.
- Physical environment. The physical environment is the setting in which an employee works. Companies must create an atmosphere where employees want to show up every day, and the physical work space plays a role in that.
Everyone is different. For employees to be successful, they need to feel comfortable in their work environment. For example, flexible work arrangements, such as the option to have an office or sit with peers in an open space set-up, creates the perception of an adaptive and welcoming work environment.Company culture, the technological environment and the physical environment are three categories to consider when thinking about every interaction an employee has that could shape their perception and in turn, shape their employee experience.
Additionally, trust plays a major role in one’s perception. It’s fundamental that companies build trust to create a positive employee experience. (Bonus: cultivating a high-trust culture is the foundational element of high-performing organizations. So it’s a win-win for the employee and the company.) How can an organization build trust with their employees? Communication.
When done correctly, communication is an agent for message delivery that can build trust with employees.
Communication should be consistent in both timing and message. When we examined the number of daily interactions that affect one’s perception above, we looked at three categories — company culture, technological environment and physical environment. Communication should align across all of these categories. Inconsistent communication runs the risk of creating confusion and diminishing trust, resulting in a negative company perception and poor employee experience.
Use these categories to provide guidance when thinking about the daily communication an employee receives. Does the true company culture — the day-to-day, around the office culture — align with the culture being communicated?
For instance, if a company claims its mission is to grow the business with the same honesty and integrity used to craft its products, and the communication to employees mimics these claims, do the employees feel that honesty and integrity are appreciated in the work environment? If not, they likely will not believe the message behind the communication, diminishing its impact.
Messaging consistent with company culture should then be reinforced by sharing it across the technical and physical work environments. Reinforcing the message across environments helps to build employee trust. A company with high-trust among employees eliminates the variation that can be seen across employee perceptions, thus creating a more cohesive, positive employee experience.