The changing expectations of employees

Matt Norbury discusses the changing expectations of employees and the steps companies can take to improve the employee experience

The employee experience. It regularly crops up on lists of key priorities for HR professionals. Put simply, it is how satisfied an employee is after they’ve taken all aspects of their job into account. This includes everything from the recruitment process, right through to recognition, reward, development and even to the off-boarding period. 

Yet despite the abundance of evidence that suggests that a positive employee experience can have a significant impact on a business’ bottom line, very often businesses fail to take the steps needed to meet the expectations of their employees. 

There are a wide range of positive changes that organisations can adopt in order to make a positive impact on the employee experience. This includes everything from training, improvements to the onboarding process, the use of technology, recognition and reward schemes and employee perks. The latter three of which are key focuses for us as a business.

A national employee survey from Each Person suggested that over 90 per cent of employees feel recognition and rewards are important to a positive employee experience. Yet, despite this, 62 per cent of workers stated that they hardly ever or were never appreciated by their bosses. A staggering 72 per cent of employees also said that they would work harder if they were appreciated. 

Our research also suggested that the simplest forms of recognition really can go a long way. In fact, when we asked employees of a large employer that had adopted our scheme what would make them feel more valued, 48 per cent of employees said a simple thank you. 

Employers also need to ensure that recognition and reward schemes engage all employees and not just a few. The traditional ‘Employee of the Month’ scheme for example has become so widespread 80 per cent of companies have adopted it. But it often falls short of its purpose. And, it can actually have a negative impact on a company. 

There are a few issues with this: first, it only motivates a few people and could actually demotivate those who work hard but are not recognised. Secondly, it’s once a month. For recognition and reward schemes to work well, they should be timely, regular and authentic, with each and every employee’s efforts being recognised. 

When it comes to employee rewards, very often companies get it wrong. Businesses often adopt a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, which fails to engage all employees. This could be, for example, choosing a bottle of Champagne for the employee of the month. While that might be an attractive reward to one employee, it may not be attractive to the next. For some, it can be more about flexible working hours and time off for childcare. It can also be about empowering your employees and trusting wherever they are they’ll get the work done. It's the little things. If an employee feels trusted they will be stimulated to not want to let down their employer.

It is not only about recognition and reward schemes. Employees nowadays are looking for higher emotional intelligence (EQ) and increased empathy. Simple things such as remembering birthdays and being emotionally responsive to people's needs that often stem from outside the workplace. Little snippets of recognition such as remembering work anniversaries and important milestones will go along way to keeping employees emotionally fulfilled. Similarly with empathy. Empathy is key metric and it is that element of understanding the issues and needs of your employers that will make you stand out as a reputable employer in their mind.

It’s no surprise that a lack of employee reward and recognition and increased emotional intelligence can lead to increased employee turnover. According to the IIP’s 2019 employee sentiment research nearly half of employees will be looking for a new job in 2019 – 16 per cent of those who stated that they wanted to leave their role said the reason was because they did not feel valued. This is sobering news when considering the extortionate cost of employee turnover. As much as it is about reducing employee turnover, eventually they will leave. It is about making sure that when they do, they can reflect on their time at the company with pride and reminisce in good experiences.

Matt Norbury is CEO and Founder of IAT Ltd