WHILE undertaking some training a few years ago, I wrote a paper looking at the ‘psychological contract’ while managing a major change project with a previous employer. 

As explained by the CIPD, the ‘psychological contract’ refers to how the parties to a legal contract of employment i.e. the employer and employee, themselves “understand their relationship, their own perceptions of what they commit to the relationship and what they can expect to receive in return.”  Among other areas, the psychological contract may cover job security, career prospects, training and development, manager support, and employer’s reputation and impact on society.

More recently, a crucial part of the employer/employee relationship is referred to as the ‘employee experience’, and indeed there are specific roles in larger companies dedicated to exactly this!  But what does this mean…and is it different to the other buzz phrase of ‘employee engagement’?

Well, ‘employee engagement’ is essentially about companies providing a workplace environment where everyone can and wants to do all they can to achieve business success because they feel they have a voice and are valued, and, as a result, are motivated and committed to the company goals and values.  ‘Employee experience’ however is about companies putting employees at the heart of the business and understanding that what they feel, or indeed perceive, is vital to business success. 

Where levels of ‘employee engagement’ are often measured at different times e.g. quarterly or annually, ‘employee experience’ is about making sure that every part of the employee lifecycle with a company is perceived to be a positive experience by the employee. 

Basically, it’s about viewing employees in the same way that customer experience has been viewed for many years.  This means from the recruitment process before they even join the company, right through to the point they exit the business, and means that the employee’s experience throughout their employment will be formed by a whole host of touchpoints including:

  • Culture and demonstrating stated values
  • Leadership
  • Relationships – with managers, within teams
  • Physical working environment
  • Health, safety and wellbeing
  • Technology and other tools
  • Development opportunities
  • Reward and recognition
  • Ways to engage with and contribute to the business

Getting the ‘employee experience’ right is increasingly important because of the demonstrated direct correlation between companies who are very successful and the positive views and engagement within their workforce, but also because of the fundamental need for people to feel there’s a ‘purpose’ to what they’re doing every day. 

People increasingly want to work for businesses that are aligned to their personal values and where they feel they can really make a difference.  Examples here might be individuals seeking to work for businesses who are striving to make changes in terms of the environment and sustainability, or companies who are genuinely committed to making a difference in their local area through working with schools, charities etc.  It’s therefore vital to the ‘employee experience’ that businesses live and breathe their stated values…and this is important not just from an employee viewpoint these days, but also a customer and shareholder perspective too.  Employer branding and reputation are now as important as that previously focused solely towards customers…and rightly so.

There is clearly a direct link between the ‘psychological contract’ and ‘employee experience’, and this should be no surprise given that how individuals feel, or perceive, they are treated and valued in the workplace, undoubtedly goes to the very heart of the employment contract. 

So, to answer the question posed in the title of this piece, yes, ‘employee experience’ really is vitally important to the success of your business.

Unlike larger companies who may have dedicated resource to make sure the ‘employee experience’ is the best it can be, some smaller businesses may feel daunted by the prospect of how best to review and improve processes and technology, develop management skills etc in order to ensure the best possible experience for their employees.

If you would like to consider ways in which you can do this, Realise HR would love to discuss with you how we can help you on this journey and ensure that your investment in employee experience pays off in terms of your bottom line.

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