Most people know that long-term business success is difficult to accomplish. You must overcome countless obstacles as a company matures – many of which you encounter unexpectedly. Good people are essential to any success. Startups that hope to grow into sustainable small businesses and beyond have to rely on ingenuity. That ingenuity comes from the employees.
A consistently underestimated and underserved population in the marketplace is the corporate employee. In one case, Craig Bloem at Inc. highlighted five performance metrics every small business should track:
- customer acquisition cost
- retention rate
- customer lifetime revenue
- return on advertising spending
- profit margins
While his suggestions are likely salient, all five neglect the employee. Worse still is the fact that the employees contribute disproportionately to all five metrics.
Fortunately, old-school mentalities and conventional wisdom are rapidly disappearing. The perspectives replacing them don’t typically embody the same ignorance. Forbes contributor Denise Lee Yohn declared 2018 to be the year of the employee experience. According to her, the employee experience (EX) is “the sum of everything an employee experiences throughout his or her connection to the organization.” She then describes why improving the EX is central to long-term business success. The most compelling reasons include higher revenues, profit margins, and an atmosphere in which innovation is more likely to thrive.
The movement toward better employee experiences isn’t limited to the US. It has spread worldwide. Analysts at Deloitte published its Global Human Capital Trends Report last year emphasizing the overwhelming impact of the employee experience. They explain that “rather than focusing narrowly on engagement and culture, many leading organizations aim to improve the employee experience as a whole.” The data presented suggests that while many organizations acknowledge how critical the EX is, only a small fraction of them have proven to be capable stewards.
That isn’t a criticism. Improving the EX on a regular basis is no simple undertaking. You have to be deliberate. Fortunately, it can be relatively easy to get started. Jacob Morgan at The Society for Human Resource Management introduced three things to know about EX before investing your time and effort. He says “there are only three things that shape all employee experiences at every organization around the world.” The combination of technology, culture, and the physical workspace determines the overall EX.
Efforts to improve the EX ought to be informed by data rather than speculation. Some readers might not feel equipped to tackle the project, but that shouldn’t prevent them from exploring options. Specialized short-term certification courses are available for those with an academic background in business. Others might consider an HR management degree online to supplement an unrelated academic background. The right program is likely to have coursework devoted to EX and projects that help its students design measures in support of it.
That’s obviously a long-term approach. More immediate guidance can be found from Forbes contributor Cat Graham, who emphasized five things you can do right now to improve EX. She encourages everything from transparent communication and celebrating wins to removing impediments and hiring for diversity. None of her prescriptions should be underestimated. The key is also consistency. Don’t commit to anything that cannot be sustained almost indefinitely. You would much rather be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to employees. You cannot reasonably expect them to solve problems and create value when their needs are not addressed.