Five short years ago, Gartner declared customer experience as the new competitive battleground. Now, more than 90% of organizations[i] compete on customer experience, investing heavily in people, processes, and technologies to stand out. But there’s a new competitive frontier — the employee experience — that is becoming a priority for organizations that want to attract the best talent in order to optimize their workflows and business processes. Employee experience is not an HR function; it’s not the ping-pong table in the break room or perks like a holiday party. Rather, it starts with the day one experiences of a new hire and extends to the ongoing daily experience each employee has navigating and functioning in an organization.
A couple of factors have contributed to this new priority taking hold. First, the labor market supply and demand cycle has flipped. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more job openings than unemployed job seekers[ii], which decreased the unemployment rate to 3.9%[iii] — its lowest point in almost 50 years. It’s even lower for the most coveted college-educated millennials.
The supply/demand flip has given the most sought-after workers the confidence to voluntarily leave their jobs for better opportunities at the highest rates since January 2001[iv]. This scenario has fueled intense competition to recruit and retain the talent that enterprises invested in heavily to bring onboard. Social sites like Glassdoor now disseminate information that fuels the competitive struggle to attract and retain employees. Today, job seekers evaluate employers and the experience they deliver to their employees via a steady flow of anonymous postings on social networking employment sites. Here, the good, bad and ugly are revealed, so that potential new hires have an unfettered view that helps them decide which organizations deliver the kind of employee experience they want.
Statistics like these certainly back up the hype about the war for talent. Clearly, organizations that are looking to attract and retain talent must do so based on more than just salary and benefits. Employees are looking for the total package, and employee experience figures prominently into that.
So, how can organizations entice and keep top-quality employees in this modern, competitive labor market? The answer in part lies in the Workplace Experience Services they deliver. Following are some of the key elements to a successful workplace experience program.
Community-building and event management. A large part of the modern employee experience centers around the community. Arguably, people spend most of their waking hours at work, so it’s important that they have an opportunity to get to know their colleagues a little better. Part of Workplace Experience Services is community-building and event management, which include a hoteling system that offers employees the option to reserve workspaces.
Reception, host and concierge services. These services include front desk management, such as professionally greeting guests; and coordinating meeting details, such as reserving conference rooms and organizing catering to make sure events run smoothly.
Office and hospitality services. Employees can spend a large chunk of their time on mail, shipping and receiving, printing, and records management — all of which may take them away from their core job duties. The prep required for setting up meetings — ordering catering, setting up audio/visual equipment, etc. — is equally as time-consuming. Office and hospitality services tackle these tasks so that employees can focus on getting their job done.
Facility support. Employee productivity can be significantly impacted when the work environment is uncomfortable. By managing the physical details in a work environment — such as desk chair height, room temperature, and working coffee machines and light fixtures — Workplace Experience Services teams ensure the employee’s physical environment is conducive to a productive workday.
Technology enablement. Technology enablement refers to light tech support, such as for login issues, problems with an audio/visual system in a meeting room or even phone issues. Separate to tech support but nevertheless related is the use of technology to track and communicate the workplace services activity. One example of this is iOFFICE, a web-based ticketing system for conference rooms, printing and mailing, and facilities management. A Workplace Experience Services team leverages this ticketing system to coordinate a productive and collaborative work environment that runs smoothly. For employees, this translates into an easier time booking conference rooms, arranging meetings, and finding their way around offices when visiting various locations.
Deliberate focus and investment in employee experience make a lot of sense. To understand why it’s important, we need only look at the evolution of the customer experience: Once, measuring only customer satisfaction was acceptable. Now, in a competitive environment, measuring the customer experience as a whole is a best practice for organizations that want to succeed today. With the labor market at full tilt, the same is now true for the employee experience.
The real challenge now lies in how — and how quickly — organizations can reshape the employee experience in their organization to make it a priority. By providing the services needed to foster community and reduce friction in the workplace, organizations will win the war for talent and position themselves for success today and in the future.
[i] “Gartner Surveys Confirm Customer Experience Is the New Battlefield,” Jake Sorofman, Gartner.
[ii] “There are more jobs than people out of work, something the American economy has never experienced before,” Jeff Cox, CNBC.
[iii] “Unemployment Rate Hits 3.9%, a Rare Low, as Job Market Becomes More Competitive,” Natalie Kitroeff, The New York Times.
[iv] “Workers in 2018 quit their jobs at the highest rate since 2001 — and probably will next year, too,” Abigail Hess, CNBC.
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