Our leadership team just got back from our 2019 planning meeting, where we collaborated across departments, listened to ideas, and came up with initiatives for the coming year. And one thing that was a common (and resounding) theme, was the employee experience. We talked about what it is, how to make it better, and how it will affect our business.
Being customer-focused has always been a part of who we are as a business. Being responsive, providing the best customer service, and solving our customers’ problems is extremely important to us. We also strive to put processes in place to help us be more organized and our customers be more proactive about problems that might arise. Technology can be intimidating and overwhelming, and we want to help overcome that. We tweak our processes when necessary, but we know if we set customer expectations correctly and keep the lines of communication open, chances are, we will have happy customers in the end.
And without customers, you don’t have a business. But what happens when you apply your focus to your employees? This starts with traditional benefits, but doesn’t end there. We run a lean company, but from the start we decided to offer full health, dental, and vision benefits to our employees, because it’s our belief that if our employees are worried about their health, how can we ask them to put their focus and energy into their work.
But even though we offer these benefits, we still have work to do with the experience we are offering employees. You might be asking, “Isn’t that enough?” Nope. In fact, many of the things we discussed in the leadership meeting were simple and cost little money, and would have a significant impact on how our employees feel about coming to work every day. And we know that satisfied employees provide the best customer experience. At the leadership meeting, we heard terms like, health initiatives, work-life balance, and physical work environment.
From nap rooms to ping pong tables, you can spend a good amount of money on your office to make it a great environment for your employees. But most of the time, it isn’t even the big things you have to focus on. We realized that our flickering fluorescent lights were pretty much sucking the life out of the space. Our walls are an off-white that desperately need repainted. You spend more time at your workplace than your home most of the time, so we want to make it a comfortable, inviting, and energetic workplace.
The other thing we noticed: for a tech company, we were like the shoemaker without shoes. We’ve since cleaned up our office technology, which has made our office look more organized. We have cord management, we have a dedicated huddle space and conference room with proper AV technology, and we have awesome collaboration software that we use to connect our remote workers. We’re learning that when you take pride in your office, it resonates with employees and creates a sense of pride for the company they work for.
A recent survey done by Continental Office showed that 85% of workers want a collaborative work environment. What are you doing to facilitate that collaboration in your office? If your employees are tripping over cords and wires in the office, or if they’re finding it hard to collaborate, share content, or are using outdated technology, it might be time to invest in your office. The employee experience starts with a space that is organized and facilitates work.
Another thing that came up in our employee experience conversation was health initiatives. We talked about offering free, healthy snacks in the break room. A small cost that would keep our employees nourished and energized and encourage healthy eating. We are also making plans to incentivize exercise, whether that means signing up for a race, participating in a company yoga class, or holding “walking” company meetings at an area park. All of these ideas take time and a little planning, but very little money.
Work Life Balance
This is important. One thing we know: Millennials are entering the workforce and care more about work life balance than they do about other benefits. This is a difficult problem to solve when technology makes everyone available 24/7, even if you don’t want to be. Giving employees the ability to “disconnect” can be a huge relief to them, even if that means holding that email in your drafts folder until Monday instead of sending out email blasts on Sunday night.
So why do all of this? How will this impact our business? We’re doing it because we hope to accomplish the two R’s: Recruitment and Retention. We want to be a competitive employer in the market and attract the best and brightest to come work for us. We want our current employees to love where they work and stay loyal. And most importantly, we want a great team of people that can serve our customers’ needs better, more efficiently, and with passion and fire to do the work. Bettering the employee experience means bettering the customer experience!