Why you have to care about employee experience and how to improve it

If you don't want to spend the next 6 months hiring, use these 3 ideas to build stronger social connections at work and reduce frustration.

turning a Problem into progress

Image: Shutterstock/FrankHH

Pick the reason: More money, more flexibility or more peace of mind. The Great Resignation is not a meme. People are finding lots of reasons to leave their jobs

One of the biggest problems is a disconnect between managers and employees. People want clear and frequent communication about reopening plans. Workers want to know if there is an even playing field for remote and in-person workers.   

Here are three things managers can do to slow the roll of the Great Resignation and address new and long-standing frustrations at work. 

Change your hiring practices

One way to increase the odds of retention is to hire the right people in the first place. 

Relay Payment's workforce was in the single digits in 2020 and now stands at more than 100. The company is not quite three years old and automates payments in the logistics industry. 

Amy Zimmerman, the chief people officer at Relay Payments, credits the company's hiring process as the reason for good retention and low turnover. She developed a set of success criteria to measure a candidate's cultural fit. The scorecard is part of the interview process that measures technical skills as well. 

SEE: 5 new tactics managers need to lead successful remote teams

Zimmerman developed the idea of success criteria at a previous company after she had to fire a person who looked like a great employee on paper.

"He was super nice and a Duke grad," she said. "For all intents and purposes, he should have been wildly successful but he wasn't."

To figure out what made a person successful at the company, she identified the person that every team wanted on their projects. She considered the traits of this individual and then figured out how to hire more people like him. 

"It was very obvious to me that we did a better job hiring after I codified these traits and operationalized them," she said.

At Relay, this translates into a scorecard for people interviewing for a new job that has nine criteria. Zimmerman used the company values — Invent the future, Own the work, We're in it together — to create this list of criteria:

  • Accountable
  • Adaptable
  • Agile
  • Be on the team
  • Bias for action
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Humble
  • Never settle
  • Radical candor

Zimmerman said the scorecards drive the interview process and help quantify a culture fit. 

"Just because you find the person with the most experience doesn't mean they're going to be the best fit at our company," she said. 

Zimmerman said this approach also reduces bias in the interview process because it reduces the impact of the "friend factor" or similarity bias. Instead of hiring the person who is the best fit for the company, sometimes managers lean toward a person they could imagine becoming a friend.  

Make online socializing less awkward

Another way to foster strong connections between co-workers is to build social capital. This is the good will that colleagues have for each other and a shared sense of values about work. 

It takes effort to accumulate and preserve social capital, but it can be done in virtual settings. People don't have to work together in-person to be creative or collaborative. One way to accomplish this is to make online social events effective instead of awkward. Kingmakers can help with that via online board games and a host to guide these team bonding events. 

The Game Guide is a neutral third party who is focused on the game at hand, not potentially awkward interpersonal dynamics among team members. The Game Guide explains the rules, tracks points, physically controls the cards or pieces of the game and cheers on the group.

Jessica Strauss, director of innovation and experience at Kingmakers, said that guides run the game to match the personality of the group, which can be competitive, fast moving and focused on the goal or slower, more conversational and only mildly interested in the competition aspect.

"Our game guides know how to read the Zoom room: if someone is feeling uncomfortable, embarrassed, or hesitant for any reason, they know how to redirect and reframe the situation," she said.  

Also, games are a chance to build trust among team members, create a more inclusive environment and foster a sense of belonging, Strauss said.

"Nurturing and valuing employees' connections to one another and the business is essential to a thriving and desirable work culture," she said.

She said customers are looking to accomplish these goals for an online board game session:

  1. Take a break from work
  2. Strengthen working relationships
  3. Get to know new hires or people on other teams
  4. Impress new employees, clients, interns or stakeholders
  5. Celebrate personal or professional milestones

The approach seems to be working, as 64% of Kingmakers events are with repeat clients, according to the company.  

Reduce frustration with technology

In addition to building stronger social ties, companies have to improve the employee experience. People are using more tools and services than ever. This can mean more roadblocks instead of higher productivity

One way to track adoption and spot stumbling blocks is to deploy user experience management tools. These platforms provide quantitative data about the employee's real-life experience with enterprise applications, according to Knoa's customer success manager Josh Tambor. Monitoring user experience can reveal the need for extra training or the cause of a drop in productivity. 

SEE: It's time to create a chief of workforce experience

Knoa provides on-premise and cloud-based user experience management software that records data and generates user analytics on end user interactions.

Measuring end-to-end system response time is one way to track employee experience.

"We can break down business processes into their discrete steps and help customers understand bottlenecks and target investments to resolve these issues," Tambor said. 

Tambor said Knoa also uses these metrics to measure user experience:

  • How well are users adopting new applications and business processes? 
  • Are users encountering error messages?
  • What is the experience that employees receive from their business applications?
  • What is the user journey through the applications? 

Improving the employee experience can be something as simple as improving a data entry process. 

Tambor said an energy client was using the Knoa platform during the rollout of a new customer service platform. Monitoring revealed that agents were routinely making the same error when entering the zip code in the new account creation screen. 

"Our client determined that the root cause of the error was a mistake in their job aid, which they were easily able to correct, and in turn, they saw an immediate reduction in errors," he said. 

 Both HR and IT have a role to play in managing user experience. 

"IT should consider the user experience and adoption as indicators of a successful cloud migration project," Tambor said. "HR considers the overall 'health' of the organization, which should focus on employee job satisfaction and retainment."

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By Veronica Combs

Veronica Combs is a senior writer at TechRepublic. For more than 10 years, she has covered technology, healthcare, and business strategy. In addition to her writing and editing expertise, she has managed small and large teams at startups and establis...