Article 4 - Employee experience (EX): Getting your social experience right | Main Region | UB

Article 4 - Employee experience (EX): Getting your social experience right

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The employee experience (EX) encompasses all touchpoints an individual encounters on their career journey with an organisation. It includes their initial impressions before applying for a role, their engagement and development as they work, performance goals, and their exit from the business.
One of the elements in crafting an excellent EX is the social experience an organisation offers. The social experience comprises the recognition and value that you show your employees and the creation of a community that all team members feel like they belong to.
The key factors that influence the social experience:
  • The people and relationships at work, and whether employees feel like they are treated as a contributor to the team’s outputs.
  • Encouraging teamwork, helping team members to trust each other, and the wider business, to create an environment where innovation is encouraged, and failure permitted.
  • The social climate, and whether they feel welcome and a sense of belonging to their work community.

People and relationships

When it comes to people and relationships in the workplace, recognition and appreciation of team members plays a pivotal role in fostering a supportive and positive environment. Recognition can be thought of as reward for achievements, for something that a work member does, where as appreciation is acknowledging someone’s inherent value, their worth as a human being as part of the team – and both are powerful in building a great employee experience.
Recognition and appreciation need to be baked into organisation’s culture to deliver benefits. Many organisations offer formal recognition programs that include public and private acknowledgements of work rewarded by monetary or other benefits. Employees at businesses with successful recognition programs are five times as likely to be connected to the company’s culture and four times as likely to be engaged1. Successful recognition programs also result in 31 per cent less voluntary turnover than those that don’t have a program in place2.
Apple, for example, recognised the efforts of their entire workforce with a surprise extended holiday over the Thanksgiving period in 2020, and for those who worked in a different part of the world, the reward was customised to give them paid time off on an equivalent holiday. Other recognition programs could include team lunches, years of service awards and weekly shout-outs in company-wide communication platforms. The key is to make it a habit, be specific and ensure there are equal opportunities for all employees to be recognised.
Recognition can affect all stages of the employee lifecycle. In the onboarding stage, recognition can be demonstrated through communicating how your new employee’s role contributes to the success of the organisation. At the engagement phase, peer-to-peer recognition can be a powerful driver for feeling valued. There can be designated channels for this, or even ‘kudos’ programs where employees highlight the efforts of fellow co-workers to the rest of the team. At the exit stage, feedback and insights can be gathered from the departing employee to improve processes and demonstrate the value outgoing employees can provide.

Teamwork built on trust

A bond between colleagues is another key factor in driving great EX. Well-connected teams realise an 81 per cent reduction in absenteeism and 14 per cent uplift in productivity. A well-connected team is more engaged and higher engagement not only means employees are committed to the work they are doing, but it also directly reflects on the customer experience. Engaged business units achieve a 10 per cent difference in customer ratings and 18 per cent difference in sales3.
Trust is key element to enabling stronger connections and more engaged workers, and leads to an innovative environment where people feel like they can be vulnerable with their ideas, challenge the status quo, collaborate and support each other on current projects. Encouraging cross functional ways of working, especially in a hybrid working environment, and welcoming every idea that is suggested are just some of the ways you begin to build bonds between employees necessary for effective teamwork and innovation.
In the attraction phase, showcase any achievements made by teams that have been working across functions, and share individual employee success stories. As an employee settles into their new role, ensure there are formal learning and development opportunities on offer as well as informal opportunities to meet with and learn from other teams. Hays learning allows organisations to offer thousands of free online courses to their teams so they can self-direct the learning pathways they want to take.

The social climate

The social climate of an organisation encompasses the mood, culture and dynamics between the employees, and whether it encourages open communication, respects diverse perspectives and enables a sense of belonging. We know from our Salary Guide that organisational belonging is critical to retention, with employees 2.49 times more likely to stay if they feel like they belong. An organisation’s diversity, equity and inclusion strategies help foster a sense of belonging. However recent research demonstrated that 70 per cent of workers say their organisations communicate their DE&I strategies, but only 47 per cent have the infrastructure to realise their aspirations4. Identifying initiatives such as diverse representation, equal opportunities for advancement and growth, and diversity training can help you move the dial to help transform your workplace into a community that’s welcoming for all.
Results stemming from these initiatives such as being able to share diverse opinions and not being fearful of judgement lead to a sense of psychological safety at work, now a legal requirement of organisations in Australia, and one that employees want, with 89 per cent saying that psychological safety in the workplace is essential5.
When employees feel secure, they feel emboldened to share ideas, provide feedback and engage in discussions without fear of being shut down. An environment of inclusivity and diversity is created which can lead to a culture of creativity and innovation, fundamental for an organisations continued success.
Companies such as Lenovo, who was listed in the Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index for the fourth consecutive year in 2023, are pushing to continually enhance their social climate, aiming to ensure that a third of all candidates presented to hiring managers are women, and for 27 per cent female executive representation globally by 2025. Google encourages employees to spend 20 per cent of their time on side projects, encouraging psychological safety, and innovation, by letting workers explore and take risks without repercussions.  
To embed this into the employee experience, organisations can ensure senior leaders are acting as role models to workers, and that there is accountability across all positions. Working to ensure that your leadership team is diverse demonstrates commitment to any DE&I strategies in place. Additionally, including diversity training in any mandatory learning modules when a new starter is being onboarded ensures that everyone in the team is operating with a solid, mutually agreed, understanding of how DE&I is expected to be expressed at an organisation.

Implementing a better social experience

People and relationships: Your action steps

Next three months:

If you don’t already have a formal recognition program, consider your options. Company-wide newsletters, townhalls, regular team catchups could hold space for verbal recognition programs, and tangible reward programs can be designed to offer incentives to individuals. Also consider upskilling opportunities for managers so they understand the benefits of recognition and appreciation.  
Next 12 months: 
Invest in learning and development programs to enhance your employee’s skills to demonstrate  commitment to their growth within the organisation, and an appreciation of their efforts. Discussions should be initiated, and consistently had, about any career growth opportunities to keep their development front and centre of the conversation.  
Next two years:  

Are your employees still engaging with the recognition programs you’ve put in place? Fine-tune any initiatives based on feedback, to ensure that efforts continue to resonate with teams.


Next three months:  
Begin to encourage collaboration by ensuring projects require collaboration across different teams and departments. This can help start to foster wider connections in your organisation instead of teams working in silo.
Next 12 months:
Make in person brainstorming sessions a regular occurrence. It doesn’t always have to be linked to a specific campaign or a project – it can also be helpful to hold sessions in which business improvements or innovations can be discussed. The key is to not be dismissive of any ideas, helping employees to feel like they can be vulnerable and trusting of their co-workers and leaders.
Next two years:
Continue to create a culture that nurtures and rewards innovative ideas and continues to build a collaborative environment. For instance, a competition where workers can create and enter ideas that they think could benefit your organisation, which are then judged.

Social climate

Next three months: 
Employee Resource Groups (ERGs), internal communities of workers with shared identities and interests, can be formed to create direct conversations with employees to uncover what can best support them to bring their whole selves to work. Wider social committees that organise social gatherings or team-building activities can also help foster inclusion and connection.
Next 12 months:
Establish mentorship initiatives, or ‘buddy’ systems, to pair newer employees with more experienced team members who can guide them through their onboarding period and offer support throughout their journey. Take a step back and assess where DE&I strategies currently stand within your organisation and try to uncover where strategy is not driving any real action. While many organisations are making meaningful headway with the diversity arm of their programs, equity and inclusion is still lagging. Organisations need to consider, once diverse workers are hired, do they feel a sense of belonging and able to contribute to their fullest, and do they all have the same opportunities for growth and development?
Next two years:
Check in on how initiatives and strategies are doing by surveying employees, seeking input and feedback on any changes that are made. Are your efforts to improve the working environment enhancing employee engagement and forming a workplace that people want to work at and be a part of? The working landscape is continually shifting, so constantly revisit and review your DE&I strategy as needed.
There will continue to be a contest for the best talent, and this is now being played out on a global scale. To ensure you’re in the best position to secure the best talent, intentionally design an employee experience that excels.
If you missed the other articles in our EX series, you can catch up here.  
If you need help in creating an excellent employee experience, reach out to one of our expert consultants today.


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