Improving the Employee Experience: What Makes People Feel Valued at Work?

Employees are the lifeblood of any business. Their productivity (or lack thereof) can singlehandedly put a company in the black or red in any given quarter. However, in order to perform at their peak, people need to feel valued at their job. Unfortunately, only 34% of U.S. workers are engaged at work. Today’s workforce is no longer solely interested in a hefty paycheck, but cares deeply about how they are perceived professionally. This shift in mindset raises a valid question: how can you improve the employee experience and retain staff, all while increasing productivity?

A Strong Feedback Loop

Modern workforces crave constructive feedback. Gone are the days of walls between workers and their superiors. Stronger relationships and deeper conversations are necessary to make sure employees have an accurate sense of their worth. Your employees desire constant growth. They see feedback as priceless information and a training opportunity to get closer to the next level of their career. In fact, giving continuous feedback reduces employee turnover by nearly 15%.

Focusing on constructive feedback means being real with employees. If they make a mistake, don’t just point it out; take the time to talk about the error and how it can be corrected in the future. After all, 92% of workers believe that negative feedback, if delivered appropriately, is actually effective at improving their performance. That’s why there should be deep conversations with employees more than once a year during an annual performance review. More frequent discussions should create a two-way street of feedback that paves a path for an open and honest relationship. The best managers understand that asking for employee perspectives and opinions, often the norm when mentoring up, is a great way to improve engagement and discover new insights about their business.

Consistency Between Recruiting and Onboarding

Whether it’s when buying a product or starting a new job, nobody likes the bait and switch. When fresh employees come in for their first day of work and suddenly realize it’s different from what was discussed in the interview and recruiting process, it sets a weak foundation. Technologists especially are inclined to feel that they are going backwards in their careers if they discuss exciting projects and technologies as candidates but find that a large portion of their job is spent doing things below their skill level.

To avoid this, make transparency a priority and put effort into clear, direct, and consistent communication. These are crucial elements to an employee’s ongoing experience, and they begin during the very first contact during recruiting. Always be frank about what a job’s responsibilities entail. Technologists understand that every job will have some tedious elements, so don’t hide them. Preach the awesome virtues of the role but be realistic about the role’s day-to-day. This practice should extend to the onboarding process so that when a new employee begins work it’s not a jarring or negative experience.

Exciting Technology Stacks

When someone is handed an industry-leading tool or cutting-edge program to use, it’s a powerful feeling. It shows that a company values what that employee can bring to the table and is actively investing in the resources necessary to help them perform at their peak. Alternatively, when someone is given an outdated piece of technology to “make do” with, it lowers efficiency and sends a message that they aren’t worth obtaining better tools.

People care about the kind of technology they’ll be using; after all, it’s why they went into this field in the first place. While it’s cost-prohibitive (and unrealistic) to purchase software or hardware every time something new is released, great companies aspire to keep their overall technology stacks up to date. To follow their lead, overhaul your company’s tool kit each year, going through and asking employees what tools they see working well and which ones are holding them and their ideas back. Involving them in the process of choosing new and exciting technology tools makes them feel valued and simultaneously improves productivity.

A Connection to the World

Human beings are social, deriving personal value through interactions and connections with other people. “What is my employer doing for the world?” is a question that comes up a lot today. Countless studies show that Millennials, the largest working group in America and likely many of the people you’re trying to recruit right now, care deeply about the social impact their company makes. These workers are high concerned about making a positive mark on the world, and companies with happy employees provide a platform to satiate that desire directly through their organization.

Enabling your staff’s connection to the world can come in many ways. Does your company volunteer at local charities? Use that in the recruiting process and share it all over your social media pages. Additionally, what types of clients do you support? For example, if one is a major hospital, then describe to technologists how the software they work on ultimately saves people’s lives. Finally, participating in community events makes a significant difference. Think about any regional conferences, local festivals tied to a good cause, or even benefit concerts. Connecting work to fun and rewarding events improves corporate culture and is rewarding for employees.

Make Employees Feel Valued

The employee experience is just as important as the customer experience. Valued employees are happier and more productive, translating to greater innovation and growth in any organization. It can be easy to forget that simple truth. After all, during hectic or financially difficult times, it’s often the feedback, communication, technology stacks, and volunteering opportunities that suffer. Make these an essential part of your employee engagement plan and your employees will feel valued like never before.

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