People first: How to engage key talent through a great employee experience

Attracting, hiring, developing and retaining the right people is crucial to the success of any business.

Staff turnover is costing businesses more than ever and recent research from the Recruitment and Employment Federations reveals that companies are reporting skill shortages across 60 different types of role including engineers, IT specialists, care workers and accountants.

Not only that but the world of work is changing so rapidly that jobs that will be essential in three years’ time, don’t even exist yet.

The stakes for many employers have never been higher. It’s vital to compete to get the right people if your business is to flourish but what’s the best way to do this?

Employee Experience

With increasing skills gaps and constant changes in technology driving new preferences and expectations in consumer behaviour, businesses need agile, curious and committed workforces.

ERecruit exceptional talentmployees now have more choices over where they work and how they work. They look for companies that will offer the opportunity for them to grow, develop and reach their potential.

In a business environment like this Employee Experience is now a competitive advantage and is seen by many potential hires as a clear differentiator.

So what do we mean by employee experience? For many businesses, it means the physical environment in which their employees work and the various perks and incentives that might offer.

Whilst this is certainly part of the picture, the concept of employee experience goes much much deeper than this.

In our book Exceptional Talent we describe the new Talent Journey. In the past the Recruitment , Onboarding, Development, Engagement and Retention of employees have been viewed as separate processes. We argue that they should now be seen as a never-ending process, a process in which the experience of the employee is of critical importance at all stages

So, what are some of the practical ways in which employees can create a competitive employer experience?

Recruitment and On-boarding

The genesis of the employee experience is in the recruitment process and it is important to get things right from the start.

This is where employees will form their first impressions of the business and it is vital that employees make sure they have a professional recruitment process that offers quality communication and a high degree of candidate care.

The same is true of on-boarding, a process that many employers still seem to leave to chance. On-boarding is no longer an event for the first day but a process starting during the interview phase and continuing beyond the first 3 months of employment.

Some areas to focus on to improve on boarding would include;

  • Making smart use of technology to take care of administration and give a consumer style experience to introduce the organisation
  • Making sure line managers are fully involved rather than leaving everything to HR,
  • Setting clear objectives so new starters know what is expected of them in the first few months
  • Using social technologies (LinkedIn, Yammer, Facebook Live) to help new starters build connections with their colleagues in advance of their first day.

Engagement & Retention

Engagement and retention are the next parts of the talent journey and critical part of the employee experience.

It is important to understand the motivation of your employees and there are often misconceptions of what makes somewhere a great place to work.

In the tech sector for example there is a strong misconception that employers need to portray a certain image to attracting digital talent. However most of the time a quality employee experience doesn’t mean having a slide in reception or offering unlimited holiday.

Many technology professionals consider the opportunity to do interesting and challenging work to be much more important than attention grabbing gimmicks.

Our research has identified four characteristics that truly make somewhere a great place to work.

1. Trust

Firstly, there is trust, and this needs to be two way. Employees must be able to trust their leaders and senior managers to run the business in an ethical and successful way, and to lead an organisation they can feel proud to be a part of.

Leaders meanwhile should trust the people who work in the organisation to make the right decisions, and work to the best of their abilities to help the business achieve its goals. Without trust in one or other direction, the dynamic of the organisation will never fully support growth.

The key drivers of trust in great companies are transparency and communication, with open and accessible leaders, and regular honest two way feedback.

2. Sense of purpose

Secondly there is a sense of purpose. The business, its leaders and managers, offer a clear vision of what the organisation is about and how it achieves its results. They work to a set of values that every employee can replicate, and never waiver from them, even if trading conditions change.

Many businesses claim to have values and a mission statement, but don’t always operate to them.

3. Culture of collaboration

The third characteristic is a culture of collaboration and co-operation, in which employees feel valued.

Great places to work are never ‘them and us’ organisations in which some employees feel less recognised than others. They don’t structure rewards so that workers feel they are competing against one another.

The HR processes that we have been describing in these chapters all help in some way to promote an open and transparent culture, and it is this that is the bedrock of an open, collaborative culture.

4. Supporting and investing in people

The final characteristic is one that supports and invests in its people. Almost all employees come to work to do a good job and expect to have the tools and support that will enable them to achieve that and to reach their full potential.

Great companies treat them with respect and offer them opportunities to develop and grow, and encourage them to contribute ideas to the way the business operates, both now and in the future.

In the ever-changing world of work, building a quality employee experience is critical if you want to attract and retain exceptional talent. As we have seen the companies who will have competitive advantage in the future are the ones who understand and optimise all stages of the talent journey.

About the authors

This guide has been written exclusively for ByteStart by Mervyn Dinnen and Matt Alder. They are the authgors of Exceptional Talent which is out in May 2017, published by Kogan Page, priced £29.99.

Bytestart Limited

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