Over 90 percent of CEOs agree that their company is experiencing rapid change as a result of digital technologies, yet the majority fear their organization does not have the skills to adapt. Traditional learning management models are not aligned with the business needs of the modern workforce. Remote workers, millennial workers, globalization and the natural pace of work demand additional momentum, creativity and flexibility. Career lengths are increasing, while average job tenures are decreasing. Now, more than ever, it is critical that L&D and HR professionals embrace organizational habits and programs that cultivate and promote a dynamic employee experience.
What exactly is the employee experience, or EX? Simply put, EX is an employee’s perception of a combination of the company’s culture and its technological and physical environments. These three crucial elements exist in every organization, no matter their size, industry or location. The challenge faced by many organizations today is how to coordinate these three components into a cohesive system that engages employees, adheres to the company’s values and propels the organization forward.
As with any L&D program, the ultimate objective is to align individual, measurable goals with the company’s overall strategy. This makes the L&D experience meaningful to employees, because they have a clear sense of purpose and know that their individual achievements contribute to their organization’s success. The first step in tying a successful L&D strategy to EX begins with recruitment and onboarding.
It is imperative that the company website and social media platforms highlight its unique key cultural components and approach to L&D. Before prospective hires even enter the building, they should have a basic understanding of the organization’s mission, culture, and commitment to employee training and development.
Once hired, the immersion process should begin on day one. In addition to reviewing their role and performance expectations, employees need to see how they impact the business. Introduce them to every department, and assign them a mentor. Pairing a new employee with one of your top performers will not only benefit them by allowing them to mimic your star players but also help to foster critical leadership skills in your top-performing employees. Behavioral reinforcement is a crucial component of EX, so don’t underestimate the importance of rewarding great performance.
Keep in mind that the organization’s core values should be reflected in the heart of any L&D program. Your strongest employees want their work to be meaningful, so it is imperative that your program design keeps your values at the center of every training opportunity.
The constant struggle to stay on top of the latest training tools can be exhausting and expensive. That’s why many companies are beginning to incorporate interactive programs that provide curated content, microlearning, and video and mobile training solutions. These options often mimic the outside world of electronic socialization, so they are comfortable and familiar to employees. EX is amplified when employees can receive immediate feedback from a program, and like it or not, the modern workforce responds better to a system that provides immediate feedback and real-time solutions.
These programs also allow for mobility and allow the learner to engage when it is the optimum time for them to retain the information. They should not completely replace one-on-one or team coaching, but they can be used to greatly enhance EX.
It’s no secret that the physical spaces in which we work have a direct correlation to the quality and quantity of the work we produce. Over 70 years of research has analyzed the effects an office environment can have on a worker’s behavior, perceptions and productivity. These conditions play a much larger role in L&D because of the additional effort required on the employee’s part to master new skills. The employee’s physical environment is the final component of EX, and for many organizations, it proves to be the most difficult to execute.
Intuitive companies know that workplace design, lighting, noise levels, temperature, color and texture all play a role in creating a space that can either foster or prohibit the ability of an employee to thrive. The physical environment can be used to stimulate, soothe or boost concentration. In recent decades, we have seen a shift from conventional office suites to modern open floor spaces. While these designs aid in our efforts to encourage collaboration and knowledge transfer in some cases, they can also stifle productivity in others. Increased noise levels and a lack of privacy can be detrimental some learners.
The solution? Incorporate agile design into your workplace. Keep the open floorplan, but include quiet areas that allow for “heads-down” focus. An agile working office design provides multiple office settings that allow L&D professionals to select the optimal training environment for different learners.