As I say often, employee experience is not something new. In fact, the whole purposes of Human Resources should always have been about providing positive employee outcomes. After all, if employees are happy, they are more productive, likely to stay for longer and business results will be better. So, I wonder what these HR teams and managers were doing before employee experience became a buzzword that everyone now seems to want to be part of. However, the good news about employee experience being nothing new, is that the methods to deliver a positive employee experience are also not new. Today I am going to explain how long-term goal setting and planning within an organization can help improve employee experience.
Time and time again purpose has been proven to be a key component of employee experience, engagement, performance, and retention. Employees want to feel like what they do matters and has an impact which they can then be recognised for when it is achieved. This should be the easiest thing in the world for organisations to provide. After all, no organisation wants its employees to leave. If employees are merely performing tasks with no purpose, there is no reason for them to stay if someone else offers them something that pays more money to do the same thing. But, if you attach a 3-year plan to the activities and how they link together towards an end goal, that problem is solved. An employee then has a reason to be with the organisation for the next 3 years and unless someone offers an extremely compelling reason to move on, that employee is going nowhere.
New skills and experiences
One of the easiest ways for an organisation to provide engaging long-term goals relates to providing its employees with new skills and experiences. This is something that is in everyone’s interest to provide. The company wins because it means its employees are going to be more highly skilled and therefore able to deliver more valuable outcomes for the business. The employee wins because they are gaining new skills and experiences. However, most companies fail to deliver on this basic requirement and the ones that do, only focus on the younger employees. Research has shown that employees aged 25-34 can receive up to 37 hours of training a year, but those older receive significantly less. Those aged 55 only get on average 7 hours of training a year.
This has two effects, one it causes disengagement among older workers, when you hit 35 your career is not over, you still want to learn new things. Research also shows 8 out of 10 employees aged 45-64 would like to continue to learn new things as well. Yet they receive the least amount of training and development opportunities in a company. The second, is that its usually this population who are managing the younger team members. If they are not keeping their skills up to date, how can they help the younger employees keep up to date. Quite simply, they can’t, which means they can’t provide employees under them with long term learning opportunities as they lack the knowledge themselves, which means there is no reason for an employee under them for the long term.
But easily the biggest weapon an organisation has in its armoury to provide long term goals to employees is career growth. Basic HR and business principles such as succession planning should ensure that an employee can understand where they can be within the organisation in 3 years’ time. Every project, training session and piece of work should be aligned to delivering on that. Again, when you look at this from an employee experience perspective, this should be very straightforward. Why would an employee stay with a company over the long term, if there was no promotion or other new internal opportunity down the line? Positive employee experience is quite easy to deliver, but it involves HR and management to stop being selfish. If you do not offer an employee anything for the long term, there is no reason for them to stay for the long term. To expect them to just stay for several years and do what you want them to do and nothing else, that is the definition of being selfish. Instead, an employee needs to be given something in return for their hard work and that is growth.