When your organization is full of disengaged employees, it hurts everyone involved. One study pegs the profitability hit to be at $450-$550 billion annually. That’s money organizations are losing simply because they’re failing to recognize how a positive employee experience is directly related to the organization’s overall success, despite all the warning signs.
Failing to recognize when an employee is actively disengaged is one thing, but even when the employee experience is reported as mediocre, organizational success can plateau. Here are some ways that employee experience impacts the bottom line, along with some tips to improve that experience.
Happy, autonomous employees are productive employees. They tackle tasks with enthusiasm and passion, and they spend significantly less time distracting themselves with unproductive things (such as, say, watching cat videos on YouTube—but who can resist sometimes?!). However, many employees have reported dissatisfaction, and many feel their bosses are ambivalent about their happiness. A 2018 U.K. survey by One4All found that 79 percent believe their supervisors don’t care about their happiness. This is a shocking statistic and should tell you where you could get the competitive edge—fostering an employee experience that makes people excited to come to work.
Improving the employee experience so that employees feel accomplished, goal-oriented, and joyous results in more getting done and finding greater alignment and trust among teams or departments—and that productivity boosts the bottom line. As Michael C. Bush and Ed Frauenheim write in A Great Place to Work for All, “Let’s face it: through actions both big and small, leaders and managers wield enormous power over the general happiness, health, and well-being of their employees. If you’re in this position, use your power for good by treating all of your employees with a high level of respect—in the true sense of the word. They’ll thank you, their families will thank you, and your company will thank you too.” In other words, put employees’ needs first; you’re there to serve them, not the other way around, as practicing servant leaders would say.
After hire, the first and often most lasting impressions employees develop of their new organizations occur during onboarding. Do onboarding thoughtfully and with intention, and new hires are more likely to come away with a favorable employee experience from the start. Commit any missteps, and you risk alienating employees before they even have a chance to be productive. Research from the Aberdeen Group found that 54 percent of companies with formal onboarding enjoy greater productivity from new employees, and 50 percent experience improved retention. Other statistics confirm this, too—a positive onboarding experience sets the organization up to continue to stay in the good graces of top talent and boosting engagement. Engage your people early, and then continue to engage them—not only to keep them around, but also to inspire them to be excellent.
Diversity and inclusion aren’t just trendy buzzwords—they are important business initiatives that enhance the employee experience, which is another element of boosting the bottom line. Research from Deloitte discovered that “companies with inclusive talent practices in hiring, promotion, development, leadership, and team management generate up to 30 percent higher revenue per employee and greater profitability than their competitors.”
Organizations may claim they are inclusive, but may not realize the biases informing everyday decisions they make—which also means decisions that impact the employee experience. In Erasing Institutional Bias: How to Create Systemic Change for Organizational Inclusion, authors Tiffany Jana and Ashley Dias Mejias write, “When one group is allowed to prosper over others for extended periods of time, systemic bias is usually at play. Are we attempting to create systems in which all people can thrive? Do we care whether people have equal opportunities to excel and advance based on individual merit? Are we more concerned with advancing people who think like us?” True inclusion values each employee and the wealth of experiences they bring to the job, thus inspiring and empowering people to want to give more to the organization. But in order to recognize these unique talents, we first have to identify what blind spots we may have toward different experiences and confront our own biases.
To understand what a sense of purpose means to the modern employee, look at nonprofits. A survey by Work for Good found that 93 percent of nonprofit employees feel engaged at their jobs (nearly three times the national average) and that 77 percent are at least somewhat satisfied in their roles. In 2019, a job is more than just a paycheck for many employees (particularly millennials and the emerging Generation Z)—it is a source of purpose. People want to feel they are contributing meaningfully to the company, to customers served, and to the community and world at large.
The rise in popularity of B Corps reinforces this trend of purpose, though for-profit organizations can take a number of lesser steps to enhance the employee experience and emphasize that what workers do serves a greater importance. Being proactive with helping employees develop their sense of purpose goes a long way toward giving them the tools and wherewithal to go the extra mile for themselves and everything the organization touches.
An Excellent Experience
The authors of A Great Place to Work for All said it best: “Many workplace cultures today are weak. Grim, even. Around the globe, today’s businesses have people who do not feel inspired or heard, who feel strained and stretched and insecure.” That sounds bleak, but it sets up the hope that with the right strategies and changes, organizations can improve the employee experience. That transformation can improve something else—the profitability experience!