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Greg Bohlen

Appirio

Senior Director for Strategy & Digital at Appirio

Read more from Greg Bohlen

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The real workplace experience employees crave

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Business leaders would be mistaken to think that unlimited free food, an indoor gym, and a monthly table tennis tournament are top requirements for millennials. Though they are certainly office gimmicks workers appreciate, these aren’t the finite offers keeping employees happy.

Below we take a look at the world of the worker experience, examining how well organisations really understand their workforce, and provide our own thoughts on how organisations should improve their employees’ experiences for better productivity.

Understanding what employees really want

Before initiating any form of Worker Experience (WX) transformation, it’s important to step back and take stock of whether you actually understand what your workforce needs. Appirio’s own research – recently conducted in partnership with Forrester – revealed that a shocking 71% of respondents see flaws in the way their current Worker Experience operates. This suggests a major disconnect between what employers are currently offering and what the workers of today demand.

We’ve all seen the ways that trendy companies implement gardens, micro-kitchens, sweet vendors and play rooms, but research reveals these are not the deal-breaker offers for individual workers. Recent research from Property Experts JLL would conclude not, revealing that just 12% of employees believe that recreational activities should be prioritised in the office, instead arguing a ‘decent salary, support from colleagues and genuine career progression’ are the key issues which motivate the modern day worker.

Appirio’s research with Forrester reinforces the idea that worker values are not in the superficial perks. It reveals that employees who are most likely to stay with their current employer are the ones that ‘feel most invested in the success of the company and recognised for the effort they put in’.

Implementing an effective work-life balance strategy

So, if an effective WX in the eyes of the workforce revolves around recognition within the company they work for, it is clearly crucial that businesses keep workers in the loop and make them feel a genuine part of the wider organisation. A great way to ensure this? The implementation of communication and collaborative tools such as Salesforce Chatter, Skype, and Workplace for Facebook. These tools ensure that no matter the location, workers are kept up to date with the day to day goings on within the company and have regular access to fellow employees, whether they be peers, HR or management.

The implementation of these tools not only keeps workers in the loop, but also quickly opens the door for more flexible working, which has been a regular demand for employees in recent years. The benefits are that workers receive a far more productive work-life balance and are genuinely happier people. What this means for the business is greater loyalty and a more productive day to day attitude. It’s no secret that a more flexible workforce is a happier one, and thanks to major advances in technology, those working away from the office no longer suffer from a productivity drain.

Make sure your workers are heard

While initiatives such as greater flexible working and collaboration are great, the cornerstone of any WX strategy is a robust measurement program that constantly feeds back data to management to ensure employees are effective at their jobs. Whether it’s an employee survey, a monthly face to face or an informal catch up over coffee, businesses need to ensure that employees are consistently engaged with and shown that their work matters.

Working flexibly, but staying productive

Getting your company culture right starts with the worker experience - which can be a difficult element to perfect with flexible workers.  Indeed, the downside of remote working is that employees may feel like they miss out on the social element of an office environment.  For businesses trying to keep workers engaged, this is certainly a challenge. Through implementing digital tools which provide collaborative benefits like G Suite and Google Hangouts, businesses can facilitate employee groups and informal clubs, keeping workers engaged no matter their location.

Happy workers equal happy customers. It’s a Virtuous Cycle.

It makes sense that there is a significant link between how a worker feels and the service they provide to customers. In fact our research revealed that nearly 90% of all respondents now understand this relationship — what we at Appirio call the Virtuous Cycle.

Happy workers are also more likely to stay within your company, meaning your day to day operation remains productive and employers can focus their time and effort on improving workplace culture rather than reacting to churn and sourcing new contacts.

Most importantly, implementing an efficient worker experience trickles down to all other aspects within a business, whether it be, everyday actions within the physical or virtual office, face to face interactions with customers or the relationships between junior and senior members of staff.

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Greg Bohlen

Senior Director for Strategy & Digital at Appirio

Read more from Greg Bohlen
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