The Future of Employee Experience for Tech Companies Following the Pandemic
Employee Experience: Fit in with Your People to Drive Productivity
According to The Active Job Seeker Dilemma study, 83% of HR leaders believe that employee experience is a crucial part of their company’s success. They understand that employee experience is not something static, constantly invest in training (56%), workspaces (51%), and rewards (47%).
Successful organizations all over the world have already understood this rule of thumb: making the employee’s journey enjoyable pays its way. Opportunities for professional development, meaningful work, benefits, and a healthy corporate culture enable people, impacting business results in the long run.
Three aspects that will help you create a great employee experience
Susan Peters, senior vice president of Human Resources at General Electric, defines employee experience as “seeing the world through the eyes of our employees, staying connected, and being aware of their major milestones”. She also adds that they appointed a head of employee experience to develop a strategy for effective employee experience that would take into account “the physical environment our employees work in, the tools and technologies that enable their productivity, and learning to achieve their best at work”. So why are these aspects so important?
People are different. That means that working conditions must satisfy not only “the majority”. Ask your employees where they prefer to work. What kind of place allows them to concentrate on a task? What distracts them? Do they really like to work in an open-space office? If you don’t have an opportunity to organize different rooms for employees, give them the option to work from home or any other place they find convenient. The employees’ well-being is key to business productivity. A toxic workplace will neither increase retention nor engagement.
- Company culture
If your employees walk in and it feels like there’s something wrong, if they come late for no reason and count minutes till the end of the workday, they might be on the verge of burnout. If your employees are drained and lack energy, then what business results can you expect? People need a sense of purpose, knowing that their work is valued, and feel that they can work with managers who are on the same page as them.
- Tools and technologies
Modern technology is an effective way to facilitate workflow. Laptops, fast internet connections, various instruments and automation, software, eLearning tools—all these aspects can boost employees’ productivity if they’re delivered at a high level. Moreover, relevant training is one of these key tools. Consider how material is presented, whether it is given at the right time and the right place, if it resonates with your employees’ learning experience, and the like.
Google, Airbnb, Facebook: How do they view employee experience?
When it comes to globally-known large companies that are famous for being dream places to work, the question arises as to how to become one of them. Why do so many people want to work there? Is it because of high salaries? Great career opportunities? Company culture? That magic vibe is called the employee experience. To be a place that feels like a second home and opens a wide range of opportunities; it’s important to treat employees like your best customers.
Google is famous for its wonderful perks for employees from free meals, massages, and shuttles to various gym classes, opportunities for volunteer projects, and tuition reimbursements. However, this is far from the end of a list that contributes to a great employee experience. This five-year Googler emphasizes that high job satisfaction and a sense of fulfillment is what he values most in his work:
I find it really valuable to be at a company where software is built at a massive scale. We have access to tools, infrastructure, and really smart people that you just can’t get anywhere else. You feel like you’re always learning, and any project has the potential to make a huge impact on the world.
Google is a company that understands the importance of effective leadership. The company even created the Eight Habits of Highly Effective Google Managers, including the following directives:
- Have a clear vision and strategy for the team.
- Help your employees with career development.
- Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented.
The company also spreads the management philosophy known as “20% time”, allowing its employees to pursue side projects that they are passionate about. Larry Page and Sergey Brin explained the idea in their 2004 IPO letter:
We encourage our employees, in addition to their regular projects, to spend 20% of their time working on what they think will most benefit Google. This empowers them to be more creative and innovative. Many of our significant advances have happened in this manner.
Airbnb was one of the first companies that replaced a chief human resources officer with a new job position. Mark Levy, global head of employee experience at Airbnb, believes that the workplace is an experience, and the goal of any company is to make this experience enjoyable for its employees. Here’s how he explains it:
At Airbnb, we are focused on bringing to life our mission of creating a world where you can #belonganywhere, by creating memorable workplace experiences which span all aspects of how we relate to employees, including how we recruit them, develop them, the work environment we create with them, the type of volunteer experiences we offer them, and the food we share together.
Joe Gebbia, co-founder of Airbnb, comments that “Everything at Airbnb is a continuation of what it’s like to be a guest in somebody’s house”. Such a make-yourself-at-home approach is realized in the following ways:
- Flexibility: Everyone is different and Airbnb fosters this diversity. The company’s space plan has moved to a “belong anywhere working environment, where an employee can work from any number of workspaces, including the kitchen counter, the dining room table, or the living room”.
- Meaningful work: Levy’s view on what comprises a great employee experience is “creating an environment where employees can be their best self at work, particularly given how much time is spent there, doing something that creates meaning both in their life and work”.
- Recruiting: Jill Riopelle, head of recruiting at Airbnb, says that they use a storyboard approach to the hiring process to explore and understand what went wrong during job interviews to make them better. “We invited employees to share their best and worst hiring moments on the big whiteboard in the lunchroom. Then as a team, with leadership participating, we brainstormed how we wanted it to feel at each point, mapping out the ideal process from both the candidate and hiring team perspectives”.
- Training and development: TechCrunch reports that Airbnb run its own Data University to make its employees more data literate. Jeff Feng, product manager on the analytics and experimentation team, says that Airbnb characterizes data as the voice of users at scale which is why “every employee should be empowered to make data informed decisions. This applies to all parts of Airbnb’s organization — from deciding whether to launch a new product feature to analyzing how to provide the best possible employee experience”.
Facebook is known to be a place where a whopping 96% of employees feel happy about their job.
One aspect that made this company stand out among others was their “hacker culture”. Mark Zuckerberg, in his letter to shareholders, shares the company’s vision:
As part of building a strong company, we work hard at making Facebook the best place for great people to have a big impact on the world and learn from other great people. We have cultivated a unique culture and management approach that we call the Hacker Way.
The Hacker Way fosters the following aspects:
- Ongoing development
The Hacker Way is an approach to building that involves continuous improvement and iteration. Hackers believe that something can always be better and that nothing is ever complete. They just have to go fix it—often in the face of people who say it’s impossible or are content with the status quo.
- Hands-on experience
Hacking is also an inherently hands-on and active discipline. Instead of debating for days whether a new idea is possible or what the best way to build something is, hackers would rather just prototype something and see what works.
- Openness and collaboration
Hacker culture is also extremely open and meritocratic. Hackers believe that the best ideas and implementation should always win. Every few months we have a hackathon, where everyone builds prototypes for new ideas they have. At the end, the whole team gets together and looks at everything that has been built.
- Continuous learning
Moving fast enables us to build more things and learn faster. However, as most companies grow, they slow down too much because they’re more afraid of making mistakes than they are of losing opportunities by moving too slowly. We have a saying: “Move fast and break things.” The idea is that if you never break anything, you’re probably not moving fast enough.
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