How to improve the employee experience according to HR and communication experts

Blog How to improve the employee experience
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A positive employee experience has become top of mind for organizations, as have the adverse consequences of failure to deliver. The challenge lies in addressing workforce expectations at scale, understanding employee needs, and delivering personalized experiences—whether they’re desk-based, frontline, or remote employees. Here are some recommendations from HR and communication experts in the field: 

What can we do to improve the employee experience?

In 2024, HR and communications teams continue to face significant challenges in creating an employee experience that will retain top talent. In fact, last year 46% of HR professionals cited recruiting as a top challenge, and a staggering 38% of employees quit within their first year. 

It’s clear that the modern workforce demands more. Failure to meet employee expectations results in disengagement—leading to lower productivity, increased employee turnover, and difficulty attracting new talent. Because of the unique challenges presented by the complexity of the modern digital workplace, determining how to improve employee experience can seem overwhelming. 

Firstup has hosted numerous webinars focused on the employee experience to capture the insights and wisdom of industry leaders who have demonstrated how the right employee experience strategy can foster a more positive workplace culture. Join us as we revisit the top themes from these engaging conversations and learn actionable ways to improve employee engagement.

1. Personalize employee communications

At the heart of every positive company culture is a truly personalized employee experience.  Gaining more insight into how your employees engage and what individual preferences are for communications—no matter how many employees your organization has—equips you to make informed communication decisions and engage every employee with pinpoint precision. 

Personalizing communications at scale may seem daunting. With the right technology, however, you can automate and optimize an otherwise time-consuming process. The end result? Your employees will have a stronger sense of belonging and increased productivity.

Let’s hear from Firstup’s Chief People Officer Sabra Sciolaro and VP of Product Mike Vilimek as they discuss the importance of personalized communication at critical moments of the entire employee life cycle.

Source: Clip from our recent webinar with The Josh Bersin Company, “Personalizing the employee journey: Intelligent communication at the moments that matter.”

“Effective communication isn’t about more technologies or channels any more than it’s about speaking louder or saying the same thing over and over. Effective communication is intelligent communication. It’s making the right choices about how we choose to speak or write, what channels we select, what time we deliver the message, what tone we use, what language, and what frequency.”

Sabra Sciolaro, Chief People Officer, Firstup

“If you’re a frontline worker, it’s probably best to get you that communication through a mobile app. If you’re a project manager, you may live in Microsoft Teams. If you’re a sales rep, you live in Salesforce. It’s about making sure you’re engaging employees on multiple communication channels.”

Mike Vilimek, VP of Product, Solutions, & Alliances, Firstup

2. Use intelligent communication to personalize at scale

The concept of hyper-personalization resonates with a diverse workforce. Sending HR and internal communication in a way that mirrors their preferences and consumption habits in their personal lives will improve employee engagement with critical information. Your workers are more likely to receive and review messages on things like health insurance, job expectations, paid parental leave, performance management, and more. 

Let’s look at how a positive employee experience is directly correlated with increased customer satisfaction, a thriving company culture, and organizational stability. For more on how to craft your employee experience strategy, here is Jason Averbook, Senior Partner and Global Leader of Digital HR Strategy at Mercer, discussing the pivotal role of intelligent communication in helping employees feel valued.

Source: Clip from our webinar with AGCO and Mercer, “The cornerstone of the employee experience: Intelligent communication.

“It’s important to have a vision around how to improve employee experience. What’s actually going on in an employee’s moment in time and what are their expectations? We have to realize that we’re humans first and employees second. Does it feel like we’re being talked to as humans?”

Jason Averbrook, Senior Partner & Global Leader, Digital HR Strategy, Mercer

3. Cultivate the employee-employer relationship

Communication plays a crucial role in shaping how employees feel about their relationship to their employer. The success or failure of HR and internal communications directly impacts the employee perspective and how employees feel about the programs, resources, and benefits offered by HR. 

Let’s revisit Sabra Sciolaro as she further explores the pivotal role of communication in shaping the employee experience at scale.

Source: Clip from our webinar with the experts from The Josh Bersin Company, “Personalizing the employee journey: Intelligent communication at the moments that matter.”

“Communication is the foundation of any relationship. The employee experience is the way employees internalize and interpret the interactions they have with us and all the programs we’re creating in HR. How they experience those programs is impacted by how we say it and how we get it to them.”

Sabra Sciolaro, Chief People Officer, Firstup

5 ways to personalize the employee experience

  1. Craft an employee journey map to identify essential moments along the employee life cycle—from the moment new hires arrive to the day you’re conducting exit interviews.
  2. Segment your employee communications based on individual employee attributes.
  3. Use an intelligent communication platform to automate personalized journey campaigns. 
  4. Reduce the digital overload employees receive and orchestrate messages to the right channel at the right time. 
  5. Capture employee attribute and behavioral-based data to further personalize communications. 
Belonging drives engagement
“We are focused on making employees feel like they belong, and that they are a part of the mission. Being able to actually see who is engaging with what content, who are our most engaged employees, is big.”

4. Focus on employee engagement

Effective communication is clearly the bedrock of fostering a strong relationship between employees, hiring managers, and other leaders in the workplace. The impact of positive employee experiences on the bottom line cannot be overstated. Not only does effective communication increase employee productivity, it also creates happy employees who are more innovative and willing to go the extra mile. 

According to Gallup, organizations with engaged workforces and higher job satisfaction outperform competitors by a staggering 147%. The same study also found that engaged companies have 22% higher customer loyalty, 65% lower turnover, and 37% higher productivity. When you improve employee satisfaction, you benefit the bottom line. 

As a widely recognized thought leader in HR, Josh Bersin is the go-to source for valuable insights on evolving workplace dynamics and creating an effective employee experience framework. Let’s hear from him as he explains the vital role employee engagement plays in delivering an irresistible work experience.

Source: Clip from our webinar with Erika Cary of Hilton and the experts from The Josh Bersin Company, “Connect with employees like you truly know them.”

“What engages people the most is feeling like they can do a good job and do it in a way that they don’t burn out, and they get that positive feedback of having done something well.”

Josh Bersin, The Bersin Company

5. Create a more unified employee experience

HR and internal comms initiatives are typically treated as separate, independent programs. This is a missed opportunity given the overlap among their goals—such as recruitment, onboarding, culture, rewards, L&D, and DEI. 

To create a unified work environment, businesses need to rethink the way teams inform employees and approach shared goals for the workforce. Employee experience management requires a holistic approach that breaks down traditional siloes.

Brittany Barhite, VP of Communications and Brand Experience at Firstup, is no stranger to the concept of aligning HR and communication strategies. Here’s what she had to say about creating a more unified employee experience.

Source: Clip from our webinar, “Better together: Unifying HR + comms strategies in 2024.”

“HR has been measuring employee engagement for decades. The score correlates to employee experience and retention. Studies show that people who are happy with organizational communication are more engaged. Marry your goals to engagement, because your communications play a key role.”

Brittany Barhite, VP of Communications and Brand Experience, Firstup

5 ways to boost employee engagement

  1. Focus on the employee experience when planning and crafting your internal communications.
  2. Develop a recognition and rewards program to celebrate employee performance as part of your employee experience initiatives.
  3. Connect employees with leadership—employees strongly agree that two-way dialog with executives makes them feel part of the culture and company values.
  4. Offer professional development opportunities and career growth opportunities to give them added incentive to help achieve company goals.
  5. Share customer feedback and highlight customer success stories to show the impact of the relationships employees build with customers. 

6. Capture data and analytics to measure success

HR teams tackle numerous challenges on a daily basis, but one of the biggest hurdles they face is assessing an employee’s perception of the company and predicting employee engagement. Compared to external-facing departments like marketing, customer service, or sales, HR teams tend to have less access to robust data on their most important stakeholders—the employees.

HR has a dire need for a paradigm shift toward data-driven engagement strategies that follow the playbook of marketing and customer service leaders. With the right tools, HR teams can anticipate what employees need and guide them with communications tailored for unique situations, much like the approach marketing and sales departments use to engage consumers.

Let’s hear from Richard Rosenow, VP of People Analytics for OneModel, as he describes HR’s opportunity to identify ways to use technology and data to cultivate a positive work environment and strengthen employee morale.

Source: Clip from our webinar with Mercer and One Model, “Empowering your workforce: Data-driven strategies for employee engagement.”

“HR has been systematically underserved and underinvested in this space. When you don’t have the tools to understand attrition, you don’t stand a chance. HR deserves tools like this.”

Richard Rosenow, VP, People Analytics, OneModel

7. Identify actionable insights from employee experience metrics

To bridge the employee experience gap, companies must invest in solutions that capture and activate data. These metrics will enable them to personalize and automate communications at scale at every moment along an employee’s journey. 

Actionable insights into campaign performance will also empower HR teams to craft an effective employee experience strategy and deliver communications at the most optimal time and place. The ongoing refinement of this personalization leads to more engaged employees.

Let’s join Sabra Sciolaro one more time as she showcases how technology can help businesses move beyond one-size-fits-all communications and disjointed workflows. A seamless digital employee experience leads to better employee satisfaction and more collaborative company culture.

Source: Clip from our webinar with Mercer and One Model, “Empowering your workforce: Data-driven strategies for employee engagement.”

5 ways to measure employee engagement

  1. Regularly send eNPS employee surveys to identify pain points and opportunities to improve employee experience.
  2. Gather employee feedback, such as asking, “How did you feel about starting your new job?” “Did the hiring process feel fair?” “Do you need more flexible working hours?” “How can your supervisor make performance management a more beneficial process?” 
  3. Send employee benefit surveys to assess the success of your open enrollment programs—a large number of workers don’t understand their benefits. 
  4. Use an intelligent communication platform that aggregates employee behavioral data, such as views, open rates, likes, comments, and shares.  
  5. Employ technology to refine communications and HR campaigns according to analytical insights. 

“As we have looked at data in the Firstup platform, we’ve seen that customers who regularly use the Engagement Boost feature are actively increasing engagement three times. One specific customer, Phillip 66, sent out similar content to the same audiences in the same topic. They had four times the engagement when they used the boost feature versus when they did not.”

Rey Bouknight, Sr. Director, Customer Success, Firstup

The proof is in the numbers

The right technology—such as the Firstup platform—plays a crucial role in aligning and achieving employee engagement goals. By providing actionable insights derived from data and employee feedback, our intelligent communication platform enables organizations to effectively reach and engage employees at every step of the employee life cycle, resulting in a positive impact on the overall employee experience. 

Let’s conclude this journey with a few firsthand accounts of Firstup’s transformative approach increasing engagement by prioritizing the employee experience.

Source: Clips from our webinars “Better together: Unifying HR + comms strategies in 2024 andConnect with employees like you truly know them.”

“On any given basis, we have around 55,000 active users on the platform. Team members are using Firstup to exchange ideas and best practices—73% of posts are user-generated content, which is significantly above the benchmark of 25%. We’ve seen survey scores go up, in addition to platform adoption, with some of these analytics.”

Erika Cary, VP of HR Consulting, Hilton

From personalized communication to data-driven strategies, the insights shared today by HR thought leaders and industry experts emphasize the crucial need for a unified and technology-driven approach to engaging your workforce. As organizations strive to meet employees’ expectations, investing in intelligent communication platforms becomes not only a strategic imperative but a transformative key to fostering a workplace culture that thrives on engagement, innovation, and a positive employee experience

For more helpful strategies from cross-functional EX and communication experts, tune in to our webinar:

Reaching the Unreachable: The Power of Intelligent Employee Communications & Digital Signage

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