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Is My Workforce OK? Why We Need to Ask – Now More than Ever

Employee experience has always mattered as it can be the difference between employees wanting to show up for work and delivering excellent customer experiences, or needing to show up for work and delivering not-so-great customer experiences. But how companies treat employees during difficult times, like the ones we are in now, matters much more than how they treat them when things are going great.

There is nothing normal about today’s work environment. Employees’ homes are now doubling as offices and daycare centers and, according to recent research, 69% of surveyed employees are experiencing symptoms of burnout, up 20% from last May. In fact, many are experiencing things like “Zoom fatigue”, anxieties about career growth and promotions, struggles on how to balance childcare or a lingering depression from the monotony of being stuck inside their own four walls.

Now, more than ever, employers should be looking at the “health” of their employees. Working under dramatically different conditions than they were six months ago, Employees need to be heard and are looking to their employers to support them with tangible actions toward improving their environments as much as possible. After all, they are the “face” a customer “sees” when interacting with their brand.

Many, if not all of us can recall a time when we had a stand-out experience with an engaged employee who went above and beyond to meet our needs. It probably left you with a great feeling about the person and made you feel as if the brand really took your patronage seriously enough to ensure their employees felt empowered to deliver that exceptional service.

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Employee experience and customer experience are not mutually exclusive, they are linked and promote each other in a continuous loop. When employees are happy, they can have a positive impact on both the customer’s experience and business performance.

Not every employee will be happy 100% of the time. However, understanding and measuring how employees feel and what they need throughout a given year can make them feel heard and appreciated. This is done with a ‘voice of the employee’ or employee experience program to gauge sentiment—where you stand in the minds of employees.

It doesn’t end there. Listening is the first step in employee experience, but taking intelligent and prioritized action can be the key to closing the loop and showing employees that what they share matters to the organization. For example, when a  majority of employees say they aren’t comfortable with returning to work in an office environment, you need to take action (e.g. provide communication about future plans). Understanding that a large percentage of employees are struggling with childcare or at-home schooling also requires action. Perhaps that means augmented work hours or support with setting up a home environment where there are separated areas of in-home childcare and work.

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How does listening and action lead to better customer experience? The answer is simple. You can train employees on policies, corporate priorities and values, but if they don’t feel their voices are heard, they won’t be happy and won’t promote happy customer experiences.

Once you have captured employee feedback and taken steps to deliver a satisfying work environment, you can move to mapping the customer journey and how employees fit into that journey. Mapping out key employee and customer engagement points across the customer journey illuminates key moments where employees need to shine —and where they may become frustrated or discouraged and need more support.

In the midst of a pandemic and tight resources, where do companies like yours get started? Employee pulses are a great way to kickstart an employee listening program. They offer a quick yet effective feedback mechanism to get your finger on the pulse of employees and how they are feeling. What you learn will very likely surprise you and leave you wanting to learn more.