We live in a candidate-driven job market. This means that candidates have more job options to choose from than ever before and can be selective about which company they work for. That’s why it’s important for employers to design an employee experience - from the recruitment phase through the alumni phase - that attracts candidates, retains employees, and differentiates themselves from competitors.
This means being thoughtful about the processes, tools, and resources that go into every stage of the employee experience. You can learn more about the technologies that support your employee experience in our HR Tech Engagement Stack Guide.
In this post, we walk through tips for each of the important stages and explain how recognition in key moments can help strengthen the overall employee experience.
The recruiting phase is where candidates first interact with an organization. At this stage, it’s important for your future employees to have a positive impression of both your company and the interviewing experience - otherwise, you risk losing them to the competition. Here are a few tips to utilize during the recruiting phase:
- Build up a solid reputation on public sites like Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and even social media. These are the resources potential candidates will turn to while researching your company and can be the first impression they take away about your brand.
- Be overly communicative, empathetic, and respectful of each employee’s time throughout the recruiting process.
- Invest in tools that will help you design and automate all aspects of the process and engage everyone. You’ll win, keep talent, and make hiring a competitive advantage.
How recognition can help: One of the benefits of having a strong employee recognition program - especially one that offers experiential rewards - is that it’s an effective way to build your external brand. For instance, let’s say one of your employees is rewarded with a full “dinner and a Broadway show” experience in New York City for their five-year anniversary at work.
They’ll likely take pictures and publish on social media, which you can then share on your company profiles. Or you can have your marketing team create a video of their experience so it can easily be circulated both internally and externally. Think about what a strong first impression it would make if a potential candidate were to see this awesome staff experience on the company’s Twitter profile - this would be a signal that you truly invest in and care about your employees.
Onboarding helps set employees up for success. Not only this, but a positive onboarding experience has been found to have a strong correlation with retention rates and productivity. For instance, 69 percent of employees are more likely to stay with a company for three years if they experienced great onboarding. And organizations with a standard onboarding process experience 50 percent greater new-hire productivity. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Start onboarding before the new hire starts. Many organizations wait until day one to begin onboarding, but starting early actually helps reduce no-shows and reassures new hires that they chose a great employer.
- Have frequent check-ins with new hires even after the “official” onboarding process is over. This will help them adjust faster and give managers and HR a sense for how their experience is going.
- Use the right tools to collect valuable data about your onboarding processes. This will help you iterate on the process over time, and make data-driven decisions to improve the experience for employees.
How recognition can help: A great way to celebrate new hires is with an experiential welcome gifts during the onboarding process. Since the first 30 days that an employee is at a company is highly correlated to attrition and retention, this window is a prime opportunity to make a lasting impression.
To take it a step further, make the reward an activity that the new hire can do with their manager or teammate since their relationship will have a huge effect on the employee’s job satisfaction. Or, if the employee came in through a referral, have the reward be an activity for the new hire and whoever submitted them so they can celebrate as friends!
Employees will have a better experience if their organizations are willing to provide opportunities for continual growth – after all, the number one reason employees leave their companies is due to lack of advancement. Helping employees reach career goals and giving them training helps them stay fulfilled and increase the likelihood of them staying with your organization. Here are a few things you can do to encourage development at your organization:
- Offer a learning and development budget for employees to tap into for career growth opportunities. For instance, at Blueboard, we offer a use-it-or-lose-it learning and development budget of $1,000 per employee that can be used for everything from conferences to leadership coaching to Toastmasters courses.
- Ensure that the manager-employee relationship is set up for success. Gallup’s State of the American Manager report from 2015 found that, at some point in their career, one in two employees have left their jobs to get away from their manager. This indicates the amount of influence a manager has on an individual’s career trajectory. So it’s important to make sure managers have all the tools, training, and resources they need to thrive in their roles.
- Gather employee feedback to improve any career development programs you have in place, whether it’s through one-on-one meetings or through 360 surveys.
How recognition can help
A great way to bolster development efforts is to recognize key employee career milestones with meaningful rewards, whether it’s for work anniversaries or the completion of a successful project. Experiential rewards, in particular, are a great form of employee recognition. Unlike the standard gift card or cash bonus, experiential rewards are memorable, personal, and shareable. They’re also proven to improve employee engagement and retention rates - and they’re effective at helping companies build meaningful relationships with their employees.
You can also use experiential rewards to replace traditional learning and development programs, which tend to be impersonal and boring. Employees tend to be put on the same track, making it challenging to customize and control their future. With experiential rewards, you can put the power of choice in your employee’s hands, and let them experience learning in a completely new way, outside of the office.
After the dust settles and new employees become regular old employees, organizations must continually pay attention to whether or not those employees are still having a good experience. There are many ways to improve your retention rates:
- Create a feedback loop by strategically using a performance management platform. This is a great way to identify gaps in the employee experience and keep a pulse on employee sentiment. For instance, you may discover that some employees feel they don’t have the tools to adequately do their jobs. That can be a pretty simple fix but make a world of difference in employee engagement and experience.
- Similar to the points above, make sure to consistently offer opportunities for career growth. It’s also important to regularly evaluate your compensation and benefits package offerings to retain top talent.
How recognition can help: Simply having a strong employee recognition program in place can make a huge difference in terms of retention and strengthening the employment experience. Research has found that companies with meaningful rewards programs reduce annual voluntary turnover rates by 31%, which is a significant difference. If you need any guidance on how to launch a successful recognition program at your company, check out our post where we share 10 tips for crafting an innovative recognition program.
Most employees will end their experience with your organization at some point. And whether it’s voluntary or involuntary, making that experience as positive as possible is vital to your company’s employer branding. When a fantastic employee leaves your company, it doesn’t mean their experience should be over. Boomerang employees (the ones who leave, but end up coming back) are more common than you might think, which is why it’s important to end on a good note. Here are a few tips to consider:
- Conduct exit interviews. This is an opportunity to thank the employee for their contributions to the organization and collect valuable feedback about what could have been improved in the employee experience.
- For employees who leave voluntarily, acts of goodwill (like letters of reference, LinkedIn recommendations, or farewell parties) can remind employees about the positive experience they had and demonstrate that you support their careers - even when it moves beyond your company.
- A simple “how’s it going?” email once per year or so is highly effective. It’s a nice way to keep in touch with former employees. That way, if they decide to come back or you decide to reach out to them about a position in the future, you’ll still have a relationship with each other and you can pick up the employee experience right where you left off.
How recognition can help: Memorable recognition inspires long-term brand loyalty and future employee referrals. We’ve found this with to be true with our own clients. After every Blueboard recipient completes their experience, reward recipients invited to take our Post-experience Engagement Survey. Our survey revealed that the vast majority of respondents have found that experiential rewards make them feel more appreciated, motivated, and have a positive impact on the company culture. These are the types of long-term effects that will drive both retention and an afterglow of positive emotions associated with the company long after an employee leaves.
As you can see, there’s a lot that goes into every stage of the employee experience design. However, the investment is well worth it as a positive employee experience culture will help you attract, retain, and keep more talent in your pipeline.
If you’re curious to learn more about how recognition opportunities can support your employee experience, we’d love to connect. Feel free to reach out via the Request Demo button at top to learn more ^^, or give us a shout in the Live Chat window at the bottom right corner!