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We Ask the Experts

How HR can improve the employee experience

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With the New Year well and truly upon us, HR practitioners will be thinking about how they can get ahead and improve for 2022. With many employers challenged by skills and labour shortages and ‘The Great Resignation’, focusing on improving the employee experience could help employers to attract, engage and retain top talent.

For example, carving out a great employee experience can lead to happier and more engaged staff. According to Gallup data – reported on by Inside 6Q – happy employees are more likely to stay with their employers for the long-term which could help HR tackle high turnover levels. Moreover, a good employee experience can positively build a stronger work culture which could help attract new talent into the business. In fact, a Robert Half survey indicated that 35% of jobseekers wouldn’t take a job where they weren’t a good fit with the company culture.

With data highlighting how an improved employee experience could help HR solve some of the current challenges it is facing, people professionals should consider how they can get better in this area. To help HR improve the employee experience in 2022 and beyond, myGrapevine magazine asked its expert panel. Read their advice below.

Arti Kashyap-Aynsley,
Global Head of Health and Wellbeing,
Ocado Group

“To improve the employee experience is to really understand the employees within the business – which means understanding how, where and when they work, the challenges associated with their tasks and patterns, support they may need, the average demographic, preferences and other things alike.

“As a human resources function whether we are focusing on talent attraction, reward and benefits, learning, health & wellbeing, DEI, etc. it is important that what sits at the heart of all we do is the employee / people experience, the level of personalisation we can offer, as well as how we support the blend between home, work and life. Therefore, it is crucial that we truly understand the clients we are trying to serve.”

 

70% of jobseekers value a commitment to diversity in potential employers – TheManifest

70% of jobseekers value a commitment to diversity in potential employers – TheManifest

Arti Kashyap-Aynsley,
Global Head of Health and Wellbeing,
Ocado Group

“To improve the employee experience is to really understand the employees within the business – which means understanding how, where and when they work, the challenges associated with their tasks and patterns, support they may need, the average demographic, preferences and other things alike.

“As a human resources function whether we are focusing on talent attraction, reward and benefits, learning, health & wellbeing, DEI, etc. it is important that what sits at the heart of all we do is the employee / people experience, the level of personalisation we can offer, as well as how we support the blend between home, work and life. Therefore, it is crucial that we truly understand the clients we are trying to serve.”

 

59% of respondents said that ‘flexibility’ is more important to them than salary or other benefits – Jabra

David Wilkinson,
Group HR Director,
Premier Foods

“...Firstly, making sure line managers at all levels are recruited in line with the values of the organisation, have the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills that make them great people managers, and then where there are capability gaps, we must work hard to fill them.

“At Premier Foods, we regularly do staff surveys and pulse checks, as asking colleagues about what their experience is of working for the organisation is extremely valuable. We listen to their feedback, and then work with colleagues and managers to make sure we continue doing what we're good at, while also considering areas for improvement.

“Taking into account the challenges HR has faced during the pandemic, introducing modern, innovative and flexible policies and ways of working will also help improve experiences for many colleagues. The policies should value individuality and promote an inclusive and diverse culture – there is no one-size-fits-all approach...”

59% of respondents said that ‘flexibility’ is more important to them than salary or other benefits – Jabra

David Wilkinson,
Group HR Director,
Premier Foods

“...Firstly, making sure line managers at all levels are recruited in line with the values of the organisation, have the emotional intelligence and interpersonal skills that make them great people managers, and then where there are capability gaps, we must work hard to fill them.

“At Premier Foods, we regularly do staff surveys and pulse checks, as asking colleagues about what their experience is of working for the organisation is extremely valuable. We listen to their feedback, and then work with colleagues and managers to make sure we continue doing what we're good at, while also considering areas for improvement.

“Taking into account the challenges HR has faced during the pandemic, introducing modern, innovative and flexible policies and ways of working will also help improve experiences for many colleagues. The policies should value individuality and promote an inclusive and diverse culture – there is no one-size-fits-all approach...”

Andrea Smith,
HR Director, Transformation UK&I,
Coty

“HR leaders should be aware that resilience and wellbeing should be endorsed and demonstrated by those in leadership roles. As the old ways of working are gone, workplace dynamics like end of day meetings and mailbox monitoring over the weekend harms recruitment, retention of talent and being an employer of choice.

“Candidates in the job market are looking for new roles with companies who have invested in family friendly policies and ways of working that demonstrate a culture of wellbeing, happiness and appreciation of work-life balance.”

 

48% see family life as a higher priority than before the pandemic – Bright Horizons

48% see family life as a higher priority than before the pandemic – Bright Horizons

Andrea Smith,
HR Director, Transformation UK&I,
Coty

“HR leaders should be aware that resilience and wellbeing should be endorsed and demonstrated by those in leadership roles. As the old ways of working are gone, workplace dynamics like end of day meetings and mailbox monitoring over the weekend harms recruitment, retention of talent and being an employer of choice.

“Candidates in the job market are looking for new roles with companies who have invested in family friendly policies and ways of working that demonstrate a culture of wellbeing, happiness and appreciation of work-life balance.”

 

Circa 85% of employees want to work remotely at least two to three days per week post-pandemic, with the remaining portion of the week spent in the office – CBRE

Jo Bertram,
Managing Director, Business and Wholesale,
Virgin Media O2

“As hybrid working continues to be a major recruitment and retention factor, we predict even more collaboration between HR and IT in 2022 – creating a flexible, dynamic working environment. Hybrid working can help businesses’ unlock a richer talent pool as they can hire anyone from anywhere. Organisations that embrace it will also boost productivity and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, with our research with the Centre for Economics and Business Research showing that this would open up opportunities for nearly four million people – such as parents, carers or disabled people – who are currently locked out of work.

“The UK has made years of digital progress in just 20 months, and now’s the time for HR practitioners and business leaders to build on this momentum and commit to a hybrid digital future. That means investing in technology that helps people work smarter, boosts productivity, all while helping achieve better societal outcomes and a £236billion boost to the UK economy.”

Circa 85% of employees want to work remotely at least two to three days per week post-pandemic, with the remaining portion of the week spent in the office – CBRE

Jo Bertram,
Managing Director, Business and Wholesale,
Virgin Media O2

“As hybrid working continues to be a major recruitment and retention factor, we predict even more collaboration between HR and IT in 2022 – creating a flexible, dynamic working environment. Hybrid working can help businesses’ unlock a richer talent pool as they can hire anyone from anywhere. Organisations that embrace it will also boost productivity and create a more diverse and inclusive workforce, with our research with the Centre for Economics and Business Research showing that this would open up opportunities for nearly four million people – such as parents, carers or disabled people – who are currently locked out of work.

“The UK has made years of digital progress in just 20 months, and now’s the time for HR practitioners and business leaders to build on this momentum and commit to a hybrid digital future. That means investing in technology that helps people work smarter, boosts productivity, all while helping achieve better societal outcomes and a £236billion boost to the UK economy.”

Carol Frost,
CPO,
Metro Bank

“Colleague experience is the combination of all that occurs in a colleague’s lifecycle. It starts from the day a colleague applies for the job and joins until their last working day. Following a turbulent year and the much-publicised rise in resignations combined with workers seeking purpose-driven employment, colleague experience has become more important than ever.

“A key focus for HR in 2022 will be creating feelings of connection, between the colleague, their co-workers and the company’s purpose. With predictions of attrition spikes continuing and with companies and leaders yet to truly master the art of connecting through hybrid working, HR needs to shift from operational practices to focus on providing the right support and tools that build a feeling of stability for new and longstanding colleagues alike.

“There are some key areas that can have a strong impact on a positive colleague experience, that cover the relationship between the colleague and organisation and ways of working: Finding ways to establish trust quickly, listening to colleagues regularly and sincerely and showing colleagues how their work is valued. Each of these will help build the relationship and accelerate loyal performance and satisfaction. In terms of ways of working, delivery at pace through effective use of data insights, seamless collaboration and supporting leaders to prioritise the agenda will help set them up for success.”

 

Almost one quarter of workers are actively planning to change firms in the next few months – Randstad UK

Almost one quarter of workers are actively planning to change firms in the next few months – Randstad UK

Carol Frost,
CPO,
Metro Bank

“Colleague experience is the combination of all that occurs in a colleague’s lifecycle. It starts from the day a colleague applies for the job and joins until their last working day. Following a turbulent year and the much-publicised rise in resignations combined with workers seeking purpose-driven employment, colleague experience has become more important than ever.

“A key focus for HR in 2022 will be creating feelings of connection, between the colleague, their co-workers and the company’s purpose. With predictions of attrition spikes continuing and with companies and leaders yet to truly master the art of connecting through hybrid working, HR needs to shift from operational practices to focus on providing the right support and tools that build a feeling of stability for new and longstanding colleagues alike.

“There are some key areas that can have a strong impact on a positive colleague experience, that cover the relationship between the colleague and organisation and ways of working: Finding ways to establish trust quickly, listening to colleagues regularly and sincerely and showing colleagues how their work is valued. Each of these will help build the relationship and accelerate loyal performance and satisfaction. In terms of ways of working, delivery at pace through effective use of data insights, seamless collaboration and supporting leaders to prioritise the agenda will help set them up for success.”

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