Never mind the client….!

It’s not uncommon for businesses to become preoccupied with the needs of the client. It is often a major topic of debate and focusses on what can be done to ensure the clients’ needs are being met, if not exceeded. It’s clients that bring in the money, after all, and documenting wants and needs while also managing TCF requirements should be at the forefront of professional consideration.

However, it is important to remember that despite this, the client is not the be all and end all of running a successful business. How often do businesses sit back and think about the needs of their employees? Unfortunately, the answer is likely to be not very often, if ever.

A hardworking, loyal, and motivated workforce could actually be the very crux of a sustainable and successful business, yet they are very often overlooked as a replaceable commodity. Your client experience might be second to none, but what can you honestly say about your employee experience?

This isn’t where I start talking about the importance of a water cooler in the office and free membership to the local gym, but look at the employee experience from recruitment right through to exit interview (of which there will hopefully be very few). The employee experience amounts to every interaction an employee has with a firm and the perception the employee takes away from those interactions.

You could begin by examining the fundamentals of key points in an employee’s life cycle. For example, onboarding. Are new employees taken through an interactive and proactive induction period which allows them to not only understand but also become enveloped in the company’s culture? Or, are they placed at a desk and left in the corner, while being passed mundane tasks from colleagues they haven’t been introduced to?

Obviously, the onboarding process is an important interaction and the better the employee’s perception of this, the better their employee experience. But employer/employee interactions go further than the key stages in an employee’s life cycle.

It’s also much more than perks, such as an unexpected bonus in their pay packet. It’s all very well throwing bonuses their way, but if the employee perceives this bonus to have an underlying ulterior motive, then the perception of this bonus is not necessarily positive.

The employee experience delves into how difficult experiences are handled, leaving the employee with the perception that their employer truly dealt with the situation in the best way they could. It is all about people, and people exist outside of the businesses parameters. Realising this can see you begin to understand what the employee experience is all about.

As an employer, how did you deal with a tricky performance review? What was your reaction when one of your employees came to you because their mother had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s? How did you treat the employee who was struggling to pay for childcare to be able to come to work? How did you solve the issue of an employee who was suffering from a lack of confidence in the quality of their work?

It is these interactions and the perceptions held by the employee, that really begin to shape their experience. This doesn’t mean that the employer bows down to demands from their workforce, but that they demonstrate a sense of integrity, display empathy and remain open-minded in all situations. A great induction period is all very well, and getting that right is a great start. However, that philosophy then needs to be carried through into the everyday experience. How many employees will truly remember their induction five years down the line? It is the day-to-day interactions that will be remembered and have the greatest impact.

As Sir Richard Branson said, “Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.”

About the author

As HR Manager at RWA, Amy worked as both internal practitioner and consultant to RWA clients. Whilst undertaking the role of HR Manager to RWA employees, she coordinated the on-boarding of new recruits, manages employee absence and assisted with performance reviews and disciplinary/grievance situations. Amy left RWA in 2021.

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