'Friending' Your Employees is Actually Good for Business

Businesses need to understand that it's the little things that have a big impact on employee experience

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If you haven't already, you need to start thinking about employee experience and the significant impact it is having on your business.

Employee experience is how you, as an individual, interact with your employer throughout your journey at that company, and that experience leads to engagement. In other words, engagement (positive or negative) is a result of the experience that an employee has.

The Missing Link

There are several things that have an impact on engagement—the biggest driver is your direct manager. If you have a great manager, half the battle is won. Then there are other factors, such as compensation and benefits, and how well the company communicates internally about the important things. Engagement is connecting with the mission, vision, and strategy of the business you work for.

Onboarding and the early experiences an employee has when they join your company also have a significant impact on engagement, and not many businesses are doing it well.

What Research Says

Professor Dan Cable from the London Business School, along with Professors Francesca Gino from Harvard Business School and Bradley Staats from the University of North Carolina, conducted a landmark study about how authentic self-expression can be positively affected by the onboarding process, and in turn how that can impact business results.

As part of the study, the researchers ran an experiment at Wipro that, among other things, operates call centres for their clients' customers. They tested an individual-identity method of onboarding against an organization-identity method and also against the control group, who went through the standard company process.

They said, "Our results showed that socialization focused on individuals' authentic identity led to greater customer satisfaction and over 33 per cent greater retention during the first six months on the job, as compared to both organizational socialization and Wipro's traditional approach."

The results were clear - if you engage with new hires on a personal level, try and be their friend, they are not just less likely to leave but will also perform better in their roles.

The way you bring someone into an organization has a tangible impact on business metrics.

If you are delivering great experiences to your employees, you will see it reflected on the bottom line.

The Role of Technology

We live in a mobile-first world—you have to be able to communicate that way.

Many people today cannot live without their mobile phones—they shudder at the mere prospect of being without the internet for any length of time. They are dependent on technology. Rich media is prevalent, video and imagery take centrestage.

You need to consider the type of content you are delivering to your employees and how it's impacting their experience. It's cheap and easy now to produce rich content in different formats, including gamification. The technology you use to improve employee experience has to really appeal to your target audience.

Step into their shoes

Most companies and HR departments are still looking at employee experience from their own perspective—you actually have to sit in the shoes of the new hire and design experiences using that perspective.

In the end, it's the little things that have a big impact on employee experience. Businesses need to understand that.