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The employee experience: Helping people get excited to do their best at work

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Employee experience

It’s about moments that matter in an employee’s day, year and career

In the race to compete in the digital age and find new avenues to growth, business leaders are grappling with complex challenges.

How can we be more innovative and productive? How can we improve our customer experience? How can we help our workforce become more tech-enabled?

The solution to any of these problems begins in the same place: with your people.

The experience people have at work is becoming a vital part of an organization’s ability to thrive. Employees want their organization to provide a workplace experience that matches what they’ve come to expect as customers and in other areas of their life: Meaningful, personalized, user-friendly and digital. And just as customers can be swayed by their experience with a company, so can employees.

As the world becomes increasingly connected, consumer experiences are no longer limited to a product or service–people are influenced by reputation, social media, delivery channel and possibly the entire global supply chain. Similarly, an employee’s experience is no longer influenced by singular factors such as pay or a direct supervisor–it's much more than that, from the technology they use, to their physical workspace environment, to their learning and development opportunities.

Managing for a great employee experience is about paying attention to the moments that truly matter in an employee’s day, year and career. By working to provide great experiences, you tap into the passions of people for their work.

Better employee experience, better business outcomes

When the objective is to create a more engaged workforce, the focus should be on what changes in the work experience.

Shaping these experiences can have a positive impact on employee engagement—the extent to which employees are motivated to contribute. When the objective is to create a more engaged workforce, the focus should be on what changes in the work experience. An engaged workforce is more likely to be motivated and productive, energized to learn new skills, and eager to deliver a positive customer experience, while unhappy employees can become resentful and disengage from work, which can affect business performance.

So that people want to come to work

This isn’t simply organizational theory. We’ve seen companies that focus on the employee experience have lower staff turnover rates and higher productivity. To be clear, the goal of providing a strong employee experience isn’t to make your people feel warm and fuzzy. It’s to enable them to do their best work—to make them want to come to work. And because the employee experience is becoming so important to people, including to prospective job candidates, organizations can’t afford to ignore it.

To be clear, the goal of providing a strong employee experience isn’t to make your people feel warm and fuzzy. It’s to enable them to do their best work.

What’s top of mind right now

So how are companies trying to create a better employee experience? There are several elements to a holistic approach to resolve workplace frustrations and boost employee engagement across the organization. Three areas in particular are top of mind with many of our clients right now.

Purpose, brand and culture

Connect the company’s purpose to what individuals do at work. A culture of trust, one where leaders lead by example can inspire employees to deliver a higher quality of work.

Purpose at work is about how to get people aligned with something bigger. When you connect the company’s purpose to what individuals do at work, they see connections between what they do and how their contributions make a difference to the company and to society. When an employer's brand is consistent and aligned inside the organization as well as out, employees extend that brand to customers. Similarly, a person’s experience at work is deeply influenced by their organization’s culture—that is, the self-sustaining patterns of behaving, feeling, thinking and believing that determine “how we do things around here.” A culture that is diverse and inclusive, where people feel trusted and heard, and where leaders lead by example, can instill a sense of fulfillment and inspire employees to deliver a higher quality of work.

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Design of the workplace and work

Give your people the freedom and flexibility to work where and how they do their best work. Shift ways of working to align with worker and workplace trends.

In today’s era of personalization, people want a work environment that gives them the freedom and flexibility to work where and how they do their best work. While some may work best in a traditional office setting, others are more productive in a different atmosphere, such as in a cafe-style setting, or working from home while virtual whiteboarding with teams big and small. Many leaders recognize the need for an updated work environment, with half (50%) of US CEOs reporting that they are modernizing their workspace to attract digital talent, according to the latest PwC CEO survey. The ways people work with each other are important, too. People want less bureaucracy, more flexibility, and more meaningful interactions at work.

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Workplace digitization

Technology is deeply integrated with the employee experience. Make people’s experiences part of your decision process. Take care that human interactions aren’t automated away.

Creating better human experiences is critical for any digital transformation, but the experience you’re giving people often gets less attention than it should. Most tech is built for the enterprise and is often chosen without considering people’s familiarity with tech and what they expect when they use it. That can leave your people with tools that, at best, don’t meet their expectations, and at worst, miss an opportunity to collect data and use technology for meaningful decisions and actions. Digital innovation that enables the people experience will consider technologies, data, and analytics tools that not only enable people’s best work, but are also as flexible, mobile, useful and user-friendly as the technologies people use in their personal lives. The user–that is, humans–should drive design.

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Taking a holistic approach

While it’s useful to explain these areas as component parts, the people experience needs a holistic strategy.

Your people have dozens of interactions every day: with technology, with their workspace, with their managers, leaders and colleagues, and more. Each of those interactions contributes to their overall experience.

While the future of work is uncertain, one thing is clear: your people are the lynchpin to success. By putting your people at the center of your organization, you’ll be better poised to attract and retain new talent, deliver a superior customer experience, and compete in this new world of work.

Contact us

Carrie Duarte

Partner, Transformation, PwC US

Bhushan Sethi

People & Organization Joint Global Leader, PwC US

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