The UnionProof Employee Experience

The digital transformation created dramatic changes in how business is done. Barriers to entry have been eliminated in many industries, leveling the playing field for entrepreneurs to challenge every aspect of traditional business models. Startups have disrupted everything from financial services to technology, and most companies realize it is no longer possible to compete on price. Instead, companies are differentiating themselves through comprehensive customer experience (CX) initiatives to ensure that every interaction between their business and the consumer contributes to profitable long-term relationships.

Unfortunately, many organizations who have adopted strategies that focus on customer experience are missing an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to long-term success. Customer loyalty is only part of the equation. A highly-engaged workforce is critical for achieving competitive advantage, retaining customers, and staying union-free. Though most companies make an attempt to increase job satisfaction with periodic engagement surveys and recognition programs, they are neglecting the full UnionProof employee experience (EX) – and leaving themselves open to union organizing in the process.

Investing in the UnionProof Employee Experience: By the Numbers

There is no question that loyal, engaged employees are good for business, but some leaders are surprised by the true return on investment when it comes to devoting resources to EX. According to researcher and author Jacob Morgan, these are just a few of the ways strong UnionProof employee experience programs create strong companies:

  • EX-focused companies have more than 4 times the average profit and 2 times the average revenue as compared to their peers
  • EX-focused companies are approximately 25 percent smaller than their peers, indicating employees are more productive and innovative
  • Glassdoor reports EX-focused companies are included on the Best Places to Work list 11.5 times more often
  • LinkedIn reports EX-focused companies are included on their North America’s Most In-Demand Employers 4.4 times more often
  • Fast Company reports EX-focused companies are included on their list of Most Innovative Companies 28 times more often
  • Forbes reports EX-focused companies are included on their list of World’s Most Innovative Companies 2.1 times more often
  • The American Customer Satisfaction Index reports EX-focused companies are two times more likely to appear in its listings

By investing in the UnionProof employee experience, companies ensure that their staff members are enthusiastic about their work and committed to the business. They trust leadership, and they are confident that concerns can be resolved through internal channels. This creates an environment that is virtually UnionProof.

The Basics of a UnionProof Employee Experience

A variety of employee-centric initiatives have been made popular in recent years – often in an effort to address specific challenges, such as a shortage of skilled applicants, high rates of voluntary turnover, and efforts by organizers to bring unions into the workplace. Examples include programs that focus on employee engagement, employer branding, an overhaul of the HR department, and/or large-scale reward and recognition schemes. However, none of these individual initiatives fully addresses the employee experience in its entirety. Instead, EX is comprised of the complete set of interactions between employee and employer, from a candidate’s first contact with talent acquisition through the last step of the off-boarding process.

At its most basic, businesses that offer a high-quality UnionProof employee experience are those that tailor the job and the workplace to meet the needs of their staff members, rather than expecting staff members to restructure their lives to fit employers’ needs. Though engagement, branding, and HR programs play a part in EX, to be truly effective, these efforts must be coordinated to touch every aspect of employment.

Searching for Gaps

Before you can design a comprehensive plan to change your company’s culture from employer-centric to employee-centric, you have to determine where employee sentiment is today versus your goal. Begin by analyzing data you already have on hand, such as engagement survey results, diversity in hiring and promotions, strength of succession plans, rates of attrition, productivity and performance KPIs, and the number and type of employee complaints received.

Next, start asking questions to better gauge the type of experience your employees currently have. Examples include the following:

  • Is work self-directed, or do managers command and control work processes?
  • Do employees have access to independent learning opportunities?
  • Do employees have workspaces and technology that meet their needs?
  • Do employees report satisfactory work-life balance?
  • Do leaders know how to effectively coach and provide feedback to their team members?
  • Do employees trust their leaders to make fair decisions?
  • Is there a culture of fairness, diversity, inclusion and recognition?
  • Are there open lines of communication between management and staff?

If you are able to answer yes to many of these questions, your business is already on the path to offering a strong UnionProof employee experience. Of course, there is always room for improvement. If you find that you cannot answer yes to these questions, chances are that your business is suffering the effects of a negative employee experience, which leaves you open to organizing activity. You have an urgent need to design and implement a comprehensive EX strategy.

the impact of an engaged supervisor

Creating a UnionProof Employee Experience Strategy that Works

Though a truly effective EX strategy requires the involvement and support of business leaders from every area of the organization. HR professionals are typically the first to propose such projects. As an experienced HR specialist, you are in a prime position to create an effective employee experience strategy that covers every major category of interactions between employees and employers. These are the areas of focus when designing your proposal:

  • Pre-Hire – Before you ever make contact with prospective applicants, they are gathering information and forming impressions about your business. This is the point when employer branding is critically important. Reviews that your current and former employees leave on workplace feedback forums play a role in how you are perceived in the labor market, as do the many touchpoints you have through community engagement, social media, and customer interactions. Make it a priority to engage with people who may someday become applicants through online forums, events at educational institutions, and social media to ensure you are perceived as an employer-of-choice.
  • Hiring – Far too many candidates report that their experience during the hiring process was littered with obstacles, causing constant frustration. Streamline your applications so they can be completed quickly through mobile devices and set up a system that guarantees frequent communication. So-called “ghosting” from recruiters is the number one complaint from candidates. Ensure the hiring process doesn’t stall, leaving candidates unclear on their status. Even a turn-down is better than weeks of wondering.
  • Orientation – Don’t let a pile of legal forms get in the way of a great orientation experience. Limit new hire paperwork to the bare minimum, and instead focus on making these first few days about your employee. Ensure all of the tools needed, such as computers, login credentials, and similar are ready-to-go on day one. Create engaging, interactive new hire training that offers opportunities to make connections and build relationships with tenured colleagues. This tactic ensures near-immediate engagement, which lays the groundwork for long-term success.
  • Early Days – The orientation period is about helping new employees get settled in their teams, but once that is well underway, it is time to introduce staff members to the larger organization. Successful programs may include mentor-mentee partnerships for the first year of employment, a series of weekly new hire meetings to discuss important elements of the company culture, and special events that celebrate the newest members of the organization. Take this time to educate on your company’s dispute resolution process, as well as to solicit and immediately address any concerns. Leverage the opportunity to share details of your rewards and recognition programs, go over development opportunities offered by the organization, and cover the basics of career pathing at your company.
  • Comfort – At some point, your employees don’t feel “new” anymore, and that’s where it is easy to let your UnionProof employee experience strategy lapse. These individuals are settled in their positions, and for the most part, they are satisfied. However, this is the period when employees begin to feel taken for granted, under-utilized, and bored. They are at risk for attrition, so you must continue your efforts to connect with them, offering recognition for a job well-done, regular performance feedback, development opportunities, and stretch assignments. Be on the lookout for indications that they are becoming uncomfortable in their role, so that you can take action while the problem is still small.

RELATED: The Employee Experience: Your Path to High Engagement

  • Discomfort – A change in working conditions such as a new manager or altered work assignments can spark discomfort in employees who were otherwise engaged in their work. A change in personal circumstances can do the same. In some cases, employees begin to feel uncomfortable in their roles though nothing has changed at all – they have simply outgrown the job. Swift action means the difference between a poor employee experience and a great one. It is simply a matter of identifying concerns and addressing them promptly and fairly. Ideally, employees already know the process for resolving any issues that come up, so they initiate the conversation. In some cases, they choose not to bring their concerns to the attention of management, and it is up to managers to try and open the lines of communication. Either way, the sooner concerns are brought forward and resolved, the more likely it is that the employee’s experience will be a good one. This ensures continued engagement, and a return to a place of comfort. These are the employees most likely to become strong advocates of the company, because they have confidence that their voice is heard and that the organization values their input.
  • Separation – No matter how positive the UnionProof employee experience, eventually some of your staff members will move on. How you handle this step of the employment journey contributes to the overall employee experience. Ensure that departing employees are thanked for their contributions to the organization, and that they are treated with dignity and respect. Paperwork should be processed promptly and departing employees should be given all necessary information to handle reference requests from future employers, benefits questions, and tax-related concerns. Finally, consider hosting a forum for former employees on one of the professional social media sites, such as LinkedIn. Maintaining the relationship leads to the return of top talent, positive feedback on employer review sites, and the potential for referrals when future openings come up.

Managing the UnionProof employee experience is much more than a single program or process. It is a comprehensive strategy to ensure that every interaction between employee and employer builds the strength of the relationship. Strong relationships eliminate the perceived need for unions, creating what is, in essence, a UnionProof culture. Learn more about union-proofing your business at UnionProof.

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About the Author Jennifer Orechwa

With over 25 years in the industry, and now as IRI's Director of Business Development, Jennifer has gained a unique perspective on what it takes to build a culture of engagement. By blending a deep understanding of labor and employee relations with powerful digital marketing knowledge, Jennifer has helped thousands of companies achieve behavioral change at a cultural level.

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