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Organisations that choose to relate to employees on a human level achieve greater loyalty, lower staff turnover, increased productivity – and fewer dramas!

But how do you change your organisation into one that relates to real people, rather than transacts with commodities?

It all starts with how people join. You need to let them know what’s expected of them, and give them everything they need to hit the ground running. You need to set them up to succeed and let them know how to speak up when things aren’t going so well. And to reassure them that they’ll be supported through the challenging times.

Creating a place of work where people can reach their full potential depends on the entire employee experience. In other words, from their first point of contact to how they leave.

Here’s our quick guide to navigating an employee experience. Although feel free to amend it to fit your business if you feel your employee experience is slightly different.

Stage 1: Rapport – Connection and first impression  

First impressions count. That includes your recruitment process, your website, the first interview, the first day, how a new starter finds their desk/location, what happens in the first meeting with their manager. 

These add up to tell a story about what it’s going to be like working in your organisation. 

Connecting and contact is at the heart of relationships. The more time you can spend getting to know your new starter, the better you’ll be at creating the conditions for them to thrive.  Share a little more of yourself; the whole person outside work as well as in it. It’s a fast track to connecting on a more meaningful level.

Stage 2: Expectations: Setting boundaries and being clear

This crucial stage is often overlooked, particularly in crisis (we saw it a lot in lockdown). 

It’s all about expectations and boundaries. What’s expected and how will that be assessed/judged? Who will offer support and what will that look like? What decisions can the employee make and who else needs to be involved?  Which behaviours are OK and which aren’t? What does good look like for me in this role? How will we both know I’ve done a good job?

Stage 3: Clarification: An opportunity to check understanding 

Clarification goes hand in hand with expectation setting. It’s an opportunity for the employee to check anything that isn’t clear to them.

And clarification doesn’t stop with onboarding. Continue offering space for questions or thinking out loud.

We all interpret information differently, based on a set of beliefs and values we hold in our unique personalities. I can’t stress enough how important it is for hiring managers to make space for clarification.Simply  ask, “Is there anything that needs clarifying for you or doesn’t make sense?”

Once an employee has settled in, the clarification stage offers a real chance for them to have their say about the business. Research shows employees are more likely to get behind an initiative they’ve been involved in shaping.   

Stage 4: Feedback: How open is the organisation to business improvement?

If your business is going to reach  its full potential, it must be open to challenge.

Challenge to the status quo, challenge to improve the business, challenge to the way things are done around here. 

Challenge is a key stage in employee engagement. It’s a demonstration of how much trust there is throughout the business and whether employees’ opinions matter.

Creating regular opportunities for your people to have their say in both one-to-one  and group settings is important. But what’s even more important is how you act on that feedback and communicate any resulting changes. This is particularly vital for anything you decide not to do, explaining why it’s not feasible. 

Stage 5: Choices:  Being willing to improve/change something

Once employees have had a chance to challenge, they must also know that they are free to choose. 

Whether they like the response to a challenge or not, keeping them in a conversation to understand the impact is critical.  Again, we saw this in lockdown, when organisations that could, switched to home working. 

The change was great for some employees – and painful for others. It’s what led to ‘the great resignation’ around this time. l 

For some people, not having a say in how the challenges were met and what support was put in place, was a big factor in their resignation.

It’s healthy to know that both parties remain free to choose if this working agreement is still a good fit. This is often when relationships between employer and employee break down.  It’s absolutely the right thing for someone to leave your business if the conditions don’t support or enable them to do their best work. And that’s a good thing for your organisation too. 

Stage 6: Change: Helping individuals to stay engaged through change

People have their own relationships with change. Some love it, some hate it, and there’s someone for every shade in between. 

But organisations have to evolve to survive.. 

Being alongside your people while you make change is vital. Communication to the entire company, to small groups and to individuals communication becomes more important than ever.

Take your people with you on the journey of change. Let them know in advance, give them a chance to have their say, reassure them where you can. 

This isn’t a one-off check-in, it’s a repetitive connection that should go on long after the change has happened.  

Stage 7: Closing: An honourable ending for all

How a person leaves your organisation can do significant damage or credit to your brand in the wider world. 

Aim for a successful outcome for all parties. Exits don’tneed to be full of drama, swept under the carpet or involve people evaporating, never to be mentioned ever again.

Leaving should be celebrated. For whatever reason a person leaves your organisation, acknowledge their contribution for the time they chose to work with you. That’s how you  honour the full cycle of an employee.

In summary

Employee experience is multi layered and complex. Every person in your business will have a different set of expectations throughout their own employee journey. The key is to stay in relationship with each other. And to stay open, honest and brave in how you communicate. 

Interested in reviewing your employee experience through our audit process with one of our expert consultants? Email