Want to Build a Better Culture? Focus on Drivers of Your Employee Experience


Organizations are constantly publishing research and whitepapers, and although some are interesting and insightful, a great many are not.

This is about one that is pretty insightful, and although it doesn't really use this term, it's ultimately about a topic near and dear to my heart -- workplace culture.

Ultimate Software just published a study on how satisfied employees are on the job, and it's titled Uncovering the Positive Drivers of Employee Experience.

Building culture through the employee experience

Yes, yes, I know; employee experience may seem like a hard concept to get your hands around, and the study starts off by pretty much saying that. But, it is also clear on what the research is designed to accomplish:

The reason we focused our national research study on employee experience is because it is the No. 1 driver of employment outcomes. However, very little research exists that looks at the multiple facets of employee experience — and this study seeks to bridge this research gap. ...

In this study we started by assuming we do not know what actually makes employees feel satisfied, happy, content, or fulfilled at work. Instead, the study asked them to determine these key workforce experiences and outcomes for themselves. By not subscribing to the standard assumptions about what satisfaction, happiness, and other key emotional experiences mean to employees, the study speaks for employees rather than telling them what these things entail. This is a critical shift in thinking that we hope this study will initiate."

One would nearly have to re-write the entire study to really get into all of it here, so it's probably best if you downloaded a copy yourself if this is something you're interested in (and really, if you manage people you absolutely should be).

Company Culture concept on blackboard

A need to practice what you preach

The bottom line is this: Although the research is about the employee experience, it is really focused on organizational culture and how that impacts the way workers feel about their job. The report makes this same point -- although using somewhat different language -- when it says this:

How an organization treats its people is of the utmost importance to employees, yet many feel that people aren’t treated fairly at work. As a first step in creating a positive employee experience, organizations need to assure what their people philosophy says on paper also translates to employees through what they practice. This is necessary because how employees want to be treated at work and how they are actually treated may be far from aligned."

As I said earlier, the positive drivers of the employee experience are too numerous to mention, but here are a few of them to give you a better sense of what the report is focused on:

  • A positive work environment starts with trust.
  • Professional development is important and strikes a chord with employees.
  • Being heard is the same as being valued.
  • Emotional safety at work is a top priority.
  • Having fun is a must.

These may all sound like no brainers, but I'm constantly amazed at how many companies fail to understand that relatively simple things like are critical to building a strong workplace culture -- and a great employee experience.

3 steps to get you started

Uncovering the Positive Drivers of Employee Experience closes with three next steps, essentially what any manager or business leader needs to do to get things started (if they aren't already) at their own workplace:

  1. Take note of your organization’s “People Philosophy.” Employees are watching closely how an organization treats its employees, and more than half of employees say this is the most important thing they need to align with in order to be happy working for the organization. This is a mission critical element of creating a positive employee experience, and employers who make this a priority will have an advantage in finding and keeping the best talent.
  2. Trust your people and be trusted. Employees need to trust the leaders of an organization in order to continue working there, and the No. 1 way to build this trust is through open, ongoing communication, especially with their direct supervisor. Of equal importance is that employees feel trusted with their time, and have the freedom to take care of quick, personal needs at work, and to take time off as needed.
  3. Continually invest in technology. The effects of technology are far-reaching, with 1 out of 3 workers ready to quit a job if the technology is outdated and slows them down. Additionally, the benefits of using the latest HR technology extend beyond retention into all areas of the employee experience, including facilitating development, providing guidance to managers, and fostering trust by ensuring employee concerns are heard and addressed.

Want more? Then download the free report Uncovering the Positive Drivers of Employee Experience from Ultimate Software. I guarantee you'll find some interesting things that you may want to consider for your own organization.

Editor’s Note: Want to get a baseline assessment of your employee experience? Checkster’s 360 Checkup can help give you quick, pointed and timely feedback on how your people are doing.