Want positive employee experiences? Start with wellbeing
HR professionals often roll out program after program, thinking that’s how they can improve the employee experience.
But if organizations don’t work on creating positive employee emotions, or try to positively affect or improve employee wellbeing, the number of programs that employers have won’t help, says Laura Hamill, chief people officer and chief science officer at Limeade.
“Focusing on the emotions you create is more important than the number of HR programs you create,” she said Tuesday at the Limeade Engage virtual conference. “Many of us, when we’re creating these programs, we’re not even clear what we’re trying to impact. We’re just doing it because everybody else is doing it.
“Employee experience is about how all interactions, big and small, affect how employees work. The small things really matter,” Hamill said. Employees, for instance, say being recognized for their work and contributions, experiencing growth or development in their career, feeling a sense of purpose or meaning or feeling supported and cared for by the people they work with are among the most positive impacts on their employee experience.
Work needs to be more than just a transaction that involves a paycheck for the work being done, Hamill said. “Let’s not think about this about being transactional. Let’s think of it as transformational,” she said.
Research from Limeade—which recently surveyed more than 4,500 workers—found that the majority of employees (62%) tend to consider their experience at work as positive. But that still means that 38% do not—and that’s not an acceptable stat, Hamill says. When employee experience is positive, employees say they will stay longer at their job, and they’re more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work.
The research also found a big disparity in workplace wellbeing. When asked if they feel their organization cares about their whole-person wellbeing, just 55% of participants agreed. And when asked why they thought their organization has an employee wellbeing program, most said it was because they wanted to improve productivity or thrive as a business. Answers were more about company success rather than worker health and success, Hamill said, “so a big challenge is in front of us still. We have so much more work to do in wellbeing.”
Wellbeing and all of its aspects, including physical, mental, social and financial wellness—have been an employer focus as of late, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic, and that focus is vital, Hamill says, because wellbeing impacts work and work impacts wellbeing. Work provides employees with a source of meaning and purpose in their lives, a path to financial wellbeing, social connections and, in some companies, care and support, she said.
“Wellbeing is at the heart of the employee experience,” Hamill said, “because caring about our employees’ wellbeing creates mutual commitment and emotional connection.”
For employers that want to really shift their employee experience, they should start with wellbeing attention.
“It’s really about the quality of life for our employees,” Hamill said. “It sends a really important message to our employees that we care about them.”