Employees who are highly engaged are a potent lever of competitive advantage. Ensuring they have the right skills is critical, but the journey starts with creating a quality employee experience.
Today’s economy is often described as `the experience economy’, but the focus is inevitably and understandably, heavily weighted on creating good customer experiences. But a good customer experience is often the product of a good employee experience — the two are intrinsically linked , says Rudeon Snell, Senior Director – Intelligent Enterprise Solution , at SAP.
“As SAP, we see the experience economy as a multifaceted, multidimensional synthesis of employee, customer and partner experiences, all interrelated, all synergistic in nature. Research shows that when organisations have high levels of positive employee experiences, traditional metrics go up in the long run,” he says.
“Employee experience derives from a combination of various work-related experiences. By actively focusing on creating an environment where employees are able to perform at their best, are inspired to go to work every day, feel safe while they are there, and return home to their families feeling fulfilled by the work they have done, organisational leaders can accelerate the long-term value that their organisations create in a sustainable manner.”
Snell says employees tend to perform much better when they feel part of an organisation that supports them and cares about them. As important, is the need to feel that they are part of an organisation with a transformative purpose, over and above just making a profit. Only then will they be able to discharge properly their primary responsibility of looking after the business’ customers, and putting them first.
The high price of disengagement
If the preconditions for strengthening employee engagement are not met, most employees will tend just to go through the motions. They will collaborate less, leading to a loss of trust and empathy within the organisation. This in turn will lead to risk-averse behaviour that stifles innovation—in the end negatively affecting the organisation’s ability to achieve its goals.
“All of these unhappy consequences can be attributed to the lack of a quality employee experience,” Snell argues. “The primary purpose of an effective employee experience programme is to create a working environment that is conducive to high performance, to everybody’s benefit.”
Once this critical enabling environment is in place, the astute company can turn to other important success levers relating to employee performance. One of these is employee reskilling and upskilling. There are a number of angles to this:
- In a world of constant (and often disruptive) change, employees need the right hard and soft skills for the company to prosper.
- Talented and engaged employees will lose heart if they don’t have the skills they need to do their best work.
- A credible reskilling and upskilling programme will also act as a magnet for the best talent from outside the organisation.
The Fourth Industrial Revolution will be disruptive in all sorts of areas, including employee experience. It is already clear that game-changing technologies like cloud computing, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, advanced analytics and big data, are transforming business and raising customer expectations dramatically. These technologies will help create an environment that promotes a great employee experience, if leveraged appropriately, but reskilling will be needed.
“Upskilling and reskilling should be seen as a way to differentiate companies, promote improved customer experience and attract top talent,” Snell concludes. “In the end, it’s all about the total employee experience.”