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The war for talent remains widespread – not only in terms of the skills shortage being experienced in certain sectors, but generally in terms of the wider picture of recruitment and retention. While employee turnover levels have stabilised in the wake of the Great Resignation, recruitment and retention challenges persist.

Here we outline how employee experience is a strong starting point when reviewing the effectiveness of your reward strategy and whether it truly supports employees at every stage of their interaction with your organisation.

Why is the employee experience crucial for recruitment and retention?

Employee engagement is directly undermined or bolstered by the employee experience. If the culture of the workplace is built on presenteeism or if managers are overlooking development opportunities, this has a direct bearing on the ability of organisations to retain their people. Identifying how to drive employee engagement throughout the entire employee experience will be crucial to bolstering employee satisfaction.

The challenges raised by a buoyant labour market are being exacerbated by pressures on pay budgets currently facing employers. With affordability issues affecting both employers and employees due to the cost of living crisis, rising inflation and operational costs, the value derived as an employee faces even more scrutiny. While 95 per cent of employers report labour shortages, 82 per cent say that employees are being offered higher salaries elsewhere which is driving employee turnover.

Pay and the wider factors shaping employee experience

Our consistent message to employers is that pay does not motivate alone – but it does actively demotivate staff if they do not feel competitively or fairly paid for the work they do. This is backed up by Dan Pink’s Drive, which examined the factors underpinning employee engagement. Recent widespread strikes have been driven by pay, demonstrating how contentious the issue of pay can become if people feel they are not being paid fairly. Satisfying the hurdle of fair pay can then unlock the power of the wider approach of an organisation towards reward.

Equipping people with purpose through the company’s defined vision delivered through a strong communications plan, combined with empowering people in their work, can then drive forward employee engagement. All of these objectives are delivered through the sum of an employee’s experience of work.

woman explaining graphs

Mapping the employee experience

A helpful exercise to assess whether the employee experience is delivering true value to your workforce is to map the employee experience, as you would do with the customer experience. Defining every interaction between employer and employee is important in understanding how to target budgets efficiently at the key points in the journey.

From inception and the point at which they are aware of your brand in advertising campaigns through to exit interviews and how employees are treated as alumni of an organisation, these stages can be considered as part of the total reward strategy. Considering the employee experience at all points, from recruitment and selection, through to onboarding, exit interviews and post-employment, and everything in between, enables employees to consider the crucial points at which reward can be optimised.

Reward's role in the employee experience

According to our recent UK Reward Management Survey, 75 per cent of employers say that they are making greater use of technology to overcome recruitment challenges – with social media being a key platform to find the right talent. Some candidates get frustrated with the lack of openness around the salary in LinkedIn adverts, with fears that this reflects the culture around a lack of wider transparency and objective decision making around pay. Onboarding is crucial – with 71 per cent of employers reporting offering new recruits salaries that conflict with those paid to existing employees, companies need to ensure they uphold fair pay and do not risk undermining pay parity within organisations for the same roles.

Many employers are reporting a wider openness around pay and their salary benchmarking exercise in general, especially with platforms such as glassdoor which makes it easier for employees to compare similar roles and what pay they can command for their role. Some employers are pointing to the benchmarking exercises they carry out as part of pay reviews, to provide a robust methodology for the approach they take across their organisation. Keeping pay competitive in the market is a priority to minimise retention issues and can be a key attraction for prospective candidates if this information is openly available.

Harnessing the employee experience

Line managers are absolutely crucial when it comes to facilitating a successful employee experience. Creating a culture where each line manager is equipped to deliver consistent performance conversations and identify how to build capability within their teams is crucial to the wider success of the business, demonstrating how the wider reward strategy directly shapes the employee experience. By ensuring line managers are singing from the same hymn sheet about reward and benefits and what employees can do to progress, positive employee experiences can be offered by employers.

Treating employees as individuals and focusing on their priorities will also deliver a strong employee experience that makes people want to stay and grow with the company. Understanding the priorities and challenges facing staff is important in targeting reward resources. Using technology to support employees day to day and ensuring they receive the right training can help reduce their workload, fuelling greater satisfaction at work. 23 per cent of employers have paid a lump sum to support their people through the cost of living crisis, showing the focus on taking care of people and fostering loyalty. Total Reward Statements are an effective way to show the full range of tangible and intangible benefits offered by an employer that goes beyond pay and extends to benefits such as flexible working, continued professional development and benefits such as gym memberships.

group of colleagues discussing salary structures

Reward as a USP in your Employee Value Proposition

When considering how to make the employee experience a selling point, employee opinion surveys can help you identify what to factor into a compelling employee value proposition (EVP). Consistent branding and messaging around any external and internal employee value proposition campaigns are important to underline what the company offers that employees truly value about working there.

Being clear on what the company believes in and what employees value enables HR to attract new talent, inspire current employees and be a source of pride for alumni who might be ongoing advocates of the brand. Whether this is the equality, diversity and inclusion or sustainability record of their employer, the investment in development opportunities or the flexible working arrangements that allow them to balance work with wider interests and responsibilities, the combination of these workplace benefits and values provide the basis of an authentic EVP which resonates with past and future employees.

Leadership and employee values intersect when it comes to effective performance management, performance reviews and career growth, as highly effective talent directly impacts the success of the whole business. The employee experience directly impacts the service they provide to customers, so engaged employees are more likely to go the extra mile and deliver innovative services. Businesses who invest in their employee experience reportedly outperform the S&P by 122%.

Monitoring success

Applying marketing methods to the employee experience can be helpful to measure this success. Companies can start with Employee Net Promote Scores and employee satisfaction surveys to monitor the success of their employee experience programs. Sentiments of optimism and an understanding of how to put company values into action can be captured from the outset, setting a benchmark for monitoring the success of employee experience strategies.

It is important to note that cultures are built through a myriad of factors. The companies trialing the four-day working week shows how working patterns continually evolve. What works for one company is not for everyone – listening to employees’ views is the best way to assess what makes them come to work and what unites them.

“Our number one priority is company culture. Our whole belief is that if you get the company culture right, most of the other stuff like delivering great customer service or building a long-term enduring brand will just happen naturally on its own.”

Tony Hseih, former CEO of Zappos

Visible leadership where leaders engage in getting to know their employees and what matters to them can help companies monitor the ongoing impact of employee value proposition campaigns. How the workplace is adapting to campaigns designed to bring values to life can be monitored by observing whether values are being reflected through talking to people and success can be measured at different points through regular surveys.

Get in touch

Reward plays a crucial role in delivering an employee experience that attracts and retains the right talent. Talk to us today to consider how you can ensure you uphold and deliver fair rewards for your people, while considering the wider factors affecting the employee experience such as whether they feel listened to and heard, whether there is open communication and whether values are regularly reinforced. Employers who seek to understand their employees can truly mobilise them to contribute to the success of the business.

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