Employee Experience

Job Characteristics and the Employee Experience

The role or job for the employee includes several factors all of which can have a bearing on engagement: –

Hard Skills – ‘Hard skills are teachable abilities or skill sets that are easy to quantify. Typically, you’ll learn hard skills in the classroom, through books or other training materials, or on the job.’ (Doyle, 2018). An employee would be expected to have at least a working knowledge of the required skills when applying for a job or position. Expertise in hard skills is then gained through years of experience and learning and repeated use of those skills.

Soft Skills – Soft skills ‘are subjective skills that are also known as “people skills” or “interpersonal skills,” soft skills relate to the way you relate to and interact with other people.’ (Doyle, 2018). Examples of soft skills include ‘communication, flexibility, leadership, motivation, patience, persuasion, problem solving abilities, teamwork and time management’ (Doyle, 2018). These skills enable people to steer through their environment, work well with others, perform well, and achieve their goals with complementing hard skills. The Collins English Dictionary defines the term “soft skills” as “desirable qualities for certain forms of employment that do not depend on acquired knowledge: they include common sense, the ability to deal with people, and a positive flexible attitude.”’ (Collins English Dictionary, 2018). Unlike hard skills, soft skills deal more on the interpersonal level with emotions and insights and being able to read a person., judge their mood, know how best to interact with them, and how to build a relationship with them.

Employee Value Proposition – The Employee Value Proposition or EVP is the value or benefits that an employee gains from being in an organisation in return for the capabilities, skills and expertise they bring with them. Anand offers a simple equation to explain the employee value proposition (Anand, 2017): – EVP = Engagement drivers + Work environment + Engaged employees + Organization success. Reflecting on what an employee values and enjoys most while working is a great place to start when considering the employee value proposition. What a company can offer to make their organisation a place they want to work in can include anything from professional or personal development to team building activities to their manager or supervisor.

Employee Health and Wellbeing – The World Health Organisation (WHO) describes Wellbeing and Health as follows: – ‘Mental health is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to contribute to her or his community. The positive dimension of mental health is stressed in WHO’s definition of health as contained in its constitution: “Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.’ (WHO, 2014). It is important to consider not only the physical health, but also the mental health of the employee. ‘The way employees think, feel, and behave impacts everything from productivity and communication to their ability to maintain safety in the workplace.’ (Morin, 2018). Having programs in place or running talks that deal with mental health awareness is crucial for employees. They need to know that the work environment is a safe, friendly, supportive place to be, physically and mentally, and if they are suffering they need to know there is someone they can talk to about their problems. Having a mental health program in a company, or providing a confidential helpline is a great benefit to offer employees so that they know there is someone there to listen to them if needed. Psychologically this gives employees peace of mind in the knowledge they are not alone.

Employee Benefits – A benefits and trends survey in the U.K. (AON Hewitt, 2018) revealed a change in the most popular benefits provided to people on a flex scheme; the top three now being childcare vouchers, pension schemes and private medical insurance. How benefits are communicated to employees is also changing with 40% saying they would use benefits advisers, and a drop from 58% to 40% saying they would use their internal communications team. Email remains as the most popular channel for communicating benefits and is used by 95% of respondents. Face-to-face communication has dropped from 53% to 45% and using manager cascade (managers sharing messaging from leadership down to their team) dropped from 40% to 28%. The report also notes that group pension schemes remain the most popular type of pension scheme. Additional vacation time is also an option to offer to employees. Rather than employees accruing hours that need to be paid if the employee leaves, unless there is a policy in place with a limit of carry-over hours per year, it can prove costly for an employer to pay out holiday pay. Giving unlimited holidays can avoid this issue, and despite fears that this might lead to lower productivity Fractl found no negative impact on productivity (Jones, 2017). CPL note the pros and cons of unlimited holidays and concluded from their survey that ‘over 80% of the Irish population don’t take their full annual leave entitlement, so offering unlimited holidays could be a no-brainer and cost saving measure in the near future. If the company culture is right, unlimited holidays is an amazing perk to have, and gets rid of that niggling “am I using my days right” worry.’ (CPL, 2018).

Work-Life Balance – ‘To be fully engaged, people need to be happy, balanced, and successful in all areas of life (Miller et al (2017, pp. 13-17). Work life balance is the time a person needs between work and their personal life outside of work. Having a good work-life balance is essential to engaging an employee. If they feel they must be ‘always on’ they will quickly grow resentful and leave the company. ‘It is important for employers to keep a balance between efforts and reward, expected concentration levels and allowed relaxation levels. Time spent on work engagements and time spent on non-work engagements should therefore be ‘balanced’’. (HSA, 2015).

Rewards and Recognition – Rewards and recognition are a great way to engage employees and don’t necessarily have to be financial. Giving a sincere thank you to and acknowledging an employee for a job well done in front of their peers are often all that are needed to make an employee feel they are making a valuable contribution to the company, which leads to improved performance. If an organization wants to experience better business results, a better culture for their employees needs to be a priority, with feedback given on a regular basis. ‘Fostering a culture of recognition drives higher levels of engagement, which translates into improved performance and better results. Organisations with highly engaged workplaces outperform their peers by 147 percent in earnings per share. The question isn’t whether to start building a recognition culture, but how to get started.’ (Biro, 2017).

Tools and Resources – An employee has both emotional and executional needs. ‘Execution needs involve the optimal use of workspace and workplace tools that enable employees to most effectively and efficiently execute their work. Emotional needs involve employee feelings of interest, desirability, gratitude, and pride when thinking about their physical workplace.’ (CEB Gartner, 2015). For the employee to perform positively in their role several tools and resources need to be place. These include the physical equipment required to do the job, i.e. computer, phone, headset, printer, internet, etc. Emotional, cognitive and psychological resources also need to be available for the employee. These include a support network that the employee feels comfortable talking with, a positive and healthy surrounding environment, a knowledge base that the employee can access, and a sense of freedom to make decisions and choices where needed. For the employee to be productive they need to have the right tools in the right place at the right time. If the employee’s emotional needs are met they will have more desire to stay in the office and will be more productive.

Career – An employee’s career is another important factor. The employee needs to know how their role is going to develop and how they are going to develop both personally and professionally in their career at the company. They needs leaders to provide meaningful and challenging work opportunities for career advancement. ‘Good leaders challenge employees; but at the same time, they must instill the confidence that the challenges can be met. Not giving people the knowledge and tools to be successful is unethical and de-motivating; it is also likely to lead to stress, frustration, and, ultimately, lack of engagement.’ (Seijts et al., 2006, pp. 3). ‘Growth-minded professionals are taking their own approach to education these days. They realize that their professional success is best placed in their own hands.’ Instead of employees waiting for opportunities to appear, they are driven to deciding what they want to learn, and when they want to learn it. (Hubspot, 2018)

Remote Working – Buffer, a global social media sharing company, have no physical office. Instead their team is fully distributed across the globe, working from multiple countries and continents (Buffer, 2018). Everyone chooses to work from where ever they are happiest. They recently compiled a report on the State of Remote Work (Griffis, 2018). This remote working is both geographical, with employees based across the globe and functional, with employees working from home, co-working spaces and coffee shops. Co-working spaces are becoming an increasingly popular location to run a short-term project rather than renting a complete suite of rooms or a building. Republic of Work in Cork is one example of a co-working space, where different individuals or small teams and start-up companies rent space and mix with other people and companies across the same space (Republic of Work, 2017). With renting and building costs rising annually and office space becoming scarcer these types of shared working spaces could prove a viable option for future companies, especially if they follow the Buffer model of business. Remote working also means people can have the flexibility of choosing where, when and how they work and can customise their work area to their own liking at home.

Do please feel free to leave a comment, if you have any comments on Job Characteristics. Follow me on Twitter @elainebeare.

References

Anand, Dr. Gunjan. (2017) ‘Corporate Excellence through Governance and Employee Engagement: a Brief Analysis’, Journal of Commerce & Management Thought, 8(3), pp. 554-562.

AON Hewitt (2018) AON Benefits and Trends Survey Report 2018 [Online]. Available at: http://images.comms.aon.com/Web/AON/%7B8e458438-e2a1-4aaf-95a7-3f6d406db2e5%7D_Aon_Benefits_and_Trends_Survey_Report_2018v10.pdf (Accessed: 12 May 2018).

Biro, M. (2017) Recognition Culture: The MVP of Employee Experience [Online]. Available at: https://resources.achievers.com/ebooks/recognition-culture-the-mvp-of-employee-experience (Accessed: 6 December 2017). 

CEB Gartner (2015). Improve Employee Outcomes Through Workplace Design. Available at: https://www.cebglobal.com/member/real-estate/research/study/13/improve-employee-outcomes-through-workplace-design.html (Accessed: 2 July 2018). 

Collins English Dictionary (2018) Soft Skills [Online]. Available at: https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/soft-skills (Accessed: 26 May 2018).

CPL (2018) Unlimited holidays: Are they as good as they seem? [Online]. Available at: https://www.cpl.ie/Blog/Building-Your-Career/2018/March/Unlimited-holidays (Accessed: 16 May 2018).

Doyle, A. (2018) Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference? Available at: https://www.thebalancecareers.com/hard-skills-vs-soft-skills-2063780 (Accessed: 23 March 2018).

Griffis, H. (2018) State of Remote Work 2018 Report [Online]. Available at: https://open.buffer.com/state-remote-work-2018/#data (Accessed: 14 April 2018).

HSA (2015) Work Life Balance – Workplace Health Toolkit to Assist Small Businesses. Available at: https://www.hsa.ie/eng/Publications_and_Forms/Publications/Safety_and_Health_Management/Section%2015%20Work%20life%20Balance.pdf. (Accessed: 19 August 2018).

Hubspot Academy (2018) Career Growth in 2018. Available at: https://www.slideshare.net/HubSpot/career-growth-in-2018-102765595 (Accessed: 4 July 2018).    

Miller, Gregory A; Hill, Aaron D. (2017) ‘Want an Engaged Workforce? Get Engaged in its Success on a Deep Level’, The Journal for Quality and Participation; Cincinnati, 40(3) pp. 13-17.

Morin, A. (2018) 8 Simple Ways to Create a Mentally Healthier Workplace. Available at: https://www.inc.com/amy-morin/8-simple-ways-to-create-a-mentally-healthier-workplace.html (Accessed: 26 May 2018).

Republic of Work (2017) Space To Play By Different Rules. Available at: http://www.republicofwork.com/ (Accessed: 16 April 2018).

Seijts, GH and Crim, D (2006) ‘What engages employees the most or, the ten C’s of employee engagement.’, Ivey Business Journal, 2006(March/April), pp. 1-5.

WHO (2014) Mental health: a state of well-being [Online]. Available at: http://www.who.int/features/factfiles/mental_health/en/ (Accessed: 24 May 2018).

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