Are you tired of losing your best employees to your competitors? Is your turnover rising and you can’t figure out what to do? Do your departments fight amongst themselves and have an us versus them mentality?
If you answered yes to at least one of these questions then you need to form an employee experience team.
“The way your employees feel is the way your customers will feel. And if your employees don’t feel valued, neither will your customers.”Sybil F. Stershic
What is an employee experience team?
Your employee experience team will be your advocates of employee engagement. The team should meet once per month and discuss various opportunities to improve the working environment for your company’s employees. The team should be coached by one of the top leaders in your company whom has the authority to approve their ideas and plans and help get them implemented.
An employee experience team that has no ability to make decisions will put you in a worse position than not having a team at all. The team will become extremely frustrated when they have no authority to implement any of their ideas and the employees who were once your champions of employee engagement will become disengaged.
Build the team with at least one team member from each of your departments. Don’t allow any department to be left out. It’s good to launch the employee experience team at an all staff meeting. Take time at the meeting to explain what the employee experience team is, what it will do, and how you want at least one member from each department to join.
Setup an application process where employees submit a short note on why they want to join the team. Remember, if an employee isn’t willing to write a short note they won’t be a good addition to the team. The employee experience team takes effort above and beyond their current job duties and if they won’t write a short note, they won’t contribute much to the team.
If you have any departments that don’t apply to participate go and find someone from that department and personally invite them. Tell them you think they will add a ton of value to the team. In order to get the complete picture of what is going on in your company it is very important to have all departments represented on the team. No exceptions.
Encourage your managers to join the team
They have the most authority and should always have an employee first mindset. When you take care of your employees they will take care of your customers.
When you administer your annual survey of your employee’s engagement (you are doing this right?) you should bring the employee experience team alongside your leadership team in discussing the various wins and opportunities from the survey results.
Your employee experience team must be key contributors in writing your plan of action to address your survey results. And also responsible for bringing the plan to life.
What is an employee experience team’s responsibility?
Your employee experience team is responsible for spearheading the engagement of your team. They should be the ambassadors of your company culture and your eyes and ears relaying the good, bad, and ugly within your company. A company that wants to put its employees first must have a strong employee experience team.
Some of the leaders in your company may have their ears to the ground and get feedback from some of your team, which is great. But to truly get a pulse from the team you must be hearing from them directly. Your employees will only share so much information with their managers. They will hold some things back which you can only hear in the safe environment of an employee experience team meeting.
The employee experience team must be much more than your fun squad. They must bring the plan you crafted from your annual engagement survey results to life. You should be allowing them to lead the celebration of team birthdays, anniversaries, and promotions, but if that is all you allow them to do you will be severely limiting the team’s value.
The team should give you valuable feedback on your company’s leadership style, your onboarding process, give a voice to employee’s frustrations and pains, offer a forum for debating and discussing company policies and strategies, allow them to act as council for employee termination disputes, plan company outings, decide where company charity money is dispersed, and much much more
The employee experience team will look differently depending on the company, the leaders, and the current state of your employee’s engagement levels. The team will provide different functions at different times, so you need it to be flexible in order to adapt to the needs of your environment.
The team you build for the first year may be completely different than the team you have in year two. It’s a great idea to reset the team every year or so adding new team members and allowing other team members a chance to step to the side. The more people that get a chance to be on the team the better. You may find employees that are completely disengaged and not passionate about the company’s culture completely change their tune once they learn how the “soup is made”.
And remember, this group is a great place to source talent for internal promotions. Some of the best leaders I have worked with have come from within strong employee experience teams. A leader that understands the needs of their employees will go a lot further than a leader that doesn’t.
Create an employee experience fund
Do your customers ever give a tip to your employee and per your company policy they aren’t allowed to accept? Sometimes a customer may insist to the point to where it would be rude to turn them down. Instruct your team to turn this money in and add it to your employee experience fund.
Add a bucket to the corner of your break room and start collecting recyclable cans with deposits. If you have a decent sized team this collection can start to grow quite quickly and provide a pretty decent payday.
You may have a handful of individuals on your team that love to bake. You should coordinate a team bake sale. Let your team bake treats and their sale will raise money for the employee experience fund. My team loved my wife’s banana bread and some of my employees would contribute $20 per loaf.
Get creative, there are a lot of easy ways to raise money. And I suggest building a small employee experience budget line on your PNL. It doesn’t have to be a lot because sometimes a couple hundred dollars per month will make a huge difference. When you add this to the money that the team raises it will open the door for lots of fun activities to raise your employee engagement.
How to spend the money from the employee experience team fund?
The best place to start is to allow your employee experience team to come up with a list of four or five ideas. Then let them conduct a vote allowing each team member to select one of the choices.
Do they want a bowling party they can invite their families to with free drinks, pizza, and prizes? Maybe they want to increase the quality of the rewards you give for employee of the month? Do they want to give a cash prize or a TV to the winner? Or maybe they want something as simple as pizza delivered to the break room on Fridays for the month of December.
If you let your team be creative in how they spend the money they will surprise you. Allowing the team to vote on where the money is spent will get more people involved in the process and allow them to actually be a part of your culture.
Make sure you select one or two members of the team to be the treasurers of the employee experience team fund. It is important that the fund is tracked, kept safe, and that your team knows how much money they have available.
Break room food pantry
Creating a food pantry in your employee break room is great option to not only raise money for your employee experience fund, but provide a valuable service for your team. I kept mine packed with frozen meals, ramen cup-o-noodles, granola bars, snacks, and other goodies. Once per month we restocked the pantry buying in bulk from Costco and charged employees just a bit more than the purchase price.
The surplus money was deposited into our employee experience fund and the fund grew quickly. Before long we had the money to have bowling parties, huge giveaways, free food for the employees, and much much more.
There are many different forms an employee experience team can take. Don’t spend too much time debating the best way to launch and facilitate the team. If you use this article as a guide and launch your team with a positive attitude and a growth mindset you will be successful.
You will learn a lot as your team grows and has its ups and downs. There is nothing more important than providing a positive employee experience. Your employees spend a good part of their life at your company and you need to give them a voice and a positive work atmosphere.
“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”Anne M. Mulcahy – former CEO of Xerox
Feature image courtesy of Nick Fewings.