We spend eight hours a day, five days a week, with our colleagues. Increasingly, we may even see more of them than of our own family, making it critical that we build a workplace environment that is enjoyable, even fun. The key to maintaining an open, honest and positive workplace is through employee experience – ensuring that the work environment is one that people want to be in, one that attracts others through its genuine warmth. It is a holistic process.

There is alarming anecdotal and actual evidence that points to dissatisfied or disengaged employees comprising a large number of the world’s workforce. However, you may be surprised to learn that you can achieve outstanding employee satisfaction on a budget, without incentivised programs, or ‘buying their favour’.

At its very core, the methodology in achieving outstanding employee satisfaction is simple and straightforward, but the key to its success is dependent on your level of dedication and passion to see it through. It lies in a focus on employee experience before employee satisfaction.

Being present and available

I’ve seen many managers lock themselves in their office and produce fantastic reports. But if they don’t connect with the wider team, engagement will wane, and you won’t have created a dynamic workplace. Managers, supervisors and team leaders can’t just work from their office – they need to be present and available for all staff. For employees with grievances or any other issues, it is important to maintain an open, understanding and accessible environment.

Know your staff

It may seem simple, but really knowing your staff on a personal level is a fundamental ingredient of a satisfied and engaged workforce. What drives them, what do they want to achieve and what makes them truly happy? Endeavour to understand the uniqueness of your employees as fellow humans, not just as staff. This requires blending leadership with building rapport, to let your employees know that they are valued both as individuals, and as part of a wider team.

Connect staff with purpose

Purpose leads to fulfilment. Employees’ individual and team purpose is what truly drives them and can lead to contentment, in a sustainable way. We need to clearly define not only how the work of each employee contributes to the wider team, but also how the team’s work supports each employee’s personal purpose as well as the organisation’s vision and mission.

At Stepping Stone House, we facilitate this by inviting current and former homeless youth and their parents to share their stories, so that staff can hear the impact they have had firsthand. This has had a profound effect on staff engagement, as it’s often these personal stories that give us a sense of purpose.

Link the plans

To drive an organisation efficiently, all your plans need to be linked. So strategic, operational and business plans are aligned with individual goals and position descriptions. When these are complementary, it becomes just a matter of coaching individuals and monitoring progress.

But don’t underestimate the value of this approach; a Harvard Business Review study found that employees of organisations that consciously invest in employee experience go on to realise four times the average profit increases than employees of companies that don’t.

Coach regularly

Measuring performance shouldn’t be viewed as a one-off annual necessity, but a continual coaching process. Conversely, your aim should be to have no surprises at the end-of-year review, only celebrations of shared achievements. It may seemingly take longer to sit with each employee and go through this; however, if issues and points of contention are discussed as they happen throughout the year, you’ll have a much smoother ride to achieving outcomes.

Shared experiences

Creating an opportunity for staff to connect with each other outside the work environment is vital to a well-connected and engaged environment within the office. I like to maintain an active staff social calendar, typically featuring unique, experiential and fun activities.

It’s my view that people remember moments versus whole events, so we tend to steer away from just going out for dinner or grabbing a drink together and instead get everyone out of their comfort zone and head out for themed dinner and/or stand up paddle boarding, ten pin bowling, axe throwing, and the like.

It’s amazing how facing a common fear or enjoying a good laugh with someone can build trust and rapport in the workplace.

Recognition

Yes, it works. Recognising the excellent work of your teams is often worth more than a pay rise.

When your staff enjoy each other’s company, understand how they are making an impact, and feel a strong connection to the organisation’s vision and values, that is when you will achieve extraordinary employee experience.

This certainly doesn’t happen overnight – and it’s taken me four years to build an environment that fosters outstanding employee satisfaction among my fantastic team. In the end, it’s rarely the money that drives performance and retains staff, it’s the employee experience.