employee experience

Create a positive employee experience

by Angus Jones

Employee experience is what people encounter and observe throughout their employment. With so many changes to our society, economy, and businesses, the way employees experience work has become more critical than ever.

Employee experience is a worker’s perceptions about their journey through touchpoints of a business, from job candidacy to the exit from the company.

WHY should small businesses focus on employee experience?

Developing a great employee experience leads to employees feeling more productive, motivated and happier at work. This leads to increased productivity which can have a positive impact on your business. Team members who are motivated are likely to engage more with their work and provide better outcomes.

Focusing on employee engagement in your business will retain top talent. What’s more, engaged teams are more profitable. In a Gallup study of nearly 200 firms, the ones with the highest levels of employee engagement were22% more profitable and 21% more productive than those with low levels of engagement.

WHAT should you measure to determine employee experience and engagement?

If you want to figure out how your employees feel, you need to measure employee engagement.

While there is no single magical formula, there are a few ways you can measure employee engagement, including collating data on:

  • Absenteeism
  • Customer feedback and ratings
  • Employee surveys
  • Productivity
  • Safety incidents
  • Sentiments from one-on-one meetings
  • Shrinkage/theft
  • Turnover rate

As a small business, these metrics can be a lot to take in, especially if you are new to all of this. It takes time to collect data to draw solid linkages — and frankly, you also have a business to run, among other things.

It’s recommended to start focusing on one or two aspects of the employee experience, such as the onboarding and the first anniversary, then iterate, and grow your employee experience data capture plans from there.

Nothing beats a good old conversation

Forbes reported that employee burnout was a big challenge that small businesses faced during the shutdowns. One way to combat employee burnout is to keep the lines of communication open and proactively seek employee feedback. Don’t be afraid to ask what areas need improving and balance the question with the aspects of the job they are satisfied with. Show that you care and want feedback — the good, the bad, the ugly. Then actually do something about it. The beauty about small businesses is there are fewer decision-makers which means it’s much easier and faster to respond to feedback.

HOW can small businesses increase employee engagement?

Focusing on employee engagement is an ongoing process for your business. Data can help inform decisions and the necessary actions — but data collection should never be a one-off process.

Regardless of your business size, there are three common recurring themes that all businesses must continually focus on. They are psychological safety, opportunities to grow and develop as well as offering flexible working environments.

1.    Employees are engaged when they can be themselves at work

Psychological safety is a must for a positive employee experience. It means employees are free to be themselves, speak up in a meeting, share opinions, and most importantly, be vulnerable without any fear of being humiliated by others.

In psychologically safe workplaces, employees can feel like they’re not punished for making an error, asking questions or suggesting new ideas. Having psychological safety makes employees feel valued, accepted, and connected with their colleagues and customers.

2.    Continued investment into learning and development

Employees often don’t turn up to work just for the 9 to 5 experience — they’re also looking to be challenged and learn new things. Some want to progress in their careers, so it’s vital to ensure there is a development plan tailored to each employee.

Holding regular lunch-and-learns with a short presentation on a topic that usually relates to the business can do wonders. It’s certainly much more exciting than reading a mundane 200-page document. 

3.    Create flexible working environments

Employees want a flexible working environment and a better work-life balance. The employee experience doesn’t stop when working; it often carries into our home lives, especially if employees are working from home. 

A balanced and realistic schedule that considers business priorities and employee needs outside of work is essential to a happier and less burnt out workplace.


The manager is either an engagement-creating coach or an engagement-destroying boss. Still, both relationships affect employee behaviour and outcomes. 

Employees are engaged by different things. For example, some are motivated by social interactions and banter, while some are there for the wages to meet their basic needs.

Work-life balance means something different for each employee. It goes back to having a conversation with each individual and seeing how your business can support them to do better.

SUMMARY — keep your people engaged for better business outcomes

In small businesses, it’s a much more cohesive environment where every employee counts. Businesses that make employees feel valued will thrive, even in uncertain times — no matter the business size.

Investing in your employees’ happiness and continued learning is key to promoting employee engagement and will ultimately benefit everyone in the long run.

Jessica Bilston-Gourley is the Founder and Director of HR consultancy and outsourcing provider, Positive HR. With a double degree in Human Resource Management and Psychology, Jessica has a strong understanding of what makes people tick. She works with companies holistically to ensure a strong and compliant foundation is built that fosters a positive and connected company culture. www.positivehr.com.au

See Small Business Answers guides to other Human Resources topics here.

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