Now that research has shown how workers’ priorities are shifting towards finding meaningful, engaging work, employee experience (EX) will be a top concern for leaders who want to attract talent and drive achievement. At leading tech companies including Meta, Google, and Microsoft , EX is already a central part of workplace strategy.
“These companies do an amazing job of focusing on all of the employee experience environments, including culture, technology, and space. Most companies are lucky if they focus on just one of these things,” said Jacob Morgan, bestselling author of Leading with Vulnerability.
But what are the specific EX strategies these companies use? Experts say the key commonalities are a culture of striving towards common goals, honest communication between management and workers, and a clear route to praise, increased compensation, and status.
“As a leader, your biggest role is making sure that people are happy coming into the organization because they do the work,” said Bill Brown, CPO of the HR consulting firm Think People.Culture. “Make them happy and you will be successful.”
Although EX platforms can help provide measurable metrics to monitor specific aspects of employee engagements, these metrics are not helpful unless they’re incorporated into management practices. Below are three guidelines for managing to optimize employee experience.
Trust Through Transparency
High-level EX involves a level of company-wide trust, cooperation, and understanding that’s impossible without transparent communication. Employees have the opportunity to learn the thought process behind decisions that affect them.
“The surefire way to let gossip happen in an organization is to not let people know the truth of what’s happening,” said Brown. “People want to understand what’s going on and have input.”
Telling the workforce what’s happening means keeping channels of communication open through worker surveys and meetings with leaders.
“It’s about having a monthly conversation with your employees if you’re upper-level management or having a weekly one-on-one if you’re their direct leader about where we’re at as a team,” said Brown.
In a top-tier EX environment, leaders listen to worker’s concerns, delivering on them whenever it’s possible — and coming clean when it’s not.
“Even when you’re not making progress on what employees want but you communicate that, people go, ‘hey, they listened, and they’re working towards this,’” said Brown.
Give Employees an Incentive to Grow with the Company
One of the hallmarks of top-rated EX is when the company is actively involved in workers’ professional journeys, providing resources and rewards to spur them forward on their path. Employees’ desire to develop their skills and overcome challenges overlaps with the company’s goals.
That’s why these places “establish clear performance metrics, provide competitive compensation packages that increase with hard work and achievements, and invest in professional development,” according to Dr. Gleb Tsipursky, CEO of the future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts.
Leadership is ready to accommodate hybrid or remote arrangements, invest in upskilling opportunities like certifications or promotions, and give shout-outs to excellent team members, experts say.
This means when someone has a professional milestone, “other people in the organization go, “If I’m like that person, and I work like they do, I can be promoted — I can see my future here,” said Brown.
Motivation Through Shared Purpose
While perks, salary increases, and other incentives can increase performance, they don’t access the deeper motivations that make people excel — values. Accordingly, top-rated EX involves the employer consistently defining, then acting on, what the organization’s core purpose is.
“Confusion happens when organizations decide to focus investing in short-term perks or benefits instead of long-term solutions,” said Morgan. “For example, free food, massages on-site, etc. That does nothing to change the actual workplace practices.”
This is why companies with great EX make their core purpose clear. Google’s time-honored statement of purpose, “Ten things we know to be true,” is a useful example of powerful values-setting. It lays out a narrative explaining the cause employees are forwarding — in Google’s case, to create user-focused experiences that ultimately better our lives. This boosts Googlers’ pride in their work.
The statement also gets its strength from open-ended, aspirational phrases like “Great just isn’t good enough,” inviting and rewarding the hunger to innovate. A constantly evolving mission sustains the cycle of challenges and rewards that keep people engaged.
“Companies need to view themselves like laboratories and less like factories,” said Morgan. “Factories are linear and they are all about maintaining and keeping the status quo. Laboratories embrace failure and they focus on innovation and experimentation.”
And what sets truly great EX apart is when these guiding principles are evident in every organizational process and decision. According to Morgan, this builds loyalty when workers see decision-makers coming through on their promises and heightens the sense of an all-pervading mission.
“The leaders lead by example,” said Morgan. “If you want to change behavior or create a certain culture it starts with the people leading the company.”