It seems obvious that happy employees create happy customers. But as the world gets back to work post-pandemic, will organizations be able to keep their employees happy, healthy, and engaged in order to create those great customer experiences?
It’s no secret that employee engagement is connected to customer experience, especially when stats emerge showing that companies with highly engaged teams massively outperform their competitors, or when studies show that companies with more engaged employees provide better customer experiences. In a post-pandemic work world, organizations won’t be able to continue business-as-usual, but need to shift their focus to creating a great employee experience in order to keep and sustain employee happiness—and customer satisfaction as well.
While some organizations will probably be able to stay remote, that won’t be the case for most companies—and it shouldn’t be. And if organizations want to focus on keeping their customers engaged, they need to keep focused on productivity and growth, which happens the fastest when employees are in the office face to face, collaborating and brainstorming with one another.
This means that organizations that want to ensure their teams stay productive, healthy, and connected should focus on creating a great employee experience as they return to the office.
Create a workplace designed for employee engagement
According to James Gilbert, Head of Marketing at CRMNEXT, “Brands looking to improve their CX [customer experience] and drive a corresponding increase in ROI should first focus on creating the best employee experience possible.”
This means ensuring that as employees return to the office, they’re excited to do so and find more ways to engage, that they feel safe to do so with new health and wellness protocols, and that they feel enabled to do so through technology and tools to help them connect across new hybrid teams.
In order to create that positive experience, organizations need to prioritize the following:
1. Invest in communication
Employee engagement lives or dies based on communication. Employees want to feel invested in and connected to the work they do, and increasing transparency around actions being taken in the new workspace can help them feel more part of the organization and its initiatives. Additionally, as workers return to the office, they will need communication and transparency around new safety procedures, health initiatives, communication between in-office and remote teams, and more.
Commercial real estate services firm CBRE explains that “technology that connects on-site employees to remote employees will become standard builds in conference rooms. Tools such as virtual whiteboarding software, smartboards, synchronous and asynchronous communication platforms, and large format telepresence devices will lessen the disadvantages of virtually joining an in-person meeting.”
2. Design a more flexible workplace
The mindset in a post-pandemic workplace will need to be around flexibility and resilience. This will encompass employee schedules, as some employees will continue working remotely, some will be back in the office, and some may have a rotating schedule.More articles from AllBusiness.com:
Workplaces will also need flexibility in terms of preferred work environments. Flexibility can also be in terms of furniture, desk space, and more, to accommodate rotating teams but also social distancing measures.
Interior designer Brent Capron notes that it can also be “greater demand for buildings with ample natural lighting, as well as access to the outdoors, such as private gardens or balconies where workers can spread out.” However it looks, organizations need to think innovatively about creating engaging, comfortable workspaces that encourage collaboration and productivity.
3. Invest in tools for a safe return
Safety is a concern as workers return to the office—and may determine whether they feel comfortable coming back to the office or not. Employees want to know that their health matters, so organizations will need to implement tools and technology that can help them feel safe, including wellness checks at the entrance, touchless buttons, digital signage to keep everyone up-to-date on new health initiatives, and more.
Employees also want to know that organizations are keeping their wellness in mind, so invest in wellness programs, especially as employees return from such a traumatic year. Wellness programs have also been shown to increase productivity, improve morale, reduce absenteeism, and lower health-related costs, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).
4. Prioritize recognition and rewards
Employees are engaged when they feel like they’re being seen and recognized for the work they’re doing, especially if they work remotely. In order to grow employee engagement and happiness, increase the focus on recognizing employees for their work, and rewarding contributions.
A survey by O.C. Tanner found that 37% of employees said that more rewards and recognition would prompt them to produce better work.
5. To grow employee engagement, make sure to have fun
Finally, make sure that employees are having fun as they return to work. Add some gamification into projects or initiatives within or across teams, which not only makes for some friendly competition, but can reduce turnover by 20% as well.
Take some time for lunches or happy hours—both in-person and virtually—or come up with other engagement activities, like weekly quizzes, or create a chat channel with a question of the week. This will help teams continue to connect and build relationships from afar.
Employee engagement leads to customer engagement
Organizations are at a pivot point right now as they consider how they’re going to move forward with bringing their teams back into the office—and they’ll do harm to their employees, their customers, and their own growth if they don’t take the opportunity to change.
Organizations that put a focus on increasing employee engagement by providing an in-office experience that ensures safety, connection, and wellness will ensure that their happy employees will create happy customers.