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The four critical phases of employee experience

Good salaries, employee benefits and perks are only part of the story when it comes to attracting and retaining the best staff. To really engage people, it’s fundamental that organisations learn to provide fulfilment on a deeper level. 

26th Feb 2020
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In today’s world, the lines between ‘work’ and ‘life’ are increasingly blurred. Flexible working, increased connectivity, and advances in technology mean that there is no longer a clear separation between home and work. With work occupying such a big part of our lives, it is important to consider our own journey within work, how work defines us, and how it can allow or prevent us from fulfilling our potential.

When employers facilitate personal growth in the workplace, work becomes more rewarding.

An employee’s career can take different routes, but their development can stagnate at certain times, especially in environments that fail to appreciate the necessity of nurturing personal and professional growth. Meanwhile, in an ‘elevated’ employee experience, where employees are valued and nurtured by the people around them, individuals can develop fully and complexly.

In this ‘elevated kind of journey, there are four key phases: productivity, belonging, finding one’s unique value, and being inspired. When employers successfully facilitate each of these stages, the workplace can become not only more engaging to employees, but also more fulfilling on a deeper human level.  

The four phases

four phases of employee experience

 Source: ADP, 'Why We Work' Report

Unlike the way we often think about career progression, the phases in an elevated workplace experience do not develop in a linear sequence. Instead, they occur in a cyclical fashion where, through a number of different factors including promotion, employees re-enter the journey at elevated levels.  

Throughout these four phases, there are communal and individual elements as employees experience both personal growth and more team-based development. Although there is a level of cross-over between each of these areas, communal development is focused on the ‘belonging’ and ‘inspired’ stages, whilst individual growth occurs mainly at stages of productivity and finding one’s unique value. In this way, employees can both cultivate their own distinct talents and have their skills enhanced further through working within a wider team.  

Productivity

Most of the time, productivity is viewed as a wide, overarching measure of success or failure, with frequent headlines about the UK’s low productivity levels, and companies’ productivity growth or decline measured in output by hour. Productivity is not only significant as a top-down measurement tool, however, but also as an element of work that is important to employees on a human level. Businesses must remember the person at the heart of productivity, and what being productive means to an employee.

At any stage, self-worth has a huge bearing on job satisfaction and personal happiness, and feeling inspired and thinking that what you do matters, is significant in boosting self-worth. 

Work acts as an opportunity to fulfil our responsibilities and establish a level of security in life. This security is not only financial or material, but is also emotional, and we can only achieve this emotional security when we feel like we are good at our jobs, and when we feel like what we are doing matters – when we feel productive.  

Training, development, and access to resources are all invaluable components in ensuring that employees feel productive. Empowering individuals with the tools they need to develop their skills in the workplace facilitates feelings of growth and accomplishment. When employers facilitate personal growth in the workplace, work becomes more rewarding.

Belonging

Rewarding work alone will not ensure that employees feel fulfilled, however. If a team member does not feel like they belong in the workplace, they will be unable to work cohesively and collaboratively with the wider organisation. Belonging allows individuals to build meaningful relationships with co-workers, which is essential, as employees need to know that they can depend on those around them.

At every level of employment, from a recent graduate in a new start-up to a CEO in a multi-million-pound company, the assurance that one is cared about on a personal, rather than just professional, level has a vital role in enriching the workplace experience. Recognising shared values, connecting with colleagues and co-workers, and feeling included in the workplace culture all help us to work together better, and when we do engagement almost doubles.

Feeling as if you belong within a company brings a whole host of benefits. Employees feel safe, motivated, and valued by their teams. Individuals can perform at their best when they feel connected to those they work with; and when colleagues begin to feel like family.

Inspiration

Feeling connected and valued within the team has an indispensable impact on the next phase in the employee journey – inspiration. Being inspired means finding purpose and meaning within work, and recognising the value of our work. This occurs when the work we do is aligned with our personal purpose in life.

Being valued as an individual helps employees to become personally invested in the success of the business. 

Often, inspiration is regarded as an important factor at the beginning of a career, as different fields capture the imagination of new employees, who in turn bring vitality to the jobs they fill. This is oversimplified, however, as inspiration is important to employees at every level, and even the most experienced executives can find fresh aspects of their sectors to inspire them.  

At any stage, self-worth has a huge bearing on job satisfaction and personal happiness, and feeling inspired and thinking that what you do matters, is significant in boosting self-worth. When we are inspired, work is no longer a means to a financial end, but instead becomes a calling, a platform on which we can advance our personal purpose.

Unique value

At the core of the elevated workplace experience is the understanding that employees are all unique, complex individuals whose personal growth is at the heart of what they bring to work. Thus, being able to find one’s unique value- the contribution that you alone can bring to the table- is perhaps the most significant and rewarding phase in the elevated employee experience.

Knowing that your voice matters, and that you are seen, has a huge impact on the quality of work you produce. There are some incredibly easy ways for companies to facilitate this feeling. When workplaces institute reward systems, for example, employees are shown that their hard work is recognised, and that they are valued as an individual.  

In turn, being valued as an individual helps employees to become personally invested in the success of the business. When one’s role within an organisation is recognised and celebrated, the successes of the organisation become the successes of its people, who are motivated to bring their best to work. Emphasising the unique and personal developments of individual employees unleashes their potential, not only benefitting the businesses they work for, but also enhancing their experience as a human.  

When each of these four phases are fulfilled, employees can perform at their best, supported, engaged, and motivated. More importantly than that, employers can help to draw out the very best in their people, and genuine human connections are made between co-workers.  

It is now more important than ever to remember that work not only impacts life, but life also impacts work. When we move beyond a juggling act to balance the two, and instead develop a workplace environment that recognises the necessity and value in personal development, not only does work become more productive, but life itself becomes more enriching.  

Interested in this topic? Read Why you need to create a positive, profitable employee experience.

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