Design a Great Employee Experience With People Operations

Learn how to elevate employee experience at your organization with People Operations principles.

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Diverse group of business people sitting in circle. Handsome man talking with coworkers in a team building session

To keep a business running successfully, employers need to attract and retain talent. There are many factors that impact hiring and retention: compensation, benefits, a trendy office … but what employers sometimes overlook is offering a positive, holistic employee experience.

Employee experience produces a major impact on hiring and retention, and your company’s bottom line. Here’s how to understand what employee experience is, why it’s important, and how people operations elevates it.

What is employee experience — and why is it important?

The employee experience is what your workforce encounters over the course of their employment at your company; it’s how they feel and think during each touchpoint of their journey as your employee. Employee experience is the relationship you have with your employees, and it encompasses a business’s physical, technological, and cultural environments.

Why is it important? Here are some of the benefits of providing a positive employee experience:

Increased employee engagement

When an employee feels motivated, they’re 43% more productive.

Employees that are happy and view their employee experience as positive tend to be more engaged and complete their work more effectively and efficiently. When an employee feels motivated, they’re 43% more productive. On the other hand, a lack of motivation among workers leads to $300 billion lost each year due to downtime, mistakes, and extra management.

Improved recruitment and retention

Happy employees are more likely to promote their company to their network as a great place to work; this can lead to increased referral and fill rates for open positions. They are also more likely to submit positive reviews on company review sites such as Glassdoor, which can further draw in candidates. Employees who are motivated, engaged, and happy aren’t likely to leave their company. However, a negative employee experience can have workers seek new opportunities; a study by Culture Amp found that around 10% of people left within 6 months of starting a new job.

Higher average profits and revenues

Those who have a positive employee experience are more productive — and help improve customer relations too. Happy employees are more likely to convey better moods when interacting with customers, and have a deeper knowledge and connection to their company’s products and services. An analysis by Jacob Morgan found that organizations that scored highest on employee experience benchmarks have 4 times higher average profits, 2 times higher average revenues, and 40% lower turnover.

Organizations that scored highest on employee experience benchmarks have 4 times higher average profits, 2 times higher average revenues, and 40% lower turnover.

What is people operations, and how does it elevate employee experience?

People Operations (People Ops, or POPS) is a people-centric business approach that is a natural evolution from traditional human resources. It’s a term that originated at Google in 2006; according to Google, engineers regarded “HR” as “administrative and bureaucratic,” whereas the term “operations” implied “a credible title, connoting some actual ability to get things done.”

HR and People Ops have overlapping responsibilities, but distinct differences from one another. For example, both teams need to:

  • Act as advocates to their employees
  • Maintain policy and compliance
  • Handle employee data

However, POPS differs from HR by:

  • Automating traditional HR processes
  • Shifting attention from tactical administrative work to people and productivity

People operations’ impact on employee experience

People Ops teams distinguish themselves from HR by putting an emphasis on human-centered workplaces — and using technology to power their work. Here are ways POPS focuses on employee experience specifically:

  • Takes a holistic approach to the individual employee experience
  • Focuses on understanding the entire employee journey
  • Designs engaging programs and opportunities for development
  • Creates an environment that makes it easy and meaningful for employees to do their best work

Companies that adopt a human-centered approach to business see a 32% lift in revenue.

Companies that adopt a human-centered approach to business see a 32% lift in revenue, deliver outcomes to their market 2x faster, and outperform the S&P by 211%.

People Operations teams view employees as a focal point and an important piece of the company puzzle. They also focus on maximizing employee growth and valuing their development as a competitive advantage.

How to start operationalizing the people part of People Ops

To start designing a great employee experience with POPs principles, follow these steps.

Learn theories of authentic human motivation. Are the workers you’re trying to hire and retain concerned with company culture, fair pay, benefits, purpose? Lean on POPS experts that consult for small businesses.

Discover your own employees’ independent motivators, and build systems around them. This can include incentives, pay, rewards and recognition, etc. Talk to employees and managers, and ensure that you’re transparent and truly listening.

Build motivation into cascading goal frameworks that align with company goals. Setting cascading goals — like V2MOMs, OKRs, or BHAGS — are a great way to align disparate team goals to larger business objectives.

Connect employee work to the greater purpose of the business. Through cascading goals, performance alignment, and a host of other techniques, you remind your employees how their individual work is helping achieve the broader vision of the company — which in turn strengthens their connection your organization.

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