As seen in Forbes

In the human resources sphere, there has recently been a lot of talk about employee experience — but what do we mean by that? Similar to customer experience, employee experience is more than simply what it’s like to work at a company. It’s how they experience their work; how they feel about working at the company.

It takes more than Bagel Tuesdays and a foosball table. Companies that have a dedicated focus on employee experience have a strong culture, heightened employee engagement, employees who feel proactively supported, a diverse and inclusive environment and high levels of touch throughout the employee life cycle. Here are five things you can do right now to improve your employee experience.

1. Communicate

Not all companies put as much energy into communicating internally as they do externally. Your employees are also an audience and key stakeholder. They are one of your customers. Consider offering more than email as your platform; speak where the conversation is already happening. Sharing good and bad company news should be done with your employees first, and fast. Communicate your purpose and values in every way you can. Hold virtual meetings as well as live meetings.

Be sure the communication lines are open, and that you value your employees’ voices too. The executive team should walk around and talk to people, and get to know what drives them. Say thank you in person, and say it in an email. Hold morning meetings. Creating time to communicate with the team on the individual, team and state-of-the-union company-wide levels will let your employees know that you want them to be a part of the team and know as much as you do. Transparency is a key driver in engagement.

2. Celebrate

Celebrate work wins, birthdays, promotions, anniversaries or when someone buys a house or a adopts a baby. It is extremely important to make time to celebrate individual employees and team achievements. It doesn’t need to be more complex that having a birthday cake and allowing people to develop personal relationships as they celebrate the birthday. Recognizing and rewarding great wins are what helps develop connected culture, where employees have a sense of belonging to a company.

Create peer-to-peer awards for above-and-beyond recognition. Consider asking an employee who found a new way to solve a problem to share that with the rest of the company at a “lunch and learn,” or in a featured blog on the company intranet or website. Showcasing successes is a great way to continue to celebrate and reward employees, and has a reverberation of the emulation factor. Others will want to do the same.

3. Learn And Launch

Plenty of organizations commit to learning and development, but in practice, the work gets in the way. When people are confident, they are often more successful, and learning supports that confidence in work performance. By fostering a commitment to learning, coupled with career progression conversations, your employees will want to invest in the company as you are investing in them. Giving employees an hour a day to invest in themselves through learning or passion projects will make a big difference.

Career paths do not have to be horizontal; they can also be lateral. Have a conversation with each of your employees to find what drives them and what their definition of success looks like. Then, you can tailor development plans to help them get there, through learning opportunities and supporting their growth.

4. Remove The Barriers

We build up systems in order to support the work we do. Sometimes, we over-complicate what should be an easy task. Take a look at your systems, and see what can be simplified. Your employees want to know you are taking the burden off of them to do their job so that they feel supported.

Instead of a vacation request form, use a calendar invite the manager can approve or deny. Invest in e-learning tools so employees can learn while at their desk. Simplify the on-boarding process, and make it user friendly. Instead of cumbersome expense report forms, switch to an app that will take photos of the receipts and upload them into a report that auto-sends for approval. You would be surprised how many ways you can streamline the systems that touch your employees.

5. Hire For Diversity

You don’t get better results from doing the same thing all the time. People who learn and experience new environments make for better, well-rounded work. If you hire more of the same, you will get more of the same. Employing individuals with diverse backgrounds improves your perspective and problem-solving skills.

In a recent study, organizations with diversity and inclusion were found to have a decreased employee intent to leave, increased employee engagement, increased creativity, a greater sense of employee belonging and improved talent retention. Moreover, studies have shown that companies who have a diverse workforce outpace their competitors in earnings. The hires of the future are much richer in background, education, experience and perspective than ever before. Employees want to work for companies that value creative thinking, and a diverse workforce will get you there.

Your employees are also your customers. You want to give your customers a great experience so they will remain your customers, and the same applies with your employees. Create an experience that includes constant communication, learning, opportunities for growth, celebrations of work-related and non-work-related successes, reduced barriers, and a diverse, inclusive workplace, and you will have created a great employee experience.