How to Evolve Your Employee Experience to Build a Better Company

The world of work is changing. Teams are scattered across the globe, the majority of the workforce doesn’t work in a traditional office setting, and because most employees don’t love their jobs, they’re not only looking for, but demanding, more. This results in leaders struggling to retain top talent, reduce turnover, and improve employee engagement and productivity. But while 75 percent of companies struggle with overwhelmed employees, organizations spend more on measuring employee engagement than successfully acting on it.

75% of companies struggle with overwhelmed employees

Employees are searching for an experience that values them as a whole person, not just an employee.

Defining and improving the employee experience

The employee experience can be defined as how it feels to work somewhere. It’s every interaction—thousands of moments—that you have with your company and colleagues every day. It’s about showing employees that their company cares. Employees in a high-trust culture who experience a caring workplace are 44 percent more likely to work for a company with above-average revenue growth. From well-being to engagement to culture to inclusion, great companies are bridging silos and starting to consider both their people and people programs holistically. But how do you create a stellar employee experience or evolve your current employee experience into one that connects all aspects of a great company (like inclusion, engagement, well-being and communications efforts)?

“Employees are searching for an experience that values them as a whole person, not just an employee.”

Elevate the experience – here’s how

In order to create this type of employee experience—make it immersive. Elevating the employee experience requires everyone—leaders, executives, managers, employees—to be on board.

Here are three ways you can elevate your employee experience to build a better company today.

1. Think about the whole person.

Whole-person well-being is physical, emotional, financial and work well-being. It’s feeling good and living with purpose, which requires whole-company and whole-ecosystem (every company capability and program) support. It’s safe to say we all want this for our employees. When you show your employees you truly care about their well-being, the results are real. According to the Well-Being and Engagement Report, 91 percent of employee participants with both high well-being and organizational support report higher intent to stay, and when employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, they’re 38 percent more engaged. Simply put, employees have higher well-being and are more engaged, which leads to better business results.

“When employees feel their employer cares about their well-being, they’re 38 percent more engaged.”

2. Foster organizational support across the whole company.

Organizational support comes in many forms:

  • Manager support
  • Team/peer support
  • Social networks
  • Physical work environment
  • Strategic alignment
  • Leadership support
  • Well-being tools and programs
  • Culture

A great way to think about organizational support is the resources and nudges an organization intentionally provides employees to encourage well-being improvement—and research indicates that managers are the most important factor. But managers often don’t have the resources or tools to talk with their employees about well-being and don’t know how far to go with their support. Whether it’s setting expectations, ensuring employees feel that their work is meaningful, being a role model for well-being improvement or simply sending authentic messages of encouragement, support from managers is a great first step to take to foster overall organizational support.

In fact, both local support and organization-wide support are crucial for showing your authentic commitment to employees—research shows 99 percent of those with high well-being and organizational support recommend their company as a great place to work. This not only helps you retain top talent, but also helps you attract new talent.

Local support includes managers, social networks, team/peers, and the physical work environment

Organization-wide support: strategic alignment, leaders, tools and resources, and culture.

3. Leverage every capability in your entire ecosystem.

How do your employees experience your engagement measurement efforts? Are you leveraging the right communications at the right time, to the right people? Evolving your people program to a more coordinated, connected and data-driven approach will not only help boost mutual trust and commitment, but you’ll get the insights you want (and need) to help drive your company forward.

Your entire ecosystem impacts your employees daily. Utilize quarterly employee check-ins and frequent employee listening to measure engagement and keep a pulse on your employees.

Good for people, good for business

A fully immersive employee experience across all HR programs considers the whole person, whole company and whole ecosystem. And as a result, employees feel good, have a deep connection and sense of purpose at work, and feel that their whole selves are valued. Employees know that their company cares. When evolving your employee experience, start with your employees in mind. Ask them what’s getting in their way of feeling good and living with purpose. What makes them feel like they can’t bring their whole self to work?

Creating a culture that’s good for people is also good for business. And when you’ve done it well, people understand that putting employees first is how we do things around here.

How To Build An Inclusive Culture In Your Workplace

When it comes to inclusion in the workplace, we can all agree it matters. But understanding inclusion is harder to master. Inclusion comes to life in many different shapes and forms depending on the people, leadership and culture of an organization. The truth is, making inclusion ‘real’ in your organization is easier said than done.

What is inclusion?

Inclusion is a sense of belonging, connection and community at work. And inclusive organizations help people feel welcomed, known, valued — and encouraged to bring their whole, unique selves to work. In order to better understand diversity and inclusion efforts, organizations need to focus on the thousands of little moments each employee experiences that ultimately define a company’s culture. Think about the day-to-day interactions that managers have with employees and colleagues, the access they have to learning opportunities and training, and their ability have a voice and share diverse thoughts and opinions. Inclusion is not a top-down initiative lead only by leadership, but rather a grassroots effort that every employee needs to participate in.

inclusion, diversity, belonging

What is culture?

Culture can be defined as the collective values, norms and beliefs of your organization. It’s more than just the surface-level perks and policies like free snacks and “casual day,” it tells employees how to behave, how to do their jobs and how “things are done around here.” It impacts everything. But don’t get this mixed up with climate — what you see on the surface, how it feels to work there. 

Climate vs. Culture

How people experience inclusion and the traits of an inclusive workplace are the building blocks to creating an inclusive culture. And while it takes action from every level to build an inclusive culture, the results are worth it.

inclusive workplace culture

Sources: 1Bersin by Deloitte, 2017; and 2Harvard Business Review, 2017

It’s no secret that inclusive workplaces see better business results. And those with higher levels of inclusion also have higher levels of well-being and engagement, and lower rates of turnover. But how do you create that sought-after inclusive culture in your workplace? It starts with being intentional and proactive — what we at Limeade call being a culture architect.

“The truth is, making inclusion ‘real’ in your organization is easier said than done.”

From a single employee to your entire workforce, here’s three tips outlining what to do (and what not to do) to get started building the foundation of inclusion at both the individual and company level:

1. Manager support

What to do: Show your people you care by hosting regular check-ins between managers and employees. Encourage managers to set aside designated time for regular one-on-one meetings with employees. Let your people know that it’s their place to openly speak their mind about what matters most to them — whether that’s about their professional development, a current project or if they’re feeling overwhelmed and overworked — start a conversation to support their journey.

What not to do: Schedules can get packed easily, but don’t skip out on your one-on-one with an employee. That time is crucial to provide manager support and build trust over time. If you can’t make your meeting, reschedule it right away.

2. Having a voice

What to do: Provide regular, optional “town hall” meetings to discuss anything from business decisions, business updates, HR efforts or company wins. Not only will this open a space where employees can voice their thoughts or concerns, it shows your commitment to your people and their value to the company as a whole.

When employees feel like they “have a voice”, they’re more likely to share their opinions with others. Listen to employee feedback and show you’re taking action with ongoing commitment, encouragement and digging deeper into insights.

What not to do: Make sure to not single out departments or provide important company updates and details only to select departments or roles. Openness and transparency (some of the foundational aspects of inclusion) requires communication to the entire company, which will support your team to rally around a shared vision.

3.  A collaborative environment

What to do: Break down silos and promote organization-wide inclusion by promoting a collaborative environment. This includes a culture of behaviors and actions that inspire, model and align with your inclusive mission. Focus on developing cross-functional projects or meetings between teams or a random lunch partner program. This will allow your people to meet new coworkers and learn from one another, which ultimately will strengthen your cultural ecosystem. Limeade Institute research  also reveals that peer-to-peer interactions are key to perceptions of inclusion at work.

What not to do: Don’t let the silo mentality be the demise of your company culture. Organizational silos separate your departments and keep certain employees away from one another, while diverse, unique, collaborative people ultimately strengthen company culture.

“Inclusion is not a top-down initiative lead only by leadership, but rather a grassroots effort that every employee needs to participate in.”

Ultimately, individuals need to be recognized for their uniqueness but also feel connected to something bigger. An inclusive culture has many layers and millions of moments that define it, but in order to make a real impact and display an ongoing commitment to your employees, start with the tips above to better understand the dynamics at work in your organization. It takes everyone working together to bring an inclusive culture to life.

Want to see how your team is currently working together? Shop our Team Building Simulations to find one that can measure your organization’s culture.

Your People Are the Hearts and Minds of Your Culture

The mantra of work these days is to do more with less, which means companies are hyper-focused on hiring and fostering highly productive employees. They throw in surface-level perks like Margarita Mondays, ping pong tables and more in hopes of driving up engagement and ultimately better business results. What companies should really be striving for is authentic, true employee engagement with a culture that supports it. We know that engaged employees show passion, drive, optimism and resilience, but their sustained engagement relies on organizational support and culture.

Have you thought about how well your culture supports employee engagement? Is it working for or against engagement? Creating a culture that supports well-being and engagement is crucial to the success of your business. Culture is the collective values, norms and beliefs of your organization, also known as “how things are done around here.” While it can be hard to define, the key is that your culture needs to align with the engagement climate you’re creating.

What is employee engagement?

Employee engagement is the engine of the organization—the way stuff happens, the way results are achieved, because of the energy people have from being engaged. That burst of energy you feel comes from a deep sense of purpose and connection to your work, not just with how satisfied you are while you’re there or how many tasks you’re checking off your to-do list. It’s also about being “in the flow”—when you get so caught up in what you’re doing that you lose track of time. You’re challenged, but not overwhelmed.

Just because people work long hours and attend happy-hours doesn’t mean they’re more productive, complete more tasks, or feel more engaged in their work. High-productivity doesn’t necessarily mean engagement, either. Instead, think of productivity as an outcome of engagement. Engagement is all about energy and purpose. Engaged employees have a deep and real emotional connection to their work, and that drives extra energy and purpose. Productivity defines how much an employee produces, but without the energy, care and purpose behind an employee’s daily work, there’s a lack in initiative, adaptability, creativity and extra effort.

What does engagement look like?

Engagement isn’t an all-or-nothing game. Employees can be invested in their work but not in the company they work for. Or they might feel connected to their team but not feel aligned with their higher purpose.

When people are engaged, they’re persistent and take initiative without their manager having to tell them what to do. They’re adaptable and understand how they fit into the larger picture. They go above and beyond to think about their role more broadly and step outside of their usual responsibilities to help others or solve problems for the business. And that’s critical because it means your employees are deeply connected and “all in.”

So, true engagement benefits both the employee and the employer.

The benefits of bringing hearts and minds to work

What research has found repeatedly is this: well-being and engagement are connected. When you invest in an employee’s well-being — their emotional, financial, physical and work well-being — they invest back in the company. In fact, when people feel supported by their employer, they’re 38 percent more engaged and 28 percent more likely to recommend their company as a great place to work. And they’re 17 percent more likely to still be employed there in a year.

In other words, when people feel supported in bringing their hearts and minds to work, the results speak for themselves.

Here’s how to help people bring their hearts and minds to work:

  • Support people holistically. Individuals feel more valued when their organization genuinely cares about them. Offer activities and benefits that help them improve their well-being. Value and treat your people fairly by frequently recognizing a job well done, providing new opportunities and encouraging them to recharge. At the leadership level, invest in teaching managers how to be effective and train them on how to support the well-being of their team.
  • Empower your people to find meaning. To truly engage your people, you must help them find meaning and purpose in their work. Really lean on managers for this. Managers can talk to employees about how they contribute to the overall mission of the company and their own personal mission in life. When you connect people to a higher purpose at work and they feel truly supported by not only managers but also leaders and the company itself, everyone benefits.
  • Focus on job design and foster the talent you have. When an employee is disengaged or not challenged, take a hard look at the job and how it’s designed. This is a totally solvable issue, but it takes a flexible, thoughtful mindset to design the right position. Think through what your employee does every day and ask yourself: Are their responsibilities directly tied to solving a real business problem? Is there enough ownership and room for growth in the role? If not, adjust or even reinvent their job so it’s a better fit.
  • Support growth and learning. Keeping people engaged requires a steady stream of new challenges and career advancement opportunities (not just moving up). Make sure your people are building new skills and can take on stretch assignments when they feel ready. Most importantly, establish a regular cadence of feedback, so your employees can actually improve and grow.
  • Create community and be a culture architect. Help people connect to your mission and align with your values—across teams, peers, affinity groups and more. When people feel genuinely included, they’ll also feel more connected and committed to the company. Don’t be afraid to openly address culture with your employees. Encourage employees to be culture champions—people who serve as role models by living the culture every day. This strong sense of community will lift up the whole company and help people navigate difficult times together.

Employee engagement and a great culture are more than friends at work, productivity levels, or how many hours an employee tracks a day. Find what makes your employees’ hearts and minds tick, and emotionally connect to their daily work. With every burst of energy comes a higher sense of purpose, belonging and commitment. Most importantly, take the time to intentionally invest in your people and commit to bringing hearts and minds to work. The results will follow.


Photo credit: Neshom on Pixabay

8 Ways to Effectively Communicate Your Culture to Your People

8 Ways to Effectively Communicate Your Culture to Your People

Culture is the single most important factor in organizational success or failure. It tells employees how to behave, how to do their jobs and how “things are done around here.” But would your employees, middle-management and executives all describe your culture the same way?

Articulate Your Culture

Being intentional about culture means you approach it from an architectural model. You shape your company’s norms, values and beliefs deliberately rather than letting them evolve organically. And the most important piece of this puzzle is how you articulate your culture to the people who live it every day. Your policies, procedures, communications, systems, org chart, benefits and so much more need to consistently (and accurately) reflect your culture.

It might sound complicated, but these eight steps will help you manage and communicate your culture to employees:

  1. Explain what your culture is and why it matters. Clearly outline your corporate culture for employees. How do you define it? How can they live it? Then explain how it enables your unique business strategy. For example, if your company builds remote working solutions, a “butts in seats” culture flies in the face of your strategy. Instead, you need to offer flexible work arrangements where people can work from home, allowing them to both live the culture and effectively test your product.
  1. Set behavior expectations. There’s no good or bad here, but cultural attributes help you set expectations around attitude, how people work together, how they interact and more. Is the culture you need to have reactive or proactive? Indifferent or curious? Disjointed or integrated? Once you’ve determined these expectations, explicitly communicate them in simple “action” phrases that clarify what you want from employees.
  1. Educate your people about the culture. Leading by example is the best way to educate people about culture and expectations. Culture training — for employees, managers and leaders — is also a great addition to your toolbox. Add it to new hire orientations and quarterly company meetings — and offer it when people can attend, whether that’s at lunch or several times throughout the day to accommodate shift workers. Look for ways to go “deep” on each cultural attribute you want to reinforce, so people truly understand what each means and how they can live it.
  1. Communicate the culture. Directly talk to your employees about what culture looks like — why it’s important, how it aligns and evolves with strategy, and how to live it. And make sure your communications align with culture. If your organization is more formal and structured, your communications should be too. If things are more casual and on-the-fly, your tone should reflect that.
  1. Thread culture through everything you do. This goes beyond day-to-day communications. How does your HR team hire for cultural fit? How do you talk about it in orientations? How do you incorporate it into performance management? These all show your employees what’s important to your culture. Are you trying to build a collaborative work environment? Then stack ranking your employees against each other isn’t a great idea. Instead, reinforce collaboration by drawing on peer feedback and offering rewards to teams that meet their goals.
  1. Set accountability and metrics. You have to evaluate your culture and hold people — especially your leaders — accountable for living it every day. Incorporate metrics into a developmental feedback loop for employees and managers to help integrate cultural values into their goals and performance. At Limeade, we built a culture of improvement that provides the resources people need to grow personally and professionally. And we check in frequently to ensure they set challenging but attainable goals, meet with managers and improve every quarter.
  1. Empower culture champions. Every company has respected leaders — both formal and informal — who are ambassadors of your culture. Make sure these people know they’re regarded for upholding the culture. Recognize your champions — maybe even hold a contest asking people to nominate coworkers who are models for living the culture. Most important, encourage them to align their work and management styles so they can keep demonstrating what it looks like to live the culture.
  1. Create opportunities to live the culture. It’s important that people understand the overt ways they can participate in your culture. Limeade created “Own It Day,” when all employees pitch ideas for improving our product and delighting customers. This is an important part of our open and collaborative culture (and always results in making our product better and stronger!).

Please share ideas on how you articulate your culture to your people. What works best for you and why? I welcome your thoughts and suggestions on social media. 

Aiming for a culture of health? Try this.

Aiming for a culture of health? Try this.

Most organizations are striving to help their employees improve their health and well-being. While intuitively, this makes sense – healthier employees are certainly happier and more productive – it’s also a sound strategy from a business perspective. A recent study from Limeade and Quantum Workplace shows that when employees believe their employer cares about their health and well-being, they are:

  • 38% more engaged
  • 10 times less likely to be hostile
  • 17% more likely to still be working there in one year
  • 28% more likely to recommend their workplace
  • 18% more likely to go the extra mile for the organization

First, a caveat: Many companies believe that to show employees they care about their health and well-being, they must create a culture of health. This isn’t necessarily the case, because the culture (the underlying norms, values, and beliefs of an organization) must be aligned with the organization’s business strategy. So if business goals don’t revolve around health and well-being (as it does for a hospital, medical non-profit, or Limeade), using the term “culture of health” will not only fall flat with employees, it will remove the emphasis from other necessary aspects of your culture that are more closely aligned with what you are trying to achieve.

For many organizations, though, a culture of health makes sense and there are important attributes that need to be in place. Think about your own organization’s culture when you read about the following cultural attributes. Do you have a culture that is actually set up to support employees to be healthier?

  1. Long-term focus. Health doesn’t correlate with employees who are tied to their desks and cranking on near-term deliverables for 10 hours a day. That’s a short-sighted approach that will result in burnout, attrition, reduced productivity, and, well, you can guess the rest. But if your company takes a long-term focus and gives them free reign to take breaks for workouts and healthy lunches, you’ll see the return in employee health AND business outcomes.
  2. Flexibility. If people are following a prescribed process and approach to their work, there’s not much control over their time. However, if you provide flexibility in how, when, and where the work gets done, there’s more room for employees to prioritize themselves during the day.
  3. Growth mindset. While there’s a “social desirability” to focus on learning and growth, some companies really don’t believe people can improve – or don’t actively support it. Other companies support it for certain roles (such as management positions), but don’t provide learning and growth opportunities to front-line employees. People have to believe they’re capable of more – and that starts with a growth mindset throughout the company. Without it, you’ll end up with disengaged employees looking to jump ship and your organization won’t get healthier.
  4. Try, fail, try again. You know there’s no such thing as perfect, right? But that doesn’t stop companies from striving for it! If your organization pushes for perfection, you’re probably not encouraging people to experiment and fail – and both are key to learning and growth. Also, when people work on improving their health, they have to try and fail at lots of different things (what they eat, how they like to exercise, etc.) before they find what’s right for them. So if people feel free to learn through trial and error at work, they’ll do the same when it comes to their health.
  5. Don’t nickel and dime. If your company is frugal-to-the-max, your kitchen and break rooms probably aren’t stocked with healthy food and beverages (after all, stevia-sweetened drinks cost more than Mountain Dew). And you’re likely not offering gym memberships or encouraging people to break away from their desks for a walk. It ties in with the long-term focus: if you want employees to make healthy choices, give them the tools – and the time – to do so.
  6. Value your people. Last but nowhere near least – your people must feel valued. There’s no sense in focusing on health if employees feel like cogs in the machine, hamsters on a wheel, warm bodies in a chair. Show people you care by listening to them, involving them in decisions, and empowering them to own their work. People want to give you their best – they really do. So show them they’re important from day one. That their well-being matters, their happiness matters, their lives matter. They’ll engage and give you 100 percent – not just in their work, but in their approach to health. And that truly makes all the difference.

Does a culture of health make sense for your organization? Would it be relevant to your culture and mission? I’d love to hear your thoughts, experiences, and ideas on this topic.