Matt Tenney, Contributor
According to a recent Harvard Business Review Analytic Services survey, 55% of executives surveyed said they believe it is just not possible to provide great customer experience without providing a great employee experience.
But how does the employee experience affect the customer experience?
Gallup defines employee experience as “the journey an employee takes with your organization.” This journey includes every interaction that happens during the employee lifecycle, as well as the experiences that involve an employee’s role, work environment, and their supervisor.
Employees who view their employee experience as positive are much more likely to provide a positive customer experience. In fact, the link between the two is so strong, many are declaring employee experience is the new customer experience.
When an organization provides a positive employee experience, they see improvements in customer satisfaction, greater innovation, and generate 25% higher profits than organizations that do not provide a positive employee experience.
Leaders, more than any other factor, impact the employee experience, which impacts the customer experience and determines how successful an organization will be in the long term.
Having a leader is important because of the leader’s impact on the employee experience. When the employee experience is positive, employees are motivated to perform well, engaged in their work, more likely to stay, and united with a shared sense of purpose which helps them provide an excellent customer experience.
Leadership is one of the most critical factors for success in business, and having a good leader who can build rapport with team members, inspire them to do great work, and keep them motivated ensures both the employee and customer experiences are positive.
This article will look at why having a leader is important for providing great experiences for employees and how a leader’s impact on employee experience influences future success.
Leadership and the Employee Experience
According to a 25-year study by Gallup, about 50-70% of an employee’s perception of their work environment is linked to the actions and behaviors of management.
The day-to-day interactions employees have with their direct leaders strongly impact their employee experience. This not only affects engagement and retention, but it can also have a tremendous impact on customer experience.
A leader’s ability to build authentic relationships with their employees is the key to providing a great employee experience and helps them maintain a harmonious, respectful work environment in which employees can perform well and serve customers well.
Leaders can support a positive employee experience by providing job clarity, opportunities for professional development, autonomy, an inclusive work environment, regular recognition of contributions, healthy feedback, and a good work/life balance.
Motivation drives an employee’s success. Extrinsic motivators, such as praise, approval, awards, bonuses, and promotions can influence employees, but intrinsic motivators, which are tied more closely to inherent, less tangible rewards, play a significant role in how invested employees are in their jobs and how well they do them.
Too often, those in management positions fail to realize how essential the ability to motivate teams is to future success and the very important role intrinsic motivation plays in getting employees to do great work.
The most important job of a leader and the key to being a great leader is to motivate employees to do great work, but it’s not just about ensuring the day-to-day work of the team is done; it’s about inspiring each team member to fully invest in their roles and reach their full potential.
Good leaders use strategies that boost intrinsic motivation, resulting in employees that are more invested in their jobs and more loyal to their organizations.
Leaders need to understand what really motivates their employees to best meet their needs and should work continuously to create the necessary conditions for their employees to stay motivated and help them identify and remove obstacles to doing great work.
Employee engagement is an employee’s emotional commitment to their work, the organization they work for, and its goals. It describes the bond an employee builds with their specific job and the organization.
High engagement in an organization indicates that employees care about their work, are dedicated to the organization, and their attitudes and behaviors are aligned with the organization’s core values.
According to Business Leadership Today contributor Laurie Sudbrink, “Leaders affect employee engagement the most. A leader’s ability to authentically build relationships with team members, their level of self-awareness, their sense of accountability, as well as their health and well-being, can all have a significant impact on employee engagement.”
To see a real boost in employee engagement, leaders should also be engaged in leading their teams and authentically demonstrating their dedication to the organization’s core values through real, impactful actions and behaviors.
Doing this will not only boost engagement, but it will also create an environment where employees perform well and improve the overall performance of the organization because, while employee engagement affects an employee’s job satisfaction and well-being, we can also see its impacts in more tangible metrics such as retention, turnover, absenteeism, profitability, and productivity.
Because leadership can impact the employee experience, the work environment, its culture, and, therefore, employee engagement, leaders play an important role in employee retention.
Employee retention refers to a company’s ability to prevent turnover and retain its employees. Retention is driven by employee experience and employee engagement because an employee’s attitude toward their job and their level of engagement with the work they do determines whether an employee will stay or seek out other job opportunities.
Toxic work cultures and poor leadership have been cited as one of the main drivers of the turnover we’ve seen with The Great Resignation and now quiet quitting. Strong leaders help their organizations avoid turnover by making their work environments inhospitable to toxic behaviors.
I recently sat down with Dick Finnegan, author of The Power of Stay Interviews for Engagement and Retention and a world-renowned expert on stay interviews, employee engagement, and cutting turnover, to discuss the very important role leaders play in retaining employees.
Finnegan says, when it comes to retention, an employee’s direct supervisor wields a great deal of influence on whether or not they stay:
“What I realized was that everything I had been taught about turnover in HR was wrong. What I learned was that you win turnover leader by leader, supervisor by supervisor. Turnover issues don’t arise from the top of the org chart, they come from the bottom. Most employees don’t leave because of the actions of the CEO, they leave because of the actions of their direct supervisor.”
A strong system of feedback, regular recognition, mentoring, and stay interviews can help leaders maintain good communication with employees and set clear expectations, making it easier for employees to both do their jobs well and thrive while doing them.
The most powerful form of motivation is inspiration, and because of this, inspired employees are the most productive type of employees you can have. But how do leaders inspire employees? By helping them feel a sense of purpose in their work.
Meaningful work gives employees a sense of purpose and enables them to look beyond their daily job tasks to see how doing those tasks well impacts the organization, their co-workers, and the community they serve. This can unite team members, creating a positive work environment that is conducive to collaboration and a great employee experience for all.
A recent study revealed the following statistics:
- 70% of employees say they would not work for an organization without a strong purpose
- 60% would take a pay cut to work at a purpose-driven company
- 90% of employees who work at organizations with a strong sense of purpose say they’re more inspired, motivated, and loyal
When employees feel a shared sense of purpose with their co-workers and a strong commitment to an organization’s mission, vision, and values, it doesn’t just improve engagement and retention. It improves morale, performance, trust, and overall job satisfaction.
Leaders define and reinforce that sense of purpose by tying it to the work employees do each day and the larger mission and vision of the organization, which inspires them to grow and always strive to do great work.
Matt Tenney is an active CEO who aspires to create the best workplace culture in the world. Matt is also the author of Serve To Be Great: Leadership Lessons from a Prison, a Monastery, and a Boardroom, and The Mindfulness Edge: How to Rewire Your Brain for Leadership and Personal Excellence. Matt is frequently invited to present keynote speeches at leadership conferences and meetings. His TEDx Talk has been viewed over 1,000,000 times since January, 2020.