Meeting employee expectations to drive company performance
- 9 Min Read
Aligning employee expectations with organizational goals is crucial for maximizing company performance and fostering a positive work environment
The impact of events over the past two years has created new challenges for the leaders of today. Supporting employee needs is still often tied to financial management, but more variables have surfaced that ultimately impact performance standards at any level. Companies that adopt a proactive mind-set, and who can adapt to these changes as the professional landscape continues to evolve, will succeed both internally and externally with their teams and customers.
A recent report by Mercer, Rethinking What We Need from Work, explores this topic with the aim of helping businesses understand how they can better support employee needs and positively impact their performance. The study included responses from more than 2000 full-time employees in the United Kingdom working for organisations with more than 250 employees, in industries ranging from food service and healthcare to government and public sector offices, manufacturing, and more.
The results of this study, combined with new information presented in their latest webinar, Inside Employees’ Minds: What’s worrying them about work?, provide great insights into how leaders and managers can unlock employee performance and ultimately drive business success.
How employee engagement is linked to performance has always been a central approach at Mercer, according to Katerina Psychopaida, Partner and Employee Experience Leader for Europe and UK at Mercer. “Taking care of the holistic wellbeing of an employee leads to healthy organisational performance,” she explains. “It directly links to the productivity of the employee which leads to positive business outcomes.”
Optimising employee experience: the benefits.
The difference between an average and great employee experience can make a real difference when it comes to your company meeting its goals and delivering exceptional results. It also plays a crucial role in defining the culture of your organisation, which is a huge contributing factor for driving overall success. The benefits of this pathway are numerous, and include:
Increased productivity and improved job satisfaction
A ripple effect can be felt when time and consideration is allocated towards employee satisfaction. When employers take good care of the holistic wellbeing of an employee, that employee is more likely to feel empowered and productive. When employees feel like they are performing well, they are more likely to be satisfied with their job and less likely to leave the company.
Psychopaida used the example of financial wellbeing. While an employer sees their responsibility as providing an employee with a salary, if that employee is stressed from mismanaging their finances and accumulating debt, their mind may be preoccupied with this external issue to the point that they cannot focus on their work.
It may not consume all their time and energy, but these external stressors impact mental health and wellbeing, which is directly linked to their productivity level, and ultimately the performance of the business. It is therefore important for employers to understand this external stressor and offer flexible policies and benefits so that both the employee and the business benefits.
Better employee retention
The Great Resignation is not over; companies need to prioritise ways to keep employees whose work ethic, values, and personalities complement their overall business vision. It is important for leaders and managers to foster a culture of total wellbeing as when employees feel fully supported by their employer, they will be more motivated and engaged and less likely to leave an organisation. Mercer’s findings discovered this was a key component to positive employee retention rates. Delivering a great employee experience and company culture can be a differentiator when attracting new employees, something that is critical in the ongoing war for talent. Not only this but it can also lead to higher productivity, better client service, and lower staff turnover rates.
Enhanced teamwork and increased innovation
A sense of belonging provides the basis for happy, healthy relationships in our everyday lives. The same principle can be applied within the workplace as well.
It must come from the highest levels, Psychopaida emphasises. “Link back to the culture of how we do what we do here,” she explains. “Senior leaders need to display authenticity and consistency between what they say and what they do”.
If this happens, it will have a positive ‘trickle-down’ effect through the management levels and create a workplace where there is psychological safety, whereby people feel accepted for who they truly are. It is within these kinds of cultures that employees are the most innovative, creative and thriving.
Better financial results
Improved employee experiences result in financial growth, Psychopaida’s team found.
When companies consider the basic needs of their employees (pay, benefits, security), the psychological needs (achievement, camaraderie, equity), and the well-being needs (physical, mental, social and financial), a positive cycle of healthy experiences, sustainable performance and financial growth is sure to follow.
Strategies to unlock employee performance
Several pathways exist for companies that want to prioritise the connections between employee performance and their well-being. It all comes down to empathy, according to Psychopaida, to really understand where the problems lie. Are the values advertised to customers present within your own company? As an employer, does your internal structure embody the promise your product or service is projected to deliver externally?
Identify any gaps and listen to your employees with empathy, Psychopaida emphasises. From there, you can begin to improve conditions across the board.
1) Listen to your employees to truly understand what they are looking for
To positively impact and address employee concerns, organisations must become active listeners. One effective strategy involves methods like preferences research, which can not only surface unmet needs and underlying issues but provide information that is specific to the diverse demographics that make up a company’s workforce.
It’s not enough to rely on historical data, either from the industry or from previous internal reviews. The needs of today’s employees change rapidly, which is why preferences research should become a routine part of a company’s programming. As workers’ priorities shift, organisations have an opportunity to optimise total rewards and create a workplace that supports employees’ evolving needs.
2) Provide financial wellness support in a personalised way for each employee segment
Employers who support employees’ financial needs understand that financial stress affects work performance, which can lead to turnover. Mercer’s report revealed that employee needs differ depending on salary as well, as financial security and spending varies between low-income earners and high income earners. The commonality is that all employees share concerns with financial health, but it’s up to the employers to addresses the nuances and tackle the economic wellness of their workforce from multiple angles.
Organisations can provide better support for the economic security of their employees by proactively prioritising living wages to help employees meet their basic needs, supporting retirement readiness with proper access to retirement planning, and fostering the employee’s financial wellbeing holistically through resources related to budgeting and debt management, emergency savings planning, meeting their long-term goals alongside more short-term savings and insurance.
3) Encourage communication and collaboration
Collaboration is key to fostering a stronger sense of belonging. Employees who find support within their teams, or from upper-level management, will be more motivated to perform and see their efforts play out within their team. Encouraging open communication also helps employees work together more effectively, leading to better performance and cooperation across departments.
4) Look at all the aspects of employee wellbeing
Exhaustion and an overwhelming sense of chaos at work are top of mind for many employees. Maintaining a positive work-life balance is ideal, but without support from companies, it’s easy for their workforce to feel undervalued. To combat these feelings, organisations must address some of the root causes of burnout. They must investigate what may be creating unsustainable workloads, then strategize with department leaders to devise ways to effectively reduce tasks and responsibilities.
Respecting boundaries and supporting an employee’s work-life balance also illustrates these needs are valued by the organisation an individual works for. Above all, keep evaluating and enhancing any wellbeing benefits that may support an employee’s mental health. Ensure these assistance programs are easily accessible in ways that employees prefer, whether it’s through personal sessions, mental health apps, or otherwise.
5) Introduce flexibility beyond the “where” by looking at “when” “who” “how” work gets done
Providing a diverse range of workplace structures is important for many employees, who may have found remote or hybrid setups helped boost their productivity levels during the pandemic. Organisations that understand the importance of flexibility in their companies will
see increased motivation and employee satisfaction, which ultimately leads to positive retention as well. It’s a delicate balance, but by focusing on the needs of the role, the gap between the flexibility you offer and the flexibility employees want can be minimized more effectively.
Other strategies to develop harmonious workflows include testing out the four-day work week structure, which has been shown to reduce burnout and provide more time for supporting mental health and work-life balance initiatives, and prioritising the needs of frontline workers especially, who can’t necessarily perform their roles remotely but also require time-based flexibility elsewhere in their lives.
6) Foster a positive work environment and empower employees
It sounds obvious, but people want to work in a place that feels comfortable, supportive, and safe. Cultivating a positive work environment provides a place for employees to perform at their best, especially when they know they are being taken care of.
It is also crucial to empower employees to make decisions and take ownership of their work. This can be built upon the foundations of regular feedback, tracking their progress and showing them how far they have come. Doing so can help them feel more invested in their work and perform at a higher level as a result.
Considerations and challenges
These methods are important to build into an existing structure, but favourable results will not appear overnight. At first, it can be difficult to spot areas that need improvement and support, which is why listening to employees is so crucial.
Many employees have difficulty balancing their personal and professional lives in today’s fast-paced workplace. Organisations must invest in employee development and training to ensure that employees have the skills and knowledge they need to do their job effectively, while also investing in their holistic needs to boost motivation and prevent burnout.
Unlocking the future of company success
In order to effectively empower employees, a culture that fosters open communication is vital. By considering an employee’s needs, what they’re looking for, and how they can feel supported by their managers and leaders, positive connections are created.
Employees are seeking a new kind of experience in the workplace. Listening carefully to what employees have to say, asking questions to understand their goals, and offering feedback in a way that is meaningful, ensures their wellbeing is prioritised, and will ultimately improve company performance.