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Why the “employee experience” is key for retaining staff and freelancers

Financial rewards may seem an obvious way to motivate your staff and freelancers, but a new study has revealed they don’t work in the long term! While hefty pay rates are good at attracting staff to your company they may not be so good at motivating or getting them to stay with you.


When someone leaves an employer to go elsewhere they may be asked why they are leaving (at the exit interview perhaps) – however, staff don’t usually leave because of pay alone, they leave because they dislike their boss, their colleagues, their job, the employer, their career and development prospects.


Some employers will ask the leaver if their new employer or client is offering more pay – if the old employer then offers a pay rise to someone who has just resigned, will this make the employee feel more valued? The employee will probably ask why did they only offer a pay rise when I resigned?


So, why did your Employee resign?


Make your employees happy by saying thank you! In a recent survey by a recruitment website ofy 2,000 workers and 500 employers / managers, more than 58% of British workers don’t believe they are thanked enough at work.


Is that surprising? Over half said this made them feel unappreciated and 41% said they felt demotivated as a result of this.


While 75% of employers recognised that failing to say thank you to employees had a negative effect on staff motivation at work, 41% of the employers said they realised their staff weren’t thanked enough! A total of 93% of bosses realise that manners are a vital part of the working environment.


Asked to put a value on compensation for not being thanked, on average employees would want to be paid an extra £1,608 per year, if they receive no thanks whatsoever!


Split by region it appears the North West fairs worst, with 73% of workers saying they weren’t thanked enough. In London 49% felt their employer wasn’t thankful enough.


With many workers finding their bosses ungrateful, lacking manners or just plain rude, a simple thank you (verbal is best!) and is considered more important than a pay rise say 63% of the employees surveyed. 40% of respondent workers said a thank you made them feel motivated, 15% said it make them feel inspired.


One commentator has said this may be because the British “sometimes feel embarrassed about saying ‘well done’ or giving positive feedback” and that “people feel ‘lifted’ emotionally by their bosses and thus feel good about themselves and perform better”.


Do employees feel engaged at work?


The Kelly Global Workforce Index 2013 polled more than 170,000 workers in Europe and found that only 24% of British workers felt engaged in their work (compared to 45% in Denmark and 42% in Norway).


The global financial crisis has impacted the way some workers feel “attached” to their employers – workers feel less emotionally involved and are taking a more arms-length assessment of their career prospects and alternatives. Job stability becomes more important than improved salaries and benefits when companies have to make headcount reductions / redundancies – with 75% of respondents saying it was their prime consideration in judging a company


But globally, 43% said they frequently think about quitting their current job and going to another employer (up from 37% in 2012) – even if they are happy in their current job. This could mean that a large part of the workforce are not feeling fulfilled in their job.


The main factors that influenced job choice were:



  • Personal fulfilment (work-life balance) – 38%

  • Personal growth / advancement – 29%

  • Compensation and benefits – 26%.


Managers have a huge influence on employee morale and workplace performance – 63% of respondents said their direct managers played a major role in determining their satisfaction and engagement at work.


So, how else do you fulfill staff?


The latest Human Resources buzzword is “employee experience” – which means considering what “experience” workers have when interacting with their employer (which you can view in the same ways as ‘customer’ experiences).


The experience workers have when trying to do their job may be negative (whether real or perceived, necessary or not) which causes disengagement or distractedness in employees.


While customer service experts know that people generally make buying decisions based on service rather than price, this concept is now moving into workplaces too. Workers will decide if their experience at work is good or bad – just as customers do.


OrganizationView – a workforce design consultancy – have conducted research that looks at people’s relationship to their work – 70% of satisfaction that workers get from their job is based on their experience; while only 30% is related to their pay, benefits and career prospects.


Research as far back as the late 1990’s made it clear that engaged staff gave better customer service; which in turn increases spending power from customers. With surveys in the UK consistently saying that only 10-30% of employees are truly engaged at any time in their work, this loss of productivity translates to £44 billion per year in the UK now.


Research by Gallup shows that highly satisfied employees have the following characteristics:



  • Customer loyalty – 56%

  • Productivity – 50%

  • Retention – 50%

  • Profitability – 33%


This major link between high employee engagement and loyal customers and hence profitability led to the Government sponsored “Engage for Success” movement – you can read more here.


What can employers do to motivate, engage and retain their staff and freelancers?



  • Look at how you recruit new staff, source freelancers, and the information you provide about your company – make sure people understand your company before they arrive and what it is like to work there

  • Ensure induction does integrate staff into the business effectively so people understand their meaning and purpose in the business

  • Share the business’ plans, challenges and opportunities – communicate constantly

  • Maximise the opportunities to provide work that is fulfilling and challenging (but achievable)

  • Give employees the opportunity to provide feedback about their work and share their own ideas for improvement in all aspects of your business

  • Set out clear responsibilities, goals and objectives for staff and freelancers, and review them regularly

  • Review all the company’s policies and procedures and systems (including technology) so that staff are able to do simple things quickly

  • Ensure that managers and supervisors have had adequate training and the capability to manage their new and current staff.


You can read details about incentivising staff with a bonus scheme here.


If you are an Employer and need ongoing professional help with any staff/freelance issues then talk to Lesley at The HR Kiosk  – a Human Resources Consultancy for small businesses – our fees are low to reflect the pressures on small businesses and you can hire us for as much time as you need.


Please note that the advice given on this website and by our Advisors is guidance only and cannot be taken as an authoritative or current interpretation of the law. It can also not be seen as specific advice for individual cases. Please also note that there are differences in legislation in Northern Ireland.

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