Published: Feb 26, 2018

Everyone is talking about the employee experience being the next big differentiator for employers, and I couldn’t agree more. A well-crafted employee experience can help with your recruiting process, drive retention, and foster engagement with your employees. The exciting, yet challenging, piece of this puzzle for HR is creating and crafting meaningful experiences when each of your employees typically has unique needs and expectations regarding work. Companies spend a lot of time and money at the top developing a vision for the company culture which is at the core of the employee experience. Yet often overlooked, I think, middle managers as the linchpin that brings the vision full circle. Employees join companies, but leave managers. So as you’re thinking about moving the needle on your employee experience the question becomes—how can you get buy in from your managers to embrace the vision and contribute to the employee experience?

employee experience

You must support your managers by showing them the way. HR is sitting on so much critical employee data and insight in their system(s). Work with your managers to help them understand what tools they have at their fingertips to better manage in the moment and have meaningful conversations with their employees. Here are a few examples:

Time and attendance data. If an employee is always late, coach the manager on how to have a conversation with that person in a nonthreatening way. By using data points as factual conversation starters, the manager may discover that he or she needs to shift the individual’s hours to account for traffic patterns or childcare hours.

Payroll and compensation data. This is extremely relevant for managers dealing with a nonexempt workforce. If there is a trend of employees working overtime and it’s throwing costs over budget, managers can use that information to have a conversation with the employee to understand why they consistently need extra hours to get their work done. Is there a training issue? A bandwidth issue? An efficiency issue? Employees may truly be gaming the system, but help your managers understand they can use this information to have conversations with their employees to ensure a full understanding of what’s going on behind the scenes.

Performance data. Shift the perception that this is a compliance exercise forced on everyone by HR. Help managers understand why this exercise helps them drive accountability and engagement with their teams. Remember #1 and #2 on this list? Using technology as a place for managers to record all their great employee conversations helps them drive engagement, which correlates with productivity.

Help your managers understand how to make these conversations genuine. Think about these scenarios through the lens of the employee: My manager cared enough to have a conversation with me to understand my perspective and come up with a mutually agreeable solution. That’s a great experience.

So, as you’re thinking about the employment experience you want to foster—don’t only define it, but think about how to help your middle managers use tools and data to foster an experience that develops connections with their employees, nurtures top talent, and executes the organization’s vision on the front lines. To create an engaging employee experience for everyone, managers must be all in.