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Managing your EX (employee experience)

Tips to keep your staff around

Larry Morgan, MAIR, SPHR, SHRM-SCP, GPHR | June/July 2022 Footnote

Editor's note: Updated May 25, 2022

In a tight labor market, the employee experience (formerly called employee value proposition) becomes a major part of your recruitment and retention strategy. Employers must define and articulate what makes them stand out from other employers.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that by the 2025, the millennial and Generation Z population will represent more than 50% of the labor force. Employees, and especially the millennial and Gen Z population, are seeking employers who offer personalized work experiences. 
Specifically, they desire employers who offer: 

  • Strong ethics and values reflected in the organization culture.
  • Formal and informal coaching, training and development programs.
  • Formal employee career path.
  • Tuition reimbursement programs.
  • Work-life balance, including paid parental leave and flexible time-off programs.
  • Employer-sponsored wellness programs.
  • Social interaction with other employees.
  • Flexibility in work hours and work arrangements.
  • Sponsored environmental and sustainability efforts.
  • Diversity, equity and inclusion statements and programs.
  • Sponsored volunteerism programs.
  • Positive impacts on the community, the environment and global issues.
  • Competitive pay.
  • Ongoing feedback and recognition systems.
  • Personalized employee benefit programs to meet individual and family needs.
  • Greater transparency regarding compensation programs and process.
Just as organizations have product or service brands, the employment brand should include the above items. These unique differences may be promoted in social media posts, employee testimonials and through the work experience itself. Most critically, the organization’s management must be supportive of these programs and endorse them with actions.
It’s important for employers to have an authentic and congruent workplace culture and programs to reflect these differences right from the first day of employment, or prior, during the recruitment and selection process. 

A second look at onboarding

Consider recrafting the onboarding process to be two parts. First, offer an initial one- or two-day orientation program that includes the basics. Then provide a comprehensive year-long program that includes:

  • An assigned “buddy.”
  • Clear performance expectations.
  • How pay changes are determined.
  • Accountability metrics.
  • Defined organization values and how they impact decision-making.
  • Formal and informal feedback and training.
  • Quarterly check-ins.
  • Career pathing.
  • Ongoing benefit education. 
Managers will need to be trained to rethink traditional management of employees, especially with employees working remotely.
Change management will also be a critical management skill. The workplace continues to change and evolve due to technology, global competition, supply chain issues, future pandemics, greater competition for talent and greater agility to address change issues.
Performance appraisal systems are changing from an annual formal review toward informal quarterly discussions with employees regarding performance feedback, developmental needs, career pathing and capitalizing on employee strengths.
Shift away from traditional longevity-based rewards. Instead, focus on rewards based on core competencies and performance-based pay. Greater levels of transparency regarding compensation are required — pay programs and processes should be defined and articulated. 
Benefits remain an important component of the total compensation package. As benefits become increasingly more expensive, employers need to communicate the value of these programs even if not fully appreciated or used.

Organizations should develop and communicate a compensation philosophy statement defining the desired competitive position. This will include a mix of base pay, bonus and benefit programs. Annual or semi-annual benefit statements provide insight into the total value of the package. Employees will be looking for a way to adapt benefit programs to meet their individual needs.  Consider a benefit “cafeteria program” in which employees may select among a variety of benefits, which may include health care with multiple options such as “opt out” options for employees covered under other plans, dental/vision/pet insurance, additional retirement savings, student loan forgiveness, additional life and disability coverage and other programs.
While unlimited paid time-off programs are gaining interest by many employers, there are potential drawbacks. Some issues to consider include reluctance of employees to take time off, no payouts of earned and unused paid time off upon termination, supervisor accountability measurements, and significant challenges with compliance under FMLA, ADA and disability leave programs.

Questions to consider

What to do now?  Looking at the prior list, conduct an internal audit by asking yourself the following questions:

  • What is causing recruitment and hiring obstacles, such as offer rejections and employee counteroffers?
  • Do we offer flexible work schedules to employees beyond “summer hours” and do we have established formal hybrid work arrangements?
  • Have we developed and promoted a clear employee value proposition that can define the organizations EX/employee brand? What makes you stand out as an “employer of choice” and “destination workplace?” Does this statement match with current, former and potential employee perceptions?
  • Do we offer opportunities that support environmental, sustainability, diversity, philanthropy, community involvement and volunteerism programs?
  • Have we created a code of conduct policy to define the organization’s values and identify behaviors that are expected, reinforced and rewarded?
  • Have we conducted a compensation and benefit market analysis to ensure the organization is within a “competitive corridor” of plus or minus 10% of the competitive marketplace? Have we developed communication programs to inform and educate employees on the value of benefits and how pay decisions are made? 
  • Have we included organization values and behaviors as part of the performance evaluation instead of longevity or results only orientation?
  • Do we perform annual employee engagement surveys to gain understanding of any weak areas that can be addressed?
  • Do we provide employees with job descriptions and a formal career path? Do we have ongoing brown bag and informal training sessions? Do we have a formal tuition reimbursement program to encourage ongoing learning to promote and retain employee knowledge?

What now? Examine, prioritize

Based on what’s shared in this article, examine and prioritize areas that need to be reviewed. Establish a gameplan, including project plans, timelines, metrics and accountability. Only then will you set up your organization for success in the near- and long-term.
Larry Morgan runs the MNCPA HR Hotline and is president of Orion HR Group, LLC. He is a regular contributor to Footnote. You may reach him at

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