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Employee experience in one word: “Inconsistent”

Employee experience in one word: “Inconsistent”

Pink background with arrows, symbolizing inconsistency

Every modern company team strives for consistency in the employee experience. It’s not about trying to fit every employee into a one-size-fits-all process. It’s about delivering the same quality of support – every single time.

It starts with a robust foundation of technology, processes, policies, and guidelines. Then, all back-office departments – HR, IT, Finance, etc. – have to collaborate effectively. At the same time, you need just the right amount of flexibility to personalize the experience and account for edge cases.

Few companies are there yet. Research by renowned HR industry analyst Josh Bersin found: “When we asked EX and HR leaders to describe the EX in their organization with just one word, the most common response was “inconsistent.” 

Pretty shocking, huh? At least it should be. The consequences of inconsistency are not to be taken lightly:

  1. Compliance risks
  2. High employee turnover
  3. Coordination overhead

Let’s dive into each of these consequences:

Compliance risks

Keeping up with employment laws has always been a struggle for organizations. From hiring practices to total rewards to workplace safety, inconsistency can get you into serious trouble. If you miss crucial steps, this may result in violations of applicable laws and regulations. Missing documentation, incomplete records, and unfair treatment of employees can also result in legal vulnerabilities for the employer.

Why it’s more important than ever:

Changing laws and regulations keep adding complexity to the already challenging field of HR compliance. In addition, organizations going remote or hybrid also have to meet new compliance requirements specific to these work arrangements. Finally, if your workforce is spread across multiple countries, considering local regulations in each of those countries is a must.

High employee turnover

Without consistency, some employees will naturally have a better experience than others. During onboarding, for example, this experience can range from “I feel welcome and ready to roll” to “where’s my laptop, and why am I the only person in the office?” According to a Glassdoor study, organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82%.

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that inconsistency in HR can make employees feel mistreated. This is especially true for topics like compensation and benefits. Unconscious biases frequently result in unfair treatment of underrepresented employees. One study found that for 40% of employees in tech, unfairness played a major role in their decision to leave their company.

A key factor to consider is that without a company-driven approach to employee experience, it’s primarily down to the individual manager. Some will do the bare minimum (or less), while others go above and beyond. Limited management experience, a heavy workload, and a high number of direct reports can all affect team members’ experience and create inconsistency across the organization.

Why it’s more important than ever:

The post-pandemic wave of employees leaving, often called the great resignation, puts a lot of pressure on people and operations teams. Not only did turnover go up, but there’s also a record number of job postings. In these times, consistency has become an important driver of employee retention. Another aspect is global competition: companies are now tapping into a global talent pool (some more successfully than others). As a result, employees have an unprecedented number of potential jobs to choose from.

In a labor market where employees have market power, they’re more demanding and less forgiving. So companies simply can’t afford to ignore high expectations regarding fairness and consumer-like experiences.

Coordination overhead

If everything happens on a case-by-case basis, teams have a hard time collaborating effectively. Most employee touchpoints are not just owned by HR – they involve IT, Office Management, Finance, managers, the list goes on.

Even with a strong vision for the employee experience, the problem often lies in the communication between those teams. It’s the cross-departmental execution where things take too long or get lost in the shuffle. But that’s not all: besides poor execution, inconsistency can lead to tension between teams. Before you know it, you’re playing a blame game that drains everyone’s energy.

Why it’s more important than ever:

With virtual collaboration and asynchronous work on the rise, IT and HR have to work hand in hand. Managing a distributed workforce is also more complex – whether employees work from home or in other states and countries. It requires constant coordination between Finance, Legal, and many other departments.

The way forward

A consistent employee experience helps you mitigate compliance risks, retain employees, and coordinate work effectively. While you won’t get rid of all inconsistencies overnight, here are some strategies to consider.

Do less manual work: Humans aren’t made for repetitive tasks, so highly manual processes as always error-prone. Focus on setting the direction and leverage automation to increase consistency.

Learn from others: Who says that you have to make all mistakes yourself? There’s no one-size-fits-all, but best practice policies and processes can put you on the right track and save you a lot of time.

Break down silos: Employee experience initiatives are cross-functional projects. They span HR, IT, Finance, and other internal operations teams. Orchestrating work across these employee experience teams is one of the most critical challenges today’s organizations face.

We’ll zoom in on each of these strategies in future articles. Subscribe to our employee experience newsletter to get them straight to your inbox.

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