Better for your people, better for business: How four brands are nailing EX and driving productivity

Posted in Best Practice

by alicia

The world is staring down the barrel of a productivity crisis.

Median global productivity growth has been 1.75% lower since 1980 than the three decades before – and we're left with stalling economic growth and emptier wallets.

Low productivity matters. Not just to C-suites and shareholders, but to everyone who winds up with less money to spend. It's a big deal.

Whether you want to admit it or not, employee experience (EX) plays a major role in productivity levels.

"Employee experience constitutes the entire journey an employee takes with your organization from pre-hire to post-exit interactions and everything in between." - Gallup

Great employee experiences drive high employee engagement. As Gallup says, engagement "is created on a daily basis through work environment and relationships."

Crappy employee experiences, on the other hand, deliver low engagement. That's the problem.

Why does it matter?

Teams with higher engagement deliver a range of better business outcomes including productivity and profitability:

  • The most engaged business units outperform the least engaged by 10% on customer ratings; 21% on productivity and 22% on profitability.
  • They have 37% lower absenteeism; 65% lower turnover (in high-turnover businesses); 28% lower product shrinkage; 48% fewer safety incidents and 41% fewer quality defects.

Bad employee experiences create disengagement, which spreads low morale and drives high turnover.

The result? The perfect storm for poor productivity. Low employee engagement spreads like a virus until everyone is sick. And when a business reaches this point, it can be hard to work out how to recover. Some businesses wind up paralyzed, feeling the problem is so big they don't know where to start.

But there is good news.

Creating strong employee experiences isn't as difficult as it seems. And a lot of companies are already doing a great job.

Great employee experiences start here

EX isn't about bandaid solutions like yoga or free breakfasts (although they can be cool, obvs!).

It's about connection. Relationships. Creating meaningful moments where your people feel embedded, respected and empowered in your business.

These four businesses do a great job – and enjoy impressive productivity and performance gains for their efforts.

Canva: Onboarding and beyond

Few companies can boast Canva's explosive growth trajectory, gaining over 15 million users, 300,000 paying customers, $125 USD funding and a $3.2B USD valuation in seven years.

And employee experience has been instrumental in their astronomical growth.

Canva has been ranked as Australia's best place to work by both Great Place to Work and Linkedin (not bad!).

When it comes to exmployee experience, Canva are true pioneers – and they say onboarding plays an especially vital role. As Linda Lin, Canva's Team Happiness Coordinator says:

"In the last 12 months we've onboarded 280 people globally and almost 200 people just in Sydney. That's a huge amount of growth and more than 50% of our whole workforce have started within one year. So onboarding is a really, really important part of employee experience at Canva."

Canva use experience-driven onboarding to deliver WOW experiences to all their new hires, at scale, with total consistency.

From offer to six months' employment, Canva deliver a high-touch, personalized, onboarding journey that inspires, sparks joy, and empowers new hires to embed fully into the Canva culture.

It's not just Canva who understand the importance of starting on the right foot. Onboarding isn't the only element of EX, but it is the first – and first impressions are the most lasting (as the adage goes).

LeasePlan, for example, also recognized onboarding as a lynchpin of EX – they've recovered nearly $90,000 AUD in lost productivity from stopping pre-start dropouts with experience-driven onboarding. Plus another $120,000 AUD by accelerating time-to-proficiency in new hires.

Microsoft: Rewriting the working week

Japan has some of the longest working hours in the world.

Nearly a quarter of Japanese companies have employees working 80-hours overtime a month, often unpaid. 12% are working more than 100-hours overtime a month!

Around 35% of Japanese employees don't take any annual leave. No wonder there is a 'karoshi' (death from overwork) epidemic.

This deeply ingrained culture of overtime makes Microsoft Japan's Work Life Choice Challenge 2019 a brave experiment.

And a successful one! Through August 2019, Microsoft Japan revolutionzed the concept of the regular working week, closing their office every Friday and giving employees paid leave. They also restricted meetings to 30-minutes and encouraged online meetings instead.

The results? Not only did 92% of employees rate the experiment, Microsoft reported a sales boost of nearly 40% over the period.

The point is, challenge culture and convention. It may be radical, revolutionary or sound downright outrageous, but experiments are just that, experiments. If they don't work, so what? But if you don't try, nothing changes.

Stryker: Taking action

Stryker generated $13.6B USD in 2018 – a net sales increase of 9.3%. Go back a few years – let's say 2010 – and you're looking at $7.32B USD. That's a fabulous success story.

And it directly tracks to employee engagement. Stryker won the Gallup Great Workplace award several times and recently topped the 2019 Australian Best Places to Work rankings for medium-sized companies.

A great example of their dedicated to EX is their engagement initiative in their Mahwah plant. 

At 48%, the Mahwah plant had lower engagement scores than the Stryker average (still double-digit percentage points higher than U.S. averages...)

They decided to enlist the help of an HR specialist who found the low scores were stemming from an over reliance on surveys without action (a super common problem). She developed a comprehensive strategy to help teams take meaningful action - not just read responses – to improve engagement.

Working closely with managers, she identified specific actions to help employees feel heard, valued and empowered. Engagement increased by nearly 20% in Mahwah as a direct result and Stryker wouldn't be where it is today without taking this granular approach across their 50-odd locations.

Patagonia: A cause disguised as a company

Patagonia is an enormously successful private company, with revenues approaching $1B USD/year and a track record of continuous growth and outperforming peers.

They credit their commercial success to their distinctly non-commercial culture.

"Patagonia is a cause disguised as a company," says Dean Carter, Patagonia's CHRO.

"You're working for a deep mission, and the way you think about HR is different."

With Patagonia, it's not about discrete EX initiatives. It's about creating a holistic culture that flows naturally from their deep environmental activism.

That's things like:

  • Two-month paid environmental internships
  • Incredible flex-time and remote working
  • No annual performance rating (managers are coaches, not judges)
  • On-site integrated childcare
  • Paid paternity as well as maternity leave
  • Flat organizational structure with no reverence for hierarchy
  • Using technology to gather and use feedback
  • Paying bail if employees are arrested for environment activism
  • Paying for nursing mums to travel with their nanny and baby

And the results – when you treat your people that way – don't lie.

Patagonia are experiencing double-digit growth (while giving 1% of top-line sales to the environment), almost too-low-to-believe turnover at 4% to 4.5%, and 100% retention of working mums post-maternity.

Patagonia proves the business case for putting your people first. Empower them. Inspire them. And they'll give back to you ten-fold.

The key takeaway

The results speak for themselves, prioritizing employee experience is good for business.

Start delivering rich, consistent, delightful experiences that put your people first, and you'll experience higher engagement, higher productivity and ultimately higher profitability too. Get going!

Awesome EX starts from onboarding. Enboarder is the world's first experience-driven onboarding platform helping you engage, inspire and empower every person you hire. Ready to step up your onboarding and EX game?

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