Three must-have traits of an employee-centric enterprise
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Three must-have traits of an employee-centric enterprise

Three must-have traits of an employee-centric enterprise

A company that empowers employees to add value and offers a differentiating culture have three traits in common

Gulf Business

Regional business leaders who think back to 2019 will remember several things that are now alien to us – among them a clock-in, office-based culture and a tentative exploration of cloud computing. That was before Covid-19 snuck up on people, economies, and lifestyles to give us a world that should have taken decades to emerge. The clock-in culture has been supplanted by hybrid workplaces. The cloud is a part of most technology mixes. And while nothing can dispel the need for superlative customer experiences, today’s businesses are focusing far more on employee experience (EX) than they ever did before the pandemic.

The new EX obsession is not random, nor is it exclusively altruistic. Many studies tie employee experience to the bottom line. A Gallup study from 2017 – long before we had heard of Covid-19 – showed that engaged workforces could increase profitability by as much as 21 per cent, sales by 20 per cent, and customer ratings by 10 per cent. And just this year, Salesforce found that revenue growth can reach 50 per cent when enterprises focus on the employee experience.

Ayman Kattan, chief people officer, Bayzat

But as you might expect, EX is about a lot more than financial remuneration. UAE employers that have found themselves in the midst of the so-called “great resignation”, with 56 per cent of professionals in the country planning to change jobs in 2022, understand that if they do not meet their workforces’ expectations, they will leak talent — possibly to competitors. They understand that world-class EX is no longer just about employee happiness. It is about a culture – a culture that differentiates one working environment from another and empowers employees to add value. Companies that can do this successfully have three traits in common.

1. Digital platforms and policies
The post-Covid employee will not sit still for clunky tools, siloed working practices, or work-life imbalance. Digital-first mindsets, along with the right platforms and partners, set businesses on the path to outstanding EX. Most employees (93 per cent) believe up-to-date technology is one of the most important aspects of a workplace. Some 62 per cent cite its ability to give them the information they need, more than half (55 per cent) emphasise its potential to help them resolve issues quickly, and 46 per cent laud its productivity boons.

Employees want to succeed and add value. They just need the right tools to complete key processes easily, such as insurance renewals, reimbursements, and pay-slip admin. The right mobile apps and cloud-based platforms can provide the flexibility and autonomy today’s employees are looking for.

Forward-looking leaders also transform the way they manage and interact with their people, and as a result, they witness engagement at scale. In successful enterprises that have managed to enhance talent acquisition and retention rates, digital transformation is accompanied by policies and processes that help build consistent and inclusive workplace cultures. Values are easily understood by everyone and actionable in daily work. And non-work events that focus on communication and collaboration help to build team cohesion. Once digital empowerment is blended optimally with policy, a work-life experience emerges that encourages employees to contribute to the business and help it grow.

2. Quantifiable employee development
Despite the development of talent having always been key to any successful business, 72 per cent of UAE employers contacted by Bayzat either do not have a formal performance-management process in place or have yet to digitise it. Performance management must be designed in consultation with employees if enterprises are to create trusting, productive work environments. Generation Z and their millennial antecedents are traditionally resistant to authoritarian environments, so it is beneficial to adopt a training approach that focuses more on aligning the employee’s objectives with those of the business.

Goals should highlight how each employee’s role ties directly to corporate mission and strategy. Regular feedback via a central platform allows the employee, HR teams and line managers to keep track of progress. Modernisation of performance management not only streamlines processes but uncovers trends that lead to poor performance. Employees can be evaluated in a way that is less authoritarian and more incentive based.

3. Emphasis on employee wellbeing
Having experienced the physical and mental ravages of lockdowns, employees now place a higher premium on wellbeing. Businesses that succeed in building a competitive EX know that financial incentives and superficial perks now take a back seat to enhanced sick-leave entitlements, scheduling flexibility and more comprehensive insurance coverage.

Some 63 per cent of organisations have acknowledged the need to prioritise wellbeing in the pursuit of optimum employee experiences. And EX-focused employers are now looking to swap trivial perks for meaningful benefits such as online access to professional mental-health advisors and curated content libraries, or the ability to book online sessions with licensed therapists.

Giving employees access to free consultations at any time, from anywhere, will demonstrate a serious commitment to mental health and go a long way towards enhancing engagement. Cloud platforms make it easier to deliver such benefits, as well as others like telemedicine and online fitness groups. Cloud delivery means that even small businesses have access to a cost-effective way of helping their employees get the physical and emotional help they need, when they need it.

Keeping up
The impact of employee experience is no longer theoretical. Employers have come to see it as a core deliverable in the path to success. According to one study, 81 per cent are aware that it drives engagement, 80 per cent see it as the means to promote employee wellbeing, and 79 per cent consider it a productivity booster. And 78 per cent believe it will enhance overall business performance. Enterprises are now starting to compete on EX, so enhancing it will mean keeping up. But getting it right will mean steaming ahead.

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