René Wardenaar

Work becomes an experience

The economy is picking up and that’s clearly visible on the labor market; finding qualified personnel is becoming increasingly difficult and the UWV’s expectation (Employee Insurance Agency) is that more and more industries will start to feel this pain in the coming years.

Therefore, the first question is how you can distinguish yourself as an organisation to ensure that the scarce potential of talent chooses you instead of your competitors. Naturally, the second question is how to keep those employees on board. This is not an easy question to answer because not only shortage on the labor market is increasing, but also the demands and wishes of (starting) employees are changing.

The pull factor

According to Jacob Morgan (thefutureorganization.com), there is a clear shift among employees from the need for basic tools (utilities) through involvement (engagement) to experience. Morgan challenges employers to create an environment that employees are so to say drawn to, because it offers them the opportunity to develop themselves in relative freedom within a culture of involvement and meaning.

``Employees do not work somewhere because they have to, but because they want it!``

An experience versus a transaction?

Morgan contrasts experience with transaction; you deliver work in exchange for a paycheck (transaction) or you experience work in exchange for your salary. Compare it to buying a loaf or booking a parachute jump; in the first case you receive something physical whose effect quickly fades away. A parachute jump on the other hand makes you an experience richer that lingers much longer. The same applies for the workplace. If employers create circumstances that make work an experience, employee satisfaction will remain on a higher level for longer period of time than when you focus on ‘give a little, take a little’.

Connection between organisation and employee

Crucial in this experience is the connection between organisation and employee. A work experience survey of the Integron (2017) shows that only 19% of the 4400 respondents recommend their employer. According to Integron, this 19% of respondents work with so-called top performers; organisations that have a good foundation when it comes to work experience. With the other 81%, the employer often only makes sure the necessary work is done in exchange for a salary. The connection clearly leaves much to be desired here. Of course, the key question is: what do these top performers do differently, so that work is perceived more as an experience than as a simple transaction?

The key question

In order to make work an experience, Morgan distinguishes a large number of characteristics that are divided into 3 categories; technology, physical work environment and culture. In short, this means that the supporting technology must be tailored to the wishes and requirements of the users (the employees). This could mean, for example, that the IT infrastructure is structured so that employees can (not must!) always be connected to the organisation. The physical work environment must be inviting and should fit the company culture. As examples, Morgan mentions flexible, work-oriented workplaces (including working from home). But also, the interior and facilities need to be friendly, well-groomed and modern. Cozy corners with a wide choice of coffee and tea varieties, invite you to go to the office.

The culture of 'top performers'

The above-mentioned aspects are visible in more and more organisations, but that still does not make work an experience. Only when the third characteristic, the culture, sincerely invites you to get started, you can speak of an ultimate work experience. The culture of top performers is characterized, among other things, by proactively offering opportunities for personal growth. The idea behind this is that the development of employees ultimately benefits the organisation. Managers position themselves as mentors and coaches and are genuinely interested in their employees. Their role is to create the right conditions for their employees. So not only physically but also mentally! Top performers understand that employees want to be proud of their work and their organisation. They consciously work on creating engagement by, for example, regularly organising get-togethers, partly during working hours, to strengthen and intensify the mutual ties.

A different view on employees

The outlined culture requires a changing view on work and employees from entrepreneurs and managers; investing in attention and involvement should not be a trick of sticking plaster. Creating a positive work experience leads to motivated and loyal employees, also on the longer run, and that is the biggest gain in a tight labor market. A big additional advantage is that employees advertise their own organisation. And let’s face it; what is a better and cheaper way to get good personnel than recruitment by your own people!

In short, to attract and fascinate the starting employees of today, much is required of an organisation. Smart labor market communication combined with a positive work experience definitely gives you a head start.

Perhaps you are wondering where your organisation is at when it comes to work experience? We would be happy to visit you to talk about it without any obligation.

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