Workplace Culture

Practical tips for better employee experience going into 2022

By Gustav Anderson

Nov. 24, 2021

Summary

  • “Antiwork” culture is fueling the labor shortage.

  • To attract workers again, employee experience needs to be improved.

  • Addressing the fundamentals of workforce management can make employees happier, engaged, and productive. 


Most people at some point have felt the urge to pull a Christopher McCandless. The notion of dropping everything and running away to the Alaskan wilderness in an old van is a refreshingly romantic one, especially for the unfulfilled employee. Who needs overbearing managers, rude customers, and exhausting overtime hours anyways, right?

“Antiwork” and the American labor shortage

Rejecting the status quo in favor of pursuing unconventional lifestyles and career paths is back in vogue now, thanks to an existential crisis sweeping the workforce. Spurred by the pandemic, disillusioned people everywhere are questioning what it means to be happy in their work.

These sentiments are in large part felt by young people part of the “antiwork” movement. They are tired of the structure behind traditional work-life – all the clock-ins, deadlines, barely livable wages, and whatnot. 

As a result, America is facing an unprecedented shortage in labor. According to a Peterson Institute for International Economics report, the country still needs 6.2 million jobs filled. Even still, many are choosing to opt out of the workforce. 

Perhaps it is time employers take a look inward for a moment to reevaluate how employees feel about their jobs. A report from Gallup measuring factors like employee stress, anger, sadness, and worry says that overall employee engagement is down 2% globally, with only 23% of people saying they are very happy working for their employer. In America and Canada, only 34% of employees said they felt engaged in their work. 

So, workers are angry and worried in the workplace; that isn’t great. And it certainly isn’t helping the labor shortage. Heading into 2022, businesses should seek to reevaluate their understanding of employee experience and strive to improve it. 

Of course, this is not all about the worker; poor employee experience translates to both time and monetary costs for businesses. Frustrated and disengaged employees usually take longer to complete tasks, and their work is often below standard. This can all lead to higher employee turnover, which is very costly to businesses. Sometimes, replacing a worker can cost nearly 20% of what they make annually. 

Improving employee experience

There are many informative lists out there regarding how to improve employee experience, with most suggesting things like team bonding events and haphazard appreciation gestures. While useful at times, these are very vague and general approaches to solving the issue. Instead, it is worth tackling employee experience from a workforce management perspective. Many issues in employee experience stem from improper scheduling and attendance practices. Solving these problems will not only improve how employees feel about their jobs, but will also help businesses retain employees, attract new hires, and control labor costs. 

So, here’s what you can do:

Raise wages

This may seem obvious and overly simplistic. However, it is often because of this simplicity that managers overlook raising wages.

In these times, workers want to be recognized as human beings, and as such, be compensated accordingly. They want living wages more than they want 90-day bonuses. Some businesses already recognize this, choosing to adopt “pro-employee” mentalities and accept short-term increases in labor costs.

“There are a number of ways you can attract folks,” says Andy Cole of Elite Staffing during a Nov. 8 Workforce.com webinar. “But what we feel right now is that wages are by far the number one reason as to how you get people in the door.” As COO of a staffing agency covering 2,000 locations, Cole understands well what workers value most right now and going forward into 2022. 

Offer opportunities for shift feedback

Employees like to be heard, especially when it comes to how they feel about their shifts. Providing them with a tool to automatically rate shifts every time they clock out will give managers valuable insight into how satisfied employees are with their hours, coworkers, and environment.  

It is important to receive feedback on a regular basis. Doing this helps managers identify and resolve underlying issues employees may have early on before things get out of hand. 

Utilize shift swapping functionality

Sometimes, life happens. And when life decides to happen, rigid schedules can become a nightmare. Offering flexible technology that lets employees easily find shift coverage can go a long way in improving employee experience. 

“I think [my employees] being able to select the position or the shift for that day is really helpful because they feel like they’re helping the team,” says Katie Strehlow, an HR generalist for a baseball team in California. “They come in with a positive attitude, which always leads to a better work performance.” Her employees use shift swapping technology on their phones; she says it has led to an increase in engagement, satisfaction, and performance. 

Clean up your leave management

Recently it was discovered that Amazon has been incorrectly handling paid and unpaid leave for employees due to flaws in their time and attendance software. Many of these employees were wrongfully fired after the software marked them as “no shows” while on leave. If Jeff Bezos’ empire gets leave management wrong, so can any business. 

Employees must have proper visibility into their paid and unpaid leave. They also need to know that it will never be mishandled or miscalculated. Leave management systems that cater to employee experience should be accurate, transparent, and easy to use; ensuring these things helps employers build trust with their workers. Leave management should also integrate with scheduling systems, so as to easily avoid accidentally scheduling people when they are away. 

Enhance scheduling visibility

With fair workweek laws popping up across the country, it is becoming apparent that employees highly value predictive scheduling practices. Employers should make sure they send out schedules far in advance so as not to surprise their workers. 

In addition, schedules should be published onto a single live platform for all employees to view anytime, anywhere – this eliminates the confusion and frustration that comes from repeatedly sending out different schedules across an entire workforce. 

Personalize with granular employee data

It is helpful to have an in-depth workforce management system that provides data down to the individual. Understanding employee preferences through metrics like where and when they consistently show up late, or for what shifts they usually request a swap, helps managers address underlying experience issues. 

Granular employee data also helps managers equitably distribute shifts. For instance, managers can actively see while scheduling which employees have been given the fewest hours, and then react accordingly. Segmenting data in a personalized way like this also provides insight into sales vs labor hour metrics; managers can use this information to recognize and help out employees who might be struggling with productivity. 

Automate time tracking

According to a recent article from Forbes, outdated legacy systems are often unable to efficiently automate time-tracking; the inconvenience of this harms employee experience and increases administrative costs. 

Hourly employees want their lives to be easy, especially when it comes to monotonous tasks like clocking in and out and filling in timesheets. They also want peace of mind regarding the timeliness and accuracy of their paychecks. Automating time and attendance guarantees employees are paid correctly every time, eliminating the headaches of variables like overtime and pay differentials. An automated system like this also serves to make your employees’ jobs easier, improving their overall experience. 

Slick and easy UX

If employees are unable to navigate basic tools for their jobs, their experience is undoubtedly going to get really sour, really fast. Complicated and broken UX can cause anger and stress for employees and its something businesses should seek to eliminate. 

UX experts note easy logins, straightforward interfaces, consistent styles, and easy to find policies/contact info as several principles that should be considered when designing systems to maximize employee experience.

It comes down to the basics

To improve employee experience, you first need to solve workforce management. Scheduling and timekeeping are the fundamentals of how a business, and its staff, operate on a day-to-day basis. Streamlining these areas always results in higher employee motivation, engagement, and happiness. 

Want to get started? Hop on a call with us today. We’ll talk you through it.

Gustav is a communications officer with Workforce.com. His past work includes media outreach for a Guinness World Record team and market research published by the University of Maine. He has a keen interest in storytelling, frontline labor issues, and all things relating to pigeons.

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