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There are few things as daunting as being a heavily tattooed woman presenting the concept of EX (Employee Experience) at Boardroom level in South Africa – I should know! Most of the time I get looked at as though I’m a purveyor of snake oil or trying to get them to pay a retainer for rubbing amethyst on their staff when, in fact, I’m trying to open their eyes to the simple truth: if you don’t have a solid staff retention strategy in place, you’re going to lose a lot of money.

Studies on the cost of employee turnover are all over the board. Some studies (such as SHRM) predict that every time a business replaces a salaried employee, it costs 6 to 9 months’ salary on average. For a manager making R400 000 a year, that’s R200 000 to R300 000 in recruiting and training expenses.

Not sure how you feel, but that’s cash I’d rather keep in my business. Or invest in shoes. Depends on the day.

10 tips for a top employee experience

Anyway, as I’m sure you know, we focus heavily on providing a digital way to communicate and engage with your staff. We look at how to effectively land culture; onboard new staff; create engaging content; open up the communication channels between staff and the business; and, of course, have a bit of fun.

But it can’t be all about culture (or the touchy feely stuff as most companies seem to view it) – there HAS to be a practical application for any communication tool or strategy. It must make a difference in the day of the staff member or else it becomes just another box to tick. So when it comes to employing a digital strategy to enhance your EX plan, here are my Top Ten Tips to get that adoption rate up.

1. Focus on and reward the Right Culture

Is your company all about sharing resource? Heavily reward and incentivise the sharing of 3rd party resources. User generated content is the most effective and credible amongst peers. Don’t agree with me? Why do you think Facebook is so effective…

2. Seed the campaign with the Right Employees

Make sure you’ve tested your tech with the right employees. They should represent a good cross section of your demographics and locations. Ensure that they enjoy their experience and have a hand in crafting the experience for others. These people will be great supporters when you launch the campaign and will also be able to offer first tier support to other staff.

3. Offer Training

Not everyone is born knowing how to use every piece of tech out there and I’m sure that your business has at least a few people who aren’t 100% tech savvy. Invest in a little training or ‘welcome’ video to get people up and running quickly – it’ll save you in the long run. Oh and please don’t make a pdf guide for them.

4. Provide a road map and a strong pre-launch campaign

What do you want them to do? What benefits are there for them? How does the rewards or achievement system work if you’re using one. How will it roll out? How can they provide feedback?

Answer these questions up front if possible and make sure that you do a pre-launch campaign that explains at least the basics.

5. Make communication a two-way street

Allow your staff to give feedback via surveys and polls or just straight messaging – do they like it? Is it adding value? What would they like to see next?

6. Be Flexible

This is my favorite. If your staff are telling you that they don’t like something, e.g. a specific channel or item – be open to changing that, even if you love it!

7. Offer Benefits

Can staff be rewarded for engaging? This doesn’t have to carry a hard cost – what about a day off? Use of the MD’s parking spot for a week? Desk swap? Those items can be hard to co-ordinate though, so maybe consider a budget for this program or even investing in training and wellness content that can be accessed to those who achieve. You’ll be surprised just how many staff members are interested in bettering themselves and learning.

8. Test your marketing on your staff

Wish you had a test base for your marketing efforts? Want to do some A/B testing on a concept? You have an audience that is dying to be involved in shaping the business – use it! Allow your staff to vote on which mailer they like most or which CSI project you should support. Want to test your social media imagery – test with your biggest fans first!

9. Cover the basics

Create a single sign on if you can. Place all resources and links in one place to speak to the practical element of usage. Build in all of the CRM basics from the word go – Happy Birthday, Happy Work Anniversary, shout outs to those who achieve, a fun place to see what’s happening in the company.

10. Don’t take yourself too seriously

Make it fun – from the bottom to the top, everyone should be sharing and enjoying! Check the analytics, if one group isn’t engaging, something’s wrong.

And if all else fails, rub them in amethyst powder and add two teaspoons of snake oil…