• Ali H.

The snakes and ladders game of employee engagement, experience, and wellbeing.

Updated: Jan 19, 2021

Broadly speaking, most of us have heard of employee engagement and more to the point, have at some time, either felt engaged in our work or come across initiatives aimed at developing our engagement. If there are daily hindrance demands in our work, or without the right resources, it's unlikely that we'll reach that engaged state. This principle is the same for our teams.

In addition to employee engagement, you might have also heard of the developing concept of employee experience. Which goes beyond our physical workplace and technology and captures the entire daily work journey of an employee. The idea being organisations develop a work environment that people enjoy working in, full of positive experiences. It is suggested that organisations that get this right will have a competitive advantage.

A few terms to understand.

  • Work engagement considers employees who are stably enthusiastic, dedicated and immersed in their work (caveat, even highly engaged employees can have down days).

  • Employee experience considers the employee perception of the organisational, physical and psychological daily work touchpoints.

Unless you work in a super forward-thinking organisation, it's unlikely that they will be ready to re-invent their employee experience or admit that it could do with some tweaking... However, that doesn't mean as leaders; we can't find an opportunity to tweak and create a better place to work. So, how can we practically take this for use with our teams?

Try the work game of snakes and ladders.

Day 1, ideally, this is when a potential candidate is thinking about joining your organisation. However, you can start as early as the interview process or later if that is what you've got to work with. Day 100, our end goal, an engaged employee. Be mindful that this is a continuous process that doesn't stop at 100; employees do not stay engaged forever without on-going work.

Consider what sits between employee Day1 and 100; multiple physical and psychological daily work touchpoints(experiences), or in our game, Snakes (harmful, and hindrance aspects to our work and wellbeing) and ladders (positive resource, growth challenges and aspects of our work that enhance our wellbeing).

The point is, these daily experiences either hinder or foster our teams' wellbeing at work. You and your team will soon map out the work aspects that cause stress or in contrast, provide positive challenge and growth. Employee experience should shape the journey to an engaged employee, and there is plenty of research on engagement that can support you with this.

A few helpful pointers;

Coach supervisors and team leaders to identify touch points that their team are likely to experience moving forwards. Consider the psychosocial demands, what hindrance aspects are we able to remove from that journey. You can check out a few here. Given the new hybrid ways of working, you might come across a few more too.

Emphasise the use of strengths, rather than a sole focus on employee weaknesses. Consider the aspects of work recovery; there is plenty of research that suggests employee engagement is better following a rest from work.

Use it as an opportunity. Think about the bad experiences you have received throughout your career. It doesn't need to continue, if your longer-term ambition is to create the best place for your team to work, look to move away from a transactional view of your team, instead consider people as people, we need to create a person-centred place to work.

Co-Design, this needs the input of the whole team, not just a leadership team. If you're working across an entire organisation, set up multiple co-design teams with varied levels and business areas. If you can harness your people data, this should help provide you with significant insight to help inform where your challenges are. If you're not asking the right questions, it can be an excellent time to start.

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