EX: Cheapest Benefit; Biggest Return

The idea that companies should be focusing on improving their “Employee Experience” (EX) has surged in popularity in the last few years, undoubtedly because it has proven to provide substantial benefits for an organization. Just like with any other big new change, it is surrounded by skepticism and often avoided by even the most humanitarian business owners who are interested in the concept. Based on my conversations, this hesitance is almost always because of the negative financial impact it could potentially have on a business. There are many different reasons people have this concern, and it’s always understandable.

Look at any other big changes suggested to companies, from a trademarked approach to self-management or team mindfulness to web platforms and technology solutions. They sometimes have huge upfront costs with no guarantee of a return on investment or a hefty ongoing charge that will leave the company regularly questioning whether it’s still worth it. Other times, the change itself is rolled out so poorly that the company struggles to survive and is forced to abandon the entire thing. The truth is, any big change can be risky and costly.

However, this is also what makes EX stand out from the crowd. I regularly find myself convincing people interested in EX that there doesn’t have to be any financial risk because it costs nothing. You see, EX isn’t a model or a process: it’s an ideology; a belief that treating employees better will reap benefits for the organization. For this reason, focusing on your company’s EX is the cheapest thing you can possibly do to improve your organization. Here are two examples to show you what I mean:

Say you heard about a revolutionary organizational platform that would increase peer-to-peer relationships and trust while improving the mental and physical health of all your employees. First, you’d likely be skeptical that anything could actually do something that significant, but even if you believed it could, you would surely expect to pay a handsome fee for the right to use such a profound system. In fact, those are the benefits scientifically proven to arise from giving and receiving gratitude. You don’t need to hire help or implement any new tool to access those benefits. Instead, you just walk up to an employee and say, “Thank you for your hard work. It helped me out and I appreciate it.” Want to create a culture of gratitude so those benefits spread? A supervisor can tell a manager, “I noticed you acknowledging your team for their hard work. That’s inspirational leadership and you’re helping to make this place better. Thank you.” These people will be happier, healthier, and more loyal to you and the company. What does it cost to do this? A few seconds of conscious effort. No money whatsoever.

What if you would rather create a workplace where employees simultaneously had more paid sick time and got sick less often, and had the cost of babysitters covered while also having fewer callouts for family emergencies. This same change would reduce the cost of all utilities and food spending at your campus while generating less waste and lowering your office’s carbon footprint. To top it all off, it also improved the happiness and productivity of employees while saving them money out of their personal paychecks. Again, this seems like an unbelievable benefit any company would be willing to spend copious amounts of money on. Luckily, they don’t need to. It’s what you get from allowing employees to work from home, and it’s completely free to do. Sure, you need to set clear expectations and make sure everyone is being held accountable for getting work done, but that’s easier than you might think, especially since most employees are willing to do a great many things for the option to work from home. It might take some policy adjustments and some handiwork on the IT side of things but is otherwise free or very cheap to do.

As you can see, there are many ways to substantially improve not only the effectiveness of your organization but also the happiness and well-being of your employees, all without spending a single dime. These were just two of the many examples that exist and any one of the incredible people looking to spread the benefits of EX would be happy to give you pointers. Of course, there are paid options out there which will help you improve your EX far more, but if cost is the only thing preventing you from doing better for your people and your business, now you know:

Improving your company’s EX is the cheapest thing you can do.