Five short years ago, Gartner declared customer experience as the new competitive battleground. Now, more than 90% of organizations compete on customer experience, investing heavily in people, processes, and technologies to stand out. But there's a new competitive frontier that is becoming a priority for organizations: the employee experience.

Employee experience is not an HR function, it’s not the ping-pong table in the break room and it’s not perks like a holiday party. Rather, it starts with the day one experiences of a new hire and extends to the ongoing daily experience each employee has navigating and functioning in an organization.

A couple of factors have contributed to this new priority taking hold. First, the labor market supply and demand cycle has flipped. In 2018, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that there were more job openings than unemployed job seekers , which decreased the unemployment rate to 3.9% — its lowest point in almost 50 years. It’s even lower for the most coveted college-educated millennials. The supply/demand flip has given the most sought-after workers the confidence to voluntarily leave their jobs for better opportunities at the highest rates since January 2001 . This scenario has fueled intense competition to recruit and retain the talent that enterprises invested in heavily to bring onboard. Social sites like Glassdoor now disseminate information that fuels the competitive struggle to attract and retain employees. Today, job seekers evaluate employers and the experience they deliver to their employees via a steady flow of anonymous postings on social networking employment sites. Here, the good, bad and ugly are revealed, so that potential new hires have an unfettered view that helps them decide which organizations deliver the kind of employee experience they want.

Second, today’s millennial talent has a fundamentally different set of expectations about employment in general than previous generations of workers. Today, it’s all about the “experience.” It’s no longer enough to offer a job that pays the bills; rather, an organization also must be able to provide employees with flexibility, a sense of purpose and connectedness, a collaborative and engaging work environment, and technology to help them do their jobs with as little friction as possible. The ability to meet these expectations is especially important for the millennial generation because, by 2025, millennials will represent 75% of the global workforce.

Statistics like these certainly back up the hype about the war for talent. Clearly, organizations that are looking to attract and retain talent must do so based on more than just salary and benefits. Employees are looking for the total package, and employee experience figures prominently into that.

So, how can organizations entice and keep top-quality employees in this modern, competitive labor market? The answer in part lies in the Workplace Experience Services they deliver. Before we outline what that looks like, let’s first take a deeper dive into how the state of employee experience has changed over the past decade.

Workplace Experience Trends

How employee experience is delivered has changed drastically since the start of the financial crisis in 2008. Before the crisis, businesses employed “connectors” — executive secretaries and administrative assistants, for example — who helped new hires and employees navigate the organization and who supported their day-to-day needs. These “needs” ranged from accessing supplies and tech support to reserving a conference room and ordering food for a meeting. In short, connectors minimized friction in the organization by anticipating the needs of employees to make the workplace a community that was more enjoyable and less frustrating.

As a result of the financial crisis, organizations pared down their staff. This included eliminating many of the connector jobs. The strategy worked until 2017 when the supply/demand ratio between employers and employees flipped. Now businesses are fighting to attract and retain talent. This includes the need to minimize friction within the organization despite the fact that most of the connectors are gone. The level of friction an employee is willing to accept in today’s job market is far less compared to a few years ago. This friction has emerged as one of the reasons employees leave for greener pastures. Against this backdrop — and given the new standards the market is setting for employee experience — organizations began envisioning a workplace that motivates employees to come into the office by once again creating a sense of community in which employees feel cared for and special.

This goal gave rise to the idea of a more agile work space that would attract the best talent, encourage collaboration, provide an engaging work environment and improve efficiency.

Workplace Experience Services Can Be A Key Differentiator for Your Business

The concept of Canon’s Workplace Experience Services emerged as a way to support this strategic initiative with a suite of integrated services. Put in motion by a dedicated, on-site team, these services enable an organization to advance such vital office activities as hoteling, conference room management, employee onboarding, hospitality and catering, supply management, mail and print center support, reception, concierge services, and more to provide a superior experience for employees and clients. Following are some of the key elements Canon enables to provide a successful workplace experience program.

Community-building and event management. A large part of the modern employee experience centers around the community. Arguably, people spend most of their waking hours at work, so it’s important that they have an opportunity to get to know their colleagues a little better. Part of Workplace Experience Services is community-building and event management, which include a hoteling system that offers employees the option to reserve workspaces — even in different locations so employees can work with colleagues they wouldn’t otherwise ever meet. It also includes event planning and management to encourage socialization at events outside of work hours.

Reception, host and concierge services. These services include front desk management, such as professionally greeting guests; and coordinating meeting details, such as reserving conference rooms and organizing catering to make sure events run smoothly.

Office and hospitality services. Employees can spend a large chunk of their time on mail, shipping and receiving, printing, and records management — all of which may take them away from their core job duties. The prep required for setting up meetings — ordering catering, setting up audio/visual equipment, etc. — is equally as time-consuming. Office and hospitality services tackle these tasks so that employees can focus on getting their job done.

Facility support. Employee productivity can be significantly impacted when the work environment is uncomfortable. By managing the physical details in a work environment — such as desk chair height, room temperature, and working coffee machines and light fixtures — Workplace Experience Services teams ensure the employee’s physical environment is conducive to a productive workday.

Technology enablement. Technology enablement refers to light tech support, such as for login issues, problems with an audio/visual system in a meeting room or even phone issues. Separate to tech support but nevertheless related is the use of technology to track and communicate the workplace services activity. One example of this is iOFFICE, a web-based ticketing system for conference rooms, printing and mailing, and facilities management. A Workplace Experience Services team leverages this ticketing system to coordinate a productive and collaborative work environment that runs smoothly. For employees, this translates into an easier time booking conference rooms, arranging meetings, and finding their way around offices when visiting various locations.

Analytics for continuous improvement. Analytics show the value of an organization’s investment in Workplace Experience Services. The analytics are typically based on data gathered from the iOFFICE ticketing system.

Leading research institute enhances employee experience, reduces costs with Workplace Experience Services

When it came time for a global research institute to move to a more agile workspace, Canon Business Process Services had just the right approach and solution. Canon began by assessing the organization’s current state and found that there was a lot of unused office space. Altogether, Canon helped the organization determine that it could vacate and sublet an entire floor to save $1 million. Capital could then be redirected to renovating existing floor space into an open, agile work environment.

The organization then worked with Canon to further maximize the value of its new workplace by using Canon’s hoteling and concierge services. The hoteling service enables employees to use an online reservation system to book their workspace eight weeks in advance. However, in order to encourage collaboration and community, employees are only permitted to reserve the same workspace for a limited number of times over the course of a calendar year. By using different workspaces throughout the year, employees can get to know their coworkers from different departments. The hoteling service boosts morale as well, as employees can come into the office as needed and save on commuting costs. Furthermore, as part of the service, Canon delivers personal mobile file cabinets to each employee’s workspace and provides mail, copy center, and hospitality services.

Canon’s concierge services include refreshing each work station after use and managing housekeeping and maintenance. Employee support is also part of Canon’s services, and includes light technology support for issues like trouble logging in or problems printing out a document. Canon’s meeting concierge coordinates meetings and arranges catering and technology needs so that every event goes off without a hitch.

Altogether, the organization has saved significant costs associated with reducing its office footprint and by hosting meetings on-site rather than at an expensive venue. In addition, Canon has improved employee experience as well as service for its clients.

Global professional services firm gets a facelift, improves employee experience to draw new talent

With an initiative to refresh and consolidate workspaces across locations while providing a superior employee experience to attract new talent, a global professional services firm engaged with Canon Business Process Services for its Workplace Experience Services. The organization already worked with Canon for a mail and print center management program. Now, it would add an office concierge and hospitality program as well.

Canon’s concierge and hospitality services include floor coordinators who provide a range of services, including event planning, front-desk management and reception, coordinating meetings and meeting rooms, and catering. Technology support is also provided as part of Canon’s concierge services.

As part of these services, Canon also established a facilities coordinator who reports to the organization’s local facilities management group. The coordinator responds to requests for maintenance and general office space servicing as well as updating and managing floor plans with employee moves, transitions and new hires.

After successfully implementing the new program at one of the organization’s major market locations, Canon went on to do the same in three of the organization’s other major locations. With Canon’s Workplace Experience Services now yielding the enhanced employee experience they had hoped for, the organization has plans in place for Canon to test a suite of hoteling services at another of its locations.

Deliberate focus and investment in employee experience make a lot of sense. To understand why it’s important, we need only look at the evolution of the customer experience: Once, measuring only customer satisfaction was acceptable. Now, in a competitive environment, measuring the customer experience as a whole is a best practice for organizations that want to succeed today. With the labor market at full tilt, the same is now true for the employee experience.

The real challenge now lies in how — and how quickly — organizations can reshape the employee experience in their organization to make it a priority. By providing the services needed to foster community and reduce friction in the workplace, organizations will win the war for talent and position themselves for success today and in the future.

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