In times of economic boom and low unemployment, employees are settling for nothing less than positive work experience. This is further validated by the influx of Generation Z into the workforce. The ‘employee experience’ is a major factor in a company’s success; as a poor experience can lead to a disengaged and poor-performing employee.

The ‘employee experience’ is a rather broad term, however. Some may misconstrue it as having lavish benefits, generous vacation days, weekly happy hour allowances, etc. However, these do not necessarily equal a healthy, positive employee experience. In fact, without a strong foundation, these perks can erode positivity and create a culture of entitlement.

The employee experience must include the human experience. HR must consider the thoughts, feelings, emotions and overall qualitative experience that staff has while working at a company. The true employee experience is how someone feels, the quality of their relationships and communications and the level of performance that they are supported in achieving.

Managers must create work environments where employees can operate at their highest potential. For employees to unlock the best versions of themselves requires leaders to integrate systems like continuous performance management. However, performance outcomes are not something that can be managed directly; high performance is a by-product of focusing on the factors that give rise to the outcomes. Managers should focus on invisible motivators such as finding a meaning and purpose for employees; rather than bogging them down with office politics and pressure from leadership.

Leadership must also be committed to providing support in order to maintain a positive employee experience. It is common for leaders to have a results-driven mindset, especially when the bottom line is the main concern. Pressure to perform is counterproductive and does nothing to encourage a positive employee experience. It can lead to stress, fear and toxicity and may result in employees becoming less productive and disengaged. Leaders should have the mindset of: “how do I help my people become the best versions of themselves?”, in order to foster high performance and engagement.

A sense of psychological safety encourages a culture of high trust and vulnerability. The employee experience and comfort in the workplace will improve if they feel comfortable with giving feedback, sharing ideas and are allowed to take the initiative.

Ensuring innovation, open communication and collaboration require giving employees the ability to take risks without fear of social or financial punishment. Employees who are scared to voice their ideas or give crucial feedback stall creativity and innovation in the workplace. Positive change is constantly an ongoing process. Companies and leaders must take the initiative in implementing a culture of continuous feedback.

When workers strive to become the best that they can be, they will be able to thrive and use their unique strengths and talents to produce results that support the growth of the business. If all of this is done right, companies can experience uncommon levels of loyalty, determination, and passion from their employees. As a result, leaders will be free to spend time dealing with business problems rather than people problems.