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The importance of employee experience for small businesses

Ryan Demaray, managing director of SMB EMEA, SAP Concur

The UK government looks set to make flexible working a right for every employee in the country. With the lockdown showing that flexible working can have benefits for both businesses and employees, this is a step in the right direction. Research shows that 68% of employees never worked from home, but now, 91% say they’d like to be able to do so at least some of the time once the pandemic is over. Even more importantly, a survey by Bloomberg shows 39% of employees say they’ll consider quitting if their employers aren’t flexible about remote work. Businesses, including small businesses, can simply not ignore this.

Small businesses are already witnessing the so-called ‘Great Resignation’ and the news is full of stories about the talent crunch facing organisations up and down the UK. Now more than ever, small businesses must focus on providing their employees with a good experience to ensure they are not losing talent that is increasingly difficult to replace.

So,what must small businesses do to improve the employee experience?

Focus on wellbeing

Flexible work provides many benefits for employees, but it also runs the risk of impacting the mental health of employees. Many employees are report feelings of loneliness from missing out on conversations and social interactions with colleagues that they’d usually speak with regularly.

Small businesses should be aware of these challenges and do their best to address them, in order to create a fulfilling environment that employees can thrive in long-term. Communication is absolutely vital to achieving this, as connection and being heard are two of the most meaningful things for an employee. If you want happy and productive employees, they need a sense of purpose and satisfaction that comes from having those needs met in their professional environment.

A meta-analysis by Gallup found that companies with highly engaged workforces are 21% more profitable than those with poor engagement. It is vital to keep your employees engaged during this new era of work.

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Lean on technology to connect a distributed workforce

With employees spread across different locations and no longer confined to the office, it can be difficult to encourage connection and collaboration. Small businesses should lean on technology to overcome this and ensure teams are able to continue collaboration, as well as connect in a more personal way.

Zoom and Teams have become second nature to most people and provide a great tool for teams to remain connected no matter where they are located. Businesses should use these tools to foster relationships between team members that might not necessarily meet, host social events, and just generally engage staff as much as possible. This will help foster a greater connection and atmosphere amongst a distributed workforce.

Free up employee time from the mundane

Every business wants happy employees, and every employee wants to do valuable work. Small businesses can achieve both by simplifying and speeding up tedious processes. Every business has the mundane tasks that staff would rather avoid and thanks to technology, this can be achieved.

Intelligently automated and simplified processes can free employees’ time to focus on the meaningful work that they like and do best. A global survey conducted by SAP Concur and Forrester showed that more than 60% of respondents named travel and expense (T&E) management software, accounts payable (AP), and automation tools as the most important tools that enhance their employee experience.

Now is the time for small businesses to focus on employee experience and flourish in the modern world.

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