The Employee Experience: What Different Markets Have In Common and How We Can All Make the Employee Experience Better
By Kelly Fumiko Weiss
Over the course of my career I’ve had the privilege of working in multiple markets.
Throughout high school and college I worked exclusively at nonprofit organizations, ranging from helping children with special needs to social service agencies to immigration advocacy organizations. I am currently on the Board of a local food pantry.
After receiving my graduate degree in social service administration I worked in municipal government and later worked for many years in a large public sector school district.
Twice I have worked at religious organizations, including a Christian school in Hong Kong and an Archdiocese Pastoral Center.
And I’ve also worked in the private sector. Most recently at two different large IT consulting firms.
I’m not sure how many other people have crossed markets as much as I have, so I wanted to share some employee experience commonalities that I’ve seen. Spoiler alert: what these markets have in common FAR outweigh their differences.
I know the urge to think the grass is greener can be strong. If you are feeling the constraints of the nonprofit market and think maybe the private sector would be better - I can tell you, there is NO market that has figured out how to prioritize their employees well.
First, let’s talk about what drives these markets. These are oversimplifications, but they paint a broad picture and give us a starting point.
Public Sector Organizations
Notice something missing from all of these lists?
What’s missing is the employees. The people doing the work. Without fail, across markets, even at companies that really care about their employees, companies that are a true delight to work at, the employees will come second (or third, or last) to their larger drivers.
Let’s talk about some other similarities in the employee experience across these four markets:
I’m guessing that regardless of what market you are currently working in, most if not all of these bullet points resonate with you.
So, why is it that we don’t put our employees first?
Why is there cognitive dissonance around the idea that if employees are well taken care of, they will be able to better do the jobs they were hired to do?
When did we stop valuing expertise?
Why do we think we can get work for free?
Why isn’t a well taken care of workforce seen as the better business decision?
Let’s face it, we are all complicit in this because we all need our jobs. So none of us rock the boat too much. Being a disruptor can lead to being unemployed.
And if we are in leadership, we are beholden to the constraints of how much money we have and therefore how much money we can spend. These things are real.
It’s easy to say that the employee experience should be better when you’re in the vacuum of an aggrandizing blog post. It’s much harder to push back on the tide of poor employee experiences when you need to get your paycheck and your health insurance OR you are the one that needs to keep the company books balanced.
So, what are we to do?
How do we make employees feel seen and respected at work in the face of immovable institutional barriers?
Here are some suggestions that do not require institutional change, cost no money, AND if enough people do them, intrinsic change may follow. At Allize, we have about a million more of these suggestions, so look out for future blog posts where we will continue to talk about these and other topics.
Like I said, this list doesn’t solve the institutional problems. And there are a million more ideas we could share. But if you enacted even half of this list, what a difference it could make.
We’d like to hear from you on ways you’ve discovered to improve the employee experience at little or no cost. It doesn’t matter what market you are in. The problems are often the same. Please share your ideas in the comments below. We can’t wait to hear from you!