Why employee experience matters in the UK public sector
04th May 2022
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To deliver a great citizen experience, public sectors must first focus on the quality of the employee experience. Our new paper explores how.
The public sector is there to deliver the essential services that citizens and businesses need. Ensuring citizens have a great experience of those services, however, takes work.
A common misconception is that improving the citizen experience means focusing on the external digital side. But while revamping websites, automating online processes and building apps can all help, a great citizen experience isn’t created through great service design or accessible digital channels alone.
More than anything, it’s created by people — by engaged employees who go to work every day determined to do their best for the citizens they serve. And there’s plenty of evidence that employees are more engaged when their own experience of work is a positive one.
The MacLeod Report1, for example, noted that:
- Councils with higher levels of staff advocacy (a key characteristic of employee engagement) were more likely to be rated ‘excellent’ by the Audit Commission2
- Hospital Trusts rated ‘excellent’ were twice as likely to employ people who advocate strongly for the organisation3
- 78% of highly engaged public sector employees believe they can make an impact on public service delivery or customer service4
How to create a great employee experience
Our new white paper, The Human Connection: Why your employees are your biggest and best driver of public service delivery excellence, looks at how public sector organisations can create a great employee experience that in turn drives a better citizen experience. It covers three areas that most impact the employee experience, with action points for public sector leaders to take away:
1. Create a culture where people feel valued and supported
Even small things like saying “thank you” and giving specific praise can be powerful drivers of employee engagement. Showing you value your people, by helping them to achieve their personal and professional goals, is key to keeping talent and knowledge within the organisation.
Gartner calls it “The Human Deal”, and find it increases employee satisfaction by 15%5. Bersin & Associates research backs that up, finding that organisations that practise effective employee recognition enjoy a 31% lower voluntary turnover rate.6
Evidence is there on the ground, too. An NHS employers case study shows that Chesterfield Royal Hospital NHS Foundation Trust achieved a 38-point increase in employee engagement from 2016-2019, partly by introducing internal employee recognition awards.7
Our paper explores how to maintain and improve levels of employee engagement in a time when more of us are working remotely or in a hybrid fashion – and how new tech can help.
2. Create spaces where people can do their best work
The right environment is critical for employees to be at their best, whether the space is physical or virtual, public-facing or internal, in the organisation’s premises or outside.
Today, organisations focused on employee experience are re-thinking spaces in three ways: optimising their own physical premises, supporting home or remote working, and creating new, virtual spaces for collaboration and engagement.
Leicester Fire and Rescue is one organisation that’s adopting virtual reality to train employees to carry out fire investigations – which the service says results in better knowledge retention, as well as providing a safe but still realistic training environment.8
Our paper looks at how public sector organisations can optimise workspaces for employees wherever they happen to be – and how to make use of new technologies like VR, hybrid collaboration tools and AI to make it happen.
3. Provide digital infrastructure and tools that support and enable people
While many citizen-facing digital experiences are shiny and new, internal systems tell a different story. They’re often a decade or more old – and frequently running on even older infrastructure.
The resulting clunkiness is bad for employee productivity, which in turn impacts the citizen experience. Think of the phone enquiry that takes ages to get to the right person, or the request for help that gets lost between departments and systems. They’re not the fault of the people handling the enquiry – it’s because their systems have let them down. In fact, Slack found that 64% of workers spend 30 minutes each day just switching between different systems they need to get work done.9
What’s needed is a rethink not just of how citizens interact with public services, but of how the employees serving those citizens experience those interactions. Our paper gives some tips and action points on using technology to make the employee side of the equation smoother too.
Get more insights in our Human Connection paper
At Virgin Media O2 Business, we partner with public sector organisations across health, justice, local and central government to provide technology solutions that build a positive work culture and deliver a superior experience for employees and citizens alike.
To learn more about how we can help you optimise your own employee experience and your citizen experience, read the white paper: The Human Connection: Why your employees are your biggest and best driver of public service delivery excellence.
4. Towers Perrin, Executive Briefing: Engagement in the Public Sector, 2007