Investing in employee experience

Jan 07, 2024

Investing in the employee experience, celebrating wins, and fostering a strong culture boosts morale, retention, and organizational success.

Employees are an organization’s greatest asset, and, for most businesses, they are their biggest investment. They can also be your most effective promotional tool. From client meetings to casual community conversations, your employees are the face of your organization, and the experiences and messages they share during these interactions pay dividends in recruitment, retention, and business development efforts.

It’s more important now than ever to invest in the employee experience, because, according to a recent survey, 54 percent of U.S. workers have chosen to stay in a role simply because they feel appreciated. When your employees feel valued, they are more likely to stay, increasing retention and your bottom line.

Investing in the employee experience can come in many forms:

  • Designing modern workspaces
  • Providing top-notch technology and resources
  • Practicing performance coaching
  • Creating growth opportunities
  • Celebrating the wins

According to Zweig Group’s 2023 Best Firms To Work For employee survey, 93 percent of ISG employee-owners report overall employee satisfaction. So, how do we do it? Investing in the employee experience and celebrating the wins, big or small, boosts employee morale and builds a strong organizational culture that people want to be a part of.

Something to celebrate. In 2023, ISG reached 50 years of doing business. To celebrate with our employee-owners, ISG hosted an event at the recently-renovated La Crosse Convention Center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. The space, designed by more than 80 of our employee-owners, is a testament to how we live our mission of making a difference for our clients and communities and made the perfect backdrop to come together with our peers to celebrate a milestone year and a milestone project.

The experience. More than 500 employee owners and their guests were able to come together at the La Crosse Center. Each element of the event was carefully thought out to achieve an impactful employee experience, down to the signature cocktails, which were named after original poems authored by the firm founder and often shared throughout the early years of ISG. Interactive exhibits showcased ISG’s growth over 50 years and the evolution of the La Crosse Center project. Videos and company photos that highlight our firm’s culture painted a picture of years past and played throughout the corridor. A dessert table accented with a 50th anniversary ice sculpture set the tone of the night, yet paled in comparison to the scenic views of the Mississippi River. A formal banquet was kicked off with a lively music video featuring employees. The video transitioned into a showstopping live entrance from the program’s emcee, followed by thoughtful words from firm leaders and an award ceremony. The Making A Difference Awards had three employee-nominated categories tied to our mission and gave employees the opportunity to recognize their colleagues for the amazing work they do every day.

After dinner, a band entertained guests as they conversed and danced the night away. Many didn’t want the evening to end, opting to gather at local establishments to continue the celebration and camaraderie.

The results. The energy at the anniversary celebration was unsurmountable. Laughter and excitement filled the halls and the ballroom. The energy and momentum continue today, months later. There is a buzz among the offices, and our team is invigorated.

Employee-owners who attended the event walk a little taller – proud of their firm, its history, and its future. Seeing their firm invest in employees empowers them to continue to invest in themselves as proud owners, eager to roll up their sleeves and tackle the next project.

Sometimes, it’s the little things. While achieving milestones is notable, it is important to regularly remind employees that their contributions are important and they are valued. Our employees agree that ISG provides meaningful opportunities for socializing and celebrating special events. Celebrating small wins daily with shoutouts, intranet posts, employee spotlights, happy hours, employee contests, and team gatherings also drives culture and motivates people to maintain momentum. Strategize how you can celebrate on a smaller scale more frequently and pair the daily wins with the larger celebrations to increase retention and loyalty. Many times, it’s the small gestures that make the greatest impact. 

Lynn Bruns, PE is CEO of ISG, a nationally recognized architecture, engineering, environmental, and planning firm. Connect with him on LinkedIn.

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.