The power of creating ‘peak’ employee experiences


The employee experience is comprised of everyday micro and macro events and occurrences, from passing conversations with colleagues to memorable career celebrations. The bigger experiences can create a ‘peak’ or ‘valley’ moment (depending on whether it is positive or negative) that profoundly impacts the overall employee experience. So, how can reward managers harness what we know about peak moments to support a thriving workplace culture?

The power of creating ‘peak’ employee experiences

What are ‘peak’ moments?

Peak experiences are moments that involve deep, affirmative emotions that elevate an employee’s connection to purpose, accomplishment, and one another. According to OC Tanner’s 2022 Global Culture Report, they also have a longer-lasting impact than negative (valley) macro-experiences and make a dramatic difference to the overall employee experience if they regularly happen. As such, peak experiences are crucial to strengthening culture and helping employees to thrive.

To have a peak experience, an employee must have their needs met in these areas – autonomy, connection and/or mastery – thereby creating a strong, positive emotional response. In other words, employees are drawn to work that promises a degree of ownership, a sense of belonging, and a chance to exercise their skills in a way that makes a meaningful contribution to the success of their teams and organisation.

So, how does this understanding influence employee rewards?

Recognition is vital for creating peak experiences

If we look at the basis for creating a peak experience – by providing autonomy, connection and/or mastery – it makes sense for reward managers to focus on ways to enhance these.

Employee recognition is important since it satisfies all three needs. For example, recognising employees acknowledges ownership of work; directly connects employee contributions to a purpose, their teams, and their leader; and highlights their achievements. When integrated into organisational culture, recognition increases the frequency of positive employee experiences, creating continuous peak moments.

Latest research highlights that employee recognition increases the likelihood of ‘autonomy satisfaction’ by 225%, ‘connection satisfaction’ by 209%, and ‘mastery satisfaction’ by 201%.

Reward managers must ensure recognition is a living and breathing part of company culture and that both large and small efforts, as well as results, are recognised and rewarded. Leaders must appreciate and recognise individuals’ achievements and encourage peer-to-peer recognition.

Crucially, recognition methods and processes must be set up in a way that it can be effortlessly given and received, making it frictionless. By also ensuring that it’s genuine, meaningful and ideally public, others can share in the recognition moment too, delivering even bigger impact.

An effective reward strategy must look to create regular peak moments. As part of this, a recognition programme integrated into everyday culture should be a key consideration. This will not only enhance connection, but deliver a sense of autonomy and mastery, which together provide the foundation for a thriving employee experience.

The author is Robert Ordever, MD of OC Tanner Europe.

This article is provided by OC Tanner.


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