Why Professional Services Firms Must Prioritize Employee Experience

by Kylee Stone Jun 1,2024

The People Strategy Leaders Podcast

with Srikant Chellappa, CEO

Today, professional services firms focus extensively on innovating their services and delivering a superior client experience. They invest significant time and resources in hiring the right talent to help drive these business goals. 

However, a majority of firms struggle to provide a high-quality employee experience (EX) to their workforces. The costs of not doing so are significantly high. 

For example, a 2023 Gallup survey revealed that one of every two employees in the USA was open to changing jobs, while 48% were engaged in a job hunt. Only 28% of employees were likely to recommend their current place of work. 

In this blog, we deconstruct the benefits of delivering a superior experience to workforces and how service firms, in particular, can build a sustainable framework to achieve this goal.

The Value of Talent in Professional Services

Let’s begin by defining a professional services firm: these are organizations specializing in delivering tailored services, often at a large scale, within specific domains such as finance or IT.

Due to the scale of their operations, service firms leverage technology to automate repetitive tasks and deliver more value. For example, technologies such as Generative AI are becoming more effective in performing tasks at scale. 

However, alongside technological advancements, human capital assumes a critical strategic role in shaping innovation, driving strategy, and ultimately bolstering revenues and profitability. Individuals are recruited for their specialized skills and domain expertise rather than generic capabilities.

Consequently, each talent hire occupies a unique and vital strategic position within the firm, contributing significantly to its overall success and bottom line.

Also Read: Crucial Stages in the Employee Lifecycle Journey for Measuring Engagement

The Impact of Positive Employee Experience

2024 survey revealed that the turnover rate of service businesses across various sectors in the US has either stayed the same or increased as compared to the turnover rate in 2019. Businesses looking to reduce turnover need to build a positive employee experience

Here’s a snapshot of how a positive employee experience can boost the success and resilience of professional services firms:

Benefits for the Firm

Here are the top benefits for the firm that stem from fostering a positive employee experience:

1. Increased Employee Retention 

The cost of hiring in professional services firms is high due to the level of expertise required in recruits. Hence, an organization’s ability to retain talent becomes even more important

Higher employee retention rates translate to reduced costs associated with the recruitment and onboarding of new employees. Businesses can also groom candidates from the existing pool of employees for leadership roles. 

2. Increased Employee Productivity

Employees who experience higher motivation and morale are more likely to innovate and deliver superior business outcomes. They bring more energy and enthusiasm to their work.

3. Enhanced Client Satisfaction

Research indicates a significant correlation between employee engagement levels and business performance, with companies boasting highly engaged employees often outperforming competitors by 21%.

Engaged employees play a pivotal role in crafting exceptional client experiences. Their heightened commitment allows them to cultivate trust, consistently meet deadlines, and foster long-term client relationships, thereby significantly enhancing overall client satisfaction.

4. Improved Employer Branding

Happy workers make for the best brand promoters. Their good work environment enhances the company’s reputation and draws in top talent. In this manner, the business not only keeps its present employees but also attracts new hires who are looking for a stimulating and encouraging work environment.

Also Read: PTO Accrual: What It Is and How It Works

Benefits for Employees

Here is how a positive employee experience benefits employees:

1. Feeling Valued and Supported

Employees who feel appreciated at work typically have better job satisfaction levels. They are driven to achieve company objectives and are more productive.

2. Opportunities for Growth and Development

Working in a safe, encouraging atmosphere helps employees advance their careers by helping them take on new challenges, pick up new skills, and take on leadership positions more quickly.

3. Work-Life Alignment and Well-Being Programs

Employees can achieve their personal and professional objectives without sacrificing work efficiency. They can also participate in wellness initiatives that support mental and physical health, which enhances general well-being and increases job satisfaction.

Challenges of Prioritizing EX in Professional Services

In the pursuit of excellence, results, and revenues, businesses risk overlooking the needs and aspirations of employees. 

Professional services firms, in particular, face three key challenges in prioritizing employee experience as follows: 

1. High-Pressure Work Environment and Demanding Deadlines

In a digitally transformed environment, businesses need to deliver on deadlines much faster than ever before. Businesses tend to focus all their energies on driving results. However, without access to the right tools, collaborative culture, and support, workforces can fall behind on deadlines and deliver sub-standard work.   

2. Client Needs Often Take Priority, Leading to Employee Burnout

Clients demand a much higher standard of outcomes today due to the domino effect of pressure to deliver their own business outcomes. 

When businesses only prioritize client needs without serving employees, there is a significant risk of employee burnout, which results in a drop in productivity. A drop in employee productivity directly impacts the quality of the customer experience and, in turn, revenues.

3. Lack of Clear Career Development Paths for Employees

While all employees seek growth, businesses may not have the tools to design growth paths for diverse employee profiles.

 For instance, the growth path for a knowledge worker differs from that of a team leader, yet both seek growth. Businesses need a plan to spearhead career growth in a meaningful, sustainable way. 

Strategies for Enhancing Employee Experience

Here are the key pillars that can help businesses elevate the overall employee experience:  

Building a Positive Work Culture

Here’s how firms can enhance their employee experience by prioritizing a positive work culture:

1. Foster Open Communication and Collaboration

Today, businesses are rapidly shifting from offsite, hierarchy-based workplaces to flat, hybrid, multi-geographical setupsBusinesses need to reimagine how communication and collaboration work in such a set-up, with clear guidelines, frameworks, and tools in place. 

2. Recognize and Reward Employee Achievements

Introducing structured programs that offer a mix of financial and non-financial acknowledgment and rewards goes a long way in incentivizing employees to be productive and drive business milestones. 

For instance, Engagedly implemented a rewards program for technology business activities in 38 global geographies where employees accrued points and could redeem them for gift cards when performing activities such as self-evaluations. This helped boost employee morale and foster a culture of recognition and appreciation.

3. Promote Work-Life Alignment and Well-Being Initiatives

A growing number of employees today are prioritizing work-life alignment and mental health goals. Businesses must recognize these shifts and offer programs that support employees in these endeavors.  

Also Read: How To Upskill Employees: Seven Strategies for Career Growth

Investing in Employee Development

Consider the following strategies:

1. Create Opportunities for Continued Learning And Skill Development

Research indicates that 94% of employees are likely to stay if a company sponsors long-term training and courses. 

One of the finest methods of inspiring employees is to establish an environment where employees can acquire new skills through training programs that enable them to take on new market problems.

2. Offer Mentorship Programs and Career Coaching

Organize mentorship and coaching programs that provide employees with structured opportunities to have conversations that encourage them to advance in their careers.

3. Encourage Participation in Industry Conferences and Events

Exposure to industry events and engagement with industry leaders not only serves as inspiration. Employees can stay abreast of industry trends, build external relationships, and serve as brand ambassadors for their companies.  

Modernizing the Work Experience

Here’s how firms can modernize the work experience to prioritize employee satisfaction and well-being better:

1. Equip Employees with the Latest Tools And Technology

One of the biggest challenges of living in a tech-enabled work environment, is that employees may not understand how to leverage tools to their advantage. Investment in training, as well as equipping them with the right tools, can be a game-changer for employee productivity.  

2. Offer Flexible Working Arrangements

Employees seek more flexibility to work as per their life priorities. This can be achieved through opportunities to work seamlessly in a remote or hybrid work mode.  

3. Invest in a Collaborative and Well-Designed Workspace (if applicable)

A contemporary workplace needs to be reimagined to facilitate the needs and aspirations of employees. Collective investments in the right tools and technology and streamlined processes can have a transformative impact on employee experience

Also Read: Common “Team Collaboration Issues” And How To Overcome Them?

Wrapping Up

Today, disengaged employees are costing the global economy $ 8.8 trillionThis highlights the need for professional services firms to prioritize employee experience. 

On the other hand, businesses that make early investments in enhancing the employee experience have greater potential to increase productivity, revenues, and profits. 

Engagedly offers a holistic Employee Experience solution designed to cultivate high-quality engagement, implement a robust rewards and recognition system, and foster a profound sense of belonging among employees. With the help of these solutions, organizations can effectively curb attrition rates and drive towards achieving their business objectives.

Check out our cutting-edge solutions today to stay ahead in HR management!

Employee Engagement

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are professional services firms?

Professional services firms specialize in and deliver a specific set of services on a large scale to businesses. These services can range from technology, hospitality services, and customer service to accounting and bookkeeping, manufacturing, financial services, and realty management.   

2. Why are professional services firms important?

Outsourcing specific functions to a professional services firm enables businesses to focus on their core business while experts take care of the outsourced functions. This approach can result in cost savings. It also gives firms the flexibility to scale up or scale down as per their real-time needs. 

3. Why is it so important for professional services firms to improve the employee experience (EX)?

A superior employee experience enables professional services firms to retain employees for a longer period, reduce cost-to-company per employee, boost employee branding, build a leadership pipeline, and drive a sustainable, profitable business. 

Subscribe To The Engagedly Newsletter

Kylee Stone

Kylee Stone supports the professional services team as a CX intern and psychology SME. She leverages her innate creativity with extensive background in psychology to support client experience and organizational functions. Kylee is completing her master’s degree in Industrial-Organizational psychology at the University of Missouri Science and Technology emphasizing in Applied workplace psychology and Statistical Methods.

Privacy Preference Center