Design your workplace around the employee experience

December 8, 2022 By    

Kathleen Quinn Votaw knows how to fill a room with positive energy, acknowledge the people around her, make a personal connection, and ask questions and listen.

It’s not much different from how she believes today’s workplace should feel.

Kathleen Quinn Votaw photo by LP Gas staff

Kathleen Quinn Votaw addresses propane industry professionals at National Propane Gas Association fall meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona. (Photo by LP Gas staff)

Quinn Votaw, a talent acquisition expert, author and business owner, doesn’t need to tell you how much the workplace has changed. You already know that based on your experiences over the past several years.

But during a presentation at the National Propane Gas Association’s fall meetings in Scottsdale, Arizona, Quinn Votaw took propane industry professionals further inside the mind of the employee to help explain the transformation that’s taken place since COVID-19 rocked the globe in 2020.

“We have to wake up and do some things differently,” she says.

With about 11 million job openings and 6 million unemployed workers in the U.S., employees now know they have a choice. And if they come work for you, you as the employer must realize, well, they don’t actually work for you.

“They work for their families,” Quinn Votaw says. “We as employers have to understand it’s about their families. You’re No. 2.”

With so much FUD in the world – that’s fear, uncertainty and doubt, as Quinn Votaw explains – employees want a voice. They have their own definitions of how the workplace should look, so “it’s time we ask our people.”

“We have to invite them into the conversation,” she says. “I can’t give you everything, but I can listen.”

Paradigm shift

Traditionally, businesses have set out to create an optimal customer experience, while U.S. workplaces have fostered an adversarial relationship between employer and employee, Quinn Votaw says. But these paradigms are shifting.

“Now it’s about the employee experience,” she says. “When the employee has a great experience, the customer and employer have a great experience.

“We all have to focus on the employee experience because that’s where the rubber meets the road,” she adds. “If they are content to show up and live your brand and values, and you can retain them, you’re going to be ahead of most employers, regardless of industry.”

But retaining employees has become a conundrum in today’s labor market. Employers have become all too familiar with phrases like “The Great Resignation” and “Quiet Quitting.”

Quinn Votaw presented the top 10 reasons people leave your company. They include unfair compensation (No. 7), overwork (No. 6), lack of training and development opportunities (No. 5) and boredom (No. 4). But the No. 1 reason people leave? Lack of recognition.

“People want to matter,” she says.

‘Make propane sexy’

Think about the kind of discipline and rigor that you put into attracting high-value customers. Quinn Votaw says it’s time to put that same type of effort into finding your high-value employees.

Recruitment is a sales process, with multiple touchpoints, so you’ve got to tell your story. It’s time to introduce your human resources people to your marketing people. 

In the process, show people how to bring the fun.

“It’s time to make the propane industry sexy,” Quinn Votaw says.

With so many people on the move and relocating to other states, she says, it’s important to recruit throughout the entire country and make employee referrals – with healthy bonuses – a serious part of your strategy.

About the Author:

Brian Richesson is the editor in chief of LP Gas Magazine. Contact him at or 216-706-3748.

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