Many of us are still figuring out how to measure employee experience (EX).
But it’s worth the effort because companies that focus on improving the employee experience have enhanced their teams’ productivity, retention, and engagement.
This, in turn, is leading to higher rates of customer satisfaction, increased sales, and advancements in overall organizational performance.
I’ve spent my career as an HR professional delivering business results by understanding and enhancing the employee experience across the employee lifecycle, and I look forward to sharing my learnings with you!
After reading this article, you will:
- Understand what we mean by the employee experience (EX)
- Learn about the employee lifecycle and how its phases relate to the employee experience
- Recognize the importance of gauging the employee experience throughout the employee life cycle
- Understand KPIs you can use to measure the employee experience within your organization
- Identify a variety of ways to collect EX-related data
- Measure the employee experience and leverage this data to boost your company’s overall performance.
- What Is The Employee Experience?
- Understanding The Employee Life Cycle
- Ways To Measure The Employee Experience
Let's dive in.
What Is The Employee Experience?
The employee experience (EX) is the culmination of all things an employee will observe, do, learn, think, and feel throughout their time with an organization.
An employee’s time with an organization is called the employee life cycle, beginning at the first encounter with a company and, ideally, continuing even after they’ve left.
Before we examine the ways you can measure the employee experience, let’s first examine phases of the employee lifecycle.
This will be useful for identifying ways to measure EX across the entire employee lifecycle.
Understanding The Employee Life Cycle
There are several ways experts delineate the phases that make up the employee life cycle. In this article, I will describe five basic components.
- Talent Acquisition—recruitment and selection. Recruitment involves all activities related to attracting qualified individuals with the required knowledge, skills, abilities, and other characteristics (KSAOs) that an organization needs or will need. Selection is the process of choosing candidates with the required KSAOs a company needs or will need independent of other variables where bias may creep in.
- Onboarding—the process by which new hires are prepared to become contributing members of the organization. This phase includes orientation, the setting of expectations between a new hire and their new leader, and position training. The end result of a successful onboarding process is an employee with all of the knowledge, tools, support, and other resources they need to be successful in their new roles.
- Development—training and learning and development opportunities. This is an ongoing stage that occurs throughout the employee lifecycle and is closely connected to an employee’s level of engagement, their decision to stay with an organization, and opportunities for them to grow—including advancing in their career.
- Retention—Retention refers to the effort of keeping employees performing, developing, and contributing to an organization’s success. It involves their continued inspiration and connection to the organization’s purpose and core beliefs. It is closely tied to ongoing development and employee engagement. When an organization fails to keep an employee performing, developing, or engaged in the workplace, they tend to leave.
- Offboarding—This refers to the end of the employment relationship between an employee and the employer. Employees leave for many reasons and all employees leave eventually. Identifying why an employee decides to leave provides an opportunity for the employer to develop a better EX for its remaining and future employees.
Now that you have an understanding of the phases of the employee lifecycle, we can explore ways to measure the employee experience across it.
In the next section, we will explore various ways to measure employee experience across the employee lifecycle.
We will also explore the various tools and systems we can use to collect and analyze this data to make improvements to the overall employee experience.
Ways To Measure The Employee Experience
There are four primary sources of employee data companies can use to measure the employee experience and assess the employee journey:
Not every organization uses all four of these sources, and the actual sources themselves may look different across organizations based on factors like digitization and company size. Let’s explore each of these sources in turn, starting with HR Technology.
Most organizations have some version of a human resource management system (HRMS), human resource information system (HRIS), or human capital management system (HCM).
These store information about employees and give insights into metrics such as turnover rate, referrals, complaints etc.
They also make it easier to manage any or all of the following HR functions:
- Applicant Tracking
- Benefits Management
- Attendance Tracking and Timekeeping
- HR Development Management, including integrated training and ongoing education through Learning Management Systems (LMS)
- Performance Management
- Career Planning
- Succession Planning
- Employee Communication
- Legal Compliance Reporting.
Most will integrate with enterprise resource planning system (ERP). This refers to a computer-based system that integrates many different systems within a business. An ERP will include functions like:
- Inventory Control
- Order Management
- Customer Service
Some of the data gathered from an ERP is valuable to capture employee data from other parts of the business. For example, customer service data, like customer feedback, would be useful for measuring a customer service employee’s performance.
Looking at the list of potential data sources housed in an organization, it starts to become clear how information from these systems can be used to measure the employee experience.
Let’s examine a few of these in more detail and review some of the KPIs associated with each.
The following graphic shows the relationship between a given HRMS/HRIS/HCMS capability, a related KPI, and the part(s) of the employee lifecycle they are associated with.
Changes in the various KPIs captured by these systems would suggest improvements or declines in the overall employee experience.
Understanding these KPIs and measuring them over time enables us to investigate the cause of the change and work to enhance improvements.
The list of KPIs one can track through the use of HR technologies is massive. The table below outlines some of the primary ones related to the employee experience across the employee life cycle.
|HR Function/Part of Employee Lifecycle||Important KPIs||KPI Definition||Relation to EX|
|Talent Acquisition||Usage of Employee Referral Program||% of employees who refer job candidates||Higher usage of the referral program may indicate higher levels of engagement of current employees|
|Talent Acquisition||Quality of Hire||% of new hires achieving satisfactory appraisal their first assessment||Higher rating on here may suggest recruitment/selection process brings in qualified candidates;|
May suggest new hire onboarding and development efforts are effective at getting new hires up to speed quickly
|Development||% of staff with development plans||% of employees with formal development plans||Higher metric indicates effort to grow talent, a critical element of employee experience|
|Engagement (Productivity)||Growth in sales||Comparison of sales numbers over a specified period||Sales growth indicates a functional level of productivity from the employee base|
|Business Productivity||Change in # customer complaints||Increase/decrease in # of complaints lodged in a period||A decrease in # of complaints might suggest higher levels of employee engagement whereas an increase may suggest the opposite|
|Retention||Turnover||A measure of the number of employees who have left an organization versus the number who have remained with an organization over a specified timeframe||A lower metric would suggest a better employee experience over higher turnover metrics. A higher turnover metric would suggest a less than stellar employee experience|
Employee surveys are another source of critical data for measuring the employee experience.
There are 6 ways to measure the employee experience via surveys throughout various parts of the employee journey. They include:
- Candidate Experience Surveys
- Onboarding Surveys
- Employee Engagement (Feedback) Surveys
- Pulse Surveys
- Exit Surveys
Candidate experience surveys
Candidate experience surveys ask new hires about their hiring experience.
This kind of survey would solicit feedback on every part of the recruitment process—from what prompted them to apply to their overall interview experience. Example questions could include:
- To what extent was the job description for your new role easy to understand?
- What prompted you to apply for your new role?
- How satisfied are you with the overall recruiting process through your offer?
- What changes or recommendations would you make to make this process better for all future candidates interested in joining us?
To collect the best feedback, the survey should be anonymous and employees should take it within their first two weeks with the organization.
Related read: How To Create A Great Candidate Experience (Even Through Rapid Scaling)
Onboarding Experience Surveys
Onboarding surveys capture data from new employees from offer acceptance through the end of the organization’s formal onboarding period. This period may differ between organizations but is typically a minimum of 90 days following a new hire’s start date.
These kinds of surveys gauge the new hires’ assimilation into the organization, evaluate their perception of the onboarding process, and give insight into employees’ performance throughout this period.
The latter enables the hiring manager and others involved in the new hire’s onboarding to offer recognition or feedback as needed.
It also enables managers to provide additional support and resources early on.
A common onboarding framework will include surveys at the 30, 60, and 90-day marks to measure the new hire experience at various points of the onboarding experience.
This is useful in gauging the process as a whole and in obtaining information a new hire might not want to directly share with their new manager.
Example questions could include:
- To what extent did your “buddy” or manager clearly explain your role and responsibilities? What questions do have since that initial conversation?
- Do you feel like you have the resources to be effective in your role?
- What additional training or resources would make it easier to do your job?
These check-ins should help give you insights into the onboarding experience and reinforce the new hires’ decision to join the team.
Further reading: How To Write A 30 60 90-Day Plan For Your Org’s Onboarding
Employee Engagement Surveys
Employee engagement refers to the degree to which an employee feels motivated and invested in their roles, their teams, and within the organization overall. This is related to measures of employee and job satisfaction.
Traditionally, employee engagement surveys take place annually and evaluate a wide range of areas around organizational culture.
Topics typically covered in these employee surveys include (but are not limited to) working conditions, ways of working, total rewards, communication, feelings of belonging, opportunities for growth, and trust in leadership.
Example questions you might find on an employee engagement survey include:
- To what extent do I feel like my colleagues and manager care about me?
- Am I paid properly for my contributions?
- Do I receive adequate opportunities to learn and grow?
- Do I have meaningful and regular career conversations with my manager?
The trend across many industries and organizations is to move away from measuring and acting on employee engagement once a year. Instead, many companies are measuring it throughout the year using pulse surveys.
Employee net promoter score (eNPS)
A company’s net promoter score (NPS) measures the customer experience and customers’ overall satisfaction with a company, its products and services, and the various interactions they have with it.
A company’s employee net promoter Score, eNPS, is a numerical value representing employees’ satisfaction and/or engagement with the place they work.
It’s the classic question “on a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to recommend working here to a friend or family member?”
The average eNPS of the employees surveyed provides a high-level metric to gauge the overall employee experience at your org.
But the eNPS method can be used to dig into different aspects of the employee experience too e.g. “how would you rate your onboarding experience on a scale of 1-10?”
Pulse surveys are a way to gauge employee attitudes, opinions, and engagement more frequently.
They serve as a digital measure of employee experience. As previously noted, many companies are moving to pulse surveys to capture real-time data on the employee experience rather than collecting it once a year.
This enables organizations to address concerns more quickly and prevent issues from simmering and potentially escalating.
Many companies conduct these quarterly or monthly and tend to contain the same questions over time to measure change.
Unlike employee engagement surveys, results are almost exclusively measured in terms of eNPS—employee engagement surveys are often measured on different scales (e.g., from one to five.)
Exit surveys collect feedback at the end of an employee’s tenure with an organization. They typically identify reasons for leaving, solicit employee input on what they will do next, and offer room to provide detailed feedback.
Exit surveys are especially useful for collecting data to distinguish between various forms of employee turnover (i.e., voluntary vs involuntary.)
In the case of unexpected, voluntary, and undesirable turnover, understanding the conditions that would have enabled a high-potential or talented team member to stay can be helpful in evaluating existing processes, programs, and company culture.
Typical exit survey questions:
- Why are you leaving the company?
- What would you have changed about your job?
- Were you provided clarity about your role and what you’re accountable for?
There are three kinds of interviews you can use to measure the employee experience:
Stay interviews are conducted by managers to identify why their employees choose to stay at an organization.
These offer useful insights into what the company is doing well to constantly enhance the employee experience to retain high-performing and high-potential talent.
Stay interviews are meant to proactively identify ways to measure and improve the employee experience, rather than react to an employee’s decision to leave and uncover reasons why when it’s too late.
Examples of stay interview questions include:
- What inspires you to come to work each day?
- What factors would make you consider leaving the company?
- When was the last time you considered leaving? Why didn’t you?
- What would make your experience at the company even more fulfilling?
- What are we currently doing as a company that we should stop doing, and what are we not doing that we should start?
The keys to making stay interviews meaningful and valuable are trust and action—teams must trust their managers to share feedback openly, and leaders must be willing to act on what they learn.
Related read: The Untapped Power Of The stay interview.
Exit interviews, like exit surveys, focus on employees preparing to leave the organization. Exit interviews are a reactive way to identify employee motivations to leave to identify experiences gone wrong and identify areas for improvement.
Exit interviews also serve as a way to offer the leaving employee support in their transition at the end of the employee lifecycle. Even though the employee is leaving, they have perceptions and opinions about the company they take out into the world with them.
Examples of exit interview questions include:
- What prompted your decision to leave the organization now?
- Identify the best and worst aspects of your job.
- What is your impression of your manager, team, and senior company leadership?
- Did you have the training and resources you needed to do your job? If not what was missing?
- What other feedback would you like to share with us about your time with the company?
These interviews should be conducted by the HR team to gain as objective feedback as possible. The HR representative conducting the interview focuses on offering the exiting team member closure and a positive, supportive impression of the organization.
Related read: How To Conduct An Effective Exit Interview?
These are good for those in higher leadership positions to understand the experience of employees one or more levels below them.
They’re conducted between senior leaders and someone who reports to one of their direct reports (hence the name). This way, information is unfiltered and there’s no ambiguity about how feedback should be presented.
Skip-levels are powerful tools to glean lots of valuable information about the employee experience, as well as other business concerns e.g. customer feedback.
Examples of some questions to ask in a skip-level meeting:
- On a scale of 1-10, how has this month been for you? What would have made it a 10?
- What can I be doing differently as the leader of this department?
- How can I help you with your career goals?
Related read: Skip-Level Meetings, A Powerful Leadership Tool
Focus groups are a way to measure employee experience by understanding the experiences of various groups of employees based on specific events, departments, or shared characteristics and backgrounds.
Focus groups offer a space for groups of employees to share their feedback and ask questions, as a collective.
Examples of focus groups include:
- Training/program participants post-event
- Town halls of varying sizes where executives ask questions of employees across the organization
- Newly formed teams or employees from recently disbanded/reorganized teams
- Employee Resource Groups based on characteristics like gender, race, and sexuality.
Focus groups help measure employee experience by offering opportunities for these different groups to openly share their experiences with each other in a more open platform.
They allow leaders to better understand survey, interview, or change responses and solicit feedback on the specific actions employees expect from the organization in light of the information they’ve provided.
Employee Experience Influences Business Outcomes
Measuring employee experience throughout the employee lifecycle is critical to positively influencing business outcomes.
Failing to evaluate these experiences prevents us from finding ways to empower and invest in our most valuable assets—our people.
The financial costs of employee turnover and lost productivity make the employee experience a top business imperative.
For more information on the employee experience, employee engagement, and the employee lifecycle, check out the links below.