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More businesses have woken up to the fact that analyzing the employee experience across the entirety of the employee lifecycle is crucial to their efforts around retention and engagement.

Part of what's driving this large scale dissatisfaction among employees. A study from Gallup reports that beyond dissatisfaction, an alarming number of people report being disengaged and unhappy.

A staggering 60% of respondents report being emotionally detached at work and 19% go as far to say that they are "miserable."

What is employee experience?

The employee experience describes every interaction someone has with an organization. It begins before they’ve formally joined and never really ends because, even after someone leaves, they’ll still remember and talk about their experience.

Like with customer experience teams, those responsible for managing the employee experience break it down into different stages so it’s easier to optimize.

Employee experience design means taking an intentional approach to everything that makes up the world of work: the responsibilities of the role and the way they’re expected to be met, the environment people are working in, the lived experience of working with fellow humans.

Lauren Scholtz, Learning and Development Manager at intelliHR

What Do Employees Want from Their Experience?

Employees' expectations and desires for their work experience focus on aspects that foster both personal and professional growth. Key desires include:

  • Work-Life Balance: This includes flexible working hours, remote work options and policies that support family and personal time.
  • Meaningful Work: Provide a sense of purpose and making a positive impact.
  • Professional Development: Employees want access to training programs, mentorship and career advancement paths.
  • Recognition and Appreciation: Employees value a culture where their contributions are acknowledged and celebrated, whether through formal recognition programs, performance bonuses, or simple verbal appreciation.
  • Supportive and Inclusive Culture: Employees desire a culture where diversity is celebrated, and they feel respected, valued, and included.
  • Healthy and Safe Work Environment: Especially in the wake of the pandemic, employees prioritize a healthy workplace with proper safety measures, wellness programs and support for mental health.
  • Effective Communication: Transparent and open communication channels where they can voice their opinions and receive honest feedback and information from management.
  • Autonomy and Empowerment: Employees appreciate when they are empowered to take initiative and contribute ideas.

The Impact of Employee Experience

The overall experience your employees have will have some obvious effects on your employer brand as well as the bottom line.

5 Key Metrics Tell the Story of Employee Experience

Measuring employee experience effectively requires a focus on metrics that reflect various aspects of an employee's journey in the organization. If you're just starting out, here are five that are absolutely essential to measuring experience.

  1. Employee Engagement Scores: Often gathered through employee engagement surveys, these scores reflect how emotionally and intellectually committed employees are to their work and the organization. Actively disengaged employees cost the world economy $8.8 trillion, according to Gallup's most recent State of the Global Workplace report.
  2. Turnover Rate: The rate at which employees leave the organization can be a strong indicator of the overall employee experience. The cost of replacing an employee often ranges from half to two times the employee's annual salary.
  3. Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): This metric measures how likely employees are to recommend the organization as a good place to work. It's a quick and powerful indicator of employee satisfaction and loyalty and can save you a good amount of money on recruiting costs.
  4. Absenteeism: Frequent unplanned absences can signal poor employee engagement or workplace dissatisfaction. Some estimations predict the cost of absenteeism to be $3,600 per year for each hourly worker and $2,660 each year for salaried employees.
  5. Performance and Productivity Metrics: Although indirectly related, consistent performance and high productivity levels can indicate a positive employee experience, as engaged employees are often more productive.
Take a systematic approach to measuring employee experience

Take a systematic approach to measuring employee experience

Action plans should be developed to address metrics where the company has performance issues. Focus on transparency and communication with employees about the steps being taken. Continuous monitoring and adjustment of strategies are essential, as is equipping HR leaders and managers with the necessary skills to positively impact employee experience.

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What is the employee lifecycle

Opinions differ, but the employee lifecycle, or employee journey as some call it, is normally split into 6 stages.

The stages of the employee lifecycle

  • Attraction - This stage involves developing engaging job descriptions, utilizing various recruitment channels and showcasing the company culture, benefits and career growth opportunities for top talent.
  • Recruitment - Identifying and attracting potential candidates to fill open roles, using various channels and strategies to find the best fit.
  • Onboarding - Integrating new hires into the company, focusing on training, culture acclimation, and providing essential resources.
  • Development - Continuous skill enhancement and career growth opportunities for employees, fostering long-term professional progress.
  • Retention - Keeping employees engaged and motivated, using strategies like rewards, growth opportunities and positive work culture.
  • Offboarding - The process of smoothly transitioning employees out of the company, ensuring a professional end to the relationship. Exit interviews, transition of work and handoff of company property are examples of tasks that take place in offboarding.

Naturally, there’s a lot of overlap between each stage, but separating them out like this allows those tasked with employee experience management to focus on particular areas of improvement.

Some organizations even hire a Chief Employee Experience Officer to lead and coordinate all these efforts.

Tactics to Drive an employee experience Strategy

Like any experience, a good EX is a lived experience. You can't speak it into existence, you'll have to change your approach to it tactically and change the way everyone from managers to the CEO thinks about EX.

Make EX Your Brand

As everyone is a potential employee, every interaction someone has with your organization will influence their experience of you as a potential or current employer.

For example, this could be how your customer satisfaction team handles a complaint or a conversation with a friend at a dinner party.

The fundamental aspect of designing the employee experience is your brand—or how you’re perceived as an organization and employer.

Do you deliver on your promises? Do you offer a great compensation package and invest in your peoples' growth and development? Are you working on interesting and challenging projects? Do you champion a wider cause beyond making profits?

When the answer to these questions is a resounding "yes", you'll see significant gains in the areas of employee retention, engagement and brand advocacy from within.

Embed EX in Everything You Do

Embed EX in Everything You Do

Explicitly include employee experience in your company’s mission and core values. This demonstrates a commitment to your workforce at the highest level.

Your brand is your anchor for creating all the other elements that go into employee experience design, from your compensation philosophy to your onboarding experience.

Treat EX as a product 

Designing great employee experiences is a never-ending process of hypothesizing, experimentation and iterating.

Product thinking around EX has some substantial benefits when it comes to your approach.

Benefits of a product approach

  • Continuous improvement
  • User centric design
  • Measurable impact
  • Cross functional collaboration
  • Competitive advantage

How you go about doing this could play out in a number of different ways, whether it's rolling out new employee benefits or perks, making the switch to hybrid working or a 4-day week, or optimizing your performance management system.

Operationalizing this involves calibrating your human resources and people ops teams like a product team.

Ensure that all initiatives regarding the employee experience are aligned with, and contribute to, the organization’s mission and objectives.

HR teams are responsible for working with others to create tools, processes and operating procedures that need little-to-no HR/People Ops management upon completion (managers are responsible for carrying out performance reviews, for example).

This is so HR/People Ops has the capacity to keep experimenting and creating new products and initiatives that improve the employee experience and help achieve your desired business outcomes.

Combine Operational and Experience Data 

Integrating operational data (O-data) and experience data (X-data) is crucial for a comprehensive understanding and improvement of employee experience.

O-data comprises tangible metrics such as productivity levels, turnover rates, and absenteeism, while X-data encompasses more subjective aspects like employee satisfaction, engagement levels and overall sentiment.

Why Combining These Data Types is Essential

  1. Holistic View of Employee Experience: Combining O-data and X-data provides a more complete picture of the employee experience. While O-data can show what is happening within an organization, X-data explains why these events occur. For instance, high turnover rates (O-data) coupled with low engagement scores (X-data) can pinpoint underlying issues in workplace culture.
  2. Informed Decision-Making: This integrated approach enables more informed decisions. By understanding both the operational metrics and the employee sentiments behind them, leaders can make targeted changes that address both the practical and emotional aspects of the workplace that impact employee wellbeing.
  3. Predictive Insights: The combination can reveal trends and patterns, leading to predictive insights. For example, changes in productivity (O-data) alongside shifts in employee morale (X-data) can forecast potential challenges, allowing for proactive interventions.
  4. Enhanced Employee Engagement: Understanding employees' feelings and perceptions in relation to their work environment and roles allows for more effective strategies to boost engagement and satisfaction.
  5. Tailored Solutions: Merging these data types aids in creating solutions that address specific issues. For instance, if operational data shows a decline in performance in a particular department and experience data indicates low morale, targeted initiatives like team-building activities or workload adjustments can be implemented.
Author's Tip

Author's Tip

Regularly gather X-data through employee experience surveys and feedback tools, and combine it with O-data like business performance metrics for a comprehensive analysis.


Make the Best Onboarding Experience

You only get one chance to make a first impression and your onboarding process is that chance.

A good onboarding has some significant benefits, including faster time to productivity for the new hire and increasing your chances of retaining employees for the long term.

Google's approach to onboarding provides a good example. They begin onboarding before the employee's first day, providing necessary information and setting clear first-week goals. This proactive approach ensures new hires feel prepared and valued from day one.

Pro Tip: Start pre-boarding with welcome messages and resources. Day 1: focus on culture and connections, not paperwork. Set clear early goals and provide ongoing support.

Measure EX

Accurately measuring employee experience is crucial for understanding and enhancing workplace satisfaction and productivity.

Often, the benefits of measuring employee experience show up in identifying specific areas in need of improvement, which allows your staff to create targeted interventions.

This boosts employee engagement as well. By actively seeking feedback, employees feel heard and valued, which enhances their engagement and loyalty.

A great example of this is the way Salesforce regularly uses pulse surveys to gauge employee sentiment, providing quick, real-time insights into the workforce's mood and employee needs.

Actionable Advice: Conduct regular surveys for immediate feedback. Analyze results for trends, implement changes based on findings, and communicate actions taken back to employees.

Build the best employee experience 

As you develop your thinking around EX and EX design you'll want to take a deep dive into aspects such as HR metrics and methods of collecting employee feedback.

A great place to do this is a conference dedicated to employee experience.

Something to remember

To ensure there is organizational commitment to employee experience, integrate EX metrics into leadership scorecards. This will ensure it remains a focal point in decision-making and organizational strategy.

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Finn Bartram
By Finn Bartram

Finn is an editor at People Managing People. He's passionate about growing organizations where people are empowered to continuously improve and genuinely enjoy coming to work. If not at his desk, you can find him playing sports or enjoying the great outdoors.