November 1st 2021
By: Basem Abouelenein

The Journey of an Employee Experience

A hot topic in has been the escalating war for talent and the needs for organizations to find innovative ways to remain competitive in attracting and retaining top talent. One of the areas that top employers seek that competitive advantage is delivering excellence in employee experience.

A Bit of History

In fact, according to a 2021 global survey conducted by Willis Towers Watson across a range of industries – More than 9 in 10 employers stated that enhancing employee experience will be their top priority over the next 3 years.

So, what is employee experience? Employee experience is defined as “the employee’s holistic perceptions of the relationship with his/her employing organization derived from all the encounters at touchpoints along the employee’s journey” (Plaskoff, 2017). Employee experience draws on a well-established process used in the customer experience field known as journey mapping.

Fundamentally, journey mapping allows employers to visualize key phases/moments of an employee’s entire lifecycle with an organization, from their pre-hiring experience up to their exit and beyond.

Starting the journey mapping process first requires the employer to identify and outline key characteristics of several personas (fictional representations of employee segments). This process is necessary as it highlights how different personas are expected to have varying experiences across the lifecycle and corresponding solutions that cater to them.

Next, the different personas will go through the main phases of the employee’s lifecycle. These phases generally include: Attraction, Recruitment, Onboarding, Development, Retention & Separation. However, other major moments or key processes can be identified e.g., Performance Feedback. The steps and interactions that employees go through at each of these phases are then mapped accordingly.

A critical element in this journey mapping process is to leverage the various data sources to define key expectations, goals, pain points and sentiment to avoid basing on assumptions. This highlights the importance of using a continuous listening approach to collect feedback in a structured and regular manner linked to an employee’s lifecycle. Measuring this impact can be done either qualitatively or quantitatively. For instance, ENPS (Employee Net Promoter Score) is a key metric to measure employees’ experience quantitatively. It provides perspective on how employees would recommend their organization to family and friends based on their overall experiences.

Engage your Employees

With the context now clearly laid out, opportunities for improvement can now be set up. Since employee experience is so closely tied to interactions, managers and co-workers play a significant role in shaping those experiences. Employees endeavor to achieve better supervisor and colleague relationships. They want an empathetic supervisor that cares for and looks out for them in all aspects of their work-life and camaraderie, as well as respect and cooperation among their colleagues. They want to engage in meaningful tasks and get recognized for it, having a safe and conducive environment to grow and realize their full potential. The employer must therefore display genuine interest in their employees and collaborate to help invest in their future. It goes without saying that an employee experience initiative can’t be successful unless it is driven by a leadership team that values their employees and are committed to it.

Also, it is highly suggested that employees should be involved in co-creating solutions for improving their experience as it allows them to feel ownership of the process and consequently increase buy-in. As mentioned before, all newly developed solutions should be followed by assessing employee experiences and improving those solutions based on continuous feedback from employees. You may have noticed that there is a starting point in each of the phases of an employee’s lifecycle: it’s all about communication, in the broad sense.

In fact, what do employees regard as a high-quality employee experience? Naturally, an exceptional employee experience puts employees first. Employees want to be heard and understood, have their needs and expectations met, be involved in shaping their experiences, avoid hassles (related to their tasks and organization) and expect the organization to provide unique and personalized experiences. Addressing these in tandem goes a long way in showing how organizations value their employees experience, but it is an impossible task to do if there is no communication between the employees and the organization.

In person interpersonal communication stays the most appropriate way to understand employees, because managers can see them on a daily basic and often a non-verbal communication can also tell a lot to an aware eye. With the prevalence of teleworking however, it is increasingly difficult to have face-to-face communications on a regular basis. So, it becomes more difficult to see these non-verbal behaviors. Therefore, many communication tools are available to give the employees the opportunity to share with the organization their point of view, such as innovative job postings, interviews, engagement surveys and performance dialogue to name a few. These are great tools to have if your organization wants to communicate effectively with the employees.

Does your organization have all the tools to communicate effectively at every phase of your employee’s lifecycle?

Basem Abouelenein

Senior Data Analyst at EPSI