What is employee experience?

At barest of bones, employee experience is the sum total of all the interactions your employees have with your company . It's everything your employees encounter, feel or observe along their journey with your company - from hire to retire. Employee experience isn't something only large companies have; it exists within every organisation regardless of size, industry or location. Company culture, technology and physical environment are all pieces of the entire experience. 

Employee experience isn't just employee engagement, perks, benefits, flexible working hours or an online collaboration tool. It is all of these things and more. A positive employee experience has many benefits for employees and companies alike. We'll be exploring these benefits and more in this guide. But first, let's start at the beginning.

How employee experience has evolved

The term employee experience (EX) is a relatively new one. Coined on the back of the popularity of journey mapping and the 'customer experience', the EX field has expanded as an organisational shift has occurred. Over the last decade or so, there has been a dramatic change in the balance of power between employees and employers.  Whereas once employees were grateful for a job and a paycheque, recruitment and retention strategies now need to be more holistic, strategic and always-on. The war for talent continues to intensify, and successful organisations must showcase an exceptional employee experience to attract and keep employees. 

 

Not only has the focus sharpened on employee experience, but the way it has to be designed has become more complex. The gig economy, a multi-generational workforce and the rise in remote working have coalesced to create the need for an individualised and bespoke formulation of the employee experience. The EX must look very different for the contractor who logs on for a day week compared to the full-time office employee. The same for the near-retirement worker with no mobile (and we promise, these people do exist) compared to the tech-savvy Gen Z intern. 

What employee experience encompasses has also transformed. Where in years past a family sausage sizzle or a once a year Christmas bash were seen as "it", now companies are looking to digital, wellbeing and inclusive experiences to ensure their employees are healthy, happy and productive all year ‘round. 

Why is employee experience important?

Because it makes employees happy. At Perkbox, we'd love to leave it at that as we believe that making people happy doesn't need further explanation. However, for those looking for the stats and facts to prove ROI for employee experience, here they are:

Grow your company with employee experience

Research shows companies that invest in employee experience grow 1.5x faster than those that don't. They produce more than double the revenue and are four times more profitable. 

Employee experience helps your employees to exceed expectations

Highly engaged employees who work in organisations with high levels of employee enablement are 50% more likely to exceed performance expectations

Build loyalty with employee experience and reduce turnover

Those companies with highly engaged and enabled employees also have turnover rates 54% lower than companies with a low level of engagement and enablement. 

Who is responsible for employee experience?

Traditionally, employee experience has sat within the HR function of a business. And some larger companies now have a dedicated employee experience lead or community role who manages and is responsible for the experience, from end to end.

 

Day-to-day though, responsibility for employee experience is something that is held across the business. People managers are critical as they are generally the gatekeepers of an employee's empowerment and overall experience within a company. 

 

Another key touchpoint of the experience sits with IT. Without the provision of the right tech, the employee experience will be clunky, slow and frustrating. 

And, of course, buy-in from the C-Suite is essential. With so many more tools and technology available to measure experience, satisfaction and engagement, it has become somewhat easier to prove ROI and gain C-Suite support within the last few years. 

Lastly, the employee experience needs to also be driven by the employees. This is why it's crucial to survey, question or poll your employees to find out what's currently going on and what areas need to be addressed and improved.

Create a remarkable employee experience from hiring to retiring

Employee experience spans the entire employee lifecycle, starting before a person joins your team.  Let's explore how to make sure your employees are bestowed with a fantastic experience from start to finish.

Attracting talent and recruiting

The global workforce has changed dramatically, and this means the way businesses attract top talent has also shifted. Expectations have changed, employees want flexibility to be able to work from anywhere and to work for companies with a purpose, who care. The reality is, employees can increasingly afford to be picky about who they work for. This is why creating a great employee experience needs to start before they sign on the dotted line. 

How someone experiences your company, from your website to your branding, to your reviews on Glassdoor to the job application process, all inform how a candidate will feel about your business. How you treat a candidate signals how you treat employees, so creating a high-quality candidate experience is key to attracting and retaining top talent. 

Even though the majority of candidates will not get the job, creating a positive experience is still crucial for them for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it will entice them to apply for future roles with your company. Secondly, they'll spread the word about their experience and let their network know what they think of your company. 

Employee experience is important for every industry, including healthcare

Performance management

Performance management no longer needs to look like a dreaded annual review. Instead, companies are trying frequent conversations, such aslike weekly or monthly meetings between managers and employees to discuss goals, career path and progressions. As such, performance management is a perfect opportunity to create a positive experience for employees. Most leaders today understand that it means engaging with the whole person, not just their task responsibilities. This means engaging and exploring their career goals, their lifestyle and their interests or commitments outside of work, ultimately allowing the manager to respond more appropriately and compassionately. 

Having a reliable system that will help your employees develop and build new skills will future-proof your business and, at the same time, support your workforce to improve, which keeps engagement levels high.

At Google, performance management consists of two parts, a six monthly check in and an annual review. Google’s 360-degree review process interestingly includes a peer-review system, which also consists of colleagues that are junior to the employee. At Perkbox we have a similar peer-review system in place which ensures we also receive the ‘whole picture’ when it comes to feedback.

Improve your employee experience with these tips

Improving employee experience

Where to start

Determine your top priority

Start by asking your employees about their experience. Find out what's working, what's not and if there is any low hanging fruit to be picked. This first round of feedback can also act as a baseline to measure your employee experience improvements against. 

Streamline processes

When the information flow within a company is streamlined and straightforward, and when staff feel well-informed, they typically become more engaged and motivated. Put the extra effort into the streamlining business processes and employee communication practices, to make employees feel frequently heard and valued, and you will positively impact the overall workplace experience.

Perkbox's ultimate guide to a killer employee experience

Enable your managers

The relationship between employee and manager is one of the most significant impacts on employee experience there is. If leaders and managers aren't educated in employee engagement, motivation and communication, it can cause a breakdown in this relationship and negatively affect the employee's experience. All managers should undertake training in interpersonal skills, delegation, goal setting, feedback, career development and the best ways to recognise and reward employees

Acknowledgement

People like to receive acknowledgement in different ways. For some, a big public declaration is the ultimate. For others, a private pat on the back is preferable. Identify the type of reward and recognition preferred by each of your team members and use this to provide acknowledgement. This will likely be very well received and also help enhance the overall employee experience. 

Empower your managers for an excellent employee experience

The effect of COVID-19 on employee experience

COVID-19 has inarguably been the biggest shake-up of the business landscape in our lifetime, and it has had an equally large impact on the employee experience. So what's happened?

Boundaries between home and office blur

Before the pandemic, for most employees, life was separated into two parts: life at the workplace and life at home. And it was a challenge for some to balance both with conflicting responsibilities and finite capacity. Enter COVID-19, and this balance has become a whole lot more precarious. 

The boundaries between the workplace and home have blurred over the pandemic, with no way to differentiate between professional and personal spaces in some cases. With less structure and socialisation, employee behaviour has changed, and now includes working longer hours.  

Complex emotions and uncertainty

Whether it's frustration, anger, sadness, anxiety or grief, employees are experiencing a rise in complex emotions. There is a range of reasons for this, including:

  • Social isolation due to lockdowns
  • The loss of a loved one due to COVID-19, or the fear of it 
  • Job security concerns
  • Loss of normality
  • Concern for family or close friends working in healthcare
  • Negativity and sadness in the news cycle 

Leaders at work must acknowledge these complex emotions and provide a safe space for employees to work through them, whether this is through an employee assistance program or with wellbeing initiatives such as meditation and mindfulness - or both. Accounting software company Intuit’s wellbeing program reimburses meditation and mindfulness classes for staff and includes incentives for employees who engage in stress-reducing habits, like walking, practicing breathing exercises, or listening to calming music. 

Uncertainty

Life has always been uncertain, but COVID-19 has taken it up a notch. The unknowns in the workplace have significantly increased as a result of the pandemic. Things like job security, role and responsibilities, returning to the workplace and professional development are probably on your employees' minds right now. Communicating regularly and being as transparent as possible is the best way to allay fears. 

How your company can respond

Encourage authenticity in your response to covid 19

Encourage authenticity

Widespread working from home meant windows were being opened to personal lives across businesses all around the world. Employees were able to share glimpses of their families, pets and interests more than ever before. Build on this by encouraging employees to continue sharing these personal sides to them, as authenticity fosters collaboration and innovation.

Employee experience and meaningful work go hand in hand

Provide meaningful work

 In uncertain times, it feels good to be doing work that matters. Ensure employees know where their role fits into the bigger picture and how they will contribute to shared success post-COVID-19.

Empower your employees with the tools they need

Increase empowerment

Many employees have experienced unprecedented levels of freedom and empowerment while forced to work from home during the pandemic. Resist the impulse to put things ‘back to normal' as employees return to the workplace. Instead lean into self-management, especially if your company saw that this increased productivity and efficiency. 

How can you measure employee experience?

To make sure your company's employee experience is a great one, you must have a strategy in place for measuring how you've done. To do this, you will need to ask for feedback at key touchpoints of the employee journey:

  • Recruitment: Request feedback from both successful and unsuccessful candidates for a holistic view of the recruitment process.
  • Onboarding: It's helpful to get retrospective insights from new employees who've completed your onboarding process.
  • Career development: Solicit feedback from employees in different stages of the career about how your company supports progression.
  • Performance management: It's also important to request feedback about the performance management process from employees at all levels of your organisation.
  • Offboarding/exit: This is your opportunity to gather insights on how to improve retention and engagement.

Regular feedback is vital as if there's an issue diminishing the employee experience, you can quickly rectify it, as opposed to letting it fester until the next annual employee survey. Collecting a mass of information in a yearly review can also be overwhelming, time-consuming and more costly for HR to analyse and tackle – at a time that it might be too late for many employees.

The metrics you can measure to ascertain if your employee experience efforts are successful include:

Measure your employee experience

The tools you need for a fantastic employee experience

A well-thought-out employee experience strategy needs to be supported by technology solutions and resources to ensure it can be implemented successfully. Tools you may like to add to your arsenal include:

Looking to the future of employee experience

The future of employee experience is looking rosy, and there are a few developments we're excited about:

Employee experience won't just sit with HR

As the impact of positive employee experience becomes more well-known, so does the uptake of responsibility outside of HR in organisations. EX is increasingly a more comprehensive company effort, including all levels of the organisation, adding to the range and breadth of ideas and initiatives. 

The digital organisation

In a world where remote working has now become the norm, companies can hire for skills disregarding the location of the candidate. This will see workplaces flooded with new and different ideologies, cultures, views and ideas. This means personalisation in the employee experience will become even more critical. 

Big data

The breadth and depth of employee experience data will expand and deepen in the coming years as more technology and tools become available. You can expect to see more experimenting with A/B split testing and surveying all in the name of improving employees' working lives.

Conclusion

For a flourishing workforce, thriving business and happy customers, begin with your employees. How your employees experience your business and workplace has a ripple effect across your entire company, impacting performance, morale, focus and engagement. Now is the time to consider, explore and examine your employee experience and, where required, make positive changes for a happier future.

Our platform provides employee benefits, recognition and rewards, all in one place – taking your employee experience to the next level. Find out how we can take your company’s employee experience to the next level, book a demo today.

Find out more about Perkbox

  • An inclusive employee experience platform
  • A reward and recognition program
  • Perks and benefits for every employee
  • A focus on employee mental health and wellbeing

What else is inside Perkbox?

We go beyond free perks and discounts by giving you the tools to help you engage your people, boost their wellbeing and retain the top talent.

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Hundreds of perks, freebies and discounts

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