Employee experience (also known as ‘EX’) is the result of every interaction an employee has with a company, from their first awareness of a potential employer through to career development. You can think of employee experience as how an employee perceives every stage and touchpoint of their employee journey.
Before we get started, it’s worth mentioning that a great employee experience doesn’t happen by chance. Organisations need to hold the employee experience as their priority at all times.
To do this, HR and business leaders must consider how every action and decision will affect their employees’ experience before they make it. This encompasses everything in a business – including the physical, technological and cultural environment of the workplace.
What makes up employee experience?
When it comes to assessing your current employee experience or working to improve it, you need to think about every interaction an employee has with your company.
The easiest way to think of each interaction is to break the employee lifecycle into stages – the attraction and recruitment process, onboarding, on-going performance, development and eventually, the departing process when an employee decides to leave the company.
To illustrate employee experience along the lifecycle, let’s look at some examples that can make a great employee experience at each stage:
In the attraction / recruitment stage
- During the recruitment process, candidates feel that the company has sufficient and satisfactory facilities, including the technology used.
- The candidates receive timely and clear updates on the process.
- Candidates are treated with respect, equally and fairly to all other candidates.
- Every member of the organisation that the candidate interacts with displays the company values.
- The employee receives a thorough introduction to their colleagues and the culture of the company.
- They have a ‘buddy’ to answer questions and offer support during the onboarding stage.
- They have the facilities and technology they need to do their job.
- They know their targets and goals.
Within on-going performance
- They feel part of a team and that colleagues are interested and invested in each other’s work.
- The employee has regular one-to-ones with their line manager to discuss their performance and receive feedback.
- They regularly receives recognition from leaders and colleagues when displaying company values.
- They’re able to give feedback to the company on practices, and feedback is actioned when possible.
- They feel that their employer cares for their health and wellbeing.
- Employees are offered flexible working and able to work to their own styles.
- In a world where almost anything can be personalised, employees receive tailored practices and benefits - aligned with their personal and professional goals.
In the development stage
- The employee has access to learning and development opportunities.
- They feel encouraged by those around them to grow, and are given the opportunity to test and develop new skills.
- They’re supported by their line manager, who helps them to reach the next stage in their career.
Upon leaving the company, while departing
- They’re treated fairly and with respect throughout the departing process.
- The employee feels that they’re able to leave the company, being valued for the work they put in.
Another term in this space is ‘employee engagement’ – so what is this and how does it relate to employee experience?
If you are operating in the business world, there’s a good chance you’ll have come across the term ‘employee engagement’ too, but how does this differ from employee experience?
Employee engagement is where employees are productive and motivated, they are committed to the organisations’ goals and they work hard to contribute to the company’s success.
As for how the two terms are related, employee engagement is what you want to get out of creating a great employee experience. In basics, when you create a great employee experience, your people will be more engaged.
Why is this all so important?
Today’s competitive business environment is giving employees more choice than ever on where they want to work and what kind of company they want to work for – meaning they can be more selective in their chosen roles.
While this is great for employees, it means companies have to compete more than ever for the top talent. If your company can’t offer a great experience, a competitive salary alone might not be enough to retain and recruit the best people.
Of course, there could be a question of ‘how could any potential employees know about the experience they might have at a company until they have accepted the position?’ This is where employer branding comes in.
Your employer brand is how your company is perceived both publicly and privately, amongst employees and the world in general. It’s how your workplace culture, physical space and technologies is seen by others.
Nowadays, before you even apply for a job, you can access a wealth of information about the company. If an employer doesn’t offer a great employee experience – word spreads. Either from past or current employees or through workplace review sites such as Glassdoor. This means if you’re not currently offering a best-in-class employee experience, it could already be damaging your brand and ability to hire talent.
Finally, when employee experience drops at any point during the employee journey, it leads to disengagement – impacting productivity, motivation and staff turnover, thus the overall performance of your company and its financial return.
In short, the benefits of a great employee experience include:
- Higher productivity levels.
- Decreased absenteeism.
- More motivation.
- Higher staff retention rates.
- Increased ability to hire top talent.
- Stronger workplace culture.
How to measure employee experience
The only way to really know what experience your employees are having is to get frequent and honest feedback.
If you wait until an annual review to find out how your employees are feeling, they could’ve been harbouring a negative experience for up to a year – and allowing that to infiltrate their work.
Instead, frequent, short surveys should be used to regularly check-in with your employees and see how they’re honestly feeling. Perkbox Insights is a great tool that measures the 10 key employee behavioural traits and aspirations backed by leading occupational psychologists to give you an overall score in real-time. The platform allows answers to remain confidential so you can receive honest and helpful feedback that your employees may not feel confident to give in person.
Regular feedback is important as if there’s an issue draining the employee experience, you can quickly rectify it. This is opposed to collecting a mass of information in an annual review that can be overwhelming, time-consuming and more costly for HR teams to breakdown and tackle – at a time that it might be too late for many employees.
5 steps to improve employee experience
1. Communication is key
As a business leader, every decision that you make can impact the employee experience.
Your employees will begin to feel frustrated if they don’t know what’s happening within the company or how changes might affect them. But what can be even more detrimental to the employee experience is where an incorrect message is spreading from word of mouth throughout the company – damaging trust and building concern.
To ensure your employees remain engaged and retain trust in your company, you need to ensure that your employees receive communications from the top. Make sure that your business communications are clear, transparent and timely.
2. Encourage feedback
Communication should never be a one-way street and you can’t be sure if you are providing your employees with a great experience if you don’t know how they are truly feeling.
By asking for regular feedback, you show that you care, listen and will act upon the things that matter to them – ultimately improving employee experience.
3. Build strong managers
Workplace leaders and managers are a make or break element to the employee experience. If employees don’t have trust in or feel supported by their managers, the experience quickly becomes damaged.
Any team members at management level should receive management training, but don’t just leave it at that. It’s important that refresher sessions are regularly conducted to keep these skills up to date.
Being a manager isn’t always easy and regular training builds the toolkit necessary for managers to give employees all the support and motivation they need.
4. Recognise and reward your employees
Research has shown a strong correlation between praise and the employee experience. Those who receive regular praise are more productive, more engaged and more likely to stay in their organisation than those who don’t.
To keep a consistently strong employee experience, recognition needs to be given frequently. Perkbox Recognition is an employee recognition and reward system that makes it easy to incorporate giving praise into everyday work life. We all know what it’s like when your workload starts piling up and you have a million things to do, and that’s when giving your employees positive encouragement can often fall to the back of your mind.
Perkbox Recognition is our way of making sure that companies can reward and recognise both individual and team successes to celebrate achievements on a company-wide scale. This can either be done through posting a story on the platform for everyone to see or by setting a poll and letting everyone in the company vote for a winner, promoting a friendly sense of competition between colleagues.
Knowing that hard work is noticed and appreciated gives the employee experience a huge boost and makes all the hard work feel worthwhile.
5. Show that you care about your employees’ health and wellbeing
Introducing policies that improve your employee’s lives, both inside and outside of work, shows that you really care about and value your people. As a result, not only is their overall experience is improved, a healthy workforce is one that is motivated and engaged too.
It can be easy to think of employee experience as simply occurring within the workplace walls – but here are a number of ways that employers can invest in their employee’s wellbeing, from discounted gym memberships to providing access to medical professionals.
Employee experience is how an employee perceives every stage and touchpoint of their journey at a company.
HR and business leaders must consider how every action and decision will affect their employees’ experience, before they make it. This includes the physical, technological and cultural environment of a workplace – during all stages of the employee lifecycle – recruitment, on-boarding, ongoing performance, growth and finally, the exit stage.