Improving the Total Employee Experience in Your Organization

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How employees are treated, the workplace environment, and an organization’s culture all play vital roles in the total employee experience (EX). When companies get it right, the results are remarkable and long-lasting. But when employee experience lags, so does performance.

What is the total employee experience?

A total employee experience is the perception workers have about their journey throughout the employee life cycle at an organization. It starts from recruiting to onboarding and continues until the time they leave the company.

It matters how employees are treated and whether they feel valued. While perks and financial rewards can incentivize employees for a time, creating a positive employee experience is more about redesigning an organization to put its employees at the center of its strategy.

The benefits of a positive employee experience

Job satisfaction fosters significantly higher employee engagement, which creates several important benefits.

  • Productivity: When employee engagement is high, workers are more productive and companies are more profitable. On the flip side, disengaged employees cost companies as much as $550 billion in lost productivity each year.
  • Retention and Absenteeism: Highly-engaged employees are 41% less likely to be absent from work and engaged workplaces experience as much as 59% less turnover.
  • Improved customer experience: The employee experience can directly impact the customer experience. Happy, engaged employees are more likely to make positive emotional connections with customers that go beyond fulfilling the job’s basic requirements. Companies that score well on positive employee experience surveys also tend to have high customer satisfaction ratings.
  • Improved quality of work: Businesses with highly engaged employees report a 41% reduction in quality incidents or product defects. When employees care about the job they are doing and feel they are treated well, they are more attentive and engaged.

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The difference between employee engagement and employee experience

While employee engagement is a piece of the total employee experience, the overall employee experience encompasses so much more. The employee experience is what turns engaged employees into superstars.

The employee experience covers all the bases, from the hiring processes to off-boarding, including: 

  • The application process
  • The interview process
  • The onboarding process
  • Training and professional development
  • Career conversations and working with internal teams
  • Working with managers and leadership
  • Parting ways with an employee and off-boarding

As you can see, the total employee experience includes all the moments in-between an employee’s decision to apply to a company as well as their potential future departure. Day-to-day interactions, large-scale conversations, and access to training, learning tools, and helpful software needed to do their job all impact the overall experience. 

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Employee engagement specifically measures the employee’s emotional outcomes and feelings towards the experiences mentioned above. Outcomes of employee engagement may look like: 

  • Feeling motivated to do good work or go above and beyond for their company
  • Feeling included in company culture (even in remote work settings)
  • Feeling excluded or feeling as though they don’t belong in an inclusive environment
  • Feeling burnt-out by company expectations 
  • Feeling empowered by the teams they are a part of

The best HR departments understand that the total employee experience is a holistic approach to the employee lifecycle and is impacted by every aspect of what employees think, feel, and experience. By contrast, employee engagement focuses more on commitment to company goals and objectives. While important, employee engagement is just one facet of total employee experience.

Organizations that excel at EX show a commitment to employees as part of their core business strategy. They focus on values and mission, but also work hard to elevate the employee experience at all levels of their business.

What are the elements of employee experience?

The elements of employee experience, including lifecycle, personal, and everyday moments, can help you tackle the improvement of the total employee experience through separate segments. HR leaders are beginning to recognize the importance of these elements in creating a positive employee experience.

Lifecycle moments

Lifecycle moments refer to the major milestones throughout an employee’s career at your company. They cover the moment they walk on to your company’s team, until the moment they move on to a new opportunity elsewhere. These components of employee experience include: 

  • Recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Quarterly pulse
  • Training
  • Exit

Personal moments

Personal moments are another component of the employee experience, centering on personal growth and the impact of larger structural changes on your employee’s feelings towards the company and how it’s run. It covers themes such as: 

  • Job transfer
  • Getting a new manager
  • Getting passed up on a promotion

Everyday moments

Everyday moments relate to the experience centering on day-to-day operations. It covers themes such as: 

  • Encountering time-consuming workarounds
  • Needing IT support
  • Having innovative ideas and how people respond to them

At the heart of employee experience is creating a culture that accommodates and celebrates employees throughout the employee life cycle. Improving employee experience includes strategies such as:

  • Syncing an employee’s career goals and values with a company’s values and mission. When personal and organizational goals are aligned, EX improves.
  • Providing ways for employees to incorporate their passions into their work.
  • Investing in training and skills for employees to gain new skills and advance in their jobs and careers.
  • Recognizing employees for their contributions, both as a team and as individuals.
  • Providing consistent feedback on work performance and being open to employee feedback.

Achieving a positive total employee experience starts with understanding that workers play a crucial part in your organization’s success and investing in relationships that go beyond job performance.

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How do you measure the total employee experience?

Effective measurement is an important component of the total employee experience. It allows you to analyze whether you are meeting your EX goals and where you need to improve.

Measurement should take place through the employee lifecycle to track changes as employees advance in their careers. While some feedback may be consistent over time, employee attitudes can change dramatically. For example, a new employee may be excited about the job and highly engaged, while longer-term employees may lack enthusiasm.

It’s also important to measure data points using several different metrics to get a full picture of the experience. You can gather input in several different ways, such as:

Employee surveys

Employee surveys can be questionnaires or yes/no questions. They can ask open-ended questions or ask employees to rate workplace satisfaction for a variety of factors. It is helpful to ask some basic questions consistently throughout the employee lifecycle to track changes based on tenure.

Workplace data

An essential part of EX revolves around the workplace itself. While much of employee attitudes about the workplace can be gathered from surveys, you can also get hard data. For example, if you offer perks such as an exercise room or game room, you can monitor usage or check card reader data to see if employees are taking advantage of the perks.

Competitive analysis

It is important to keep an eye on other employers, not just in your industry but across a variety of sectors. Good culture and good leadership is not exclusive to one type of company, so conducting regular competitive analyses across many businesses to view their positive employee, cultural, and leadership initiatives will help you best serve your employees. 

Employees will also be following the social media of companies they admire or doing research on trends surrounding their particular role. They’ll know if the pay scale is below average for the industry or your competitors. They will hear about the perks of working for other organizations, especially if another company is trying to recruit them. Therefore, you need to know how you measure up to make sure you are competitive in all areas.

Soliciting feedback in person

Sometimes getting quality feedback is as simple as taking the time to genuinely ask employees how they are feeling. Depending on your relationship with your teams, you may benefit from soliciting open and honest feedback.

Focusing on the total employee experience

Even companies that have traditionally built a foundation for strong employee experience need to reexamine employee experience in today’s environment. A lot has changed over the past few years. Employees are increasingly questioning work-life balance and reprioritizing family and life goals. Companies should be proactive about not only measuring EX, but acting on the feedback they get as well.

To learn more about enhancing the total employee experience at your company, download The Definitive Guide to Employee Experience.