EX 101

Employee Experience 101: Everything You Need to Know About EX

Employee experience (EX) is a measure of how employees feel at any moment in time across the entire journey that they have with their employer, inclusive of every interaction and touchpoint, from the moment they apply for a position at an organization to their very last day on the job. Achieving a full picture of the employee experience is critical to driving employee engagement, strengthening employee retention, and boosting other key business outcomes, such as customer satisfaction and revenue. 

What is Employee Experience? Employee Experience Definition

The phrase “employee experience” refers to employees’ perceptions of their entire employee journey, that is how they feel during each and every interaction, touchpoint, and transaction. 

Evaluating the employee experience enables organizations to detect the impact of everything from interviewing and onboarding to training and professional development on crucial business KPIs, such as employee and customer satisfaction and retention. 

Employee Experience vs. Employee Engagement

Employee engagement and employee experience are often used interchangeably, but they shouldn’t be. Though the two phrases sound similar, employee experience is not just another way of referring to employee engagement. In fact, employee engagement is what results from a given company’s employee experience.  

Employee engagement definition 

The term employee engagement refers to the level of dedication and loyalty a given worker feels toward their employer, which in turn can impact their productivity and performance. 

Measuring employee engagement vs employee experience

Businesses often measure employee engagement using annual employee engagement surveys. This offers a snapshot of how employees feel about their commitment to their organizations during a specific moment in time. 

By contrast, brands that measure employee experience rely on a combination of other employee signals, such as insights from real-time employee feedback surveys, employee feedback posted on social media and career websites, employee meeting attendance data, and the amount of PTO workers take, to continuously listen to and respond to employees in the moment.

That’s why employee experience encapsulates the entire journey an employee has with an organization — from interview to exit, every moment in the employee lifecycle. 

Employee Feedback & Employee Listening: the Building Blocks of EX

Capturing employee feedback via employee listening tools, such as surveys and video feedback platforms, is one of the foundational elements of any employee experience program. While some companies rely on employee listening efforts that are conducted annually, semi-annually, or quarterly using traditional surveys sent via email, infrequent surveys lack the complexity and consistency necessary for understanding the day-to-day work life of employees. That’s why data-savvy organizations capture real-time feedback across channels, including via always-on pulse surveys:

  • Embedded in a company’s app, website, or intranet
  • Sent via SMS, email, or live chat, immediately following an IT or HR interaction
  • Displayed in prominent in-person locations, such as where employees clock in or via a QR code in a highly trafficked area

This way, whenever an employee has something on their mind, they can share their thoughts right away, rather than wait around for a one-off survey from their employer. This always-on style survey encourages participation and relevant, timely responses. 

Effective employee listening involves:

  • Gathering different modes of feedback (in person from 1:1 meetings and town halls, via video feedback, and text-based feedback)
  • Checking in with the team on a continuous basis
  • Sharing insights across the entire organization
  • Taking timely actionable and being transparent across the organization about next steps that are going to be be taken based on employee feedback
  • Monitoring progress and the impact of changes that get implemented based on employee feedback 

Moments That Matter in the Employee Experience

Encompassing the end-to-end employee journey, the employee experience is filled with a range of moments that matter — that is moments of impact that influence employee engagement, productivity, well-being, and turnover and retention, from the moment a potential employee applies for a job, throughout the interview process, to the moment of offboarding.

Here are some of the top moments that matter in the employee experience that organizations need to monitor and use as opportunities to check in with employees about how they feel.

#1: Noteworthy milestones in the employee lifecycle

  • The application process
  • The interview process
  • Onboarding
  • Employee learning and development 
  • Employment anniversaries
  • The offboarding process/exit interview

#2: Everyday moments in between major employee milestones

  • Day-to-day interactions with managers, colleagues, customers, senior leadership, and direct reports
  • Company-wide changes
  • Quarterly check-ins/surveys
  • When employees reach out to IT for support
  • When workers have ideas about how the company can innovate
  • When team members encounter points of friction on the job

#3: Personal moments

  • Job transfers
  • Getting a new manager, senior leader, or department
  • Receiving a promotion, bonus, or raise
  • When employees are passed over for a promotion or raise

7 Reasons Why Employee Experience Matters

Just as consumer expectations have increased for the brands they do business with, so too have employees’ expectations risen for the employers they work for. If we’ve learned anything from the recent waves of employee burnout and turnover, the Great Resignation, quiet quitting, rage applying, and the trend of “lazy girl jobs,” it’s that employee experience matters more than ever — and organizations that have the advantage on the recruitment and retention front are those that have a pulse on how their employees feel at any moment in time. Having this clear view helps employers adapt their strategies more nimbly than the competition, which can pay off in the long run across measures of customer satisfaction and revenue. 

#1: Without monitoring employee experience, companies lack a holistic understanding of employees’ wants, needs, and feelings in the moment

When organizations fail to collect sufficient, timely employee insights, they run the risk of overlooking new challenges that need to be addressed or persistent issues that are resulting in frustration for employees. 

#2: Employers need insight to — and should be taking steps to meet — employees’ wants and needs to drive employee engagement and retention

When employees feel heard, they’re more likely to feel empowered, have trust in their organizations, be engaged, and stick around. On the other hand, when employees feel overlooked, disempowered, disengaged, burned out, and not supported by their employers, they are more likely to seek out their next opportunity. 

#3: To reduce the high costs of low engagement and employee turnover

According to Gallup, employee disengagement comes at the expense of about 18% of each disengaged employee’s annual salary. In other words, companies with 10,000 employees have the potential to lose up $60.3 million due to decreased productivity every year.

Gallup researchers have also found that turnover costs U.S. businesses $1 trillion annually, with the expense of finding a replacement for just one employee adding up to anywhere from 50% to 2X the employee’s annual salary. With turnover rates reported at 26.3%, that means companies with 100 employees with an average employee salary of $50,000 a year could be facing turnover costs of up to $2.6 million. 

#3: Strong employee engagement and retention strengthens organizations’ employer reputations

Loyal employees with a high job satisfaction are more likely to recommend their company to their network and leave positive ratings and comments about their employers on review websites and social media.

#4: An enhanced employer reputation can bolster talent recruitment

When it comes to attracting candidates and successfully onboarding new hires, brands with positive word of mouth are more likely to fare better than the competition. 

#5: Strong employee satisfaction can lead to stronger customer satisfaction

Workers who feel that their voices are being heard and that they’re able to do meaningful work are more likely to contribute to the organization in ways that positively impact the customer experience. 

#6: Employees with a high level of engagement are more likely to contribute innovative ideas and solutions

Employees are a wealth of untapped creativity, filled with ideas of how the organization can improve processes, systems, products, and services. They’re more likely to share these ideas when they feel engaged, have a platform to provide their thoughts, and when they feel their voices are being heard. 

#7: Organizations with best EX practices in place are more likely to report increases in revenue year over year, compared to EX laggards

A study of employee experience excellence found that organizations with top-performing EX initiatives are more likely to report +20% year-over-year revenue growth compared to underperforming companies.

Important Employee Experience Metrics and Data to Track

If you want to keep a pulse on your company’s employee experience, these are the top types of employee experience data you should be collecting and analyzing. Paying attention to these critical aspects of the employee experience and business will enable your organization to pinpoint drivers of employee frustration and delight, detect early warning signs of disengagement and turnover, and intervene with strategies designed to improve employee sentiment and retention. 

#1: Employee lifecycle data

These data points encapsulate much of an employee’s day-to-day interactions across the organization and can shed light on how committed team members are and areas where they might be struggling. 

People operations data: 

  • Interactions with recruiters
  • Absenteeism
  • Tardiness and breaks
  • Time to productivity
  • Violations and discipline
  • Separation details

Interactions across the organization: 

  • Socialization and volunteering
  • Trainer and manager feedback
  • Team interactions
  • Interactions with customers

Performance and growth: 

  • Goal achievement
  • Performance reviews
  • Learning and growth
  • Promotions and transfers 

#2: Operational, facilities, and workplace data

Another essential component of EX is the physical workplace (for companies with an in-person presence) itself and the workplace dynamics, including the impact that departments and processes have on employee experience and engagement. Key areas to track include:

  • Service tickets
  • Location and badging
  • Meetings data
  • Human resources information systems (HRIS) and demographics
  • Compensation and benefits 

#3: Direct employee feedback

Whether solicited or unsolicited, direct employee feedback includes anything that your employees have said about your company whether online or in person, on company channels or on third-party platforms, including via:

#4: Indirect employee feedback

Like direct feedback, indirect employee feedback includes any type of data that indicates how your employees feel about your organization. Unlike direct feedback, however, this type of employee information is collected via channels that aren’t typically used to solicit opinions and suggestions, such as:

  • Chat transcripts
  • Helpdesk tickets
  • Performance reviews
  • Slack, email, messaging

#5: Organizational design and culture

Organizational culture has a profound impact on the employee experience. To see how yours is shaping how your team members feel, be sure to capture data related to:

  • Organization culture
  • Service climate
  • Organization redesign
  • Manager/team changes 

#6: Competitors’ employee experience data

Your own company’s employee experience insights will only tell you so much. Employees have a wealth of information at their fingertips, and are more likely than not comparing your company’s benefits, organizational culture, practices, and policies against industry competitors. 

Doing the same, by conducting ongoing competitive analyses, will help you see how you measure up when it comes to compensation, employee sentiment on employer review websites, and more.

Top Employee Experience Strategies

Whether your company’s EX efforts are just getting off the ground or you’re looking to refine the practices you have in place, here are six employee experience strategies designed to enhance your organization’s employee experience. 

#1: Ensure you have executive champions and key stakeholders supporting your EX initiatives  

HR has an important role to play in managing employee experience, however these endeavors will be more successful when there’s buy-in at the C level and from a solid cross-functional group across IT, operations, facilities, managers, and other employee-facing teams. 

#2: Use AI to analyze 100% of EX data in real time

Bringing together and analyzing all of the different types of employee experience data detailed in the previous section may seem like an unwieldy undertaking, but thanks to text analytics and voice analytics backed by artificial intelligence (AI), it’s something companies can do at scale. These tools are capable of making sense of massive data sets — detecting top themes, topics, and overall sentiment — in an instant.

#3: Take action 

Collecting and analyzing your EX data is only the beginning. Transformative change comes when organizations implement improvements to their processes, policies, technology, and other aspects of the workforce experience, based directly on employee feedback — prioritizing areas that are likely to have the biggest impact on employee satisfaction and retention and overall company culture.

#4: Be transparent: Communicate next steps 

Savvy leaders routinely keep employees informed about the feedback they’ve received and the actions they’ve taken as a result of hearing from employees, whether via all-hands meetings, a company newsletter, or the intranet. 

#5: Analyze and optimize EX at the segment level

Just as your organization’s employees aren’t homogenous, employee experience isn’t uniform. Experience varies by the type of worker (desk workers, deskless workers, etc.), seniority, tenure with the company, and how the worker identifies (by gender, race, age, etc.).

#6: Get ahead of your company’s next big challenge by creating a predictive analytics framework

After you’ve gathered and analyzed enough data from and about your employees, via surveys, other sources of direct feedback, and indirect signals as described earlier, you’ll be able to create a predictive analytics framework capable of detecting signs of churn that can be used as an early warning system to drive timely and effective interventions.  

5 Employee Experience Technologies You Need

While many organizations’ HR tech stacks include survey tools used to conduct annual employee engagement surveys, next-generation employee experience management tools enable every department to keep up with and respond to emerging trends in real time. Here the best employee experience platforms to add to and advance your company’s EX tech stack. 

#1: Always-on employee feedback surveys

Unlike traditional survey tools used for annual engagement surveys, always-on surveys offer real-time, actionable insights. These surveys can be embedded into employees’ regular flow of work and distributed across channels — via email, SMS, chat, your company’s employee website or app, or a QR code placed in-person location, such as where workers clock in — to drive survey completion rates. These surveys are designed to be short, to the point, and updated as priorities and sentiment changes to gather timely feedback that managers and leadership can act on ASAP.  

#2: An employee experience management platform

While employee engagement surveys can provide feedback that indicates what’s important to the workforce at any moment in time, surveys alone don’t offer the full picture of the employee experience. For one, they rarely have 100% participation rates. For another, they can’t possibly cover all of the aspects of the workplace experience that employees are exposed to on a daily basis. 

In comparison, employee experience software is designed to continuously listen and respond to employees in the moment, making it possible to understand the lifecycle of employees at scale and improve the candidate experience, onboarding experience, and overall employee engagement.

This type of technology works by capturing data from the moments that matter the most for employees (the first day on the job, onboarding, offboarding, etc.), the everyday moments in between (when employees contact the helpdesk, attend an all-hands meeting, submit an IT request, etc.) and the personal moments (when workers get a new manager, return from parental leave, transfer to a new department, etc.). These platforms gather both direct employee feedback (including from surveys as well as social media comments, online reviews, and more) and indirect feedback (such as helpdesk tickets and data from performance reviews). 

#3: AI-powered, predictive text and speech analytics 

Overwhelmed by the thought of having to analyze employee feedback from across channels and touchpoints? AI-backed text and speech analytics instantly unlock insights from expansive structured and unstructured data sets at scale, surfacing emerging trends and detecting issues on the rise, providing actionable recommended next steps to be taken, and automatically looping into the right stakeholders so they can take immediate and effective action.

#4: Video feedback

In the age of Zoom and FaceTime and TikTok and YouTube, video messaging and communications are the norm, but employee feedback survey tools haven’t kept up with shifting consumer (and employee) preferences. These typically gather text-based feedback, however newer platforms offer the option to gather video-based feedback, making it easier for employees to quickly share feedback across key moments in the employee journey, particularly deskless team members using handheld devices for work.

#5: An employee crowdsourcing platform

If good — innovative — ideas are getting lost in the mix of employee surveys, 1:1s, and Q&A sessions during all-hands meetings, then an employee crowdsourcing platform is the solution you’re looking for. As the name suggests, these platforms are designed to gather wisdom from the crowds, unlocking new ways to solve old problems and driving engagement among workers who might otherwise be feeling frustrated by unresolved points of friction they’ve observed throughout their employee journey, the customer journey, or both.

CHRO vs. Head of Employee Experience

Traditional chief human resource officers (CHROs) have typically been responsible for establishing and enforcing rules and processes. That has shifted with the introduction of the head of employee experience, a role that widens the scope of HR to cover the entire employee lifecycle.   

This newer position has blurred the line between employee experience and HR.  

Employee experience leaders, on the other hand, are responsible for breaking down silos and collaborating with departments — ranging from IT to finance to marketing — and applying data to inform decision making as it relates to people programs across the organization.   

By blending together traditional human resource functions, such as recruiting and talent development, with marketing, IT, facilities, security, social responsibility, and internal communications, employee experience leaders can be sure that every interaction an employee has with the company exceeds their expectations.  

When successful, employee experience leaders help their organizations create a culture of trust and empathy that naturally boosts employee engagement, productivity, product and service quality, retention rates, and the caliber of candidates applying for available positions.

Medallia researchers analyzed the experiences of 1,260 brands, with one study highlighting what sets EX leaders apart from EX laggards and another uncovering what sets CX leaders apart from CX laggards. What these researchers found builds on previous research that has revealed a strong link between EX and CX:

  • Companies with an leading employee experience are 1.8X more likely to have high levels of customer satisfaction and retention, compared to underperforming companies
  • Companies with a leading customer experience are 2.8X more likely to be viewed as a great place to work, compared to underperforming companies