"Our turnover is high."
"Our company culture isn't where we want it to be."
"Our people don't see the true value of their total compensation."
If any of these sound even vaguely familiar, keep reading...
Let's start with the punchline- employee experience is different for every organization, but the journey can be mapped, and proactive steps can be implemented to continuously improve.
So, what exactly is employee experience (also known as EX)? Well, for those of you familiar with CX (customer experience) this will seem somewhat similar - EX is essentially the sum of all things experienced, perceived, learned, enjoyed, and interacted with by an employee.
Why map the EX journey? Our goal in mapping the employee experience is usually reactionary rather than preventative, and that's absolutely OK the first time around - we all have to start somewhere and sweeping problems under the rug never worked for anyone. Looking into the root cause of an issue (perceived or real) is the first step toward your plan becoming a proactive long-term element within your organization.
We'll preface this by saying that a lot of articles out there about what EX is not. These articles point out that it is not all the ancillary things you do for your people like parties, catered lunch, perks, outings, branding, etc. and we wholeheartedly disagree with those articles. Why? Well, we just said that EX is the sum of ALL things an employee interacts with/experiences, so to randomly exclude elements is a contradiction. We agree that alone, these elements are not EX, but that's why we're talking about the sum of employee touchpoints (contacts, experiences, mentorship, interactions, etc.).
So let's get into the broad-stroke components of an employee experience- we'll focus on high level here because each organization is going to have very different touchpoints within their EX.
1.) BRAND AWARENESS - Who are you? How did this prospective employee find you and learn of your brand? Are your marketing people closely aligned with the purpose of your company and how it is portrayed not only to clients, but to future employees as well? This is usually the very first interaction a new employee has with your organization. It's your opportunity to create alignment to their personal interests and purpose by conveying your company's ethos.
2.) RECRUITMENT - Make the application process easy to complete. The Home Depot implemented a new technology that makes their process very transparent for the candidate, and they are going to win big on seasonal staffing because of it. Check out the full article here. Once a prospective employee has applied, they usually feel there is some type of impact they can make within your organization based on what they perceive as a potential alignment. This is such a critical stage in the employee experience. Why? It's at this point we are confirming to that candidate that they are being placed in a position to excel based on their skill set, our expectations, and what we can do for them in terms of growth/goals. Hiring someone for the sake of filling a seat is an easy path toward turnover...which by the way costs employers an average of $15,000 per person that leaves the company.
3.) ON-BOARDING - Congratulations! You've made your hire. The employee loves your organization's brand, the hiring process was easy and made sure they were aligned to the right position to enhance their purpose...now what? Imagine pouring the concrete foundation for a building, not letting the it cure, and then trying to build on top of it. That's exactly what's happening if the on-boarding and training & development process isn't in place and properly aligned with all the great things discussed during the hire process. In addition to helping your new employees get acclimated to their new role, use this time to solidify company culture, expectations, navigating the organization, growth potential, purpose, etc. Yes, training on the technical aspects if part of this process, but don't miss the opportunity to ingrain the company's ethos.
4.) EVERYDAY LIFE - Parties, free snacks, catered lunch, beer fridge! Just kidding. Everyday life and company culture go hand in hand. For example, let's say that my company has a culture of excellence. What does that mean and how does it feed into EX? Well, it might mean very different things to different companies, but here are a few thoughts on how it might align to your EX:
Do we bring out the best in our people by coaching them toward success?Do our leaders continuously ask for the very best? Have our leaders been trained on how to do this?Do our leaders hold themselves accountable?Are we recognizing those that achieve (celebrating wins both large and small)?Do we listen to different viewpoints and include those views in decision making?Are we developing future leaders without an unfounded hidden fear that they will take our jobs?
Whatever your culture is, there should be answers to questions that you ask yourself. When you audit everyday life within your organization, you should see that the organization is delivering on its employee experience promises just as the employee is delivering on their everyday contribution.
5.) EXITS - Yep. Even exits are part of employee experience. Why? It's the last impression the employee has of the company and it's your opportunity to hear what is usually unfiltered feedback. What's important here is removing the emotional elements of feedback (good or bad) as you ultimately want to get to the root of what's working well or what potentially needs improvement. Keep in mind your sample size as well. What I mean by this is if just one person says they left because of inefficient technology, it probably doesn't mean you should throw out your tech. If 75 of 100 exits say this same thing, well there's probably something inefficient about the tech. This is just an extreme example to make a point, but in either case it's an opportunity to pinpoint a potential improvement.
The beauty of employee experience is that it is going to be different at every company, but ensuring that your organization's EX journey is understood and mapped is such a critical competitive advantage. At this moment, there are more available jobs than qualified candidates and turnover is at an all-time high in the US. Everything counts when it comes to attracting and retaining talent, and employee experience is within your control.