what is employee experience

What is employee experience? A leader’s guide.

Employee Experience, otherwise referred to as ‘EX’ is an increasingly popular topic of discussion amongst both mid to large scale organisations as well as fast-moving start-ups. For those working in the People & Culture or Human Resources space, this comes as no surprise.

While Employee Experience does sound similar to and can overlap with employee engagement initiatives, the concept of EX is much more encompassing. In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at what Employee Experience is and what areas of focus leaders should consider in order to improve it.


What is Employee Experience?

Employee Experience (EX) is a term used to describe the overall experience that an employee has throughout their time working at a company. EX encompasses a variety of smaller experiences and touchpoints that take place across the employee lifecycle, right from when a prospective employee first stumbles upon your job ad or gets a LinkedIn message inviting them to apply for a role through to when they exit.

As you can probably imagine, having a strong focus on creating positive experiences for your employees throughout their tenure can significantly improve talent retention and lead to a positive perception of the company through the employee’s eyes.

By taking the time to proactively design and/or upgrade internal processes, communication, and milestone acknowledgements that relate to key moments across the employee lifecycle, workplaces can significantly improve their employee’s perception of the company and feel more connected to organisational purpose, values, and the culture at large. And it’s this improvement in the overall employee experience that creates happy employees, and from there, improvements in the way people approach their work and customer relations. As the saying goes, happy employees serve happy customers.


The process of improving Employee Experience.

When it comes to improving Employee Experience, we first begin looking at things with a systems approach; considering people, processes, and tech, and how these affect one another.

We design experiences by understanding the WHAT (current state) and then looking for the ‘moments of truth’ within it. These moments of truth are the ‘make it or break it’ moments. For example – if you are interviewing for a company that is aggressive with salary negotiations despite you sharing your minimum, then it’s a red flag early on in the journey. OR you might be in a team meeting, and you offer an idea, and the boss shuts it down without asking for more info – that’s a moment of truth. OR it could be a positive moment of truth as well. Like when your boss acknowledges your work in front of the team and gives specific feedback on what you did so well.

These moments of truths are derived from uncovering pain points and highlights throughout the employee lifecycle journey.


What are the different elements of Employee Experience?

When considering how you can improve the Employee Experience across your organisation it is helpful to look at it through the lens of the employee lifecycle. Here’s a basic overview to get you started.


Attraction Phase

At this point, you’re attracting your future employees and ideally making your company look like the perfect place to be for top talent. In this phase, your Employee Value Proposition (EVP) and employer branding are doing the heavy lifting. The elements that you’ll be focusing on in this phase are all designed to position your workplace as an ideal place to work. This may include mention of initiatives that support your exceptional Employee Experience such as Learning and Development commitments, wellness programs or annual team offsites.


Recruitment Phase

The next phase is by nature an opportunity for the company and the individual candidate to determine whether they’re a good fit for one another. While not all the individuals being interviewed will make the final cut, it’s important to make this a positive experience as it gives an insight into the type of experience you offer to employees. You never know who may end up wanting to come back to your company for another role down the line, and of course you’ll want to put your best foot forward representing the company to potential future employees. Not to mention the word-of-mouth reputation that can be developed when professionals within industries share their experiences in recruitment processes with certain companies. This is all to say that this first impression really counts.


Onboarding Phase

One of the most critical areas of focus for HR leaders is the onboarding experience. Whether you’re operating in a co-located, remote working or hybrid team, your onboarding process needs to be well thought out and highly engaging. Within the first few weeks, your new recruits will begin to get a sense of the workplace culture and an overall feel for the company. Creating an exceptional Employee Experience during this time is crucial in helping your new employees to feel confident in the decision they’ve made to join your team. Many organisations go above and beyond in this area, splashing out on personalised welcome kits, interactive onboarding roadmaps and everything in between. It’s one of the areas we particularly love to obsess about in our own workplace as it truly does make an impact.


Development Phase

Retaining top talent and keeping people engaged in their roles long-term calls for a commitment to well-executed Learning and Development opportunities. When your people feel as though they’re learning and growing in their role (and career) they’ll inevitably have a greater experience working at your company. In this area we’ve seen organisations perform well when introducing internal coaching programs to share knowledge and experience between senior and junior members of workplace teams. It’s also worthwhile taking note of leadership potential and acting on it through dedicated leadership development training to retain top talent as they move through their career.


Retention Phase

Speaking of retaining top talent, let’s dig a little deeper. For EX to remain high throughout the course of someone’s tenure with your organisation, you’ll need to provide ample opportunities for reward, recognition, and career growth. There may be new or innovative methods you could use in acknowledging and rewarding your long-tenured employees, or specific career growth-focused Learning and Development programs that are ‘unlocked’ once employees reach certain milestones.


Exit Phase

The final phase in all employee life cycles is the exit from the organisation. When it comes to the end of the employment journey, there remains the opportunity to make the process a positive experience for all involved. Gaining feedback and insight from exit interviews and maintaining a good relationship with employees moving on is an ideal approach. You never know which past employees may want to return to the company down the line, or who may recommend other fantastic candidates to get in touch after having their own wonderful experience during their time with you. There may be an exit gift pack or way of celebration that you incorporate into the exit phase to improve the Employee Experience.



What is the value in improving EX?

Now that we’ve explored the phases of the employee lifecycle that can benefit from enhanced attention on Employee Experience, let’s wrap it all up by bringing it back to the value of improving EX.

In organisations where there’s a strong focus on making work an engaging and positive experience, there are higher rates of talent retention and employee engagement. When positive experiences abound, it makes sense that the company reputation is elevated, and talent attraction becomes much easier.

Taking it a step further, research suggests you can improve profitability by up to 25% if you actively design and develop the Employee Experience. That’s something we like to hear!


If you’re ready to take your Employee Experience to the next level and are looking for an external partner to help lead the way, our talented design thinkers and experience strategists are up for the challenge. Let’s start a convo and take your EX to the next level.