What is ‘Employee experience’?

Employee experience or ‘EX’ describes a person’s perceptions and experience of their time in a business;what is often referred to as the ‘employee lifecycle’. Employee experience in fact begins before someone joins an organisation during the attraction phase, and continues right through to when they leave, in the offboarding process.

EX encompasses all of the touchpoints and experiences an employee may have at work. This can range  from interactions with their manager and team members, their user experiences with technology and even their feeling about the physical workspace. Employee experience exists regardless of whether or not your business has a planned, deliberate approach to managing experience, and it’s really impactful: numerous research studies have made definitive links between offering a positive employee experience and enhanced business performance.

Impact of positive EX

On a more micro level, the employee experience is important because it contributes to the engagement and retention of your people. Engaged, happy employees do better work, are more productive and tend to be more pleasant work with!   Having a positive EX enhances the brand and reputation of your business. A positive employee experience is closely linked with a positive customer experience, so if you want happy customers, it makes sense to focus on having happy employees.

When the experience is poor

On the flip side, if the employee experience is less than positive, you may have disengaged and unhappy employees. These employees won’t be as productive, with a higher risk of unwanted exit from the business, which is costly. Turnover costs are broad ranging, including exit interviews and any separation pay, replacement costs such as for job ads and interviews as well as the costs of onboarding and training the new employee. This is all in addition to  productivity loss, and opportunity cost.   The Work Institute suggests the cost of employee turnover can range from 33% up to 200% of the departing employee’s salary.  

Benefits of asking your workforce

Given the state of New Zealand’s employment market, and wide-spread labour shortages, avoiding unwanted turnover and focusing on the employee experience within your business is more important than ever. When beginning a process to enhance the employee experience within your business, and lift your employer brand, we know it can be challenging to decide exactly where to focus your efforts, given the breadth of what EX encompasses.

Our recommendation: your first step must be to understand what’s working and what’s not, what to do more of, and what to do less of. Organisations simply cannot create an employee experience plan, without knowing what matters to their people. The best way to get this information is to ask your employees, and the simplest and most effective way to ask your employees is to implement an employee survey.

With a well-planned,thoughtful survey, you will be able to gather the necessary data to inform your planning and next steps. Consider all of the touchpoints in the employee lifecycle, and build your questions within this framework. Below is a visual representation of the employee lifecycle, with the key touch points shown:

The main thing is to start the employee experience dialogue with your team if you haven’t already. For the dialogue to be honest, employees need to feel safe and know that the feedback they provide won’t result in negative repercussions. Providing psychological safety is by far the best way to get honest opinions and the bestresults.

What next? Action time.

The benefits of completing an engagement survey will only eventuate if you let your employees know you’ve heard their feedback, and then take action on the feedback you receive.  This cannot be emphasised enough—it’s very demoralising for employees to provide honest feedback and then to see their efforts disappear into the void!  

We acknowledge that it’s possible the data may feel overwhelming. In this case, pick one or two areas that the results suggest you should focus on, and build your Employee Experience Plan starting from there. Be transparent with your team about the results and also the actions you’re going to take, involve them as much as possible—making space for employee ideas and feedback will empower your people.The employee experience will only be enhanced if you take active measures to address any issues and stay accountable to your team.

Big vs Little

You might end up withl arge, significant changes on your HR to-do list, such as introducing a learning and development framework, adopting new software or moving to a hybrid work policy, and of course it’s important to tackle these projects within a structured plan.  However, don’t forget the small things. Replace that broken coffee machine, and make sure the soap dispensers get refilled regularly— these little day-to-day annoyances matter to your employees’ experience, and are a quick-win in terms of resources and impact.

Finally, keep checking in with your employees, the frequency will depend on your business, but a survey every six to 12 months is recommended.

A key retention aid

Keeping informed on how your employees feel is the best way to stay up to date on what they need and how you can encourage them to stay in your business. Let your team know that you understand that employee experience matters, and that it is a priority to you. In today’s tight market where it’s more challenging than ever to attract and retain staff, don’t let EX slip through the cracks. By constantly improving your employee experience, your employees will benefit as much as your business will. It’s a win-win.

How we can help

The People Place can assist your organisation with all aspects of employee experience, from forming a strategy around engagement, to running a 'What matters to you?' employee survey, and conducting exit interviews on your behalf. To find out more, reach out for a chat on +64 9 300 7224 or hello@thepeopleplace.co.nz