What Is Employee Experience?

And why is it one of today’s most important digital transformation trends?

For a few years, this trend has become prominent among change professionals, HR professionals, and digital transformation professionals.

It has even given rise to new professions entirely, such as the employee experience manager.

Below, we’ll answer questions such as:

  • What is employee experience?
  • Why should organizations care?
  • What are the benefits of better employee experiences?

To start, let’s look at the basics.

What Is Employee Experience?

Great employee experiences drive change.

But what exactly does “employee experience” mean?

Employee experience is a relatively recent field. 

And this means that the finer details may vary, depending on who you ask.

However, many definitions of employee experience agree on the main points:

  • Mark Levy, former head of Employee Experience at Airbnb, says, “Anything that sets up employees for success or improves our culture should be part of EX [employee experience].”
  • Elizabeth Dukes, co-founder and EVP at iOffice, tells us that it is the “sum of all interactions an employee has with their employer. It is the structure and culture of the organization and how the employee perceives the company overall and their role in the company.”
  • Jacob Morgan says that it is the combination of three factors – culture, technology, and the physical workspace.
  • Gallup defines the employee experience as “the entire journey an employee takes with your organization … from pre-hire to post-exit interactions.”

Gallup has developed an approach for improving the employee experience across these stages of the employee life cycle:

  • Attract
  • Hire
  • Onboard
  • Engage
  • Perform
  • Develop
  • Depart

At each of these stages, the employer can develop goals and methods to improve the workplace experience.

In practice, however, what do employee experience professionals do?

The Elements of the Employee Experience

Employee experience typically deals with some or all of the following elements:

  • Engagement – Employee engagement is not the same as the employee experience. Engagement refers to how involved an employee is with their job, the workplace, and the company. Engaged employees are more productive and more efficient. 
  • Day-to-Day Work Life – The day-to-day work life of employees is affected by many things: the physical work environment, protocols and procedures, communication standards, culture, and more.
  • Meaning – According to Deloitte, Gallup, and others, meaning is a crucial element of the employee experience. Adding meaning to the work environment helps bring purpose to work, increasing employee engagement and satisfaction.
  • Relationships with Coworkers – Team-building exercises, social activities, and similar efforts can help improve relationships among workers. In turn, those improved relationships can help strengthen feelings of solidarity, community, and purpose.
  • Tools and Technologies – The tools and technologies used, from software to physical devices, directly affect productivity and engagement. Having modern, high-quality tools keeps employee performance high and improves morale.
  • Well-Being – Well-being and wellness programs focus on maintaining employee health while reducing stress. These programs help prevent burnout, health problems, and other negative work-related effects.
  • Culture – Cultural change programs, from mission statement changes to codes of conduct to change activities, can help align a corporate culture with its workers. This can, in turn, help maximize team compatibility.

All of these topics tell us what the employee experience is.

But why does it matter?

These definitions aren’t enough to earn trust or support from business leaders.

To obtain executive support, it’s necessary to know why the employee experience is important.

Why Invest in the Employee Experience?

For most businesses, they question the need for employee experience management.

And this makes sense – ROI can be difficult to demonstrate.

However, employee experience improvements do impact the bottom line.

Here are a few examples:

  • Better employee retention. Talent retention is a top concern in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. The better the employee experience, the more likely a worker is to stay with a company over the long term.
  • Streamlined recruitment. Employee experience management can improve recruitment, by helping ensure candidates are aligned with the corporate mission. Through improved onboarding, managers can shrink time-to-competency, boost productivity metrics, and integrate new hires into the workforce more quickly.
  • Increased productivity and performance. By working on all areas of the employee experience, employee productivity will increase. After all, they will be better trained, more involved in their work, and more supportive of the organization.
  • Lower negative emotions, from stress to frustration. Improved employee experiences help reduce negativity in the workplace. By correctly managing the employee experience, managers can tackle a range of issues, such as team friction, stress, health issues, low morale, employee resistance, and more.
  • A more skilled, modern workforce. Employee training also improves the employee experience. With the right training, workers are more confident, capable, and productive. They will be better able to meet the needs of today’s digital enterprise.

As we saw above, the employee experience covers a lengthy timespan – from pre-hire to post-exit.

At every step along the way, there is room to improve the employee experience.

And each of those improvements can lead to an improved workplace and better bottom-line results.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.