In ever more competitive markets, organisations are increasingly focusing on the employee experience (EX) as a means to attract, retain and get the best out of their people. Research by Deloitte found that nearly 80% of executives rate EX as very important or important to their business. But what is EX, and why does it matter?

The idea of employee experience, and its power, comes directly from the success of customer experience. Businesses now understand the importance of providing a seamless customer journey, from initial interest in a product or service all the way through to sale and follow-up. Research backs this up – 86% of those that received excellent CX said they were likely to make a repeat purchase from a business, according to The Temkin Group. Forrester found that CX leaders see a 17% compound annual growth rate, compared to just 3% for CX laggards.

The employee experience is equally important, for three key reasons:

  1. Employees are consumers – and they increasingly expect the same seamless experience in their working, as well as private, lives. If you want to build loyalty with your talent, you need to provide them with the experience they are looking for. This starts early – 18% say they will stop using or purchasing products if they have a negative candidate experience.
  2. Employees are on a journey at your company. They move through stages such as attraction and recruitment through onboarding to eventual exit. As with consumers, employees at each stage have different needs if you want to motivate and retain them.
  3. There is a clear crossover between CX and EX in today’s customer-centric world. Motivated, engaged employees are crucial to delivering the customer experience that consumers demand. And while customers identify problems, it is employees that have the answers to fix them.

Improving your employee experience

Given the importance of EX, how can organisations measure, understand and improve it within their business? There are five areas to focus on:

1. Measure at key touchpoints

Businesses understand that there are key touchpoints in the customer journey, such as when a consumer visits a website, a shop or contacts customer service. What happens at these touchpoints is crucial to whether the journey continues smoothly or the customer moves elsewhere. The same applies to EX, so listen to your people’s feedback on the experience at key touchpoints, from initial recruitment and onboarding to exit. Use this information to both fix any issues that they are having, and to improve processes for the whole company.

2. Break down silos

One of the biggest problems with the employee journey is that it is crosses multiple managers or departments. The hiring process is normally the responsibility of the recruitment manager, who then passes the successful applicant onto an onboarding manager. These handovers can lead to a break in the journey, with people feeling they being forced to start again, all damaging their experience and commitment. Businesses need to adopt an end-to-end approach to the journey, listening consistently and asking the same questions at each touchpoint, if they want to get a coherent picture of the experience and how it changes for individuals.

3. Listen to candidates, not just employees

Recruitment is a key stage in the employee journey, yet many businesses treat it in isolation. Just 40% ask candidates for feedback on the process, missing out on a vital source of information and potentially damaging their employer brand. Not treating candidates well has a wider impact – 69% of job seekers won’t take a role with a company with a bad reputation, even if they are unemployed. Ensure that you are listening to candidate feedback to improve the recruitment experience, attract talent and safeguard brand reputation.

4. Embed continuous listening

Many organisations already measure engagement with an annual survey. However, this is not frequent or wide-ranging enough to capture information to improve the employee experience. Give staff the chance to provide feedback as and when they want, and use short, regular surveys to give a continuous picture of the experience. This allows you to quickly spot trends and to see how particular events (such as a corporate reorganisation) impact employee engagement.

5. Empower your managers

Listening to your people is just the first stage in ensuring that you deliver the right employee experience. It is vital that their feedback is acted upon, and any issues are followed up at both an individual and a company-wide level. Make sure that you are able to identify problems and empower managers to find out more, such as through further, targeted feedback surveys, giving them the ability to come up with solutions to fix wider issues.

With increasing competition for talent at all levels, the employee experience will only grow in importance. Companies therefore need to take an end-to-end approach to the employee journey, listen consistently across all touchpoints and use this feedback insight to drive real change in their business, attract and retain staff, and out-perform their rivals.

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