Use of the term “employee experience” or EX is relatively new. But companies’ commitment to EX has grown markedly in recent years. Today companies understand the concept of EX. The challenge is fulfilling the commitment to provide a good EX. And more specifically where to start or how to best employ finite resources.
Although there are different views on precisely what EX is and why it is important, there are also important areas of common ground. The majority of views, for example, describe EX as the “touch points”, “moments that matter” or interactions employees have with their organizations, and make the case that a better EX leads to a better customer experience.
Organizations also recognize the need to deliver powerful employee experiences across increasingly diverse work arrangements and organization models. And there is also a common view that employees expect more personalized, always on, in-the-moment-experiences that create human connections, support development and inspire performance.
The challenge with the above definition is that when employees spend many hours at work each week, the number of important touch points is potentially huge. They can occur and have different levels of importance throughout the employee life cycle, from recruitment through to exit, and everything in between. They can also range from simple interactions to deeper human and emotional experiences that employees have at work.
For organizations focused on EX and driving performance, the challenge with such a broad, all-encompassing definition is that it suggests the need to spend time, money and resources across a plethora of employee experiences. For example, would you be better placed investing in free meals and ping pong tables, enhancing the on-boarding experience, introducing a new technology, or in career and learning opportunities?
All of these are arguably important to high performing EX, but which is more important, and which will deliver the greater ROI in terms of productivity, customer experience and performance? Moreover, which will sustain the EX and performance over the long term?
To answer these questions, it is possible to draw on new insights from organizations that have delivered both a positive EX, and sustained, superior business performance. We recently investigated the characteristics of EX in financially high performing organizations from our annual database of around 500 EX clients per year. The high-performing organizations delivered a return on assets and equity, and three-year revenue growth and profit growth significantly higher than their industry peers.
We found there are four fundamental dimensions of EX in these high-performing organizations. They represent the essentials of what employees are looking for in all organizations. We refer to them as High Performing Employee Experiences (HPEX), and we found that they can be viewed along a developmental path, starting with establishing foundations, then building in emphasis, and finally to a level of excellence in the EX.
A services company might celebrate stories of employees going above and beyond to solve a customer problem, and in so doing create a compelling experience for that customer. Or a manufacturer of heavy equipment might include as part of its induction process linkages to their products being used to feed communities around the world.
For example, it is common for quality-focused organizations to build in feedback processes to capture customer and employee ideas for continuous improvement. Or organizations looking to innovate to create space and time (sometimes through specific design of organization functions or teams) for employees to bring their ideas forward, test them and, if successful, commecialize them.
For example, we see organizations including these types of leadership capabilities in their talent management processes as criteria for selection, development and reward. To ensure they are fostering these connections, some establish formal and informal leadership communities, social learning programs, mentoring, and support people managers with technologies and tools to connect with a diverse and increasingly remote workforce.
Organizations are increasingly using digital technologies to personalize communication about total rewards, careers and wellbeing. Based on the profile of each employee, they receive communication relevant to them. Moreover, part of the communication informs and directs behavior through technology such as reminders, nudges or virtual assistants.
With its strong links to performance, this research demonstrates that EX should be the guiding construct for human capital and a decisive measure of success. Starting from the four pillars representing the core of the HPEX framework, organizations can generate insight on the current state – through diagnostic approaches like employee listening, pulses, jams, digital focus groups, journey maps, web analytics, etc. – to help understand and evolve their "moments that matter.”
They can inform the strategy and programs that will deliver the greatest ROI for both employees and the organization over the long term. Today’s technologies enable them to take these insights and embed modern digital experience in the EX – highly personalized and curated content to power the moments that matter and shape behavior.