Employee Experience (EX) is best understood as the collection of all experiences an employee can gain with an organization: from the first company perception, the establishment of contact, throughout the onboarding process to the last interaction after leaving the company. Every memorable moment or connection in this “employee journey” can determine the quality of the relationship that an employee builds with his company, affecting how high the level of commitment, engagement is, and how they represent the company to the outside world.
When someone asks you what the status of your relationship with your organization is, what would your answer be? Are you engaged or are you thinking about separating? Or is it complicated? We all have a different type of relationship with the companies we work for, depending on the quality of our emotional connection. We form these connections throughout our journey by engaging with people, processes, tools, technologies and policies. The experiences that we are making on this journey is called employee experience. And the quality of our experience determines our engagement and how valuable the relationship will be for us.
A shift of focus
Employee experience or EX is a very recent trend that is shifting the way organizations need to engage with their most valuable asset – its people. It marks a shift from a top-down approach, where organizations are deciding what employees need, towards a bottom-up approach where companies seek to understand and find out what employees truly need in order to do their work to make them successful. However, in this undertaking, it is not only important to make employees more successful, but also inherently about providing employees with a sense of purpose within their organization. The quest for organizations then becomes to find a way to understand how to drive an improved, positive work environment, that is both a safe place for employees to develop their individual relationships with the company and to drive customer value.
Easier said than done
While most organizations are familiar with the term Customer Experience (CX), the concept of employee experience (EX) is quite new in its utilization. EX is gaining more importance and relevance, driven by the pandemic, where our ways of working have been upended, with some claiming that these ways of working will not move back to the previous state. Overnight, organizations were not only facing the challenges to drive and optimize operations as well as their customer experience, but struggling to strategically position themselves to change their ways of working from offline to online, whilst simultaneously ensuring that employees go above and beyond their sole engagement. All this increases the importance of creating a positive work environment where employees are not only engaged and taking care of customers, but have a sense of belonging and connectedness to the organization’s ultimate aim – driving customer value.
EX = CX = WIN-WIN
The good news is that focusing on employee experience has a positive impact on customer experience as well. Indeed, employee experience is derived from the term customer experience, which describes the overall interaction of a customer with a brand and asks about his journey and a brand's touchpoints. An important component of this approach is acknowledging that customers rate a company or product not only after a purchase or interaction, but also as a result of their interactions with the (employees of a) company. Ultimately, the customer will decide to stick with the company if they are satisfied.
In employee experience this journey is quite similar. The goal is to present a collection of the employee experiences, beginning with the first contact with the organization to the last interaction after leaving the organization (employee journey) that optimizes that experience. An employee's relationship with their organization is naturally determined by each memorable moment or connection within this journey. Therefore, employees rate their organizations very similarly, based on the quality of the connection that determines the internal and external commitment.
EX is an organizational-wide initiative
EX is a powerful strategic imperative for organizations that enables them to shape employee journeys from beginning to end, making them individually rich and tangible throughout the process. The aim is to have satisfied employees who are not only engaged in productive work, but stay with the company long-term, while driving valuable outcomes for their customers and the business. To be able to consciously shape these moments that matter most, organizations must put themselves in the perspective of their employees and learn to understand what these moments are all about. However, your organization is missing the point if you view employee experience primarily as a HR initiative. EX cannot be evaluated without taking into account business, process, technology, data, and really the entire organization.
Disclaimer: The statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Thoughtworks.