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Surveys & Engagement

Charting unique pathways: Our expert guide to employee experience journey mapping

Leapsome Team
Charting unique pathways: Our expert guide to employee experience journey mapping
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As the working world is changing, with remote and hybrid setups becoming more common, organizations are looking to find ways to ensure their teams still have a consistent and positive employee experience. Frameworks such as the employee experience (EX) journey map can help to guide these new processes. It’s worth investing energy into this as companies that design a great EX report lower stress and burnout, and their people are 1.4 times more likely to find purpose in their roles.* 

Still, how does mapping the EX journey work? Employee journey maps help chart and visualize the end-to-end experience of working at your company from the perspectives of your team members. Their primary purpose is to highlight the employee's point of view and uncover inefficiencies and areas for improvement. They can also provide an overview of the internal processes and roles recruiters, hiring managers, human resources leaders, and team leads play in shaping the experience.

We created a downloadable template that HR and people ops leaders can use as a starting point for their own journey maps, providing a step-by-step process you can follow to make the best use of this free resource.

*McClean & Co, 2023

🧩 Discover what pieces are missing from your current EX strategy

Use our free, editable template to record employee data, map the EX journey, and make your organization an even better place to work.

Download the template

What is the employee experience journey?

A photo of three employees working together on a project.
Employee journey maps help visualize the team member lifecycle, document sources of friction, and make improvements

The employee journey encompasses all the major milestones, events, interactions, and impressions an individual experiences throughout their tenure with an organization. Some people leaders refer to the EX journey as key touchpoints or “moments that matter.” Still, this perspective might be somewhat limiting as it overlooks the fact that a positive EX journey is also about building a strong, trusting relationship between employees and organizations. Essentially, every moment counts because it influences how team members feel about you, from pre- to post-employment.

Why map out the employee experience journey?

Mapping out the employee journey means creating a visual blueprint you can use to identify current areas for improvement and customize for different roles. Doing so is a worthwhile investment of time and effort that can contribute to significant cultural and operational outcomes, such as:

  • Smoother, more thorough onboarding processes — Only 43% of employees say their onboarding included more than paperwork and a one-day orientation. Implementing an EX journey map to create a more in-depth onboarding experience can set your company apart and help your new hires feel more welcome from day one.
  • Relevant career development opportunities — An effective employee journey map takes your team members’ unique professional and personal career goals into account. This allows you to offer better training opportunities, which 76% of professionals say has an impact on their decision to stay with a company.
  • Improved productivity — An EX journey map can help you overcome productivity gaps with better technology, resources, processes, and communication. In doing so, you could become up to 1.8 times more productive than organizations that don’t prioritize the employee experience.  
  • Greater recruitment success — Using a journey map can help you get a better sense of what candidates are looking for throughout their tenure. That way, you can tailor your messaging to better resonate with job seekers’ highest priority goals. 
“If you’re familiar with customer journey mapping, then you may know more about employee journey mapping (EJM) than you realize. Employee journey mapping uses the same concepts and best practices of customer journey mapping to help you understand your employee experience better, provide the resources, tools, and support employees need, and align employees’ daily actions and accountabilities with the customer experience.”

Jeannie Walters, Customer Experience Speaker and CEO of Experience Investigators

Employee experience journey map template

🤔 Get inside employees’ heads 

Use our template to gather team member insights at every stage and understand how their needs change throughout their tenures.

Download the template

7 steps to create your employee experience journey map

Whether you utilize our editable template or create your own, mapping the employee journey in this way allows you to easily spot where your EX efforts are falling short and make an initial action plan within the same document. Let’s look at our recommended step-by-step process for strategizing, researching, documenting, and improving the employee experience for your organization. 

1. Get clear about your goals for mapping the employee journey

The key question that HR and people ops need to ask themselves at this stage is, “What do we want to know about the employee journey and why?” This prevents journey mapping from becoming a cursory exercise and transforms it into a more meaningful, strategic endeavor that helps you align with your overall company goals.

If it’s your first time creating a journey map, for example, your initial goal may be to identify your current paint points, gaps, and challenges so you can better support your team members for the next 12 months. 

If you’ve mapped the employee journey before and have implemented improvements in the past, a more specific goal might be to address communication issues and improve the feedback and review processes across all touchpoints. 

2. Conduct employee research

A screenshot of Leapsome’s anonymous suggestion box.
Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module means employees can feel at ease when leaving anonymous suggestions 

In order to get a valid understanding of the real issues, you need to first dig deeper into previous survey data, manager feedback, performance scores, and EX metrics like retention, turnover, and engagement. You should also talk to department heads, managers, team leads, and employees themselves for fresh, updated more insights. In your research, be sure to get an understanding of how team members describe their current journey as well as the ideal experience so you can identify your existing pain points and structure a better path. 

Here are a few questions you can ask employees:

  • What expectations did you have at every stage of your professional journey? 
  • How have we succeeded or failed in living up to those expectations?
  • What were your biggest frustrations during the onboarding, training, and engagement stages?
  • What competencies were you hoping to develop at every stage?
  • At each stage of the process, how did you feel about communicating with your manager and leadership team?

Providing anonymous feedback channels for employees is key if you want truly valuable, candid input. You can help team members feel safe sharing their thoughts with methods such as:

  • Anonymous surveys — Using a platform like Leapsome means your surveys will be anonymous by default.
  • Suggestion boxes or forums — This allows employees to confidentially share their input and ask questions without prompting. That’s why Leapsome offers both an anonymous suggestion box and Q&A board where team members can ask questions and get answers from leadership.
  • Focus groups — Organize an in-office or virtual meeting with team members, ask meaningful questions about their current experience, and use their answers to create an anonymous report. If possible, you can arrange this with a third-party research company to ensure confidentiality.
🔎 Make sure you have a tentative action plan to share with employees when asking them for feedback. This will help you overcome any survey fatigue team members may be feeling due to previous inaction and encourage them to provide more and better feedback.  

3. Determine the scope & roles your journey map will cover

Attempting to map the journey for every single role in your organization will lead you to develop an employee experience that’s too vague and irrelevant to the difficulties that specific teams are experiencing. Instead, use the data you’ve now gathered to hone in on your most urgent issues. 

For instance, as you review your research, you may notice positive reports during the recruitment and onboarding stages. However, you might uncover that your teams typically show decreased engagement around the development stage. That could mean it’s time to update your career progression framework or make it a more central part of your professional growth processes. 

4. Craft your EX journey map

Now, you’ll draw on your previous three steps and bring together your goals, scope, and research to update your processes and construct your ideal employee experience journey. To do this, you can use our template, which covers these core areas:

  • Touchpoints, or the places where employees come into contact with managers, leaders, and other stakeholders.
  • Processes, or the ideal steps managers and employees should take at each touchpoint to give team members the best experience.
  • Metrics and monitoring, so you can record your current EX data and quickly identify areas of weakness.
  • Notes, where you can document feedback from employees and stakeholders.
  • Next steps, where you’ll outline your solutions. 

Of course, every organization has its own specific goals, internal structure, and culture. That’s why we’ve made our entire template editable and customizable, with ready-to-use content you can use for inspiration. For example, if your company is 100% remote, you may need more processes during onboarding that promote belonging, recognition, and team integration.

🔎 You can use our template to link to a fully fleshed-out process and next steps documents for each stage, which is ideal for building transparency and ensuring everyone is on the same page about your company’s specific strategies.

5. Consult your journey map to identify improvement opportunities

Use the notes section in our template to capture what you’ve learned from team member research and outline your current iteration of the employee journey. In particular, note the initial expectations and eventual frustrations team members mentioned in their feedback and prioritize specific roles or issues that need to be addressed. 

In the next steps section, summarize what actions you plan to take based on the most critical concerns. Perhaps several employees mention feeling stifled in their professional development. You could then introduce a formal learning and training budget as a next step to improve on this.

6. Share your plan & implement initiatives

Once you’ve finalized your action plan for improving the employee experience, communicate your strategy with leaders and team members so you can secure additional feedback on your proposed ideas and support for your initiatives moving forward. To be as transparent as possible:

  • Explain your motivation for mapping the employee journey — Reiterate why you decided to map the employee journey and improve EX from the outset. For example, your organization may have gone through a recent restructuring, and you might have noticed that engagement has been declining ever since.
  • Describe your approach — Share how you mapped the staff journey based on your current EX processes and employee research. 
  • Discuss the why behind your proposed strategy — Provide the rationale behind your action plan and clearly link it to current business goals and objectives.
  • Break your strategy down into steps — Be sure to offer timelines and share who’s responsible for leading each initiative.
  • Follow up — After presenting your plan, contact leadership and stakeholders to address their questions and concerns.

7. Refine & iterate on your journey maps over time

Like customers, the needs of your employees can change and fluctuate, typically in response to industry and economic changes. That’s why you should review and update your EX journey map every six months to a year and follow the same process each time. You can even utilize an employee experience platform to support you with this

Remember: No matter how favorable your employee experience metrics are, there’s always more to learn and understand about what team members are looking for from their work environment. 

🔎 Employee experience platforms like Leapsome can help you streamline how you gather team member data, set the right EX goals, and implement strategies that allow for better communication, reduced stress, and more employee autonomy.

Measuring the employee journey

Reviewing your employee experience metrics regularly helps you detect and mitigate issues early before they become major challenges. Doing so also means you can illustrate your progress to upper management and the executive team over time, demonstrating the value of your EX programs. Here are a few key indicators you should consistently refer to:

  • Retention and turnover rates — Low retention rates may signal that team members aren’t having a positive employee experience. However, you need to compare them against employee tenures to discern when the most turnover typically happens. For instance, you may notice that team members tend to quit after their first eighteen months, which could suggest they’re dissatisfied with a lack of training, development, and career opportunities. 
  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS) — The eNPS is a valuable metric because it allows you to quickly assess engagement. It only requires employees to answer one question: “On a scale of zero to ten, how likely are you to recommend us as a place to work for your family and friends?” Your final score can range from -100 to 100, and most companies have a score between 10 and 30. While it’s not a great standalone metric because it presents you with limited data, it’s a great starting point that can help you determine when it’s time to investigate the employee experience further. 
  • Survey results — Take note of your highest and lowest scores on previous engagement and culture surveys and read answers to open-ended questions thoroughly. If you use Leapsome’s Surveys module, you can quickly determine which factors you need to target to drive more positive outcomes. Our sentiment analysis function also uses AI to interpret open-ended answers so you can quickly scan them before exploring further.
A screenshot of Leapsome’s Surveys module.
Leapsome’s Surveys module shows you what’s influencing your lowest survey scores so you know where to focus your attention
  • Performance scores — A great employee experience often corresponds with enhanced motivation, higher engagement, and, as a result, satisfactory performance. High performance scores also speak to the effectiveness of managers and stakeholders during the onboarding, training, and development stages.

How software supports employee journey mapping

A screenshot of Leapsome’s Competency Framework Matrix.
Leapsome’s Competency Framework feature allows you to outline the skills that are needed at every level and set clear expectations

As employee expectations change and business priorities evolve, EX journey maps can help you respond effectively and improve the employee experience with greater efficiency. Moreover, they provide an in-depth understanding of how team members feel about their everyday interactions and overall relationship with your business. If your organization is genuinely committed to putting its people first, you need these individual insights to create a more personalized work experience for your team members.

Still, what do you do if you lack the time, personnel, or tech to gather the requisite insights? How do you overcome resistance from leadership without the right data and tools?

Leapsome allows you to automate the operational and analytical side of the journey mapping so you can focus on finding more innovative solutions to complex EX challenges. With our Surveys and Reviews modules, you can track engagement and pulse scores, retention rates, your eNPS, and employee performance scores with charts and visualizations to show you how those metrics have changed over time. Then, use our Goals module to design EX initiatives that align with current business objectives. 

With Leapsome, you’ll gain actionable insights and drive targeted improvements across every stage of the employee experience.

👣 More positive impressions and connections every step of the way

Use Leapsome to actively listen, gain insights, and implement changes based on employee feedback so you can make the entire work experience more meaningful.

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Written By

Leapsome Team

Written by the team at Leapsome — the all-in-one people enablement platform for driving employee engagement, performance, and learning.
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