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Future of Work

Designing an exceptional workplace: How to develop an employee experience strategy

Leapsome Team
Designing an exceptional workplace: How to develop an employee experience strategy
Build a high-performing and resilient organization with Leapsome
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Employees have high expectations for their work environments, perhaps more now than ever before. For example, 96% of Gen Z employees say it’s important they feel valued, included, and empowered at work, while 80% want a job that lets them explore and develop new skill sets. (1) 

As a result, organizations that want to reduce churn and attract the best talent are working to enrich their employee experience, and for good reason. Businesses that succeed in delivering a high-quality experience are twice as likely to adapt to change, 1.9 times as likely to improve innovation, and 1.4 times as likely to see better organizational performance. (2)

If your company would like to significantly enhance the employee experience, it may be time to take a more strategic approach. Developing and implementing an employee experience strategy is crucial to designing initiatives and processes that truly support, motivate, and empower team members across your organization. 

To help you create a professional environment where team members love to work, we’ll unpack the following questions: 

  • What is employee experience? 
  • What is an employee experience strategy?
  • How do you create an employee experience strategy and what steps should you take?

We’ll also share three real-world examples of great employee experience strategies to better illustrate how these work in action.

  1. ThoughtExchange, 2022
  2. McLean & Co, 2023
🧐 Understand how your employees feel — without even having to ask them

Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module lets employees share their opinions at any time, which you can then analyze and use to improve the employee experience. 

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What is an employee experience strategy?

Employee experience encompasses all of employees' opinions and feelings about their interactions with your organization. So, an employee experience (EX) strategy is an objective-driven action plan that an organization makes to improve how staff feel about the cultural, physical, and technological aspects of their work environment. 

Businesses can use employee experience strategies in order to determine what policies, procedures, and initiatives they should implement to enhance the entire employee journey. After all, employee experience was highlighted as a top priority for 2023 by 47% of HR leaders, indicating that this is top of mind for many organizations. 

Even the mere fact of having an EX strategy in place can positively impact how employees view your organization. 

Bill Catlette, Founder and Managing Partner at Contented Cow Partners, says: 

“The existence of an employee experience strategy already suggests that management values and wants to be intentional about its relationship with individual workers and the workforce at large.”

To design an employee experience strategy that aligns with organizational needs, companies should draw on feedback from leadership, stakeholders, and team members themselves. Doing so is vital to create strategies that are relevant to the everyday employee experience.

Additionally, these should consider the main factors that influence a positive employee experience, which include:

For example, in Leapsome’s State of People Enablement Report, we found that employees cited work-life balance (66%), a culture that encourages feedback, goal-setting, and learning (52%), compensation and benefits (48%), and flexibility (48%) as their main reasons for wanting to stay at their company. You can address all these factors with your EX strategy to increase employee satisfaction and retention across your organization.

“A well-crafted employee experience strategy is crucial for fostering a workplace where individuals feel valued and engaged. When this is the case, hiring becomes easier and employee retention stays high. 

I’ve seen firsthand how a great EX strategy boosts morale, increases productivity, and reduces turnover. It's about creating an environment where employees can thrive, contribute meaningfully, and align their personal growth with the company's objectives.”

Parker Gilbert, CEO and Co-Founder of Numeric

6 steps to building an effective employee experience strategy

An infographic illustrating six steps for building an effective employee experience (EX) strategy.
These six key steps make the employee experience planning process more manageable, flexible, and adaptable

A meaningful employee experience strategy should connect business goals with team members’ needs, which drives greater company-wide alignment. Let’s look at six detailed steps you can follow to create a plan that positively impacts everyone in your organization.

1. Define overall goals & objectives

A screenshot from Leapsome’s Goals module.
Leapsome’s Goals module allows teams to collaborate on objectives and check status updates quickly

It is essential to start by establishing and explaining the objectives behind your employee experience framework, as this allows you to be intentional and transparent. But where should you begin when thinking about which goals to set?

Because there are so many factors that impact the employee experience, HR and people ops teams need to think holistically when collaborating on strategic objectives. It’s also important for stakeholders to reflect on how they can make their goals more people-centered and less transactional. That way, they’ll be able to create an EX strategy that resonates and positively impacts as many team members as possible.

Let’s say you decide that one of your objectives is to improve retention by offering staff better career development opportunities. Many companies might opt to offer additional training sessions outside of working hours. However, a people-centric solution would instead create a career development program that employees can complete during working hours, making this more attractive and attainable. 

Other examples of people-centric strategic EX objectives include:

🔎 If your organization has an engagement-related objective, our guide to the six best engagement models can help you identify which drivers and goals will be most relevant and effective in your circumstances.

2. Gather feedback from across your organization

“Like most businesses, we’re forever fighting the tendency to create things in a vacuum without input from the very people who are living the experience. As a leadership team, we’ve developed programs and policies to create a positive culture and set them before employees with a: ‘Tada! Here’s what we’re doing to make a great workplace culture!’ only to learn that we missed some key things. If you want to create the best solutions and have people buy in, ask them what they think you should do.”

— Ann Barlow, President and Employee Engagement Consulting Lead at
Peppercomm

Avoid only asking team members to share what they like and dislike about the existing employee experience because this can be a limiting way to elicit feedback. Instead, invite people to explain what their ideal experience looks like in as much detail as possible.

Here are a few examples of open-ended questions that you might send employees via an engagement survey or during a 1:1 meeting

  • What kind of support or resources would enhance your productivity and well-being in the workplace?
  • If you could design your own experience, what kind of opportunities for growth and development would you want access to?
  • What’s your personal vision of a good work-life balance?
  • What kind of recognition and appreciation would you find most motivating?
  • What types of flexible work arrangements would you implement if you could?

To capture the quantitative and qualitative data you need to move forward with your strategy, use a tool like Leapsome Surveys, which allows you to create anonymous questionnaires and easily filter and analyze results. 

Even better, use it alongside the new Q&A Board feature within our out-of-the-box Instant Feedback module. With this function, employees can post questions anonymously for leadership to answer. That way, you’ll already have a sense of the topics team members are most curious about and will be able to design your EX strategies with those concerns in mind.

😮 Get access to employee insights unprompted

With Leapsome’s Q&A Board feature, you don’t have to wait for employee surveys to learn what’s on people’s minds.

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Learn more

3. Map out employee journeys

A photo of a group of colleagues collaborating together at a large table.

Developing employee personas can help make your EX initiatives more intentional and customized
“Our employee experience strategy includes thinking through the entire employee journey. From the interview process to ongoing meetings with the team to managerial feedback, we want all teammates to feel accountable, engaged, and have a sense of ownership over their work.”

Parker Gilbert, CEO and Co-Founder of Numeric

If you’ve seen relatively little engagement with your EX initiatives in the past, it could be because you didn’t take the time to map out employee journeys. Otherwise, you may have failed to conceptualize what that journey looks like for different team members.

That’s why you should leverage the feedback you gathered in the previous step to create a few staff personas. These are profiles based on common characteristics, attitudes, behaviors, wants, and needs that similar types of employees share.

Here are a few examples: 

  • The Driven Achiever — Highly motivated, goal-oriented, and seeks opportunities for growth. Needs challenging projects, clear career paths, recognition, regular feedback, and skill development opportunities.
  • The Collaborative Partner — Enjoys working with others and values teamwork and cooperation. Needs an inclusive and supportive work culture, opportunities to collaborate on projects, and ongoing support and input from managers.
  • The Autonomist — Takes ownership of tasks and projects, is self-directed, and prefers independence. Needs clear expectations and the freedom to make decisions on their own.

After creating a set of three to five company-specific staff personas, you’ll chart a journey for each profile. 

For example, let’s look at how you might map out the employee lifecycle for The Collaborative Partner profile, including common touchpoints and expectations for an ideal experience.

Stage 1: Onboarding

  • Touchpoints: First-day orientation, team introductions, training programs
  • Experience: Warm welcome and virtual introduction to team members, clear understanding of job responsibilities, access to necessary tools and resources, seamless integration into the team and company culture

Stage 2: Day-to-day work

  • Touchpoints: Collaboration with colleagues, team meetings, project assignments
  • Experience: Active participation in team projects, open communication channels via Slack or Microsoft Teams, weekly opportunities for collaborative ideation and brainstorming, regular recognition for contributions and teamwork on a praise wall

Stage 3: Skill development

  • Touchpoints: Training programs, learning opportunities, mentorship
  • Experience: Access to training programs that enhance collaboration skills, mentorship to support professional growth and development, exposure to new tools and methodologies for effective teamwork, encouragement to take on challenging assignments

Stage 4: Performance evaluation

  • Touchpoints: Regular performance discussions, feedback sessions
  • Experience: Constructive feedback and recognition for collaborative efforts, clear alignment of performance expectations with teamwork and cooperation, opportunities to reflect on progress and set goals for improvement

Stage 5: Career advancement

  • Touchpoints: Promotion opportunities, career development discussions
  • Experience: Transparent and fair promotion processes that value collaboration and teamwork, guidance and support for career advancement, recognition of leadership and mentoring skills, alignment of career path with collaborative aspirations

Stage 6: Ongoing engagement

  • Touchpoints: Team-building activities, cross-functional collaborations, employee recognition
  • Experience: Opportunities for team-building exercises, cross-functional collaborations to foster a sense of community, regular recognition for collaborative achievements, platforms for idea-sharing, and knowledge exchange

Stage 7: Transition

  • Touchpoints: Internal transfers, promotions, or voluntary departures
  • Experience: Support during internal transitions, clear communication about promotion opportunities, exit interviews to gather feedback and understand reasons for departure, maintaining relationships with former colleagues

4. Pinpoint areas for improvement

“We consider employee experience to be a continuous evolution, shaped by internal and external factors and our team’s feedback and suggestions. So, we have to be disciplined about evaluating what’s working and when it’s time to do something different. You have to be humble and understand that some things won’t work as planned and some things that previously worked no longer apply.”

— Ann Barlow, President and Employee Engagement Consulting Lead at
Peppercomm

Analyzing all of the data at your disposal helps you spot company-wide patterns across different employee journeys. For instance, you may identify that it’s common for team members who have been with your organization for a year to report high engagement and demonstrate an increase in performance scores. However, you might also notice that it’s typical for senior staff who’ve been with the company for three or four years to feel slightly disengaged and go through performance plateaus.Enriching and improving the employee experience is a multifaceted challenge, but relying on an integrated solution like Leapsome can help. With our platform, you can manage team member performance, engagement, and development without juggling different applications or stepping outside your budget.

What makes Leapsome the ideal platform for optimizing the employee experience? Since it’s a holistic people enablement solution, the multi-module software helps you address EX from various angles and create multifaceted strategies that speak to all the different voices that make up your organization.

Leapsome is also intuitive and flexible, so it’s easy to adapt to your company’s unique people enablement processes and adjust them as your business priorities change.

For a full picture of where your organization’s employee experience currently stands, track:

  • Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS)
  • Turnover and churn rates
  • Retention rates
  • Performance scores over the employee lifecycle
  • Goal completion
  • Current progress with learning paths and completion rates
  • Pay distribution by gender and demographic
  • Compensation distribution by level
A screenshot of the analytics view within Leapsome’s Reviews module.
Leapsome allows you to compare performance review scores across both the organization and employee lifecycle

People analytics can seem intimidating when you’re new to continuous monitoring, but an intuitive platform like Leapsome makes it simple to filter and track data across your organization. Easily-digestible graphs, charts, and tables allow you to quickly identify trends over time and assess which areas of the EX need your urgent attention.

5. Put together a detailed action plan

Once you’ve compared your current data against the ideal employee journeys, you should have a clearer idea of the steps you need to take to improve — ready to create a detailed action plan. 

The best employee experience action plans consist of:

  • Areas for improvement — These insights allow you to devise initiatives that address the specific EX gaps your company is currently facing.

  • Initiatives — What new procedures or processes will you implement to resolve the issues you’ve identified from employee feedback and/or internal data?

  • Time frame — This indicates how long you should wait before running the next EX survey to assess results.

  • Project owners — Who will ensure that the project is a success? HR and people ops directors, stakeholders, and team leaders are often the main owners of large-scale EX initiatives.

  • Success metrics — What data, milestones, or achievements will you monitor to determine whether your initiatives were effective? 

6. Use technology to your advantage

A screenshot of an interface from Leapsome’s Surveys module.
Leapsome’s Surveys module helps you make sense of open-ended comments and feedback with its Natural Language Processing function

Enriching and improving the employee experience is a multifaceted challenge, but relying on an integrated solution like Leapsome can help. Indeed, our platform can help you manage team member performance, engagement, and development without juggling different applications or stepping outside your budget.

What makes Leapsome the ideal platform for optimizing the employee experience? Since it’s a holistic people enablement solution, the multi-module software helps you address EX from various angles and create multifaceted strategies that speak to all the different voices that make up your organization.

Leapsome is also intuitive and flexible, so it’s easy to adapt to your company’s unique people enablement processes and adjust them as your business priorities change.

🪴Discover what helps employees flourish

With anonymous surveys, Leapsome can help you get a clear picture of what staff really think and feel about your organization.

👉
Learn more

3 examples of employee experience strategies

This brief selection of employee experience strategy templates illustrates how you can begin to put your planning into action. 

1. Improve retention by updating your promotion & compensation framework

Initiatives
  • Introduce bands for different job levels and positions
  • Implement a performance-based compensation system, perhaps using a competency framework to assess levels 
  • Begin frequent performance reviews to provide employees with constructive feedback
  • Develop a comprehensive employee rewards program
  • Gather employee feedback with an engagement survey
What success looks like
  • Employees understand the link between compensation and performance
  • Higher engagement scores, as measured via surveys 
  • Team members feel the total rewards package is motivating and satisfying 
  • Equal, unbiased pay distribution based on performance reviews
💡 Consider this strategy if your company has or struggles with:

No clear link between performance and compensation

A lack of transparent and consistent criteria for determining salaries

An overemphasis on base salary with no consideration for benefits, incentives, or non-monetary rewards

Unequal gender pay distribution

2. Build a culture of feedback & recognition with richer communication opportunities

Initiatives
  • Develop training and guidelines for exchanging feedback and recognition
  • Introduce a 360-degree feedback process
  • Create a praise wall that encourages team members to provide meaningful and specific recognition to their teammates
  • Create an anonymous suggestion box or feedback channel for employees to share honest input with leadership
  • Gather employee feedback with a short pulse survey
What success looks like
  • Employees report higher levels of motivation and engagement
  • Increase in performance scores
  • Managers report feeling more confident sharing feedback
💡 Consider this strategy if your company has or struggles with:

Inconsistent feedback practices with varying levels of quality and frequency

Managers deliver feedback that’s vague, unhelpful to employees, or demotivating

No process for getting feedback or recognition from multiple sources

Scarce opportunities for employees to share feedback

3. Upgrade onboarding process with custom learning paths & interpersonal connections

Initiatives
  • Introduce a learning platform with short, customized courses to streamline the onboarding process
  • Implement weekly 1:1 check-in meetings between managers and new hires during the first month of onboarding
  • Create a mentor or buddy program to facilitate team connections for new hires
  • Survey new hires after six months of onboarding
What success looks like
  • Higher engagement, satisfaction, and retention scores
  • Reduced time-to-productivity
  • Positive feedback from new hires
💡 Consider this strategy if your company has or struggles with:

A lack of comprehensive onboarding materials for new team members

New hires getting overwhelmed by the amount of paperwork and the absence of established processes

Employees feel isolated due to a lack of opportunities to connect with colleagues and build relationships

No process for ongoing check-ins during and follow-ups after
employee onboarding experience

Implement your EX strategies with Leapsome

A slide illustrating Leapsome’s seven interconnected modules.

With seven interconnected modules for employee enablement, Leapsome is ideal for companies looking to improve their EX

Building a comprehensive EX strategy helps you to think about the entire employee lifecycle and provides you with a clear framework to handle seemingly disparate issues within your organization. In addition, as long as you approach the planning process with a collaborative, creative mindset, these can also help you stay adaptable in an unpredictable business landscape.

Leapsome supports you in implementing, assessing, refining, and automating all of your employee experience strategies at scale, optimizing them from multiple vantage points.

Gather staff feedback and facilitate collaboration with our Surveys and Meetings modules, use our Learning module to deliver on development initiatives, and utilize our Reviews software to track employee performance. Finally, take advantage of powerful analytics to track key metrics like turnover rates, learning completion rates, and compensation distribution data, helping you to design strategies that are equitable, effective, and outcome-driven all at once. 

With Leapsome, you can trust you’ll have an intelligent and intuitive platform in your corner to improve the EX — even through times of change.

📈 Deliver a consistent EX and stay resilient as you grow

Leapsome’s powerful analytics and built-in action plans help you design EX strategies that deliver tangible results.

👉
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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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