Beyond job satisfaction: What employee experience is & why it’s important
Research shows that a staggering 47% of human resources leaders are making employee experience (EX) a priority this year (1), likely because they’ve seen the impact it can have on organizational adaptability, innovation, and performance (2). However, many employers struggle to define what EX looks like for their businesses and often conflate it with concepts like engagement, satisfaction, and empowerment. Meanwhile, others think of it in purely material terms and try to solve their EX issues with financial incentives or creative perks alone.
The reality is that EX encompasses all of these elements — and more. It requires leaders to think about their people in a more holistic way. The concept of employee experience forces leaders to think empathically in order to develop strategies and initiatives that actually improve their people’s day-to-day working lives and create a positive impression from the beginning to the end of their journey with the company.
In this article, we take an in-depth look at the concept of employee experience. We also discuss why it matters and suggest best practices you can implement to improve your organization’s EX.
1. Gartner, 2023
2. McClean & Co, 2023
What is the employee experience?
Employee experience is the impression that people have about their employer and their work environment over the course of their tenure. EX focuses on the big picture: it helps companies understand how team members feel about all aspects of their work and their organization, extending to pre-employment, onboarding, and even their transition to another opportunity or to retirement.
What makes EX worth prioritizing? It impacts the key employee enablement metrics that most companies track related to engagement, satisfaction, retention, performance, and recruitment. It also acts as a helpful framework that prevents people ops teams and leadership from getting tunnel vision and focusing too intensely on one specific variable that impacts their people and business. That’s essential for any future-oriented organization that wants to stay resilient and competitive in a changing and often unpredictable economic climate.
Why is a positive employee experience important?
"If organizations don’t prioritize employee experience, it’ll inadvertently become a secondary consideration with no real measures of success. If set as a priority, a company can reduce attrition, build brand reputation, streamline processes through enhanced communication and productivity, and perhaps even increase the overall wellness of their employee population. Ultimately, pay will get people in the door, but it won’t keep them. If employees are engaged, involved, and paid well, they’ll stay, learn, and be productive in their roles and within the community.”
— Judy Goldberg, author and founder of Wondershift, on the importance of employee experience
The fact is, there are a number of factors that may contribute to an employee’s decision to stay with or leave your company. That’s what we discovered in our 2023 State of People Enablement Report, in which we asked participating professionals what might motivate them to leave their jobs. Some of the reasons they cited were:
- A poor performance review process
- Unsatisfactory compensation and benefits
- Not enough work-life balance
- Lack of flexibility
Considering and treating the employee journey as a whole allows you to address all of these factors, which is why enriching and investing in EX is crucial.
Fortunately, a great employee experience can also yield significant business benefits, such as:
- Better work quality — When staff feel a strong sense of alignment with their company’s mission and purpose and believe their role matters, employers see better organizational outcomes. Recent Gallup research shows that a strong EX can lead to a 29% increase in work quality.
- Increased revenue — If you’re concerned about getting a worthwhile return on investment (ROI) on your people initiatives, then prioritize the employee experience. An improved EX can have a favorable impact on your bottom line, potentially increasing company earnings by 50%.
- Easier recruitment and top talent retention — Today’s job seekers are clear on what they want out of the employee experience, including improved work-life balance, better personal well-being, and more autonomy. Indeed, designing a great EX not only helps you develop a better reputation in your industry. It also allows you to authentically demonstrate that your organization is a great place to work and can deliver what both potential candidates and current employees want.
- Greater productivity — Successfully improving the employee experience could make you 1.8 times more productive than businesses that don’t. Why? A work environment that instills confidence in team members and equips them with the right tools cultivates a sense of motivation, consequently leading to higher productivity levels.
🔎 Human resources and people ops professionals are often tasked with making an employee experience business case for the C-suite and demonstrating the ROI of any EX strategy they want to implement. If you need a helping hand in doing so, our ROI calculator enables you to compare the cost of investing in the employee experience versus the savings you’ll enjoy. It also allows you to quantify your financial gain based on key metrics related to productivity, turnover, and absenteeism.
What does a positive employee experience look like in 2023?
“Employers are currently driven to think about employee experience because now, people can leave their jobs much more easily than they could in the past. Knowing that, it’s important to consider how you can improve the day-to-day experience for employees. This includes finding technologies that allow us to communicate with all staff, getting feedback from team members via surveys, and making sure that everyone’s really dialed into our purpose and speaking the same language.”
— Greg Mahdesian, Communications Manager at Servicon Systems
With global unemployment rates declining — and the US unemployment rate at an all-time low — employers are rethinking many of their previous approaches to culture, work-life balance, and company structure to stay competitive. Let’s consider what a great employee experience might look like for both leaders and team members today:
- People feel connected with the company mission. Employees feel their employers’ goals and values align closely with their own and receive support from managers and colleagues to contribute to the organization’s greater purpose.
- Employees can design their workday to fit their needs. It’s not that people don’t want to go into the office — it’s that they don’t enjoy being told where and when they can work. To fulfill staff members’ needs, modern businesses are implementing more flexible remote and hybrid policies that allow team members to balance their professional and personal lives more comfortably.
- Companies are better at managing turbulence and economic upheaval. Leadership teams that have implemented EX strategies and successfully weathered recent economic challenges now know what it takes to ensure future resilience.
- Leaders are more accountable and transparent. They prioritize ethics over profits and are committed to creating internal structures that foster openness, accountability, and equity.
People teams are studying the five stages of the employee experience closely so they can achieve these results and meet team members’ needs at crucial touch points throughout their life cycles. We briefly explore each of the five phases in the graphic below.
How to improve your employee experience strategy
You may understand how crucial EX is to company resilience, but what are some concrete ways you can improve on your current strategy? Let’s give thought to a few best practices.
🔎 Want to implement your EX initiatives in a more structured, step-by-step manner? Check out our detailed guide to designing an employee experience strategy, which includes three examples you can use to inspire your own.
1. When in doubt, prioritize your people
Putting employees first involves making people central to your growth strategy and valuing their well-being. It means giving team member success and business success equal weight, striving for transparency in your decision-making processes, and being mindful of people’s feelings when you have to communicate difficult news.
Unfortunately, organizations haven’t demonstrated the ability to do this in recent years. According to the 2021 Willis Towers Watson Employee Experience Stress Test, employees are getting less confident that their employers care about their well-being and health, with the average scores for this metric decreasing to just 57% in 2021, down a total of 15% for two years previous.
It’s time to put staff well-being first again, which you can do by:
- Investigating burnout, which 42% of global employees reportedly faced in 2022.
- Ensuring team members have manageable workloads and can meet deadlines and accomplish projects within their expected hours.
- Training managers how to be better coaches and supporting direct reports with goal-setting and prioritization.
2. Invest in technology to help you out
In our 2023 report, 84% of HR leaders said that their company used people enablement software, particularly to manage their performance review, survey, and feedback processes. Digging deeper, we discovered that when executives see value in their people enablement solutions and leverage them effectively, their companies enjoy higher retention rates.
A people enablement platform like Leapsome is essential for organizations that want to improve the employee experience. Our software is a holistic solution with diverse modules that are designed to target different aspects of EX simultaneously and deliver the most significant impact possible. With Leapsome, you can:
- Use our Surveys, Meetings, and Instant Feedback modules to gather input and show team members that their voices matter.
- Implement EX strategies across the employee lifecycle with our Learning, Goals, and Reviews modules.
- Review the success of your initiatives with in-depth, easy-to-understand analytics.
🧑💻 EX tech designed to reduce your tech stack
With Leapsome’s holistic platform, you can effectively pinpoint, execute, and evaluate the initiatives that matter to employees most throughout their entire journey.
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3. Know there’s always room for more feedback
According to a Gallup analysis, 18% of employees are currently disengaged with their work, partly because they feel their opinions don’t matter. This kind of disengagement, in combination with survey inaction fatigue, can make it difficult for organizations to gather feedback, which in turn leads to lower employee experience scores.
That can be disheartening because feedback is essential to create EX strategies that employees truly need. Thankfully, there are other ways to gather input, including:
- Anonymous feedback channels — For example, Leapsome’s Instant Feedback module has a Q&A board that allows employees to post high-level questions for leadership.
- Performance reviews — Employees may share their concerns about the employee experience in the context of an assessment, which managers can then pass along to the HR team and leadership.
- Exit interviews — While these can be difficult conversations, they can provide unique insights you may not otherwise have access to.
Case study: How Fueled optimized their employee experience
Before implementing Leapsome, the people team at Fueled was looking for a more intuitive solution that they could use to run their 360-degree performance reviews. They needed a platform that offered a better user experience and provided more in-depth analytics and reporting.
Once they started using Leapsome and discovered how well they could adapt it for other employee experience use cases, they decided to put it to use to optimize their offboarding process. They’d previously sent surveys to departing employees, which they felt lacked a human touch. Now, the team at Fueled uses our platform to:
- Run a review cycle for departing employees. This allows for more personalized conversations between people teams and employees who are leaving. It also means HR professionals can gather comments and ratings that they can later share with their colleagues once the team member exits.
- Conduct regular pulse and engagement surveys to gather input and ideas from employees.
- Set up a learning and development program to support employee growth.
- Schedule regular check-ins so staff can discuss delicate topics in a safe setting.
🧐 Discover what Leapsome can do for your organization
Leapsome helps you simplify and automate even the most challenging tasks to increase engagement and retention for your company.
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Leapsome enables businesses to prioritize EX
A fuller picture of what the employee experience encompasses allows you to address it in its entirety and across the complete team member lifecycle. As the current business landscape changes and your competitors try to hold onto their best talent, your EX strategy can serve as one of your best assets to ensure your business continues to thrive.
The most successful organizations understand that employees are multifaceted individuals, and as such, enhancing their experience requires a comprehensive and unified approach. One way to do that is with a platform like Leapsome that enables organizations to identify employee needs and provides tools for customizable surveys, real-time feedback, and structured meetings. Plus, our performance review, goal-setting, and compensation management modules allow you to streamline initiatives and drive strategic, positive change for your company.
With Leapsome, you can seamlessly automate, assess, and refine all your EX initiatives to provide a holistic approach that addresses the diverse needs of your people.
🔑 Your key to thriving teams and long-term success
Create a motivating and retention-driven employee experience with Leapsome’s flexible and user-friendly platform.
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FAQs about the employee experience
1. What is the meaning of employee experience?
Employee experience refers to the way team members view their working environment, from pre-employment to the moment they transition to another role, another company, or retirement. It encompasses all of the influences, circumstances, and interactions that shape a professional’s perception of work over the course of their entire tenure.
2. What is the most important part of the employee experience?
Your workplace culture is the most crucial element of your employee experience. A strong, people-centered culture is one that celebrates, empowers, and enables team members to do their best work, making them feel a strong sense of belonging and inclusion.
3. What are the key features of employee experience?
The key elements that impact employee experience are:
- A communicative, supportive company culture
- Compassionate, empathetic leadership
- Access to learning and development opportunities
- An organized system for recognizing and rewarding employee contributions
- Work-life balance, autonomy, and flexibility
- Equitable compensation and benefits
- Technology that makes work easier and more enjoyable for everyone
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