A detailed guide to improving the employee experience in your workplace

TL;DR: The concept of employee experience (EX) allows organizational leaders to broaden their focus and take a more holistic, empathetic approach to improving team members’ everyday working environments. Creating a positive EX involves taking a closer look at the five major stages of the employee lifecycle, starting with recruitment and attraction and ending with offboarding. Companies that succeed in their EX efforts can achieve more meaningful, quantifiable business results that lead to improved resiliency and adaptability.

This playbook should serve as a comprehensive yet straightforward resource that C-level executives and leadership can use to improve the employee experience at every phase.

In a time when organizations are experiencing historically low employee engagement (1) and increasing team member burnout (2), business leaders are looking for new strategies to retain their people and keep them happy. Why, then, do their initiatives often fail to work? It may be because they’re missing a key component — the employee perspective. 

That’s why the employee experience (EX) is gaining so much traction in the people operations world, with 47% of human resources leaders making it their primary focus this year (3). Prioritizing EX involves leveraging staff insights to optimize the entire journey, from first contact and recruitment to offboarding. In doing so, people teams can deliver more of what employees want and design workplaces built on mutual trust, transparency, and empowerment.

  1. Gallup, 2023
  2. Future Forum, 2023
  3. Gartner, 2023

What is the employee experience?

The employee experience comprises all the interactions team members have with their employer — as well as the impressions those interactions generate — across the key stages of their tenure:  

  • Attraction and recruitment
  • Onboarding
  • Development
  • Retention
  • Transition and offboarding

Essentially, the concept of EX allows organizations to understand the employer-employee relationship from the employee’s point of view. Companies that want to prioritize EX strive to identify and address the friction points within that relationship. If they’re successful, they’ll have more developed, empowered team members with the skills they need to move the business — and their careers — forward.

The importance of creating a positive employee experience

Building a positive EX shows staff members that you value them as much as your customers and clients. People who have a great experience at their workplace are more likely to feel connected with their company’s mission and purpose. It’s also possible they’ll act as an ambassador on their employer’s behalf and encourage more attraction and recruitment.

The impact a great employee experience can have on organizations is also quantifiable. For instance, they may see an improvement in:

  • Retention — A study from the World Economic Forum found that employees were 4.9 times more likely to leave their jobs within six months if they endured a poor EX. 
  • Performance — Recent Gallup research found that an effective employee experience can contribute to a 29% increase in work quality. 
  • Productivity — Companies that prioritize EX and see favorable results are 1.8 times more productive than those that don’t.
  • Revenue Researchers for the Harvard Business Review discovered that strengthening the employee experience could help companies realize a 50% increase in profit and earnings.
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Wann Sie dieses Playbook verwenden sollten

When to use
this playbook

This playbook is for C-level executives, HR and people ops professionals, managers, team leads, and any other relevant stakeholders who are working to improve engagement survey scores and increase unfavorable employee experience metrics. It's also a great starting point for leaders who want to understand the five key stages of the employee journey, from attraction and recruitment to offboarding. We suggest returning to this playbook when crafting engagement surveys and developing more effective enablement strategies, ideally twice a year.

HR and people ops teams can also use this playbook as a go-to reference when they map the employee journey or conduct a six-month or annual review of the employee lifecycle.  

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Was Sie für dieses Playbook benötigen

What you’ll need for
this playbook

A commitment to include EX among your executive strategies

HR and people ops teams shouldn’t be the only ones driving EX efforts. Rather, senior leadership and executives should have buy-in and support making the employee experience a top priority. To do so, they can work with their people teams to gather employee data, collect honest feedback from team members, and develop EX initiatives that benefit both employees and the overall company. 

Tools for gathering data & strategizing

Dispersed teams need software like Leapsome to help manage and optimize the employee experience. With our holistic, multi-feature platform, you’ll have the tools you need to conduct a more comprehensive, data-driven assessment of your current EX. Leapsome also makes it easier to collaborate on and implement effective employee experience strategies so you can design a more equitable and satisfying EX.

Hinweise & Tipps
  • Recognize employees as they achieve key EX milestones — This gives individuals a sense of where they are within their EX journey and keeps them more engaged and motivated along the way.
  • Consider the manager’s crucial role at every stage — Team leaders should be actively involved in their direct reports' onboarding, development, retention, and offboarding experiences. Ensure they have the skills and training to keep employees satisfied and motivated within each stage.
  • Embrace inclusive decision-making — Don’t just ask team members how they feel about their current employee experience. Allow team members to offer suggestions and participate in strategizing and planning, especially for the initiatives that will affect them most.
  • Encourage ongoing employee feedback outside of the regular cycle Set up anonymous channels where employees can share their thoughts at any time, such as a suggestion box or Q&A board. Remember to follow up and take action on their suggestions so they continue using your feedback tools.

How to run this People Ops Playbook:

Wie Sie dieses People Ops Playbook durchführen:

An infographic that briefly illustrates how to improve the employee experience at all five stages
Each stage of the employee experience is vitally important and deserves equal attention

1. Attraction & recruitment: Setting the stage for success

From the moment someone learns about a job opportunity to the instant they receive a formal offer, they form expectations about your company. Organizations that care about nurturing trust and prioritizing transparency should be keenly aware of this fact — failing to meet those expectations can feel like a betrayal to people and lead to disengagement. That’s one reason why 75% of companies struggle with recruitment

Considering that so many job seekers have been let down by former employers in this way, companies need a better understanding of how they can improve on their own processes — and on the mistakes of other organizations. Here’s how you can get more insight into and optimize the recruitment process:

  1. Gather appropriate data — Use a platform like Leapsome to find out how current employees feel about the company and whether or not it matches up to their expectations. You can collect input from exit interviews and engagement surveys. Ask applicants how they felt about your recruitment and application processes as well as those of other companies, identifying how you can make yours more effective.
  2. Be clear about your processes and expectations — Let candidates know how long the interview process will last and what to anticipate at each round. 
  3. Respond to applicants promptly and keep them informed — Respond to emails immediately and let individuals know the next steps as soon as possible to avoid confusion or wasting their time. 

2. Onboarding: Leaning into your values & culture

A photo of a group of three professionals looking at a laptop.

Onboarding is your opportunity to answer new hires’ questions about their role within your organization

During the recruitment phase, new team members mostly interact with the hiring manager and spend time having high-level conversations about your company’s mission and values. Unfortunately, they’re too often thrust into an overwhelming torrent of paperwork, training, and other tasks immediately after being formally brought on board. That can feel jarring at best and misleading at worst. 

Instead, use onboarding as an opportunity to focus on what new team members — not managers and senior leadership — need to know at this stage. Before bombarding them with policies, procedures, and compliance training, go in-depth about your company’s culture, ideals, and mission for the future, ensuring team members thoroughly grasp their place in all of it.  

According to recent Gallup research, these five elements can help you address employees’ needs during the onboarding stage and beyond:

  • Values — Employees are 4.7 times more likely to agree that onboarding is successful if it gives them a strong sense of how company values play out every day.
  • Employee strengths — If onboarding helps new team members feel they can fully utilize their strengths within their new role, they’re 3.5 times more likely to agree that it’s effective.
  • The new hire’s role — Managers and team leads should ensure new staff members know exactly what’s expected of them and feel confident in their ability to carry out their responsibilities. That sense of comfort and security means they’ll be 1.8 times more likely to find the onboarding experience worthwhile. 
  • Building team relationships — Taking the time to facilitate colleague introductions and providing teammates with the technology and processes they need to collaborate helps foster respect and cooperation. Employees who feel they can rely on their coworkers after onboarding are 1.9 times more likely to appreciate the experience.
  • Future career growth — New team members need to understand how their current role fits into their desired professional futures. By utilizing competency frameworks to illustrate how advancement works within your company, you can create an onboarding experience that team members are 3.5 times more likely to rate as exceptional.
🛣️ Help new hires discover the road to advancement

Leapsome’s Competency Framework feature helps employees focus on the skills they need to improve in their current role and progress within your company.

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3. Development: Empower employees to navigate their own learning paths

Opportunities for growth not only play an integral role in motivating employees — they also influence well-being and mental health. They instill confidence in team members and reassure them that there’s stability in their chosen role, that doors are open to them, and that they won’t stagnate. 

At the same time, employees’ career goals naturally change and evolve over time, which is why they expect employers to offer flexible, ongoing development opportunities. In its 2023 Work in America survey, the American Psychological Association found that 91% of professionals wanted a job that provided consistent growth opportunities, but only 47% had access. In addition, according to SHRM’s 2022 Learning and Development report, 38% of respondents said they wanted training that was directly relevant to their roles, and 32% said they prioritized having access to the most up-to-date content.

If this is an area where your company needs to improve, you can make the development experience more impactful by:

  • Collaborating with new employees to set individual development goals — Help new team members find the intersection where their personal aspirations and company objectives align. Then, work together to create a set of SMART goals based on those priorities. 
  • Making performance reviews growth-focused — A constructive performance review should focus on identifying current skills and performance gaps so you can make a plan to develop and improve in those areas. 
  • Designing your own learning content — Use a platform like Leapsome to create interactive, tailored learning courses that are simple to track and assess.
🔧 Adjust learning content to fit employee needs

Leapsome’s Learning module lets you design engaging multimedia learning courses to target specific skills and knowledge gaps.

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4. Retention: Showing team members they belong

During the previous three stages, managers and leadership have ideally been gathering all the information they can about individual employees, particularly regarding what they want from their role and their place in the company. Now, it’s time to take genuine action on what you’ve learned and give team members the support and tools they need to excel and feel supported so that they stick around long term.

To keep your best people, fostering a sense of belonging is essential. Based on McClean’s 2022 Great Attrition survey results, 51% of employees said they left their jobs because they didn’t feel they belonged, and 54% thought their company didn’t value them. Indeed, the lack of a sense of belonging is so widespread that organizations have made it central to their diversity initiatives, moving from diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B).

To cultivate more belonging and improve EX at the retention stage:

  • Train managers in coaching and mentorshipIn an interview with CNN, Founder and CEO of Manager Method Ashley Herd explained that managers needed more skills development: “...99% of employers don’t provide effective training — and I’m not exaggerating there. While some provide training, it’s rarely effective in providing the guidance that’s needed to help managers understand how to meet business goals while supporting employees in the right way.”
  • Prioritize weekly 1:1 meetings or check-ins — Getting together with direct reports weekly for 15 to 30 minutes allows managers to discuss goals, assess well-being, and share appreciation for any recent wins or milestones. This is where Leapsome’s Meetings module can come in handy to create purposeful, productive conversations.
  • Assess your rewards and recognition program — Do the monetary and non-monetary rewards your organization provides align with team members’ needs and truly incentivize great work?

5. Transition & offboarding: Ending on the right terms

A photo of two professionals sitting together at a table in a casual work environment.

Employers with an open-minded attitude toward turnover are better positioned for successful offboarding

Turnover is an inevitable aspect of the employee experience, and yet it’s something that many organizations don’t want to acknowledge. While it may be hard to stomach the loss of knowledge, skills, and expertise when someone moves on to another opportunity, being transparent and realistic about turnover can help you create an offboarding program that genuinely serves both your company and exiting employees. 

Far too many businesses treat offboarding as an afterthought, and a staggering amount fail to do it all. Consider how Google’s parent company Alphabet laid off 12,000 team members by email right before disabling their security badges and data access. 

To avoid ending on an abrupt or unproductive note and make the most of offboarding:

  • Be open about turnover and offboarding — When people leave, don’t try to brush it under the rug. Be honest in any communication about why the team member is moving onto another opportunity, especially if they’re senior or their reasons for leaving are in question. Be sure to celebrate the individual and the fantastic work they did for the company and encourage others to praise and support them publicly.
  • Communicate the steps involved — To reduce anxiety and stress, team members should know how your termination, layoff, and retirement processes work before they go through them.
  • Offer access to support and resources — Encourage employees who have been terminated or laid off or are retiring to reach out to human resources for guidance or support on their next steps. For example, some companies provide ‘office hours’ with HR professionals after a situation like a mass layoff in order to support those affected in finding a new role. 
  • Use automated tools to make data gathering easier — Leapsome makes offboarding just as easy as onboarding. Our Surveys module lets you schedule exit surveys ahead of time, and you can use our ready-made meeting templates to keep your exit interviews focused and helpful.
  • Think of exiting employees as alumni — Reaching out to former team members to check in may encourage them to return. However, if that’s not possible, it may also inspire them to praise your organization publicly and remain a valuable part of your professional network.

How Leapsome supports a great employee experience

Gaining a comprehensive understanding of the employee experience can help you address it holistically throughout every stage of a team member’s journey. At a time when your competitors are trying to retain their top talent, EX strategies are crucial to help you stay resilient and create the best work environment for your people.

Forward-thinking companies recognize that every employee’s needs are distinct, and they don’t exist in a vacuum. They require technology and regular process flows to keep up with changing demands and expectations. The employee experience is also different for everyone, so employers need tools that can help them customize and optimize EX for as many people as possible.

With modules built to address every facet of the employee journey, Leapsome can help. With customizable surveys, real-time feedback, and structured meetings, our platform helps you listen to team members and gain valuable insights from their feedback. In addition, our performance review, goal-setting, and compensation management modules allow you to automate processes that drive meaningful, strategic outcomes for your company.

Adding Leapsome to your tech stack means you’ll have a well-integrated suite of employee experience and people enablement tools at your disposal, empowering you to address the diverse and ever-evolving needs of your team members.

🌻 Help employees flourish at every EX stage

Leapsome’s suite of tools helps you gather data and design EX initiatives that drive engagement and unlock employee potential.

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