Employee Experience

Getting personal to drive employee engagement

Employee experience starts with understanding


When employees are engaged, they’re more productive and innovative. Organizations have higher profits, revenue growth, customer satisfaction, productivity, innovation and employee retention.

In fact, 30% of workers around the world report feeling disengaged in their job. That means they aren’t performing at their highest level — which, in turn, means their organizations aren’t optimizing their performance. And employees who are discouraged or frustrated can be a real threat.

It’s critical that organizations start building an environment where employees feel more engaged in their work. In the past, employers thought they could build a great employee experience by piling on more dollars and cents. Today, it takes more to create an exceptional experience that resonates with your employees.

Employee experience management takes a deep understanding of what your employees need and want. It requires you to put your people and their needs first.

When you put people first, you’ll find that the business results will follow.

FAQs about employee experience

What do we mean by employee experience?

The employee experience is everything an employee encounters, feels and perceives at work. It includes the physical environment where they work, the organization’s culture and the employee’s pay, benefits and other employee incentives. It encompasses every touchpoint with an employee, from their employment application through to onboarding, training, development and their exit.

Three categories of employee experience contribute to an employee’s overall job satisfaction:

  • Task experience: Giving employees access to (as well as the ability to use) all the tools and technologies they need to be effective in their work
  • Social experience: Building an inclusive culture that gives employees opportunities to learn, grow and collaborate with others
  • Fulfillment experience: Cultivating an environment where employees get what they want from work in terms of their work-life balance, compensation and rewards and purpose

Employers that offer a high-quality employee experience are more likely to attract and retain talent and drive employee performance. When organizations focus on creating an experience that energizes and enables employees, they perform better and find fulfillment in their work. When employees recognize the impact of their work on their organization (and beyond), feel empowered and listened to, and are rewarded appropriately for their behavior, they feel more engaged.

To create the optimal employee experience, organizations need to recognize that they must start treating employees as individuals. That means they need to abandon their one-size-fits-all approach to the employee experience. They’ll have to get to know employees at the individual level before they can meet their needs and tailor the employee experience accordingly.

Why focus on the employee experience?

Your employee experience is a competitive advantage. Your organization can only maintain a high level of performance if your employees are engaged and productive — and if your organization is focused on improving employee wellbeing. This is particularly true in times of disruption and change.

When organizations listen to their employees’ concerns, and when employees feel heard and respected, they’ll feel more loyal to their organization. That loyalty becomes a tie that binds them, so they’re a lot less likely to look for other opportunities.

More importantly, a positive employee experience is a leading indicator of organizational health and sustainable performance. Organizations with high levels of employee engagement typically perform better than competitors when it comes to innovation, productivity, customer satisfaction and financial results.

Our research has shown that organizations with high levels of employee engagement earn net profits that are two times higher than those in the lower quartile. Their revenue growth is 2.5x higher than those in the lower engagement tiers. And when compared to companies in the lower quartiles, organizations with highly engaged employees have 12% higher customer satisfaction, 18% higher employee productivity and 40% lower employee turnover.

How can you improve the employee experience?

Engaging employees is a constant challenge — it’s not a one-and-done endeavor. Every day, employers must work to improve the employee experience throughout the employee life cycle.

An effective employee experience does four things. It balances the organization’s needs with employees’ needs and wants. It aligns with the priorities of your organization’s overall people strategy. It is credible to both current and prospective employees. And it is meaningful to employees and drives their career decisions.

To create an employee experience that energizes and enables employees, follow these five steps:

  • Plan: Consider what makes your organization unique. Consider your culture, employee profile mix and operating model.
  • Design: Build the key elements of your employee experience program. These elements include governance, listening cadence, reporting, communications and manager enablement.
  • Listen: Gather feedback through multiple touch points, including pulse surveys, exit interviews and data analytics on employees who leave the organization.
  • Understand: Identify critical experience gaps and pinpoint their root causes. Study any variation in the results among the different demographic groups in your organization. And, of course, establish feedback loops so you demonstrate that you’re turning listening into understanding.
  • Act: Strategize how to address experience gaps. Continue using feedback loops to discover where any additional shifts are occurring and where you may need to do further work.

How do you measure your organization’s employee experience?

Employee experience consists of two parts: employee engagement and enablement. Even the most highly motivated employee may lose interest in their work if they don’t feel enabled to perform their job. That’s why it’s important to measure employee motivation as well as whether employees are working in the right roles and in a supportive environment.

To measure engagement and enablement, you’ll need a variety of feedback loops. Annual employee engagement surveys can create a baseline. But they’re just the tip of the iceberg when you want to understand where you are today. Also consider the following feedback tools:

  • Pulse surveys that give you rapid, continuous insight into emerging issues and areas of significant change
  • Focus groups
  • Exit surveys to give you a more holistic view of the employee experience
  • Candidate interviews
  • Performance conversations
  • Informal feedback channels, such as social media

The more real-time feedback you collect, the better chance you’ll have to correct course.

Why does employee's experience matter?

The employee experience matters on three levels: employee engagement, retention, and recruitment.

  • Engagement: A positive employee experience correlates with turnover and productivity. The more engaged people are with their work, the less likely they are to leave and the more likely they are to invest their time, energy and knowledge in the organization.
  • Retention: It’s harder than ever to hold onto an employee today. Long-term job tenure is a thing of the past. But when a company invests in their employees with a cohesive hiring process that continues into a meaningful, well-thought-out onboarding process, employees start their role on the right foot and feel better about joining the company and its culture. This positive feeling translates into continued productivity and happiness on the job.
  • Recruiting: Candidates will research your company online and ask current employees for feedback about your culture. The more engaged your current employees are, the less likely they are to share a negative review online or be critical of your organization to potential employees.