What is employee experience? (And how to improve it)
Updated 18 July 2023
Building a positive work environment where employees feel valued is key to an organisation's success. Working in a welcoming atmosphere is vital for improving employee job satisfaction, productivity and an organisation's reputation. By focusing on improving the employee experience (EX), you can improve the business' overall performance and achieve your objectives. In this article, we explain what employee experience is, discuss why it's important, outline how to improve it and look at some common employee experience milestones for you to consider.
What is employee experience?
Employee experience (EX) refers to how an employee feels within a workplace and the quality of their professional relationship with an employer. This also includes all interactions between an employer and an employee, which start at the initial meeting between an employer and an employee and continue once the employee leaves the organisation.
Several factors can impact employee experience, including an employee's surroundings, communication from senior leadership, other employees and the organisation's work practices. Each employee has a deeply personal experience, depending on who they interact with, how they mesh with the work environment and how they're treated during their working life. Despite this, HR and management can play a key role in creating an enjoyable work environment for all employees, which can lead to better performance and help a business to achieve its objectives.
Why is employee experience important?
Employee experience is important because it can have a broader effect on the rest of an organisation. Employees that enjoy their jobs are more likely to be productive at work, which directly impacts the revenue that a business can generate. A positive work environment is also an excellent recruitment tool, as it can demonstrate to new and talented professionals that there's potential for career advancement and an enjoyable work-life balance within that organisation. The primary effects that employee experience can have on an organisation include:
Having a good employee experience can lead to high levels of job satisfaction. This creates positive interactions between employees and the employer, which increases overall morale and productivity. If the organisation faces any challenges, having an excellent employee experience can help a team to overcome any of these issues. High levels of job satisfaction also encourage employees to stay at an organisation for longer, which vastly improves the retention rate of talented employees that are vital for an organisation's long-term success.
Establishing and maintaining a good employee experience directly impacts the revenue that a business produces. If an employee feels motivated to perform well, they're more likely to produce good results. Productivity is therefore directly linked to employee experience and is a key business metric for success. Productive employees typically also deliver more innovative solutions to challenges, which is ideal for the industries and sectors that require lateral thinkers.
A brand's reputation plays a key role in an organisation's ability to retain and recruit staff, in addition to customer engagement. It's directly linked to how an organisation treats its employees and their shared experiences. A good employee experience is more likely to result in positive reviews or recommendations through word of mouth, which can encourage new recruits or customers to interact with the organisation.
Opportunities for networking
While having a good employee experience can foster a positive work environment for current employees, it's also beneficial to continue a good relationship with those that have left the business. By forming these relationships, an organisation can gain important networking opportunities. These opportunities can help an organisation to find new talented candidates or business partners due to recommendations from former employees. This can also help an organisation to reduce its recruitment costs.
Related: Networking tips for jobseekers
Many businesses benefit from brand advocacy, both internally and externally. When staff feel appreciated, they're more likely to discuss the business in a positive way online and with friends and family, which can improve an organisation's brand awareness. Similarly, many customers appreciate a brand that can demonstrate a personable approach to business. Having this identity can help build brand loyalty, which can lead to increased customer retention.
How to improve employee experience within an organisation
Below are some steps you can follow to improve an organisation's EX:
1. Consider the company's mission
To develop a positive experience for employees, start by considering an organisation's values and objectives. For example, if the business you work for has a strong focus on diversity and productivity, you'd want to create an inclusive environment that gives employees the freedom to collaborate, innovate and contribute new ideas.
When you're considering these goals, think about what you're trying to achieve and how you'd like to reach that achievement. These goals may include increasing the employee retention rate, reducing burnout or overworking or improving productivity levels. This approach allows you to focus on the purpose of improving the organisation's EX, which can help you make more specific plans.
2. Consider the employment timeline
An employment timeline is an outline of how a role can progress and evolve, alongside how it's structured. It includes certain milestones, such as the recruitment process, the onboarding programme and minor interactions between an employer and employee. These interactions typically include an employee's daily workload, work surroundings, training opportunities or team-building activities. It also includes how management deals with unforeseen issues, such as extended leave or sickness. Setting out clear guidelines for each point of interaction or milestone can help to improve an organisation's employee experience and create a more enjoyable work environment for new and existing employees.
3. Create your employee experience plan
Creating an employee experience plan that includes specific initiatives can help you to identify new processes that can benefit the whole organisation. To create an effective plan, consider the organisation's values, goals and employment timeline milestones to develop an overall strategy for each point of interaction between the employer and employee. For these strategies, try to identify the problem you wish to solve, your proposed solution and any resources you may require.
For instance, you may discover that new employees don't fully understand how to use a piece of project management software. To solve this problem, you may decide to introduce certain practices, such as an in-depth training session during the onboarding process. For this strategy, you may determine that you need assistance from the IT department, alongside deciding to allocate time for staff members to attend this training session.
4. Get feedback and adjust accordingly
A key way of improving an organisation's employee experience is to get feedback from employees. Try to speak to current and former employees about the positives and negatives of working at the organisation. This can provide a variety of viewpoints and perspectives on issues that the management team may not have considered. You can gather this feedback via an internal survey or even through more direct face-to-face meetings with senior leadership.
Once this information is available, you can then implement solutions to solve any issues that might be negatively impacting the organisation's employee experience while also looking to expand on anything that's causing a positive impact. For instance, if new employees positively receive a certain training programme during the onboarding process, you can look into using this approach in other areas to improve the organisation's employee experience.
What are employee experience milestones?
Employee experience largely revolves around how an employee and an employer interact at different points during a period of employment. This means that it's relatively easy to split employee experience into various milestones for more accurate planning. Below are some of the most common employee experience milestones to consider:
The recruitment process is a potential employee's first point of contact with an employer. Establishing a professional tone during this process is an important starting point for an organisation that wishes to improve its EX. Some signs of a positive initial employee experience typically include making sure that the candidate is comfortable and feels respected and heard during the recruitment process. A simple way for a business to improve its employee experience during the recruitment process is to be open and honest. This includes maintaining transparency throughout the process and fully providing the candidate with all the information they need.
The onboarding process can be a good opportunity to demonstrate an organisation's commitment to creating a welcoming environment that's dedicated to assisting an employee's progression. This initial support can also help to create a foundation of productivity that sets a benchmark for the candidate to follow for the rest of their employment.
Managers or HR professionals can support new employees while they transition into their new roles by providing them with the right contact information, training resources, software education and introducing them to other employees in the organisation. Once the new candidate begins to settle, they can then start to highlight their progression by using concepts like 30/60/90 and SMART goals.
This is the final milestone in an employee's career and provides employers with the opportunity to maintain connections with valuable employees that might be able to help them in the future. Conducting an exit interview is one of the easiest ways of creating a good EX, as it allows employers to receive genuine feedback about what it's like to work there. They can then use this feedback to develop strategies that can improve the organisation's EX.
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