What is employee experience (EX)?

Written by: Officevibe
Published on: February 10, 2023 |  Reading time: 10m

Employee experience (EX) is at the heart of business success, impacting everything from customer satisfaction to team performance. The experience your employees have at work is as important as your customer experience, annual goals, and employer brand — in fact, it has a direct impact on all of those success factors. Not to mention, it also affects your employee’s engagement, commitment to their work, and likelihood to stay working at your company.

Research shows that strong employee engagement increases profitability by 23% and reduces turnover rates by 59%. That’s why modern companies make employee experience management a priority, creating personalized experiences designed to improve engagement and retention.

As we all move into the ever-changing future of work, employee experience trends for 2023 continue to show the importance of a human-centric workplace. Read on to learn the ins and outs of employee experience, and ways to manage and improve it.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience encompasses all interactions a worker has with an organization throughout their employee lifecycle, from their first application emails right through to their exit interviews. The employee experience includes the physical environment, digital technology, company culture, manager-employee relationships, career development and growth opportunities, and more.

While human resources have a role to play in shaping the employee experience, it’s often a person’s direct manager and immediate team that have the biggest impact. Talent management is a team sport, so you want to be sure to have the right players in the right positions — from business leaders, to middle managers, to individual contributors.

The factors influencing a positive employee experience

A positive employee experience doesn’t just happen — it must be built. But where to start? There are a lot of factors that influence how employees feel at work. So creating the right employee experience strategy could mean focusing on a number of different things. Here are a few focus areas to consider:

  • Culture and values: Employees want a company culture where they feel valued for not just what they do, but who they are. Beyond that, there should be clarity on what exactly your company culture is. It’s important to make your company values clear, so employees know how to thrive at your business and feel they’re a part of something bigger than their work.
  • Work environment: Even in a remote and hybrid context, the importance of a healthy and supportive working environment hasn’t gone away. Digital environments are another way people experience work, and just as important to build intentionally. So whether it’s at the office or from afar, be sure to make people feel comfortable and welcome.
  • Technology: In the digital age, people need the hardware and the software to support their work. Make sure employees have access to the tools and resources they need to work effectively. Keep in mind that workplace tools are meant to work for you, and not against you. Do regular audits of the tools your teams are using and how effective they are. Don’t be afraid to try a new software or get rid of an old clunky one that’s slowing teams down.
  • Communication: Communication is central to employee engagement and the employee experience. How people are given feedback, how their ideas and suggestions are received, and how goals and objectives are shared all come down to communication. It’s important for leaders to be strong communicators, but it’s also important that teams have effective communication norms and that people of all levels are encouraged to speak up.
  • Recognition: Hard work shouldn’t go unnoticed, and increasing employee recognition is a low cost, high impact way to improve your employee experience. Each and every team member plays a role in the company’s success, and people should feel valued and appreciated for their hard work. Recognition can be given as real-time feedback, through peer recognition, in one-on-one meetings, and at performance reviews. The important thing is building a culture of recognition at your organization.
  • Workplace connections: People spend a third of their time at work. The relationships they build there are meaningful — and they have a big impact on their engagement level and happiness at work. Human connections is at the heart of building team trust and fostering strong collaboration. Make time to build genuine connections on your teams.
  • Flexibility: It’s no secret that work-life balance is important to employee wellbeing and performance. But flexibility at work is about more than helping people unwind and disconnect. It’s a sign of respect. Employees with freedom to manage their own workload, work remotely, and take time off or shift their hours when they need it feel more valued by their employer.
  • Autonomy: People want to feel a sense of purpose at work, but it can be challenging to achieve that when they’re being micromanaged. Giving employees the autonomy to manage their workloads and navigate challenges independently shows them they’re trusted. And the thing about trust is that it goes both ways — employees who feel trusted to do their best work are more likely to trust their leaders in return.
  • Career growth: Offering training and career growth opportunities is an investment in your people. And, ongoing development is one of the most important factors to employee engagement and retention. When people see that they have a future with the company, they’re more likely to do their best and stick around.

We’ve identified 11 main pillars of the employee experience. Think you know what they are? Read on to find out more.

The benefits of a great employee experience

Of course, a great employee experience is beneficial to your workforce. But it goes both ways: when you offer an exceptional experience for employees, they do exceptional work. That’s the employee experience advantage. Here are a few business benefits to improving your employee experience:

The stages of the employee experience journey

It’s easy to get caught up in the experience employees have of your company while they’re working for you. But the truth is that your employee experience extends to the full employee lifecycle, from before they join your team through to after they leave.

Pro tip: You can use employee journey mapping to get an overview of the employee experience of potential candidates, current employees, and past employees.

The stages of the employee experience journey include the following:

  • Recruitment and hiring: What’s the first impression your company gives to prospective employees when they see a job opening at your business? The recruitment and hiring stage includes how potential hires find the application process, their communication with the hiring team, what interviews are like, and how they receive their offer.
  • Onboarding: Onboarding sets the tone for the entire employee experience. How you welcome, train, and otherwise prepare employees for the job has a big impact on how they’ll feel in their role and can shape employee attitudes. Great employee onboarding leads to stronger employee engagement, so it’s important to give new hires a warm welcome.
  • Engagement: Once an employee has been hired and onboarded, it’s important to drive their engagement at work. Employee engagement is closely tied to their relationship with their manager, and enabling managers is key to improving engagement. Helping people to understand the role their work has in the bigger picture and setting meaningful goals is one of the best way to create highly engaged workers.
  • Development and growth: Employee development is critical to retention and engagement. If people don’t feel they can learn and grow at your company, they’ll look for other opportunities where they can. This is why it’s essential for managers to provide feedback in ongoing performance management and career advancement conversations with their employees.
  • Offboarding: How people leave your company can have as much of an impact as how they join it. You want to have guidelines in place for employee departures, both voluntary and involuntary, to make the transition as smooth as possible. And of course, perform an exit interview to collect feedback that might help you spot signs of disengagement in the future and stop turnover before it happens.

Creating a better employee experience

An employee experience strategy is not a guessing game. To create world class experiences for your staff, your human resources and executive teams must work together. Build your employee experience framework around the stages of the employee experience journey and implement changes incrementally.

Use our guidelines below to start creating better experiences for your employees.

1. Create employee journey maps

Start by mapping your employee experience journey to get a clear overview of how people go through the stages of employee experience with your organization. Often when you map your employee’s journey, you might discover gaps and locate specific areas that need improvement.

For example, you might find that after onboarding, you don’t provide much additional training for employees. You can work with managers to help them create personalized growth plans with their direct reports for better performance management.

2. Collect employee feedback

The best way to improve the employee experience is to learn exactly what your employees want. You can collect anonymous employee feedback to discover pain points, improvement opportunities, and strategies you shouldn’t change.

For example, your employee engagement survey responses could reveal that people are lacking a sense of alignment. To remedy this, you can make a point to review company values and goals at quarterly town hall meetings.

Officevibe makes collecting employee feedback intuitive and insightful. From employee experience surveys to one-on-one meeting templates, we help you ask the right questions for meaningful responses.

3. Identify employee pain points

With a clear view of your employees’ lifecycle journey and an understanding of how engaged, established employees feel, areas for improvement will start to crystallize. You’ll begin to see what might be hindering employee engagement or even causing negative employee experiences.

For example, you may discover that as your business scales, company-wide communication is taking a hit. With that knowledge, you can set to work figuring out how to improve communication and information exchange.

You may feel overwhelmed when you uncover issues in your employee experience. Use our tips on what to do with employee survey results to most effectively address your findings.

4. Define your goals

Now that you’ve uncovered the gaps, it’s time to set goals for your EX strategy. Your goals should be specific, actionable, and measurable. Here are a few examples:

  • Increase employee retention rates by X%
  • Improve eNPS score
  • Improve pulse survey response rate to 75%
  • Lower absenteeism by half

While defining short- and long-term goals, outline how you will achieve and measure each. For example, if you want to improve employee retention, you might introduce stay interviews and recognition initiatives.

5. Make changes and measure improvements

Your employee experience will only improve if you enact change. As you adjust your management strategy and workplace environment to better meet employee expectations, be sure to measure employee experience KPIs. With this operational data, you’ll be equipped to introduce further changes as needed.

Creating better employee experiences means embracing change. Collect feedback from employees on a regular basis and implement small changes over time. The truth is employee engagement and satisfaction are an ongoing effort, and your employee experience will always be in flux. But it’s up to you to take the reins and guide it in the direction you want it to go.

Create a workplace for engaged employees to thrive

The value of engaged employees can’t be overstated. Investing in meeting not just customer needs, but employee needs will be a determining factor of success for businesses that want to thrive in the modern era of work.

It all starts with a better understanding of your employees, their expectations, and what’s driving their engagement. Tools like Officevibe’s employee engagement platform help you collect the insights you need to remove the guesswork from managing your team.

Remember, the best way to keep employees happy, engaged, and dedicated to your company mission is by showing them they’re valued.