Better experiences start with a focus on your employees
By Faith Adams, Director, CX Strategy
Even though awareness and evidence of the importance and value of employee experience (EX)—and its connection to customer experience (CX)—exists, many organizations still struggle to make employees more of a focal point of their business transformation strategies. This is evidenced by the fact that even though senior executives rank improving customer experience as the number one outcome they would like to achieve from their transformation efforts, other critical activities rank much lower, like improving employee well-being (which ranked eighth). Employees, on the other hand, do indicate that improving CX is important, with it coming in fourth, but this comes behind improving employee well-being (third), increasing innovation (second), and improving quality (first).i
One reason for this disconnect between executives and employees is a lack of focus on employees and what matters to them. Far too often, companies rely on simply measuring employee engagement, not investing in the employee experience—which some sources also say is about the employee’s total well-being, going beyond experiences at work.ii
Given the strong connection between CX and EX, organizations must change how they engage their employees and increase their focus on EX, starting with these four key principles:
Employee engagement and experience are not the same but are very connected
Organizations must embrace both employee engagement and experience — not just one or the other. This is because employee engagement is the output of employee experiences; what companies are hoping to achieve by investing in employee experience. And employee experience is about the many touchpoints of an employee’s journey—from applying for a position to onboarding with a company through the entire employee lifecycle (annual review process, promotions, leaving a company, etc.).
Employee engagement surveys tend to be broader in nature and don’t capture specific insights about each phase of the employee lifecycle, focusing more on the job an employee is doing, their team, specific supervisor(s)/management, and the broader organization. Whereas EX surveys can be more granular and specific to the experience, like onboarding as a new employee where the employee may be asked if they felt welcomed, how prepared they felt for their first 60 to 90 days, how well they understand their role and responsibilities, or how accurate the role was described while interviewing. Using this information, the company can optimize the specific experience, which may, in turn, impact longer-term employee engagement.
Employee experience has a broad scope—and goes beyond human resources
Even though HR plays a leading role in EX efforts being responsible for key journeys like recruitment and onboarding, successful EX efforts require involvement from various stakeholders. This is because EX includes the physical workspace, how the company communicates with its employees, and the tools and technologies that employees use—making EX the responsibility of many. In addition, EX is about the day-to-day activities and experiences of your employees, which includes other stakeholders up and down the organization, levels of collaboration, organizational structure, processes, policies, and more. For example, IT teams may want to understand employee pain points that are associated with the company’s technologies and systems so they can determine what can be optimized in the future. This is not something that is normally uncovered in an employee engagement survey.
Employees are valuable listening posts that help drive improvements
Organizations gain a valuable listening post when they invest in EX alongside CX. This is because feedback from employees can inform improvements across both disciplines. This is a key reason why EX must extend beyond HR. Customer feedback helps guide companies to what is broken and where opportunities may exist from the customer perspective. Still, employees can also provide valuable context, highlighting the policies, processes, technologies, and other challenges that are standing in the way of improving CX. This is because employees have a clear line of sight into things that customers cannot see. Take ABN AMRO, for example; it went beyond customer feedback, also leveraging the voice of the customer through the employee to spark innovation and improvement ideas.iii
Investing in EX can deliver a wealth of organizational benefits
Beyond the output of improved employee engagement, investing in EX can have a broad range of benefits that stem from empowered employees who feel like they matter and their voices are heard, such as:
Increased employee productivity. EX can help connect employees to a purpose and feel a sense of achievement and belonging, which in turn helps increase productivity and enthusiasm about their role. On the other hand, bad employee experiences and low employee engagement can cost companies millions of dollars annually through decreased productivity, including an increased volume in employee breaks and/or absenteeism.
Lower employee churn rates. Employees leave companies for many reasons, but most commonly, they leave due to dissatisfaction, a better opportunity, a planned change, or a negative experience.iv Investing in EX helps minimize employee churn risks, helping employees stay motivated by offering clear career paths and opportunities for learning and growth. Reducing churn also translates to cost avoidance of recruiting, onboarding, and training new employees.
Attracting talent. Think about it, employees—both current and former—speak up about their experiences by submitting ratings and feedback on websites like Glassdoor and Indeed, sharing their experiences with potential applicants. These ratings and feedback can influence whether or not someone will want to work for your organization. This is particularly important now as many organizations are struggling to fill open positions.
Improved CX quality. How employees engage with customers has an impact on the CX a brand delivers. Disengaged employees are less likely to put their best foot forward or go the extra mile to make sure a customer is satisfied. Investing in EX may not solve all employee issues or engage employees. Still, the improved EX or engagement that such an investment provides can mitigate the risk of poor CX—a risk that goes up without a commitment to EX.
With employees sharing their experience with their employers with outside organizations—like the Best Places to Work survey and Glassdoor, among others—and impacting how your company is perceived to both potential employees and customers, it is even more critical to zero in here. It is time to bridge the gap between CX and EX. And this starts with not losing sight of what’s right in front of you—that is, your people.
For more information on how to integrate your employees into your transformation efforts or to determine where to get started, email us at: email@example.com.
- i. Deloitte. (2021). 2021 Deloitte human capital trends.
- ii. Mayer, K. (2021, March 11). Want positive employee experiences? Start with wellbeing. HRExecutive.Com.
- iii. Medallia. (2021). Medallia ABN Amro case study. On The Path To Customer-Centricity: Closing The Outer Loop With Medallia Ideas. Published
- iv. Source: SHRM. Managing For Employee Retention. Shrm.Org.