“The three most important things you need to measure in business are customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and cashflow.” —  Jack Welch, former Chairman and CEO of GE.

There’s an important correlation between happy employees and happy customers, but successfully engaging the former to influence the latter is not easy. An ADP Research Institute study suggests that just 16% of employees consider themselves fully engaged. This leaves a massive 84% simply “turning up for work,” failing to achieve their true potential. Post-COVID, employers have experienced the “great resignation” and are finding it harder to impress new talent. They’ve had to rapidly adapt to flexible hybrid working among other workplace changes and now face the pressures of an uncertain global economic outlook.

Researchers at MIT have shown that placing a strong emphasis on employee experience (EX) results in significant business improvements, such as doubling the levels of innovation, customer satisfaction and achieving 25% greater profitability. But all the aforementioned factors are making it harder to tune into what employees actually want and move the dial on EX. When employees' needs aren’t being met, their engagement starts to suffer. When engagement suffers, output quality lowers. When output quality lowers, so does customer satisfaction.

This leaves employers with one choice: Invest in EX or suffer the consequences. 

Multiple Factors Drive Employee Experience

According to Gallup, a positive EX results in 81% less absenteeism, 64% fewer workplace accidents, 28% less “shrinkage” (theft), 58% fewer patient safety incidents and 41% reduction in quality defects. So how does one achieve positive EX? When it comes to striking the perfect balance of tools, technology, processes and incentives, expert opinion varies, with studies suggesting critical factors include workplace autonomy, flexible working, well-being support and benefits.

The reality is there is no secret sauce to positive EX. Employers must respond to the specific circumstances of their industry, corporate culture, department, or role they’re working with.

However, there are proven best practices and tools which can make listening and responding to employees a whole lot easier. Using these, employers can play an active role in shaping and improving engagement practices, as well as ensuring employee engagement is measured against customer-facing metrics alongside employee satisfaction.

Related Article: Is It Time to Combine Customer Experience and Employee Experience Programs?

3 Ways to Improve CX

1. Designing the Employee Journey With CX in Mind

Mapping an employee’s journey within their organization allows employers to codify what successful employee engagement should look like at every milestone. This enables organizations to better prioritize resources and funding that aligns company goals and values with how employees experience their workplace. It's important to note that employee journeys will differ by department and role. By customizing journeys in this way, employers can optimally balance the factors that contribute to employee satisfaction and improved productivity.

Employers must design an end-to-end employee journey that supports team members at every stage of their employment. At the beginning, touchpoint opportunities like onboarding and training must be speedy and seamless. Employers must also grant access to the company intranet and the right tools, technology and systems to enable their employees to not only be effective, but to exceed expectations in a hyper-connected, always-on world.

Professional development is another critical part of the employee journey. Providing staff with the opportunity to hone existing skills and develop new ones can greatly contribute to positive CX.

Learning Opportunities

2. Measuring Employee Engagement

In today’s data-driven world, the insights within the employee journey holds vital clues on how employees interact with every aspect of the business, how they shape CX and how they contribute to the overall strategic goals of the organization. Measuring engagement effectively relies on a combination of different feedback systems, typically involving KPIs, surveys, employee Net Promoter Scores, 360 reviews and one-on-ones. Much of the data employers collect about their employees from engagement practices like meetings, reviews and survey feedback is qualitative. These nuanced findings are like gold. It is up to organizations to educate managers and design systems that can capture and use it.

Other valuable indicators should also be taken into consideration, such as retention rates, new hire 90-day failure rate, customer satisfaction scores and platform adoption metrics — because engaged employees will heavily utilize the collaboration tools at their disposal.

3. Prioritize People First

When businesses embark on the process of employee engagement, they often find they need to address systemic issues around culture and workplace norms in order to encourage collaboration, diversity and inclusion. In addition to providing the right tools for employees to work effectively, employees need a support system for life’s many curveballs. Corporate culture, again, has a key role to play here.

An employee-centric workplace culture puts the needs of the employees at the heart of the processes and operations that make up “business as usual.” Examples of practical moves that employers can implement include flexible schedules that allow employees to better juggle their home life, access to mental and physical healthcare and investment in digital technologies that facilitate next-generation working practices. Feedback mechanisms, such as ongoing check-ins, are invaluable in creating a culture where employees feel heard.

Related Article: Why It's Time to Embrace Employee Experience

Take EX Seriously and Improved CX Will Follow

EX and CX are not mutually exclusive. Just as customers demand great experiences across all the devices and apps they use, employees also expect the right tools, resources and systems to support their day-to-day work. However, savvy employers do not stop there. They understand the direct causal relationship between employee engagement and customer engagement.

Like it or not, your brand ambassadors are your employees — all of them, all the time, not just a hand-picked selection of people you can rely on to paint a rosy picture of your company when prompted.

Making a clear commitment to elevate EX is no longer a “nice to have,” but rather one of the surest indicators of business success across a wide range of metrics, including innovation, profit, customer satisfaction and productivity.

fa-solid fa-hand-paper Learn how you can join our contributor community.