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PHOTO: Max Anderson

Happy and engaged employees create better experiences, which leads to more satisfied and loyal customers and, ultimately, brand and company growth. A virtuous cycle, market-leading organizations recognize that a thoughtful and deliberate focus on managing employee experience (EX) is not only good for their workforce but also good for their company.

So how do we manage EX with today’s dynamic workforce? For starters, EX needs the structure, methodology and process to cope with the modern-day employee's wants and needs. We can no longer rely on lengthy annual surveys to provide timely insights because today’s employee wants to know they’re being heard now. They want to blur the lines of work-life balance and ultimately integrate their social conscience and personal sense of value into professional achievements, which is a key driver of satisfaction in their careers. 

Taking this a step further, the employee’s satisfaction or experience mirrors that of the customer’s experience. 

But EX is a somewhat abstract concept because it is fundamentally about dynamic human interactions, which are notoriously difficult to measure. Further, EX is focused on individuals, not just leaders or the organization broadly, which can also make it a challenging concept.

With so much to think about, it is no wonder EX is surrounded by so much confusion. And with confusion comes the fear of making poor decisions — at the risk of losing two of the most important players in an organization: employees and customers. To investigate this concept further RedThread Research teamed up with my firm, Medallia, to learn more about how to effectively relate EX to CX and ultimately measure its success. The findings, unfortunately, didn’t show a strong correlation between the two, but my colleague Melissa Arronte shared her opinion based on her current work and her past experience with Fortune 500 companies.

Related Article: The Intersection of Employee Experience and Customer Experience

High-Level Employee Experience Takeaways

Throughout the research, three major themes surfaced that helped to change the way we think about EX as it relates to customer experience.

  1. Employee experience is the result of both emotionally-laden events (so-called “moments that matter”) and commonplace exchanges between employees and the broader organization.
  2. Employee experience is an antecedent of employee engagement and focuses on individual experiences versus collective engagement (as viewed from the top).
  3. There are four levers to a holistic EX:
    1. Clear philosophy.
    2. Supportive culture.
    3. Articulated accountability.
    4. Aligned measurement.

These four levers can be read as four clear steps that organizations can take to implement, measure and improve EX.

4 Levers of Successful Employee Experience

Lever 1: Having a Clear Philosophy

The most forward-thinking organizations have a very clear philosophy of EX, including who it is for, what it is, and how it differs from employee engagement. This philosophy then guides all other decisions they make with regard to EX.

Lever 2: Creating a Supportive Culture

One of the common themes about EX is the importance of having a supportive organizational culture. Culture is the shared assumptions, values and behaviors that determine how a company makes decisions, which helps people thrive at work and drives positive organizational outcomes. It is, therefore, no surprise that organizational culture is a key element in EX. Five essential behaviors in a culture that supports EX: collaboration, transparency, psychological safety, alignment and sharing feedback.

Related Article: How VW and Others Are Connecting Customer and Employee Experience

Lever 3: Articulating Accountability

Who is responsible for EX? Is it HR, marketing, operations, technology? Even though organizations hold differing opinions on who is responsible, one thing holds true. HR still holds many of the cards, because it's already privy to employee feedback and talent management practices, positioning it as a logical hub for EX. In line with the research above, many of the forward-thinking organizations surveyed felt EX was HR’s responsibility. That being said, it can’t solely fall on HR. HR must delegate appropriately across departments in an effort to break down silos and ensure EX is happening at scale across the organization. 

Lever 4: Being Aligned in Measurement

Most of us know the saying, “what gets measured is what gets done.” This saying holds true especially for EX, in that organizations’ measurement approach — and their relative level of sophistication — can not only dictate what they know about EX but even how they go about bringing it to life. This is why it’s especially critical to have an aligned measurement approach.

Related Article: Customer-Centric? Employee-Centric? How About a People-Centric Culture

Take a Big Picture Approach to Experience

Employee and customer experience are certainly linked. But beyond sophisticated analytics, organizations need a blended focus on employee and customer experiences, and to do so, organizations need to rethink their existing experience silos. Perhaps experience in itself will be the common denominator that starts blurring the lines on traditional roles and pushes the envelope to a new way of thinking: an experience mentality that recognizes and properly reflects the notion that: “happy employees make happy customers."