pins in a map
PHOTO: Capturing the human heart.

It’s common for organizations to focus heavily on customer experience, mapping every touchpoint, maniacally trying to improve each interaction and analyzing how every step impacts sales and the overall organization. But organizations rarely take this same approach with the employee experience. Many fail to realize that the answer to perfecting the customer experience lies in improving the employee experience.

Simply put, employees are the bedrock of your organization. Engaged employees are directly tied to greater productivity and, in turn, impact the customer experience. Yet lack of employee engagement is a major challenge facing organizations as they grapple with factors like the war for talent and an increasingly mobile and distributed workforce. So why aren’t more organizations focused on mapping the employee journey like they map the customer journey? 

This isn't to say organizations should de-prioritize the customer experience, but rather that the customer experience and the employee experience are inextricably linked, and you can improve both if you take the tactics you use to manage the customer experience and apply them to efforts to engage employees. Here are six steps you can take to map the employee journey.

1. Segment Your Audiences

Just as marketers map out the customer journey and create personas for various customer profiles, organizations should complete that same segmentation for all employees. A large, complex company might have many different personas, from front-line personnel to corporate executives, distribution workers and more, each with varying motivations and needs. Rebecca the retail specialist and Manny the manufacturing engineer will have different interactions with your company, but both ultimately reflect your brand and impact the organization’s success.

Related Article: Employees Can Make or Break Your Customer Experiences

2. Plot Out Your Touchpoints

The next step is to get all stakeholders in the room — including representatives of human resources, IT, facilities, events, marketing, operations and other departments — to identify every interaction your organization has with each employee persona. The definition of “employee experience” now encompasses every step of the employment lifecycle, from the first interview to the onboarding process to on-the-job interactions with technology, facilities and equipment, and engagement with teams, all the way to offboarding. And an employee’s departure from the organization may not even be the final step — retirees and alumni still have the potential to be customers or return employees long after they leave. You must take all of those factors into consideration in order to optimize the employee experience.

3. Collaborate Across Departments and Disciplines

Each department and discipline — communications, HR, IT and others — brings a different perspective and must be involved in shaping the employee journey. HR and communications have shared ownership of the employee experience and must collaborate closely. Marketing is usually involved in designing the external brand experience and can help convey that brand experience to employees. As part of this step, consider re-aligning organizationally to ensure all parties that interact with employees are in sync. When I worked in internal communications at Gap Inc., I worked closely with not only HR, but also IT, facilities, events and other departments to ensure we were in alignment.

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

4. Sync Your Employee and Brand Experiences

Employees are your front line when it comes to dealing with customers. While your external brand may be sending one message — that the company is, say, all about digital innovation — employees may not be experiencing the same message. This causes a disconnect that prevents employees from portraying your brand accurately and getting behind its message. Ask yourself this question: Does everything employees experience from the inside of this company match what our external brand messaging is saying?

5. Reach Employees Where They Already Are

Engaging employees requires getting them the information they need to do their job well and stay aligned with the organization. Yet many grapple with archaic processes and aging systems, like outdated intranets or enterprise social networks, which fail to adequately connect employees. Instead, just like you build interactions with customers, think about how you can meet your employees in all of the places they already frequent: mobile, tablets and other devices, and all of the systems and channels they use daily.

Related Article: Why Personas Matter in B2B Customer Journey Mapping

6. Rethink Measurement

The final piece of the puzzle is measurement. Organizations have typically measured employee engagement with a rearview mirror, looking back in time with a yearly survey or developing a point-in-time engagement score. Instead, consider how engagement strategies are tied to long-term business strategies. Then the question becomes: How do you look not only backward, but forward?

In a recent conversation, Charlene Wheeless, principal vice president of global corporate affairs at Bechtel, told me measurement goes “well beyond surveys and reports.” She said communicators now must be able to not only gather a bunch of data, but also analyze it and derive insights out of it to take action. Focus on aligning your communications strategies with future business outcomes, leveraging workplace analytics, data and insights to make decisions along the way.

Impact on the Bottom Line

Ultimately, if employees are living and breathing your brand, they impart sentiment to your customers. By mapping your employees’ journeys and focusing on talent retention, you’ll see a domino effect on your other concerns: improving the customer experience, reaching business goals — and increasing the bottom line.