Employee Experience—What You Need to Know (EX Series, Part 1)
We’re hearing more and more about employee experience in 2023. What is it, exactly? Why does it matter? In this new blog post series, we aim to educate—whether you’re in the C-suite or on the front lines of designing and delivering delightful experiences to your colleagues.
Employee experience has two perspectives
Employee experience, or EX, is a topic, a discipline, a concept that has emerged as a major priority for organizations, especially in the post-pandemic competition to attract, engage and retain the best talent. It’s a term consisting of two very familiar nouns. That familiarity leads many to conclude, erroneously, that EX is merely another page in the Human Resources handbook. Not so.
The primary definition of EX has two components: the employee (i.e., human) perspective and the organization’s perspective.
From the human’s perspective, EX is the sum total of all the interactions an individual has with an organization. It includes interactions before actual employment commences (e.g., searching for employment) as well as experiences during onboarding and throughout the employee’s ‘lifecycle’ with the organization. Most people don’t consider that the employee’s relationship with an employer extends beyond employment to include things like alumni programs.
From the organization’s perspective, EX is the organization’s ability and methods to meet the needs and expectations of the people in the organization across all interactions. Because one’s experience is, by definition, subjective, these interactions establish and influence how people perceive, understand, and feel about the organization.
In our world of human-centered design, we know that there are people—humans—in both components. There are the employees receiving ‘services’ from the company, and there are the managers, HR professionals, IT teams, etc., who are delivering those services.
EX and CX
Most of us are familiar with the concept of customer experience (CX). It’s what we, as consumers, for example, experience and feel about a brand’s products or services. In many ways, the ‘twin’ of CX is EX, since they are on opposite ends of the interaction between organizations and their customers. After all, it is your employees who deliver the experiences to your customers.
Like CX, the way a specific organization defines EX varies from organization to organization. And, as a relatively young and evolving practice, the way that organizations address EX—everything from who in the organization is responsible for it to how it is measured—can be different in a given organization.
While the definition of EX may be subject to interpretation, the benefits of devoting skill, time and energy to purposefully design and actively manage workplace experiences is undeniable. In fact, a study by MIT’s Center for Information Systems Research showed that organizations ranked in the top quartile of EX have double the innovation metrics of their peers, double the customer satisfaction ratings, and roughly a quarter higher profit margins.
Great EX means employees feel engaged and connected. Additional benefits include:
Higher rates of retention
Improved physical, mental, and emotional health of individuals and teams
A stronger, more attractive employer brand
And, of course, if you have better EX you are much more likely to have better customer experience. We have all had the experience of interacting with a disgruntled employee, and the pure joy of receiving service from an employee who loves their work.
EX is a novel concept for which many organizations lack in-house expertise or experience. In this series on EX, we will examine the challenges and incentives faced by organizations as they begin the process of designing for intentional employee experiences from the proverbial standing start.
In future posts, we will share our own definitions of EX and lay out what we believe is the most effective and human-centered way to truly transform the experiences people have with organizations. We will dive into different aspects of EX from a strategic, business imperative perspective as well as from the viewpoint of EX practitioners. We will examine and provide examples of how to get started, the EX design process, discuss what roles and skills are needed and even address the Gestalt, holistic nature of EX, i.e. how it is the combination of all its elements.
Co-author Lisa Morris has over 25+ years’ experience at the forefront of brand, organizational behavior, and human-centered design. As founder and CEO of XPLOR, she has become a leading expert in EX design and service design. Her innovative approach has helped clients in a range of sectors to create engaging, effective experiences for their customers and employees.
Co-author Marc Bolick leads the US office of DesignThinkers Group. With 25+ years’ experience in product and service design, he’s worked in sectors including medical devices, mobile & web applications, travel & leisure, financial services, and innovation consulting.