How Do You Create a Culture That Supports Employee Experience?
We know a lot about EX – Are we done?
Customer Experience has become the new face of Marketing, Sales, and Customer Service. Employee Experience (EX) promises to redefine HR into a people success function. Reason enough to explore the power of employee experience in depth. And we have: We know from this piece that managing the employee experience (EX) yields business benefits. And here we have studied how HR as EX facilitators can work with business managers owning most of the actual employee experience. We understand how EX can drive culture. And we know how to implement EX in a transformative way, how to measure it and how to drive conclusions from benchmarking and analysing EX data.
So, is this the end of EX exploration? Do we know what to do? Are we done? No, we are not. There is an important bit missing: What data model do we use to focus efforts of the entire organisation, its front-line managers and support functions on EX, track and benchmark it over time?
With all our previous work we are now in the position to share what makes the data universe of EX, the data elements it takes to manage EX:
Not only have we spent a lot of time defining these data elements together with F500 companies. We have also co-created a pragmatic
measurement and management of these data elements. We call it the “Employee Experience Index” (EXI©) – you can look at it as a simple-to-use EX in a box approach to provide focus and to maximise ROI. It consists of these chapters:
Journeys & Types of Experiences
First, let’s be clear: Employee experience is the sum of all experiences an employee (or manager, candidate, alumnus, freelancer) is having with an organisation. As experiences happen in moments, we measure them ‘in the moment’. But the experiences are having a context. This context, from the employees’ perspective, is what we call journeys. The set of journeys where the relevant experiences happen are these four journey clusters with single journeys underneath:
The journeys as such are ‘big’ enough to ask the net-promoter-score (NPS) question: “Based on your experience with [e.g. Onboarding], would you recommend this company as an employer?” And the NPS score is what we are measuring in a 1-click / 1-second survey (or text message or chatbot call or popup window) for the entire journey.
Now let’s look at the types of experiences we are trying to measure and manage along these journeys. We have identified five of them. And don’t forget – we want to measure them in the moment, as they happen during journeys:
Wellbeing, belonging, physical and digital workplace experiences are somewhat ‘always on’ offerings of a company, and less of a ‘moment’. Yet they are important for the employee experience. We therefore made them a moment by focusing on the first time an employee experiences wellbeing, belonging, and the physical/digital workplace. That happens during onboarding – and that’s the moment wellbeing, belonging and the workplace will leave the biggest impression.
Moments of Truth
Some of the moments matter more than others: We call them ‘moments of truth’ – highly emotionally loaded moments with disproportionate impact on engagement. These are the moments where employees discuss their careers, receive performance feedback and pay, etc. We need to provide a thoughtful experience, as here we can impact engagement – and hence, attraction, retention and work productivity (the full business value model is here). In various iterations with CHROs and practitioners from Global-2,000-companies and with EX and CX experts we have built and tested the right set of moments of truth that cover the experience types above while they are still focused enough to be measurable and manageable. We have identified a set of 22 of these moments. Here is an extract:
We know from our pilots and research that the best question to ask in the moment is the CSAT (customer satisfaction) question, e.g.: “How satisfied were you with receiving feedback after your first interview?”.
Moments of truth number 5 from the list above is “I first experience my physical workplace”. As mentioned earlier, we had to make it a moment – because the workplace is there (and may remain there for decades), so initially is not a moment. What we’ve done to make it a measurable moment: We are asking new hires for their first impression of their new workplace. The related CSAT question is: “How satisfied were you with your physical workplace when you first experienced it. Please think of moments like […]!” And here is a list of physical workplace moments that we offer as examples:
While the ‘moments of truth’ are the major drivers of engagement, the ‘effortless moments’ are the drivers of direct work productivity: When your company-internal services are effortless, you are giving time back to managers and employees. That time given back is productivity. We know from our research that HR practitioners estimate that an effortless experience will give 8 hours back to each manager per month, and about 2-6 hours to employees. It’s quite a powerful dimension of EX: One global bank with 54,000 employees estimated that they give 1 Million hours back to the business per year!
To manage effortlessness, we have – again in co-creation with global companies and with EX and CX experts – identified thirteen effortless moments that are the best to measure and manage for an overall effortless experience. Here is an extract:
With the elements mentioned before we are good to go: We can calculate the EXI© as a composite index to manage and optimise EX. And if the EXI goes down, we can see in which moment the experience is breaking. And we can act directly to improve those moments. Yet the EXI is built to do more: It provides structured insights into the underlying reasons for a good or bad EXI. We have identified the highest-correlating influencing factors to the EXI. We are measuring them as well. With that data, we can explain what a specific company can do beyond direct counteraction at touchpoint level. There are three classes of influencing factors:
EX Solution Blueprints
The influencing factor ‘EX Solution Blueprints’ covers the reference practices that have proven to deliver better employee experience. And we are measuring to which extent companies have implemented these practices. Here is an extract:
One of these EX Solution Blueprints is called “Effortless and valuable: Manager experience of people services”. It’s a particularly interesting one: It hypothesises that managers will provide a better experience to their teams, if they themselves have a great experience with people services when they provide performance reviews, plan their teams, hire for their teams, etc. What we are measuring is the in-the-moment experience of managers with the people management tasks they own. Here is an extract of their ‘moments’ that influence the EX they provide to their teams:
EX Maturity Dimensions
The next influencing factor is the maturity of an organisation to effectively manage employee experience at scale. This maturity model of EX management is again a result of the co-creation with more than 40 of our clients. The maturity is captured alongside our “Design / Share / Measure / Act” methodology – which has proven to have an impact on the moments of truth and the effortless moments. Maturity to manage EX comes in these nine dimensions:
We are measuring them in a pragmatic way: We are using a self-assessment of a set of indicators for each of the 9 dimensions by the Head of EX – an exercise that takes less than 45 minutes to complete.
Finally, it has shown that the EXI varies by industry and by country. Hence, a meaningful analysis and effective action requires data cuts by region and by industry. Measurement of these comes at zero extra effort: Instead of asking a survey respondent the country of their job or the industry they work in, we are using specific survey links per industry per region.
But, how do you do it?
Now that we know what to measure, the remaining open question is how do you do it?. We have simplified the measurement of the EXI© as much as possible to make it easy to deploy – without compromising the quality of the insight:
The EXI is a one-time effort at first of 2 weeks: A Fortune-500 company runs a survey to one population of approximately 1,000 to 2,000 employees (depending on the company’s demographics, smaller companies require smaller populations). No personal data is collected. To answer to the survey takes between 2 and 10 minutes of an employee’s time (depending on the number of ‘moments’ they have experiences in the recent past). With this setting we achieve response rates of more than 60% without massive communication.
After this first one-time effort, the baseline is laid. And companies will then go one out of three alternative ways: They can continuously measure the EXI in real time, by automatically triggering surveys in the moment. That of course is the best option yet requires integration with backend systems that automatically trigger the one-click surveys. Second best option is to combine the ‘in-the-moment’ measurement with existing pulse checks the company is running anyways. Here it is crucial that the pulse survey will be sent to those that have just had an in-the-moment experience – so again requires some sophistication in sampling and triggering. Third alternative is to run the EXI in an annual format – so they simply repeat the EXI every year.
After all, we can finally benchmark EX!
We are all going after similar talent pools. Therefore, it is not enough to provide a better employee experience than last year. What matters is to be better than our talent competitors. That’s why benchmarking is such a powerful component of managing EX. With the data universe laid out above, EX once in a sudden is benchmark-able. We can benchmark internally and with peer companies. We can measure with limited effort. We can take direct action and monitor progress. We can make informed investment decisions and spend money where it yields maximum return. And finally, we can prove the business impact of EX.
It’s a breakthrough for EX and for HR (who in 90% of the cases will facilitate EX management). Exciting times!
If you’re interested in learning more about how to build a digital HR strategy and what to include in your roadmap, then you might be interested in our online training course on digital HR, where we walk through the critical areas to include in your digital HR strategy in more detail. You can also read more about the WHAT and the HOW of building a digital HR roadmap in this blog post.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Volker Jacobs is the CEO and founder of TI People and an Executive Director and co-founder of Insight222 Limited. Volker holds degrees in economics and information sciences, has worked for U.S. and European consulting companies and started his own HR management consulting business that he sold to CEB. At CEB, Volker held a senior management position with a global responsibility for HR consulting and HR technology before co-founding TI People.