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Defining, measuring & improving employee experience

Tony Latter | 24th September 2021

So we’ve talked about Employee Happiness. And we’ve talked about Employee Engagement. It’s time to throw another term into the mix: Employee Experience. People tend to use these phrases in lots of different ways, so we thought it might be helpful to talk about what specifically we mean in this context. 

What do we mean by Employee Experience?

When we talk about Employee Experience at The Happiness Index we like to think about how happy and engaged your people are across their entire journey with your organisation. This means we like to think about how people interact with an organisation from the day they apply for the role, to the day they leave. 

There will likely be a natural ebb and flow to how your people feel throughout the year. For example, if you work in financial services, there may be a pressure point around tax season. In retail you may find people are more stressed around sales times or the festive period. Some organisations and individuals find that there is a period which is sometimes known as the “three-year itch” when someone has been in the same position for a while. 

When can you measure Employee Experience?

Of course, you can (and should) measure Employee Experience during your regular check-in. Perhaps in your regular culture surveys or any pulse surveys you do throughout the year. To really get a feel for employee experience, we recommend also running specific surveys at key trigger points in your people’s careers. 

Our customers who want to measure the full employee experience typically start with our Onboarding and Exit surveys. Onboarding surveys might be run in weeks 2 and 12, and then at 6 months.  Within the first two weeks, employees will have developed their initial perceptions of the company and their role. This is followed up at the 3 month stage, which is likely to be when employees feel more settled, and they should truly understand how they feel about the role and the organisation. Finally, the third survey is at 6 months, which is when research shows colleagues are at their most engaged, motivated, and productive. It is very difficult to bring these levels up after this point, but they can be maintained through sustained and effective management and support. This gives you a holistic view of new starters’ experiences.

Exit surveys are also very helpful, and getting an idea of how your people think and feel as they leave can be invaluable to many organisations to really understand their attrition rate. 

On top of these, some of our customers have found success with additional surveys around key service anniversaries, life events (such as returning from parental leave), promotions or internal job moves to keep on top of the overall employee experience. In conjunction with  your regular touchpoints throughout the year it will give you a consistent view of how your people are thinking, feeling and behaving as they go through their career journey with you. 

You may want to think about other key milestones in your organisation. Where do you think your pressure points are? Do you have a high number of apprentices leaving after qualifying? Do you have a low rate of maternity returners?  

How can you measure Employee Experience?

The exact questions you should ask during employee experience surveys will vary slightly depending on the timings. For example, the questions you ask in an onboarding survey will be very different from an exit interview. 

We recommend a couple of things that should be consistent throughout your measurement of Employee Experience. Firstly, you should always ask how happy and engaged your people are and give them an open text box. This will allow you to gather consistent quantitative feedback as well as giving your people the chance to open up and express themselves as humans. 

Secondly, as well as having in person conversations around your onboarding and exit interviews, we also recommend space and time for anonymous feedback. This is important because it will give you more candid feedback from your people. Although the personal touch is key to building relationships, getting unfiltered opinions at these pivotal moments will help you to power your people strategy. 

Lastly, ensuring consistency between touchpoints, teams and individuals will give you a better data-set to work with. Not only does consistency help you to build trust, but you will also be able to spot trends, themes and potential problems or weak spots. These will prove invaluable as you build your people strategy. 

How can you use this to improve Employee Experience?

Knowing how your people think, feel and behave throughout their employee lifecycle will help you identify where the strengths and weaknesses in your people strategy are. This will help you refine and build a strategy that will put your people, and their happiness and engagement, at the heart of everything you do.

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