Employee experience – what, why, and how?

Employee experience (EX) is one of the most important factors in developing the customer experience. The customer experience, in turn, influences your brand, and even your business results. This is one of the main reasons why all leaders and management teams should have the EX on their agenda as a factor in increasing their competitiveness.

How does the employee experience affect the customer experience?

The most obvious reason why the EX affects the customer experience is that whatever your employees are experiencing comes across in their interactions with your customers. The single most influential element to EX is the employee’s professional relationship with their leader. It follows from this that we can influence customer experience through our leadership practices.

Company culture and the employee experience

Company culture is key to developing the employee experience in your company. Slightly simplified, a company culture consists of the following elements:

  1. Values. Values mean desired behavior and a framework that guides employees’ actions.
  2. Processes and structures. These mean defined practices and working models (such as structures for skills development and performance appraisals).

Values, processes, and structures help you create a company culture that supports a certain type of employee experience – a positive one.

Company culture is a toolkit, and employee experience is the result.

Since company culture is important for creating a certain type of EX, it is in effect a toolkit, and the EX is its outcome. Josh Bersin put it simply: “Employee experience is a sum of interactions that an employee has with their employer” (Deloitte, Deconstructing Employee Experience, 2018). As I see it, continuous and planned discussions are the best way to develop the EX.

How to lead and develop EX?

In a perfect world, creating the desired employee experience should be possible by deciding on a specific set of values, processes, and structures. In reality, however, it is all too often that nothing much happens beyond a PowerPoint presentation being given. It is also common that certain teams operate differently and achieve different results, without there being any established means of working across the organization to develop EX. Another common failing is to focus on the pleasant things and ignore the fundamentals of a good EX.

To ensure continuous progress toward the desired employee experience, my suggestion is simply to take things one step at a time. A good employee experience is usually based on quite basic things that can be done systematically (also check the blog post ‘3 basic things great team leaders get right’).

To begin with, you need to define the desired company culture and then set about establishing structures that support it. For example, you can set out a one-on-one discussion process to be followed throughout the organization. If you would like to create a company culture that emphasizes skills development, one-on-one discussions should include elements of this. This may sound like a small and elementary thing, but once it’s working well you will soon see changes in the right direction. In addition, it plays a central role in enabling your company to continuously develop EX and build up other supporting structures around it.