11 March 2024

What is employee experience, and how can you improve it?

Woman Smiling after reading the employee experience report

In the fast-paced world of HR and management, the term "employee experience" has been a hot topic of conversation lately. But what does it mean, and why is it so important? Let's dive into why employee experience is essential to any thriving business, and how you can excel at it in your own organization.

The significance of employee experience

Why employee experience matters

Imagine this: You enter a workplace where everyone welcomes you with friendly smiles, the air is filled with a sense of positivity, and you immediately feel recognized and valued for what you bring to the table. Now, compare that with walking into an office where the air is thick with tension, communication seems non-existent, and you feel like just another piece in the machinery. Which environment do you think you'd flourish in? Chances are, it's the first one. 

Employee experience is about the journey an employee embarks on from the moment they start considering a position at your company, through every interaction they have with the organization, up until their final day. This includes the entire work environment and every touchpoint with you as an employer, from the initial interview to the farewell meeting. 

Why does this matter? Because it directly affects how employees feel about their jobs, their peers, and the company as a whole. And having happy employees isn't just a bonus; it's the foundation of a thriving business. 

Consider this: when employees are engaged, motivated, and feel supported, they're more inclined to put in extra effort and remain with the company long-term. Conversely, disengaged employees can lead to decreased productivity, higher turnover rates, and ultimately, a detrimental effect on profitability. 

The impact of employee experience on business outcomes

As we've just discussed, there's a significant connection between employee experience and business performance. First, consider the impact on productivity. Content employees are often more creative, produce higher quality work, and do so more efficiently than their dissatisfied peers. 

Next, think about talent attraction and retention. Currently, talented professionals can choose from a plethora of employers, and they're choosier than ever before. For many top-notch employees, a hefty paycheck alone won't cut it. They're looking for a positive work experience that resonates with their personal values, and focusing on this can help you attract skilled candidates and retain them for the long haul. 

We also can't overlook the power of word-of-mouth in your recruitment efforts. Employees tend to share their work experiences with others, whether face-to-face or on popular job review websites, shaping potential candidates' views of what it's like to work for your company. 

Furthermore, the employee experience can create a domino effect throughout the organization. A positive collective experience promotes teamwork, innovation, and ongoing improvement, which in turn makes your business more competitive and adaptable. On the flip side, negative experiences can lead to a weak company culture and operations that are sustained by the bare minimum effort. 

Stages of the employee experience 

The employee experience can be segmented into six key phases. Let's delve into each one. 

  1. Attract: Everything kicks off with the recruitment phase. This is your opportunity to leave a fantastic first impression and highlight what sets your company apart as an exceptional place to work. From establishing a solid reputation in the job market to the way you conduct interviews, every touchpoint plays a role in your overall success.

  2. Onboard: After selecting the ideal candidate, the next step is onboarding. This phase goes beyond mere paperwork; it's about making new employees feel welcomed, well-informed, and prepared to excel in their new roles. A thoughtfully crafted onboarding experience is crucial for helping employees meet expectations and feel integrated into the team.

  3. Engage: The engagement phase is where the majority of the employee experience unfolds, covering all aspects of work life from daily responsibilities to fostering connections with coworkers. Elements such as effective communication, meaningful assignments, and supportive leadership all contribute to a fulfilling experience. When employees feel appreciated, challenged, and respected, their engagement levels soar.

  4. Develop: No one wants to feel trapped in a dead-end position. It's important for employees to see that there are avenues for advancement within your organization and that their efforts will be recognized, whether through training programs, mentorship, or clear career progression paths. Investing in employee development not only motivates your workforce but also strengthens your talent pool for future needs.

  5. Perform: Acknowledging achievements and providing constructive feedback enhance both the employee experience and job performance. This recognition should extend beyond yearly evaluations. Supporting your staff to excel might involve anything from a simple acknowledgment of a job well done to identifying when someone is facing challenges and offering the necessary support.

  6. Exit: The manner in which an employee's departure is handled, whether they're pursuing a new opportunity or retiring after years of service, can have a lasting impact. A considerate exit process demonstrates that you value your employees even as they transition out, affecting how they speak of your company moving forward. It also plays a significant role in maintaining high morale among the remaining team members. 

Employee experience versus employee experience

Differences and similarities between employee experience and engagement 

Employee experience and employee engagement are often used interchangeably, but they're not quite the same thing. Let's clarify these two essential aspects of people management. 

Employee Experience: This term encompasses every interaction an employee has with your company, from the moment they consider applying to the day they leave. It's about the entire journey and how employees perceive their work environment, the company culture, their relationships with colleagues, and the support they receive from management. 

Employee Engagement: Engagement refers to the emotional commitment an employee has to their organisation and its goals. Engaged employees are passionate about their work, feel a sense of connection to their company's mission, and go above and beyond to contribute to its success. 

The Connection: There's a significant link between a positive employee experience and high levels of engagement. When employees are satisfied with their overall experience at a company, they're more likely to develop a strong emotional commitment to their work and the organization. In turn, engaged employees enhance the overall employee experience by contributing to a more positive and motivating work environment. 

The shifting focus from engagement to experience

In recent years, focus has switched from employee engagement to employee experience, and for good reason. While engagement is important, it's just one piece of the puzzle – the end result of positive employee experience. Companies now realize that to attract, retain, and motivate top talent, they need to create an environment where employees can thrive at every stage of their journey. 

Here are some of the reasons behind this shift. 

Workforce demographics: Younger generations are reshaping traditional notions of employment, prioritising factors like work-life balance and ethical values over conventional financial benefits. This makes engaging employees far more complex and less one-dimensional. 

Technology: While remote work initially threatened cultural cohesion, cutting edge HR software and an influx of online collaboration platforms have come to the rescue. The latest tools make it easier than ever to create a seamless and engaging employee experience while maintaining multiple touchpoints with employees who don’t work on site. 

Enhancing the employee experience

Strategies to enhance employee experience

Understanding the significance of employee experience is one thing; implementing strategies to improve it is another. Here are some actionable steps to enhance the employee experience within your organization: 

1. Foster a positive work environment: Make employees feel valued and supported by encouraging collaboration and open communication, recognising achievements, and providing opportunities for social connection among team members. 

2. Prioritize work-life balance: Encourage employees to take breaks, unplug after work hours, and offer flexible working arrangements to accommodate people's individual needs and responsibilities outside of work. You could even support emotional and physical wellbeing with things like mental health services and subsidized fitness memberships. 

3. Invest in employee development: Provide ample opportunities for learning, mentorship, and career growth to help employees achieve their potential. 

4. Boost efficiency: Eliminate productivity roadblocks by automating routine tasks, simplifying procedures, and equipping employees with the necessary tools for their roles. Reducing tedious tasks allows employees to concentrate on their strengths and contributions. 

5. Gather and Implement feedback: Regularly ask employees about their experiences, challenges, and ideas for improvement. You could use surveys, focus groups, or one-on-one conversations to gather insights into what's working well and what’s not. Then, take action by addressing concerns and making changes swiftly. 

How leaders can enhance employee experience

Leaders are pivotal in molding the employee experience and establishing the organizational culture. Here are ways leaders can positively impact the employee experience: 

  1. Lead by Example: Exhibit the values and conduct you wish to see in your team. Show honesty and transparency in your interactions, and practice work-life balance to signal to employees that it's encouraged.
  2. Communicate Effectively: Good communication fosters trust, enhances teamwork, and keeps everyone aligned. Be open about organizational changes and foster a culture of open communication throughout the company.
  3. Empower Employees: Recognize that you don't have all the answers and that employees' unique insights and skills can drive meaningful improvements. Provide them with the autonomy to make significant decisions regarding their work and support them with the necessary resources and encouragement to innovate. 

Measuring employee experience 

Tools and techniques for assessing employee experience

You can't improve what you don't measure. To gauge the effectiveness of your efforts and identify areas for improvement, you need the right tools and techniques for assessing employee experience. Here are some successful methods. 


Surveys are a classic tool for collecting feedback from employees about their experiences, perceptions, and satisfaction levels. Whether it's an annual engagement survey, regular pulse surveys, or targeted surveys focused on specific aspects of the employee experience, surveys provide valuable insights into how employees are feeling and what matters most to them. What’s more, you can use your survey communications to show how much you value employees’ input and explain what you plan to do with the results. 

Interviews and focus groups

Interviews and focus groups offer a more in-depth exploration of employees' experiences and perspectives. Conduct one-on-one interviews or group discussions to delve into specific issues or gather feedback on broader topics. These qualitative methods can provide context and nuance to complement the quantitative data you collect through surveys. 

Regular check-ins

Check-ins (or one-to-ones) aren’t just for reviewing to-do lists. They’re also the perfect opportunity to gather informal feedback and gauge employees’ reactions to what’s happening around them. On top of this, they boost engagement by showing employees you’re willing to invest time in them and listen to what they have to say. Our People First HR system offers a range of tools to help you get the most out of check-ins. 

Performance metrics

Performance metrics such as turnover rate, absenteeism, and productivity levels also provide valuable indicators of employee experience. Employees jumping ship or spending lots of time off sick may signal underlying issues like burnout or even workplace bullying, while a drop in productivity could indicate a lack of motivation. 

Social media and online reviews

You may fear social media and websites like Glassdoor if that’s where employees go to complain when they’re not happy. But they’re also a goldmine of candid employee feedback. With employees able to review and rate employers anonymously, you’ll get the most honest, and therefore the most valuable, information from these sources. 

Interpreting and acting on employee experience data

Collecting data is just the first step - what you do with it is what really matters. Here are some tips for using the data you’ve gathered effectively: 

Analyse trends and patterns

Examine the data you’ve collected to identify common themes and recurring issues that may be impacting the employee experience. Make sure you attribute feedback to the correct employee experience stages so that you can segment the data in a meaningful way. This is where the right analytics and reporting software becomes indispensable. 

Seek input and collaboration

Don't make assumptions about what employees want or need; instead, involve them in the process. Ask employees at all levels of the organization to help you come up with solutions that address their concerns and aspirations. By involving them in the decision-making process, you not only gain valuable insights, but you also create a sense of ownership and buy-in for the changes ahead. At the other extreme, failing to act on employees’ feedback quickly will lead to them taking future opinion-gathering exercises less seriously. 

Develop action plans

Based on the insights you’ve gleaned, develop action plans with clear goals, timelines, and responsibilities. Prioritize areas for improvement based on their potential impact and feasibility, and allocate the resources needed to ensure initiatives succeed. Don’t forget to be transparent about your plans and offer employees regular progress updates. 

Monitor and adapt

Once you've implemented changes, continue to measure employee experience to check that they’re effective. Employee experience is an ongoing journey, not a one-off project, so stay flexible and responsive. Be open to further feedback and be willing to adapt your approach based on new information or changing circumstances. 

It’s clear that investing in a positive employee experience isn't just about being nice - it's a strategic move that directly enhances business performance. To create a workplace where everyone thrives, you need the tools and expertise to manage employee touchpoints, measure engagement, and deliver initiatives that improve the employee experience.

Blog tags
Jannike Ohsten, freelance content writer

Jannike Ohsten

During a decade in writing-based marketing roles, Jannike has helped businesses define their brands, build powerful online presences, and convert prospects into loyal customers. Today, she supports organisations large and small to achieve their goals with better writing, whether it’s through copywriting or coaching.

Back to previous