Businesses cannot survive without customers, but the same can be said about employees.
It logically follows, therefore, that any organization invested in a customer experience (CX) program should place equal emphasis on employee experience (EX) too. And that has never been more important than now – almost a year into Covid-19.
Gladly, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses are now on the way. But even the most optimistic forecasts doubt things will be back to normal from an employee standpoint before the end of 2021. This blog provides some practical tips on getting an effective EX program off the ground as soon as possible.
Why now is the time to professionalize an EX approach
2020 was a rollercoaster ride for practically every employee. All will have either been reassigned to new duties, had to adopt new working practices, changed their place of work or feared for their job security. This matters because happier employees contribute more and perform better.
Workers in sectors like hospitality and travel have had to cope with seeing their work dry up. But spare a thought for those at the other end of the spectrum. In industries such as logistics, healthcare and e-commerce, extra demand has run them ragged.
Remote working has switched from a voluntary privilege of putting work and life in perfect balance, to an involuntary state of permanent limbo. Workers increasingly report feeling isolated from colleagues, overworked and unable to ‘switch off’.
According to research, the pandemic is directly linked to increased employee burnout. Some 76% of workers have experienced burnout in 2020, with Covid-19 cited at the number 1 cause of stress.
The effects of this are potential harm to employee wellbeing, mental health and what the WHO refers to as ‘reduced professional efficacy’.
Here are 4 things you can do to speed the development of your employee experience (EX) program.
Apply the fundamentals of CX as the foundations for your EX program
We’ve seen big shifts in customer behavior during the Covid crisis and seen lots of organizations pivot different aspects of their customer experience to succeed.
All this is predicated on:
- asking customers the right questions at the right points to elicit important feedback
- listening to customers’ feedback
- tracking data metrics and building intelligence
- using data to inform decisions around critical customer events, fine-tune processes and improve service quality and consistency.
These principles are a good starting point for creating your EX program, putting employees (not just customers) at the centre of an ongoing process that continually tracks useful metrics. In other words:
- pulse surveys of your employees across a range of different touchpoints
- interpreting and adapting to feedback
- tracking responses as part of a range of EX metrics
- applying employee feedback learnings to inform change and make improvements
Build an EX dashboard of applicable metrics
Employee feedback is, like customer feedback, both extremely personalised and widely representative. Both aspects rest on achieving an effective EX program that successfully engages a significant proportion of your workers.
It therefore needs to be simple for employees to engage with, using single-question surveys are presented in a contextually relevant way. By asking the same question at regular intervals, you can build a picture of prevailing sentiment. One such employee experience measure is EX NPS (net promoter score), or eNPS.
In customer NPS, the classic question is “how likely are you to recommend our company/its products?” on a scale of 0-10. Some organizations favor asking the exact same question to employees, though there can be issues with this approach – particularly if the company does not provide consumer products/services. A good alternative is “how likely are you to recommend working here to a friend?’ on a scale of 0-10. This question better reflects the attitude of employees toward the experience of being an employee, rather than a customer.
In this example, we have a dashboard of EX NPS alongside ‘happiness factor’, which is a proportion of all responses scoring good or very good (from a choice of very good/good/ok/not good’).
Next to that is a breakdown illustrating the effectiveness of employee initiatives targeted at the team level.
Finally, there is a leaderboard of ‘drivers’ i.e. the reasons behind the feedback being given, which we’ll come to next….
Pinpoint the drivers behind employee experience feedback
Understanding what’s driving feedback narrows the scope for misplaced assumptions about what responses actually mean. For example, negative responses to the question “how are you feeling in your job” could be driven by very different factors.
Asking supplementary questions about why employees responded in a certain way provides highly valuable and actionable intelligence. This can be used to address a pressing issue with an individual employee and to chart broader trends across the workforce or its constituent teams.
Create an employee journey map of touchpoints
Mapping the employee journey is a similar exercise to mapping a customer journey. Just break it down into stages and examine what ‘touchpoints’ exist within each stage.
It begins at the start of the relationship, even before the employee joins, at the recruitment phase. After that is the ‘new starter’ phase before things settle down into the cycle of permanent employment e.g. regular appraisals, personal development, wellbeing, training needs, etc. Towards the end are major change events (e.g. change in company strategy, core tools, etc.) and the inevitable process of promotion/s and exit.
Within this framework, look to define where your employee touchpoints are. Each one of these has a context for requesting feedback that, in turn, helps improve that process. For example, asking a new starter how their first day went in order to enhance the onboarding/induction process.
Bear in mind that, like with customers, you can ask employees a question any time, irrespective of journey map or established touchpoint. This could be particularly relevant for periodically tracking wellbeing. Just remember that piggybacking on touchpoints typically elicits the best response rates.
What to do next
Safety, security and stability are basic employee needs, and therefore the first priority for organizations to ensure for their workers. Without an EX program, organizations can’t be 100% sure they are succeeding. And they have no firm basis on which to address other critical employee needs such as camaraderie, the sense of belonging and a shared purpose – all of which feed into better business performance.
These tips should help, but there’s loads more in our Employee Engagement eBook. In it, we drill down into each stage of the employee journey to explore the kinds of questions you can ask at every touchpoint, and how to apply the insights that arise. It’s written for a post-Covid world too; one where opportunities to engage with colleagues and employees could remain exclusively virtual for the foreseeable future.
While you’re here, why not send yourself an example of Customer Thermometer’s pulse surveys?