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What Is EX? Everything You Need to Know About Employee Experience

According to Gartner, nearly 40% of knowledge workers currently hold hybrid roles, with nine in every 10 claiming that having control over where they work is a top priority. And yet, only 33% of employees describe their current overall wellbeing as “thriving” in the workplace.

The truth is stress levels are high, engagement is low, and employees across the board still don’t feel their employers care enough about their wellbeing

Because wellbeing and employee engagement go hand-in-hand, the onus is on employers to foster equitable work environments that prioritize employee experience (EX) across all organizational levels. In doing so, companies can attract, engage, and nurture talent throughout every stage of the employee journey, resulting in more fulfilled workforces, enriched people metrics, and constructive organizational growth. 

With that said, here’s everything you need to know about EX, including what it is, how it’s measured, and strategies for creating meaningful and engaging experiences for employees.

What is EX and Can You Measure It?

EX is a comprehensive view of an employee's journey, from discovering a job listing to hiring, onboarding, development, and departure from an organization. It includes everything workers do, see, hear, and learn as they navigate their roles and explore career opportunities.

While most organizations have a customer experience (CX) strategy in place, businesses are realizing that the people they employ are their greatest assets. 

In fact, there's a clear link between employees, CX, and revenue, according to research from Harvard Business Review. HBR demonstrated that if an average organization could progress into the top quartile in each EX metric measured in the study, it would increase its revenue by more than 50%.

As such, businesses are investing more in the overall employee experience in an effort to elevate job satisfaction, reduce employee turnover, and improve their workplace culture. This shift has created a new area of interest for employers, HR leaders, and managers alike—employee experience management.

But what goes into creating a work environment that enables employees to thrive?

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage, highlights three environments that make up the majority of EX:

Company Culture

Environment #1: Company Culture

This is what employees understand a company's mission, values, and practices to be. Company culture is best recognized as the vibes people feel when they come to work. Whereas a positive workplace culture has the ability to motivate, energize, and even improve employee performance, a poor culture can stifle or even discourage a workforce.

Technology Environment

Environment #2: Technology

This environment dictates the actual tools that enable employees to complete their work efficiently and confidently. Digital tools that match the speed and required competencies of work tasks have become pivotal, especially in hybrid work environments and as automated technology solutions continue to evolve.

Work Space

Environment #3: Workplace

Workplaces inevitably provide a variety of different factors that impact how an employee does or does not thrive. For example, someone whose office or home work environment has adequate airflow, plenty of sunlight, a kitchen with healthy snacks, and a wellness program will likely have a better employee experience than someone who works in a windowless, colorless office with segmented cubicles.

How EX Affects Wellbeing

A positive employee experience has more to do with human experiences than it does structural processes. Organizations that focus on the human element of EX are better positioned to build and foster a more meaningful workplace experience across the organization and the employee journey.

Consider these dichotomies as examples of how human-centric experiences can make or break an employee’s journey:

  • For an organization, a streamlined and quick hiring process can be appealing. But going one step further to ensure prospective hires are also a good culture fit can lead to long-term job satisfaction (and reduced employee turnover).
  • Having competent management is important, but leadership that takes an active role in coaching employees can increase their engagement with their positions.
  • Presenting a mission statement is a good first step, but actively working towards those goals by tapping into the abilities and contributions of employees can greatly enhance their individual sense of purpose.

Satisfying employees’ basic work needs, incorporating hands-on leadership, and fostering a sense of purpose help drive wellness and champion an authentic work experience. When employees see that their wellbeing is prioritized through all facets of a company, they are better positioned to accomplish goals and feel satisfied with their work. 

7 Stages of the Employee Journey

“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat people well enough so they don’t want to.”

- Richard Branson, entrepreneur

EX is directly affected by an individual's journey through an organization. A positive employee experience throughout each stage can directly affect performance metrics and even how others perceive a brand.

According to Gallup, the 7 stages of the employee journey—which is also referred to as the employee lifecycle—are:

  • Attract: This stage involves building a strong employer brand and employee value proposition to attract potential candidates.
  • Hire: During the hiring stage, recruiters source, screen, and select candidates before making the final job offer.
  • Onboard: Onboarding is the process of integrating these new employees into the organization and providing them with the necessary tools, training, and support.
  • Engage: Through regular communication, feedback, recognition programs, and wellness initiatives, employers can keep workers engaged and extend the employee life cycle.
  • Perform: This stage overlaps with engagement, providing clear expectations and regular feedback to help each team member meet their objectives.
  • Develop: Employee development provides opportunities for continuous growth and career advancement through corporate learning programs, mentorships, and promotions.
  • Depart: Departure is the final stage when the employee leaves the organization, which often entails exit interviews and a transition of their responsibilities to someone else.

Stages four through six—engage, perform, and develop—are often cited as the three most important stages of the employee journey, as they represent a majority of the daily employee experience. 

For this reason, leadership plays an integral role in EX as they are responsible for:

  • Helping employees engage with their team members
  • Coaching and facilitating high employee performance
  • Driving long-term growth—both professionally and personally

A hands-on approach to leadership lends itself to a more consistent mentorship experience for employees. Without proper guidance and coaching, employees may feel lost and lack clear direction as they try to progress through the ranks of their organization.

Nurtured vs. Unnurtured EX

There’s a difference between employee experiences that are nurtured and those that aren’t. 

For example, a prospective employee may be aware of an organization's mission and values, but when they’re carried out in real time and actively involve participation and feedback, employees feel a greater sense of purpose. 

Another example, as highlighted by Gallup, is the difference between a good manager and a great coach. An employee may enjoy and get along with a manager, but when leadership goes above and beyond to provide coaching, employees are not only in a better position to achieve their career goals but also improve their overall wellbeing and performance.

To effectively nurture a good employee experience, McKinsey suggests the importance of understanding the relationship between an employee’s individual purpose and their work:

  • Purpose outside of work: Family, hobbies, volunteering
  • Purpose from work: Making progress on work activities that are meaningful
  • Purpose from an organization: Company culture and employee experience—the only part that an organization can control directly

The goal here is to grow organizational purpose to match the sense of purpose an employee gets from work. This starts with learning what workers want with an employee experience survey, finding out if they’re currently receiving it, and developing a strategy to increase the sense of purpose they're experiencing.

KPIs and People Analytics to Measure EX

Employee experience is not an ambiguous measurement of satisfaction. Organizations can take advantage of five key metrics that will help inform actionable strategies to improve the experience across all stages of the employee journey.

1. Employee Satisfaction 

This metric provides a general idea of employee sentiment at work. It can be collected as part of an annual employee experience survey. Consider asking questions that provide leadership with actionable data that can be used to optimize the employee experience, such as:

  • Do you enjoy your company’s culture?
  • Do you feel valued for your contributions?
  • How often do you feel stressed at work?
  • Do your managers value and implement your feedback?
  • Does our company provide the tools needed to do your job well?

Answers to these types of questions can give organizations a clear view into the experience of their employees. They’re direct, anonymous, and can be used to inform company-wide employee experience strategies that help employers better meet the personal and professional needs of their workforce.

2. Internal Referrals

An effective measurement of a great employee experience is the frequency and volume of internal referrals.

When employees enjoy the environment they work in, they’re more likely to refer someone they know for a job opening. Because internal referrals have much higher employee retention rates than other hires, organizations can utilize them to get a better understanding of which cultural factors are working and which require improvement.

3. Employee Productivity

According to a 2019 Oxford University study, happy employees are 13% more productive than their unhappy colleagues. In other words, measuring productivity can actually give organizations a closer look at the quality of their employee experience strategy and how to improve it.

4. Retention Rates

Employee retention rate is an effective KPI that heavily reflects employee experience. For example, a high turnover rate and low employee satisfaction can indicate poor employee experience management. 

To calculate retention rate, divide the number of current employees by the number of employees on the first day of a given period of time. Convert that to a percentage by multiplying by 100 to determine what percentage of employees have left in a given time period.

5. Employee Wellness

If day-to-day work is not properly managed, employees are more likely to experience increased stress and burnout, especially in workplaces that do not prioritize employee experience. 

However, organizations can successfully motivate employees to engage in initiatives aimed at enhancing their overall EX by implementing a comprehensive wellness program that addresses all aspects of wellbeing and tracks engagement data.

Manager-led wellness challenges provide leadership with the tools they need to help employees set weekly goals, launch peer-recognition programs, and more.


How to Create a Meaningful Employee Experience

Employee experience initiatives can engage workforces at every level of the employee journey. From early hiring to a worker’s eventual departure, here are a handful of strategies employers can use to create a positive experience for employees.

Institute a Fair and Engaging Hiring Process

Hiring processes that provide a good employee experience are transparent and engaging. This means including as much important information in job descriptions as possible, being unbiased in hiring practices, and prioritizing communication and empathy.

Transparency and honesty in job descriptions means including information about:

  • Salary
  • Benefits packages
  • Organizational DEI efforts
  • Hiring priorities
  • Brand purpose and mission
  • Workplace flexibility requirements
  • Required and preferred qualifications
  • Career development opportunities

There are multiple strategies for keeping a candidate engaged. However, organizations can improve their hiring process by being mindful of their time and not making the hiring process longer than it has to be; responding to emails and other communications in a timely manner; and providing clear, specific instructions on the next steps.

Empower High Performance

According to Gallup, only 20% of employees feel that their organization's performance management is conducted in a way that motivates and inspires them to do better work. 

When leaders provide regular and constructive employee feedback and focus on company culture development as it relates to relationships, communication, decision-making, individualism, and change, employees are more engaged and can more realistically meet their goals. This means understanding employees’ needs, checking existing culture against the ideal culture, and putting emphasis on employee wellbeing.

Focus on the Manager-Employee Relationship and Career Growth

In today's ever-changing work environment, the manager-employee relationship is more effective when leaders focus on ongoing growth and career coaching with a clear path to success. This is accomplished by focusing on employees’ natural strengths, building team enthusiasm, and facilitating continuous learning opportunities.

Developing a clear career path or ladder—complemented by parallel learning and development opportunities—can help organizations communicate to employees that their growth is noticed, recognized, and supported.

Give Regular Praise and Employee Recognition

Recognition is regularly cited as one of the most powerful influencers of behavior. Providing regular praise and recognition for jobs well done and milestones met can empower employees’ sense of purpose and instill the drive needed to grow personally and professionally.

Weekly email shout-outs, dedicated celebratory message threads, and employee features on social media are all great ways to praise and recognize hard work.

Wellbeing and EX Go Hand-in-Hand

Employees who receive clear growth opportunities and coaching will enjoy a more positive employee experience. As a result of positive EX implementation, organizations stand to see less attrition, increased employee wellbeing, higher engagement, and more sustainable productivity. 

Request a demo today to find out how WellRight can help.


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