What is employee experience?

Employee experience is a concept for making sense of what people see, hear, feel and do at work by recognising that people construe their working lives as a journey, not as a series of disconnected events.

Employee experience therefore encapsulates all aspects of people’s working lives… it includes how people experience their working environment; the tools, technology and uniform they’re given; the HR processes they go through and the communications they receive; as well as the behavioural interactions they have with managers and other colleagues.

Companies are increasingly using the concept of employee experience to improve people’s working lives by identifying the ‘moments that matter’ and redesigning these around the needs of employees as service users.

At The Pioneers, it’s our view that everyone who works for a company is on their own personal journey. We all have our own personal narrative that pulls together our past experiences, hopes for the future and current preoccupations into a coherent journey. Our personal narratives shape how we interpret new events or new information, and this means that different employees will have different experiences of the same situation. What works for one person won’t work for another.

It’s therefore implicit in the concept of employee experience that we need to design work for more than one type of user and that improving workplaces starts by understanding and responding to the needs of different types of employees.

The underlying assumption is that if you improve the employee experience it benefits the business.

The obvious analogy is with customer experience — a concept that has enabled businesses to drive sales by segmenting their customers, really understanding their different needs and then designing new solutions that fit with the journey that customer is on.

Why does employee experience matter?

  1. We spend most of our lives at work… why would we want it to be a bad experience for people? The driving motivation behind all successful employee experience projects is a genuine desire to make people’s working lives better. And let’s be honest, in most companies there’s plenty of scope for improvement! A lack of flexibility, clunky technology, uninspiring work environments and HR processes that work for the HR department but not for employees are all sources of frustration. Companies that get the employee experience right are places where people enjoy being there and where it’s easy to do your best work.
  2. Businesses are waking up to the importance of diversity and inclusion and the difference it makes to innovation, agility and customer experiences. It’s very difficult to attract and empower a diverse workforce if you have a ‘one size fits all’ workplace that can’t respond to the needs of different types of people. 
  3. People have a choice about who they work for and the best people have the most choice. As a general rule, talent will gravitate towards companies that provide the best employee experience. If you can attract, engage and retain the best people in your industry, then you’ll create a source of competitive advantage.