Understanding employee experience (EX): a guide for employers

Understanding the employee experience (EX) and employee perceptions of management within an organisation is now a key factor in understanding staff retention levels. But what is employee experience? We take a look in this article.


Bobby Ahmed

Managing Director Bobby is a highly experienced Employment Law Solicitor and the Managing Director at Neathouse Partners. He has a wealth of knowledge on all aspects of Employment Law & HR, with a particular specialism in TUPE and redundancy.


24 June 2024


11 July 2024
5 min read
Understanding employee experience (EX): a guide for employers

What is employee experience?

Employee experience (EX) refers to the overall journey an employee takes with a company, and the perceptions they have of how a company is managed and treats its staff.

Employee experience looks in more detail at all the interactions and duties employees have that shape their perceptions and feelings about their work and workplace.

This includes the recruitment and onboarding process, daily work tasks, professional development, management styles and processes, and their eventual exit from the company.

Through careful review of the employee experience across the following areas, a company can create a positive, engaging and productive environment that meets the needs and expectations of all employees.

Working environment

An inviting office space with natural light, comfortable workstations and meeting or collaborative areas can boost productivity and morale.

Larger companies like Google are known for their creative and inviting office spaces that offer staff amenities such as nap pods, game rooms and meditation spaces.

If staff work remotely, providing modern, user-friendly tools and technology to enable efficient work is also important. For example, offering cloud-based collaboration tools like Slack, Zoom and Microsoft Teams can improve communication and productivity levels.


Company culture

Two employees on a lunch break.

Companies should make their core values and mission clear to all staff. For instance, if a company prioritises green initiatives and environmental sustainability, this should be reflected in its business practices.

Fostering inclusion, respect and collaboration and promoting a diverse workforce is another way to improve the employee experience.

A company that promotes a culture of continuous feedback and open communication can also create a more engaged workforce, and staff members will feel heard when it comes to giving their opinions.


Leadership and management

Managers who provide regular feedback, support and guidance will be well-received by employees. Having some kind of frequent 'check-in' system to replace annual performance reviews also means that managers can have informal updates from their staff and resolve any issues they may be having.

Leaders who demonstrate transparency, empathy and inspiration are more likely to encourage workers to stay within an organisation. Transformational leaders, who motivate employees by connecting their work to the broader company goals, can also drive higher levels of engagement.

Professional development

Young employee attending e-learning.

Offering staff courses and workshops for skill development can help employees to bolster their CVs.

For example, a company may decide to offer extensive training programmes in a range of subjects that workers can choose from via an online learning platform.

Taking on this extra learning should also be encouraged and rewarded by the organisation. Clearly defined career progression paths and opportunities for internal mobility should also be presented to employees.


Employee engagement

Having engaged employees and involving them in decision-making processes is a good way to get valuable feedback, which can help to form company policies.


Work-life balance

A father with his children in the garden.

This is an important part of the employee experience. Allowing flexible work schedules can help employees to balance their personal and professional responsibilities. Offering flexible and remote working options can support work-life balance.

Improved employee retention is likely at companies that offer workers the chance to work from home or other locations.


Recognition and rewards

Offering bonuses, promotions and other rewards for good performance can be a strong motivational technique. For instance, HubSpot has a Spotlight initiative where employees can nominate peers for exceptional work, and winners can receive cash prizes.

Recognising achievements in meetings, newsletters, or on social media is another way that a company can show appreciation for staff.


Well-being and benefits

Providing health insurance, wellness programs and gym memberships can make an employee feel valued in terms of their compensation package.

Companies should take steps to offer services to support employees' mental and emotional well-being, such as counselling and mental health resources.


Employee feedback

Pulse survey on a touchscreen at an office.

Employee feedback is vital to properly gauge how employees feel about a company. It enables people within higher levels of management to get more insight into employee perspectives.

There are several ways employers can assess employee feedback, including:

  • Exit interviews (when leaving a role or handing in notice).
  • Engagement surveys (to assess employee engagement).
  • Pulse surveys (to gain insight into employee attitudes).
  • Life-cycle surveys (to understand employee experiences at key moments and events including promotion, onboarding, post-sick leave, post-parental leave, and when they leave the organisation.
  • On-demand feedback (to help employees give their opinions through an anonymous channel).

The five I's of employee engagement

The five I's of employee engagement are a structured guide that organisations can refer to by focusing on five key areas, which are “inspire, inform, involve, instruct and incentivise”. Let's look at each in more detail, and how companies can achieve them.

1. Inspire

Clearly communicate the company’s vision, mission, and values to inspire employees. Make sure that employees understand how their roles contribute to the broader goals of the company. Managers and team leaders should act as role models and exhibit behaviours that inspire employees. They should share stories and examples of success and embody the company’s values.


2. Inform

Don't leave employees in the dark. Instead, be transparent and open with communication. Keep them informed about company news, changes and updates through regular meetings, newsletters and intranet updates.

Feedback mechanisms

Create systems for regular feedback, ensuring employees feel heard and valued. This can include surveys, suggestion boxes and town hall meetings.


3. Involve

Encourage employees to participate in decision-making processes. Involving employees in strategic planning and problem-solving can increase their sense of ownership and commitment. Encourage a collaborative working environment where teamwork is promoted.


4. Instruct

Provide ongoing training and development opportunities to help employees grow their skills and advance their careers. This can include workshops, online courses and the chance to mentor more junior members of staff to get management experience. Ensure managers support their teams by providing resources and guidance where needed. Regular one-on-one meetings can help identify areas where employees need further instruction or support.


5. Incentivise

Recognise and reward employees for their hard work and achievements. This can be through formal programs and bonuses, or informal acknowledgements like thank-you notes and gifts. Ensure that employees have clear career progression paths and opportunities for promotion. Employees should feel that their efforts will be rewarded with career growth.

What should HR managers focus on to improve the employee experience within their company?

employees taking a selfie a work

First of all, HR managers looking to improve the employee experience within their organisation should work to understand the current state of employee sentiment. They should focus on getting real and unfiltered opinions, even if this highlights problems within the business.

Conducting surveys, focus groups and exit interviews can shed light on employee satisfaction and help identify any issues. Examine this employee experience feedback against industry standards and best practices. This can highlight areas for improvement and inform strategic decisions.

Developing a clear strategy is essential for making meaningful improvements. HR managers should define specific, measurable goals for enhancing the employee experience, ensuring these goals align with the overall business strategy. Creating a comprehensive plan that outlines initiatives, timelines and responsible parties is crucial. This plan should address all stages of the employee life cycle, (from recruitment to departure).

Fostering a positive working environment is important. This involves promoting a positive, inclusive and supportive workplace culture where behaviours align with the company’s values. HR managers should always create reasonable adjustments for employees if they need them, while offering flexible work arrangements and an
employee assistance programme.

HR managers can create open communication channels where employees can easily share feedback and feel heard. Focusing on employee well-being is essential for creating a balanced and healthy workplace. Offering health and wellness programmes that support physical, mental and emotional health, such as fitness memberships, counselling services, and stress management workshops, can enhance overall employee well-being. Employers can also offer
occupational health assessments to workers.

Finally, investing in employee development is crucial for maintaining a motivated and skilled workforce, which helps aid retention. Offering development programmes that cater to different career stages and skill levels help employees to grow and advance within an organisation. Encouraging a culture of gratitude where managers and peers regularly acknowledge each other’s contributions also fosters a positive and supportive workplace.

Understand your employees' experience

Our experts at Neathouse Partners can help you get the best out of your employees by advising on people management, ensuring employee health and wellbeing, and staff retention strategies.

Get in touch by calling 0333 041 1094 today or use our contact form.

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