Pamela Hackett, Contributor
When it comes to your business’s overall health and prosperity, assessing the employee experience may well emerge as the single most critical leading indicator.
Everything from absenteeism and safety issues to customer satisfaction and financial results—even your ecological footprint—can trace its roots back to how employees perceive their work experience. Each organizational touchpoint turns your employee into a consumer of your workplace.
Organizations that get their employee experience right benefit from a culture that can withstand the polycrisis world leaders find themselves in today. They manage risk more effectively and are more resilient. More robust.
So how do you really measure employee experience to know you’ve got it covered and can reap the rewards of an organization people want to work for?
Here are 10 tips leaders can utilize to effectively measure employee experience:
- View the employee experience as a human life-cycle measure, not a static point
- Start with the basics, but don’t stay there
- Diversify feedback channels
- Use multi-dimensional metrics
- Incorporate people-centric measures
- Understand what’s important to your employees
- Include diversity and inclusion (DEI) in your measures
- Regularly update and revamp measures
- Evaluate manager-employee relationships
- Act on your findings
In this article, I’ll explore how these strategies can help you effectively measure and improve the employee experience for all employees.
1. View the Employee Experience as a Human Life-Cycle Measure, Not a Static Point
Employee experience is not just about your procedures or a fixed moment in time. There’s a beginning and an end, but it’s important to keep in mind that everything that comes in between shapes the employee experience.
Employee experience is the total of all the interactions that happen during the employee lifecycle. This includes an employee’s specific role, their work environment, the company’s culture, leadership, and how leadership supports team members on their employee experience journey.
Employee experience can be visualized as a process flow— attracting, retaining, developing, and releasing employees. But it’s felt through the human touchpoints along this flow.
For each step, identify the human element and measure that experience. At each point in the process, it’s crucial to identify the human touchpoint and measure the quality of that specific experience.
Ask yourself: Does your onboarding process reassure the new hire that they made the correct decision by joining your firm? Do they understand the purpose of your company? Have you conveyed your organizational values effectively through the process?
Being able to answer “yes” to these questions can determine the quality of the employee’s experience and the degree to which they are culturally aligned with the organization.
2. Start with the Basics, But Don’t Stay There
Traditional measures of employee experience may have their limitations, but they serve as a great starting point because they kickstart the narrative.
Leverage traditional measures as a starting point. Fundamental indicators like Employee Satisfaction, Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS), Retention Rate, Absenteeism, Attendance, Safety, Performance, and Productivity offer a good starting point. But they only tell the beginning of the story.
Here are the key performance indicators (KPIs) that can help you gauge the baseline of your employee experience:
- Employee Satisfaction: Understand employees’ satisfaction levels with different aspects of their work, including compensation, benefits, career development opportunities, work-life balance, and overall job satisfaction.
- Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS): This metric gauges employee loyalty and advocacy by assessing whether they would recommend your organization as a place to work.
- Retention Rate: High turnover often signifies a poor employee experience. By tracking retention rates among high-performing employees, you can identify areas of improvement and evaluate the effectiveness of your employee experience initiatives.
- Absenteeism and Attendance: Monitoring these metrics provides insight into the level of employee engagement and satisfaction.
- Performance and Productivity: Tracking these metrics indirectly reflects the impact of the employee experience on overall performance.
- Employee Engagement: Measuring the level of employee engagement provides a valuable indicator of the overall employee experience. This can be done through traditional engagement surveys and often includes assessing factors like job satisfaction, commitment, motivation, and loyalty. But to get it right, think about the things that really count at work: do people have a buddy they can rely on and enjoy seeing at work, and do they have opportunities to grow?
3. Diversify Feedback Channels
Delivering a quality employee experience requires that we go beyond questionnaires. Surveys can be useful, but if they’re the only tool you’re using, they won’t provide enough information. If you rely solely on them, without delving deeper, you might miss crucial real-time insights to understand the human experience.
Instead, set up listening posts and pulse surveys in your business that provide regular and routine ways to understand how your employees perceive you and enable leaders to address emerging issues promptly.
Additionally, conducting focus groups or one-on-one interviews allows for a more detailed discussion and deepens your insights into employee experiences. Remember to bring structure to these and develop a way to capture the rich learnings that can be gathered from these interviews.
4. Use Multi-Dimensional Metrics
The employee experience is multifaceted. Our approach to measuring and managing it should also be multifaceted.
Relying solely on one metric like employee satisfaction or engagement scores alone could give you an incomplete picture. You need to consider various aspects like work culture, leadership, well-being, etc., to get a more comprehensive view.
It’s crucial to appreciate that the employee experience is different for everyone and impacted by everything that happens around the employee. Creating your own Employee Experience Dashboard, customized to your organization, will have a greater impact than tracking a few unrelated KPIs.
5. Incorporate People-Centric Measures
Adopt measures of the human experience: Look for indicators like communication, feedback, and learning and development opportunities. These are vital for employee engagement and can offer deeper insights into your employees’ experiences.
Adding people-centric measures to your assessment can provide a more holistic view of the way people feel. Here are the two vital areas to consider, including:
- Communication and Feedback: You can never communicate enough. Measuring communication and feedback gets to specifics. Analyze the frequency and quality of communication, the accessibility of feedback channels, and employees’ perceptions of their ability to voice their concerns.
- Learning and Development Opportunities: This is a critical factor influencing employee retention. Measure the percentage of employees participating in training programs, completion rates of learning initiatives, and feedback on the effectiveness of your initiatives. This is a good launch pad, but measuring “Ready Now” for promotion will tell you how you are actually performing.
6. Understand What’s Important to Your Employees
Prioritize and measure what matters most. Know what drives your employees to stay and contribute effectively, and make sure you measure that. Aspects like employee well-being, work-life balance, and perceived organizational care are vital, yet they often don’t make it to the “how to measure the employee experience” list.
Consider this. According to Gallup, employees are “69% less likely to actively search for a new job” if they feel their organization cares about them.
They are also three times more likely to be engaged at work, 71% less likely to report experiencing burnout, five times more likely to strongly advocate for their organization as a place to work, five times more likely to strongly agree that they trust the leadership of their workplace, and 36% more likely to be thriving in their lives overall.
Based on the evidence, employee well-being and work-life balance are essential indicators of the employee experience.
- Employee well-being: Metrics related to employee well-being, such as work-related stress levels, health and safety incidents, and utilization of wellness programs, can provide insights into the organization’s efforts to create a supportive and healthy work environment.
- The ability to maintain a healthy work-life balance is an essential indicator of employee experience. Monitoring metrics such as the utilization of flexible work arrangements and employee feedback on work-life balance can provide insights into how well people are coping between their personal lives and work.
7. Include Diversity and Inclusion (DEI) in Your Measures
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) refers to a conceptual framework that supports and promotes the fair treatment and full participation of all people in the workplace, including groups that have been underrepresented or marginalized historically due to age, race, religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or disability.
Studies have shown that diversity and inclusion can strengthen organizations, making them more agile at responding to challenges and change. It can also make them better at innovating, meeting diverse customer needs, and recruiting top talent. DEI is good for business and good for the employee experience.
The inclusion and representation of diverse talent at all levels of the organization form a crucial part of and impact the employee experience—bringing diverse views and thinking to teams.
Tracking indicators such as representation of diverse talent, inclusion scores from employee surveys, and participation in diversity and inclusion initiatives will enable you to see how your DEI efforts are progressing and provide valuable insights.
8. Regularly Update and Revamp Measures
Regularly revisiting and updating your measurement approach aligns it with evolving organizational dynamics, employee needs, and best practices in employee experience management.
Given the dynamic nature of organizations and the evolving best practices in employee experience management, it’s essential to revisit and update your measurement approach regularly. This will ensure that you capture the evolving experiences and needs of employees over time.
Now that you’ve got the basics right, get on with what really counts – how your managers at every level engage and lead.
9. Evaluate Manager-Employee Relationships
The quality of relationships between managers and employees significantly impacts the employee experience. Positive relationships built on trust, open communication, and support can contribute to a better employee experience.
The quality of your managers’ check-ins and where they spend most of their time will tell you how much effort they are putting into your employee experience.
This is where you can really uncover the heart of the experience: by looking for the level of fairness and freedom your people experience; how clean the ecosystem they provide is—the right tools, training, and systems to support people; how effectively your managers connect with their employees; how well they build people’s confidence and capabilities; can they create community and collaboration; and of course, how well they enable people to feel they’re working for a cause—a purpose.
10. Act on Your Findings
Implement your action plan; don’t just write it down!
The ultimate purpose of measuring employee experience is to identify areas for improvement and implement changes. Remember, gathering data without acting upon it is of little use, diminishing the employee experience as they learn you don’t make the changes the measures may allude to.
Nothing Moves Until People Move
Measuring employee experience is not a one-size-fits-all task. It’s a dynamic process that requires a comprehensive approach considering multiple factors, from traditional measures to people-centric metrics that fit with the changing workforce in your business today.
But just as employee experience drives your business performance, your managers at every level drive employee experience. The employee experience is really a measure of how your people experience their managers and leaders—how the people who make up your business come together to do great work.
In this case, you might consider measuring employee experience in a different way by taking the time to observe your managers and regularly spending a day in their lives, from team leaders to the boardroom. Spend a few hours taking in how your managers work. When you do this, you get a first-hand view of life in your business—the quality of life in your business.
By investing the time to effectively measure and improve the employee experience, you can pave the way for a thriving, engaged, and loyal workforce, strengthen your organizational culture, boost productivity, and drive your company’s success.
Ultimately, the key to your company’s success lies in the hands of your employees. Their experience is your experience.
Pamela Hackett is a former CEO with over 35 years of experience working boots-on-the-ground with leaders and their teams. She is the author of the post-pandemic book for a new workplace Manage To Engage. How Great Managers Create Remarkable Results. Pam is on a mission to help leaders at every level better engage and improve their results. She is on a quest to help build organizations that are both fit and healthy. Productive and engaged. Leaders can make their numbers and have people who love coming to work.
Pamela has achieved the ‘first woman’ label for all her senior roles and has consulted for some of the world’s largest companies. She is a people-focused executive, motivated to engage leaders at every level so their teams can do great work and deliver value.