The Employee Experience (EX): Why It Matters and How to Improve It
A survey revealed last year that 85% of brands feel they have two years or less to make significant digital progress before suffering financially or falling behind their competitors. In other words, organizations need to shape up by the end of next year. That’s a lot of transformation in a short amount of time.
Accelerating the pace, however, will not make the concept of digital transformation or its relationship to the CX any less complicated. Consider that 56% of business leaders today cite the CX as their top digital transformation priority, yet 44% believe the CX has become too difficult to manage!
It’s clear something’s missing. To find out what that is, I encourage business leaders to take a closer look within their organizations—closer than they may have ever before. I’m not talking about architecture, marketing strategies or communication tools, but rather employees. While it’s true that CX delivery is damaged by lack of personalization, automation and the ability to connect customer journeys, it’s equally affected by a lack of connection among employees.
What I’m talking about here is the employee experience (EX). After all, it’s no coincidence that global digital leaders like Facebook, Amazon and Apple consistently rank as the world’s best companies to work for. These brands are living proof that for any digital transformation to be successful, companies must be mindful of their employees.
The Lagging Face of EX
Jack Welch, former CEO of GE, puts it best: “There are only three measurements that tell you nearly everything you need to know about your organization’s overall performance: employee engagement, customer satisfaction, and cash flow.” The first of these, however, tends to get lost in the mix.
Consider a 2017 Virgin Pulse study, which found that only 29% of brands have engagement programs that fit specific employee needs. We see that 41% are either in the initial stages of defining employee engagement, or have yet to begin an initiative to increase engagement in their organization.
The study concluded that although nearly 90% of businesses prioritize EX, there’s a lack of consensus around the strategy and tactics needed to make employee engagement a key driver of CX and business performance. Given these findings, it starts to make sense why the global employee engagement rate is at a dismal 13%.
This doesn’t mean the EX can’t improve, though. It can, and it must.
Competing Based on EX
Organizations must prioritize EX for long-term growth, continuity, and digital transformation success. This means prioritizing employee empowerment and learning over shareholder value. It means working with a new generation of employees who define loyalty by what motivates them most. It means stepping away from employee productivity data and perhaps focusing more on annual engagement surveys. Above all, it means learning how to manage the expectations of employees across a wide generational spectrum.
Consider the rising force of millennial workers: this year, if given the choice, one in four millennials would quit their jobs to join a new organization or to do something different. By 2020, two of every three millennials hope to have moved on, while only 16% see themselves with their current employers a decade from now. What’s interesting is that most of these workers have already attained positions of leadership; they simply feel they aren’t receiving the support needed to fine tune their skills and abilities. In other words, their propensity for learning is not being met.
Research shows that multiple generations of workers share the same personal goals—a good work/life balance, the ability to make meaningful contributions, financial stability—yet their expectations wildly vary. It’s vital that organizations create a culture that supports this dynamic employee environment. The question is: how?
Setting (and Keeping) Your Priorities
The word “culture” is used a lot today, but what exactly does it mean? Culture is simply how an organization interacts, transacts and reacts.
This is very much like how the average family operates. Take my family, for instance: if you were to ask my children what the culture of our family is, they would say open and respectful. As the leaders of our household, my husband and I had to determine how we wanted our family to interact. As such, we worked to create a home that served as a safe space for anyone to offer opinions.
Similarly, business leaders must work to determine how they want their organization to interact. Today’s trailblazers and innovators share a common culture built on open, honest communication. One in which every employee feels equally cared about, regardless of age, position or experience. One in which every team member feels comfortable sharing expectations. One that fosters the belief that employees can make an impact at any level.
As leaders and decision makers, it’s our job to create an environment where employees are continually learning and moving forward—even beyond our organization. The goal is to create stronger, improved versions of employees that can do more, be more, and imagine more for their careers. In this way, we should want our employees to become lifelong brand ambassadors. Our hope is that they think back on the ways they were supported during their time with us, and how their unique expectations were met.
In the End…
The more we can do for our employees, the more they’ll do for us now and in the long run. About 90% of companies say they currently or plan to invest more in their employee engagement strategy; meanwhile, 80% say the same about corporate culture. For the sake of their sustainability and digital transformation plans, I hope nothing more than for this to be true.