Why is a good employee experience essential?

After the "customer experience", known as CX, the "user experience", known as UX, companies are increasingly looking at the "employee experience", known as EX. Indeed, why shouldn't employees also have an "experience"? Let's remember that experience is the act of experiencing and feeling, it is therefore about giving employees a place in the company, and by extension to help them grow.

Actually, to please the clients, employees must feel valued and empowered with the ability to create value. This is what Vineet Nayar, an expert in information technology and business management and former CEO of HCL Technologies, explains in his book "Employees First, Customers Second: Turning Conventional Management Upside Down" (Harvard Business Press, June 2010). Employees first, customers second! As soon as it came out, his book became a bestseller: "the most modern management style in the world" according to Fortune magazine, "the leader in organisational innovation", according to the London Business School... and the implementation of an employee-centric culture enabled his company to triple its revenue and operating profit and quintuple its number of customers. HCL is still listed by Forbes as one of the world's best employers.

What is the "employee experience"? What does it bring concretely to the company and how can it be put in place?

The employee experience: from recruitment to departure

For an employee to satisfy a customer, he or she must be satisfied himself. The employee experience is therefore the set of key moments experienced by the employee within the company, which will allow him to feel welcomed, respected and listened to, so that he in turn can be available for customers. The employee experience is not just about well-being at work, but must be thought of globally, from recruitment to leaving the company.

The concept of employee experience was stamped in 2017 by Corinne Samama in the first book on the subject in France: “L'Expérience Collaborateur : Faites de vos employés les 1ers fans de l'entreprise!” (Ed. Diateino). To implement a good employee experience, this executive coach explains that it’s all about starting with a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) method. Just like the customer, employees must be supported from the moment they are recruited, then in the workplace, in their various missions, until they leave the company. This employee journey will lead to the implementation of an Employee Relationship Management (ERM) system.

In order to gain the trust of employees, it is important to provide them with a good physical, cultural and technological environment.

  • Physical: the interactions between employees and their workplace. The covid-19 crisis has changed the way people work and has prompted companies to rethink their workspaces. A balance must be found between open spaces, to facilitate cohesion and sharing, and closed spaces, for better concentration.
  • Technological: interactions between employees and tools. The rise of hybrid work means that the right digital tools must be provided.
  • Social and cultural: interactions between employees, with a view to belonging to a community.

Why is a good employee experience essential?

In a world of constant change and in a context of health crisis, the employee experience is critical. Today's employees have developed a new relationship with the work environment. They are becoming more agile and flexible as they regularly switch from remote work to office work. This implementation of hybrid work has reinforced the importance of continuous support to avoid isolation and a drop in motivation, but also to give meaning to the missions and thus to connect employees to the organisation. An employee's expectations regarding the values embodied by the company are indeed more important than in the past, and his or her commitment depends on it. Employees now need meaning as well as clear and transparent communication: managers have a major role to play in connecting the employee to the group. Positioning as a coach becomes crucial.

The employee experience offered by a company is therefore particularly strategic because it has a direct impact on employees, who want, more than ever, to have a meaningful experience at work.

A good employee experience:

  • Attracts talents: beyond the classic selection criteria, such as sector, location and salary, candidates give more importance to shared values with the company, quality of life at work and working conditions. According to a study on meaning at work conducted by Deloitte and Viadeo in December 2017, nearly 9 out of 10 employees consider meaning at work to be a major issue.
  • Engages employees and reduces absenteeism: an employee who feels listened to is happier and therefore more productive. When we are listened to, we have almost 5 times more confidence in our abilities to achieve our objectives!
  • Fosters employee loyalty: 47% of HR managers say that keeping their employees is the main challenge of talent management. "When employees go elsewhere, it is either because they dislike their work environment or because they are attracted to the organisation they are joining," says Laurent Lefouet, European head of Anaplan, the collaborative planning platform valued at $1 billion by Business Insider. Employees are staying with a company for less and less time, so the employee experience is a good way to retain them.
  • A successful employee experience promotes employee advocacy, the transformation of employees into ambassadors. Because today, the company's new strength is the digital word transmitted by a convinced employee. Employees become the company's storyteller. At Deloitte, a digital platform has been created to effectively share the company's news and strategy, information that employees then share on social networks. The result: traffic on these channels around Deloitte has skyrocketed in eighteen months.

A successful employee experience is therefore beneficial for both the employee and the employer. It is both the embodiment of the values, culture and image of the employer brand and the promise of special attention to the employee.

The employee experience checklist

To ensure that the employee experience is not just anecdotal and that it can meet the real business challenges of companies, all the stages of the employee journey must be taken into consideration. To improve the employee experience, it is therefore necessary to structure the entire employee journey.

Stages of the employee journey - Employee experience-EN

Here is a checklist of the employee experience different key stages:

1. Recruitment: the employee experience starts even before the employee joins the company. It starts, among other things, with the communication that the company makes on social media: 79% of the companies certified by the Top Employers Institute proactively use social media to share internal articles and content in order to make themselves known and attract new candidates. Then, as soon as the job offer is made - attractive, clear and well formulated - the candidate must be able to find the company's values and vision. The reception during the job interview is just as important: this is the first time the candidate discovers the work environment.

2. Onboarding is particularly important when you consider that 33% of managers resign within six months of joining the company and 65% say they have resigned because of poor onboarding. The essentials for a successful onboarding include a comfortable office, a presentation of the teams, a welcome lunch and an initial discussion of objectives. To go further, some companies appoint godparents or "buddies", offer new arrivals the opportunity to attend the presentation of projects carried out by other teams, or offer Welcome Packs, bags filled with goodies such as mugs, T-shirts or sweatshirts bearing the company's logo, notebooks, hydroalcoholic gels, etc. At Blablacar, the welcome programme is entirely in Blabla: There is the BlaBlaLearn, the company bible, the BlaBlaLunch, the organised lunch, or BlaBlaTalk, the mini-conference by a department head every Wednesday. And before all that, there are the "onboarding days", the first three days of integration, which combine visits, company history and meeting with the employees.

Not to mention that the covid-19 crisis has seen the emergence of more and more remote onboarding: employees are welcomed via videoconferences, dedicated newsletters, podcasts, home-delivered boxes, etc. The aim is to keep in touch throughout the integration process.

3. Day-to-day management: the objective of this long phase is to motivate the employee through a benevolent management adapted to the company and the employee. It is particularly key to set up management rituals, such as one-to-one and team meetings to clarify objectives and ensure a good relationship between the manager and the team member... The Popwork tool aims to facilitate this follow-up thanks to an intuitive and collaborative platform. If, and only if, this daily management is well managed, it will improve the quality of life at work (QWL) and the well-being of employees.

4. Career development and management, made possible by the annual and professional interview. According to a BVA study, employees expect this interview to provide feedback on their work (60%), the opportunity to discuss career development (53%) and their prospects for skills development and training (51%). Offering employees training is also a good way to retain them. At Sephora, employees can take training courses from their first days to become more expert in their field. The cosmetics company tells the story of employees' journey in short Instagram videos.  

5. The departure of the employee, or offboarding, is a delicate moment for both the employer and the employee. It is important to prepare well for this stage to avoid employees leaving in negative terms. If the employee's departure goes badly, this can have negative repercussions on the employer brand.

"Take Care Of Your Employees And They'll Take Care Of Your Business".

This phrase from the entrepreneur Richard Branson perfectly sums up the importance of the employee experience, which must be the result of a well thought-out process and not improvised. Offering fruit baskets, yoga classes and table football to employees is not enough to create a successful employee experience. Taking care of your team is much more than that: it means listening to them, being transparent, avoiding micromanagement... All these actions can only have positive impact if they are planned and thought out.