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Why Employee Experience is the New Customer Experience

published3 months ago
6 min read

For this week’s newsletter, I interviewed Melinda Cormier, VP Growth at LumApps, a global Employee Experience Platform transforming how companies engage, enable, and empower their workforces. In her role, Melinda Cormier leads the Demand Generation team, which includes digital marketing, field marketing, marketing operations and analyst relations.

In our conversation, we discussed some of the key takeaways from LumApps’ new report, Attract, Engage and Retain: The Employee Experience Advantage. The report explores why companies must take a closer look at employee experience if they want to avoid falling victim to the Great Resignation, what constitutes a great experience for today’s workers, where employers should start, and what the future holds for EX. Read on for Melinda’s insights about this important topic.

1. Let’s dive right into the main topic — this idea that “employee experience (EX) is the new customer experience.” Can you explain what this means and tell us how this concept came about?

More than ever, in a service economy, a company cannot succeed without its people. This is because customer experience (CX) is a direct reflection of employee experience (EX), defined as the sum of all the interactions — and the context of those interactions — that employees have across the different touchpoints in their day-to-day work lives.

However, it’s not just the customer experience that dictates the success or failure of a company. Rather, many leaders have come to realize that employee experience is just as critical to the success of their business. This is partly because employee expectations have been drastically reshaped by multiple factors, including the pandemic.

Therefore, CX professionals must hold up a mirror to everyone in the organization and learn to view their employees as “customers” as well. Part of this process involves recognizing that the relationship between employers and workers has been redefined across key areas like on-boarding and off-boarding, flexibility and mobility, the corporate culture, and health and well-being at work.

Although the idea that “employee experience as the new customer experience” isn’t new, there’s been a renewed focus on this concept over the past few years. As the power has shifted to employees amidst the ongoing Great Resignation, younger generations of workers have brought attention to longstanding issues with their work experience, many of which were exacerbated by the pandemic.

2. What are some of the most critical pieces of employee experience today? What have companies been getting wrong about EX?

In the last two years, employee experience has become a C-level priority as modern enterprises struggle with employee engagement, retention, and knowledge-sharing in a now digital world.

Perhaps most notably, there’s been a massive switch in power when recruiting and retaining staff. Employees have taken the time to reflect on what they want from their careers, and many are deciding to change jobs or abandon the workforce entirely. The clock is running out for organizations to persuade their workers to stay — but they are persuadable, if employers can get to them in time.

Companies should remember that not everyone is looking for a new job, and some workers may be open to counter-offers or better benefits and perks. Employers looking to retain employees should focus on creating hybrid work models and giving employees more flexibility. In addition, strengthening relationships and building trust will go a long way to retaining today’s workers.

The largest misconception regarding employee experience is that the employee lifecycle is linear. Most people believe that only new hires are highly engaged, and this engagement slowly decreases until they quit a few years later — but this couldn’t be further from reality. In actuality, an employee’s lifecycle in a company is more like a rollercoaster, made up of key moments ranging from on-boarding and performance appraisals to relocation, maternity leave, and more.

HR leaders who focus on the full spectrum of these key moments can make smarter investments with greater impact. These “moments that matter” are both personal and work related, and they have the ability to make a significant impact on employee experience — either positively or negatively.

3. If employee experience includes every aspect of an employee’s career, where should companies even begin?

First and foremost, HR leaders need to spend more time thinking about how technology can impact the employee experience, particularly for their remote and hybrid workers. It's also important to consider the unique needs of frontline workers like in-store staff, healthcare providers, and field technicians. In addition, it’s critical to choose a tool with the capability to personalize each employee’s journey and one that can be delivered to any device. Finally, companies must focus on key “make or break moments” that we know can have a sizeable impact on engagement. These include on-boarding, annual reviews, promotion, maternity leave, and off-boarding, to name a few.

Organizations should also be using data to better understand their employees, whether they are at a desk or on the field. What do they like? Read? Listen to? Watch? Engage with? What makes them most productive? Efficient? This information is critical so that companies can engage with their team members around things that they’re interested in. Employees want more purpose at work, beyond their day-to-day tasks, and they want to feel connected even if they never set foot in an office. The ideal employee experience goes beyond just being personalized, but truly individualized.

When we originally started thinking about employee experience, it was really about curated knowledge sharing and one-way communication from the employer to its employees. When we think about the modern intranet today, it has to be so much more. By understanding their employees, organizations will be better equipped to tailor their strategies, communications, and management according to their teams’ interests.

Organizations not only need to support top-down communications and knowledge sharing, but they also need to support employee-to-employee knowledge sharing and connections, foster a sense of culture and community, and provide seamless access to any number of different business apps. As a result, the employee experience has to become more personalized and more unique to each employee, and really the only way to do this is to become more data-driven.

Companies should also think about integration with other technologies, like collaboration suites and HCM solutions, to give their employees a single point of access to critical information and systems. Low-code tooling can make integration with different systems quick, easy, and less costly. Product capabilities like AI and chatbots can enhance the employee experience and streamline how information is presented to employees. Furthermore, video capabilities can enhance employee communications and engagement as well as better support knowledge sharing in distributed organizations.

4. Talk to us about the business case for building a positive employee experience — why is it so important that companies invest in this right now? How should businesses measure the ROI of any improvements they make to their employee experience?

When you consider that 44% of U.S. employees are seeking a new job right now, it’s clear that investing in employee experience is synonymous with investing in the success of your business. From profitability benefits to cost-cutting advantages, the return on investment is high. Whether you’re looking to boost employee engagement, enhance workplace relationships, or reduce employee turnover, all of these outcomes can be achieved via an improved employee experience.

To capture the ROI of any EX improvements, companies must ensure that they have a clear measurement process in place for each key moment within the employee journey. It’s also critical that leaders and managers are aware of the importance of these moments and are involved in bringing the new vision of employee experience to life.

This is the purpose of LumApps Journey, the platform we have created to facilitate the management of key moments within the lives of employees, delivered within existing tools like Google Workspace and Microsoft Office 365.

5. What do you predict will be the next wave of employee experience challenges, and what can organizations do now to prepare for this?

According to our recent survey, 89% of employees report experiencing burnout sometime within the past 24 months. Some experience Zoom fatigue, others are overwhelmed with too many workplace apps, and many people lack the right tools to connect with their colleagues and access the information they need.

Offering technology that better supports your employees is essential. In fact, 93% of workers believe investment in technology that improves communication and collaboration is critical. Employees are looking for this support at both their current companies as well as potential employers.

An effective employee experience is ultimately about attracting and retaining the best talent and enabling that talent to perform at optimal levels. It’s also about competitive differentiation, since companies that provide a better employee experience will have better talent and will therefore outperform their competition. So, if you are dealing with “quiet quitting” among your workforce, this is an important point in time to really look at your strategy and the technologies you are using to support your (now very digital) employee experience.