The data of feelings: understanding the employee experience

Do your employees love working for you? How do you know? Because they haven’t gone to work somewhere else yet? Even if they did leave, would you know why?

Up until now, we’ve either relied on anecdotal reports from managers or the annual organisation-wide surveys to judge how our employees feel about working for us. However, both of these methods are reliant on honest feedback from employees - which they may be reluctant to give if they’re unhappy with their time at work. 

People are far more likely to make quiet plans to find a new job than to complain. Or worse, they may just decide to stick around and collect a paycheck, while giving far less than 100% effort. Without knowing how they truly feel, we have no way of course correcting through HR interventions to improve engagement.

According to Deloitte’s 2019 Global Human Capital Trends Report, 84% of survey respondents indicated the biggest challenge they face is the need to improve the employee experience. Less than half of respondents also believed that their employees were satisfied with their job.

What we need to do better is understand the employee experience. Every organisation is investing a great deal in delivering great experiences for their end customers, but we rarely use the same approach to understand the experience we’re providing employees. 

Mapping the employee journey

One opportunity to be explored is mapping your employee journey to identify pain points and areas for improvement, particularly in HR services. By plotting the end-to-end journey an employee has at your organisation, you can then develop an understanding of how each stage, from recruitment all the way through to exit, impacts the employee experience as a whole.

Once you can visualise the various stages an employee goes through, you can then identify critical moments where employee feedback can be followed up by actions to make real experience improvements. We already collect a variety of operational data in HR such as length of employment, training dates, remuneration, and leave accrued. When we combine this data with experience data, we can then begin developing the real and actionable insights we need to improve employee experiences.

Experience data from your employees can be gathered either in regular surveys, or at particular signposts such as when they’ve completed onboarding, post-training feedback, and post movement into a new role or promotion. The results of surveys and the cumulation of experience data needs to be contextualised for each employee, as each of them is at a different stage of the employee lifecycle.

The context for action

Where we would normally measure the sentiment of our entire workforce and segment the results by role, we can now drill down further to marry sentiments to actual events in the employee experience. This allows us to focus on making improvements to the experience during these events so that we can improve engagement, productivity, and retention.

This is about moving beyond simply asking how our employees feel about our organisation to investigating why they may feel that way. Their responses provide only part of the answer, but the responsibility lies with us to use the data and information we have available to actually make improvements.

This piece was written by Presence of IT's Marita Mewett and published on LinkedIn.