Talent shortages and the increasing difficulty of finding and keeping high-quality talent means that many organisations are looking for better ways to attract, engage and retain people. As organisations approach this objective with a more strategic long-term view, the way it’s talked about has changed as well. Increasingly, it’s referred to as employee experience (EX).

What do we mean by employee experience?

Unlike employee engagement, which is an outcome, EX is a complete, holistic view of an individual’s life at work. In simpler terms, a good EX leads to engagement and a bad EX leads to disengagement.

It’s a bottom-up, employee-centric approach aimed at understanding the overall and day-to-day experiences employees have so that processes, engagement strategies and all interactions can be improved.

If this sounds familiar to customer experience (CX), it’s because it should. In recent years, CX has been prioritised in every facet of our business, from how we build our products to how we market to end users to how we judge our success.

Yet, when it comes to investing in EX, we believe we’ve left a lot on the table by focusing only on the moments we think carry the most impact, like work anniversaries and top-performer recognition. There are many other moments that matter in the employee experience — it can be overwhelming, and many organisations may struggle with how to adapt. Luckily, CX strategies aren’t all that different from EX, and they can set the stage for what to do (and what not to do).

In an effort to work smarter, not harder, it’s important to take a step back and review some of the key lessons learned over time in CX to streamline this philosophical transition organisational leaders are dealing with.

How has the customer experience evolved?

CX strategies require a coordinated effort to understand the various moments or interactions a prospect or customer has with a brand before, during and after the purchase.

Back in the day, customer relationships were often built on a brand’s terms. The extent of consumer research was reading materials a brand produced — the information brands wanted consumers to have, not necessarily the objective third-party insights. But as customer expectations for greater transparency escalated, brands realised they needed to adjust their strategy.

That change was ushered in with the advent of market research — the idea of using science, data and psychology to make better decisions and predictions about buyer behaviour. Today, customer expectations seem to change with the wind and, to be successful, businesses have gradually evolved their market research techniques to gain a deeper understanding of why customers buy as well as how their interactions with the brand impact their long-term loyalty.

Two key strategies emerged from this:

1. Journey Mapping: This helps organizations understand customer moments/interactions.

2. Persona Development: This helps organizations understand types of buyers and what matters to them, what their expectations are and how to better connect with them.

As these CX research strategies have evolved, so too has the need to measure strategy effectiveness (and return on investment), leading to the development of Net Promoter Scores and ongoing customer listening/feedback mechanisms.

What does this mean for human resources?

As you develop your EX initiative, take time to apply the strategies of journey mapping and persona development to find out what your employees need and want. Employee journey mapping can provide clarity and help you identify areas where you should prioritize your EX efforts. Find out how the actual experience aligns with the desired experience. Then, focus on making experiences effortless and memorable to provide the best return.

Additionally, well-designed employee personas can not only enable delivery of improved and cost-effective employee solutions but also provide a focused, empathetic approach to improving EX. Using and developing a clear association between personas and each of your employees can help you design employee experiences that better anticipate what matters to them, what their expectations are and how to better connect with them.

While this is a significant undertaking, the good news is that you shouldn’t be alone in your organization when you try to complete this. Look to your friends in marketing for support. Countless organisations known for excellent CX have shown that you cannot expect a great CX if you don’t also have great employee experiences.

The customer experience is a direct result of the engagement and the behaviours of your employees.

As a result, your EX efforts should be something that any marketing team would stand up and support, seeing that it’s a win for their CX initiatives also.

Not sure where to start? Like any uncharted adventure, start off by letting yourself experiment with new and different strategies along the way. Maybe assign a cross-functional team responsible for vetting ideas and driving strategy to support employees. Or crowdsource ideas from employees for improvement — often some of the greatest CX successes are sourced from customers, not sales and marketing.

And as always, make sure to measure and monitor your results. Pay attention to various stages within the employee journey. Monitor feedback on those stages so you can see where highs are and where you’re falling down as a company. If you’re not happy with the results you’re getting, research, test and modify as needed to better navigate changing demands and expectations.

When striving for growth and profitability, steal from your company’s CX strategy playbook to create more relevant and personalized experiences, prioritising a better EX. This trend doesn’t appear to be going away. We expect to see more and more talk about it in the coming months. To ensure you have a leg up on making the shift within your own organisation, begin by applying principles of CX to your talent management practices.