Why you should stop messing around with your EX
Companies and managers often underestimate employee experience (EX). They want employees to perform and stay in the organization, but they do not use EX to engage employees. Let us talk about how we should give EX the importance it deserves and why it should be at the center of any employer branding strategy.
I recently concluded my Certificate in Employer Branding Leadership by the Employer Branding College, and I was delighted to see how the different modules put a solid focus on EX. Among other things, it highlighted the need to create a team of stakeholders outside of the human resources department. It gave us tools to design an EX journey map, including all the moments of truth throughout the employee lifecycle, and create a strategy that communicates the organization’s purpose, culture, and values. There is no employer branding without EX. Today’s employer branding role has a strong component of digital marketing and social media, but nothing of this is possible without a strong and well-planned EX.
The truth is that employer branding needs to be accountable for EX. It is like when a customer walks into a shop and buys a dozen of shiny red apples. Later at home, they try the apples and realize that they are too sour and impossible to eat. An employer branding strategy that is not accountable for EX will most likely have unsatisfied employees when they realize the company they joined looks better from the outside.
In his book The Employee Experience Advantage (2017), Jacob Morgan describes the difference between engagement and experience. He talks about how many companies are focusing only on engagement and neglecting experience. They conduct engagement surveys that never end up anywhere and treat engagement as a means for retaining employees. Morgan describes the idea of experience as the cause for engagement. So when we see engagement as a result, it becomes obvious that we will only have engaged employees if we offer a good experience. But how do we offer an EX that is relevant and makes employees want to stay?
First, we need to understand what experience is and how the EX we offer is positive and valuable. We can identify three dimensions of EX:
- Culture & community: the first dimension refers to the organization’s values, beliefs, and purpose. It is about how things are done and how people interact with each other as part of a community. How they celebrate, give recognition, and make employees feel heard and valued. It also says a lot about how an organization behaves towards diversity, equity, inclusion, sustainability, well-being, etc. Ultimately it is what gives employees a sense of belonging.
- Work & technology: the second dimension englobes everything related to the work that needs to be done. It is not only about employees being productive — the effect, but how to get there -the cause. It is how leaders interact with people as they manage them, how an organization values learning and development, and offers career advancement opportunities. All of this needs the support of tools and technology that the organization provides to ensure agility and performance.
- Physical environment: the third dimension involves the physical space where things happen. On the one hand, the space needs to be inspiring, welcoming, and reflect the organization’s values and identity. On the other hand, it needs to be comfortable and functional. It is not only about decorating but also making people feel at home. In other times, this would have been a high priority, but if we have learned something in the past 14 months, is that these three dimensions need to be balanced. Focusing only on the physical environment will not be enough to ensure an outstanding EX.
At the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote an article about how organizations that have centered their culture around these three dimensions would have fewer problems to keep their employees engaged. In contrast, organizations that have focused on the physical space would need to change their approach as everything became remote. You can read it in the link below.
Organizations that understand the value of these three dimensions will recognize how their EX is actually driving engagement, and they will also see benefits in the whole employee lifecycle. A positive EX makes employees more engaged with the organization. Engaged employees are more productive and more willing to stay in the organization, so EX reduces turnover. Engaged employees are also a synonym of engaged customers, so EX has an impact on the business. Engaged employees attract new talent and help build the organization’s reputation, so EX makes talent management more sustainable. Engaged employees will naturally leave the organization to become ambassadors that will recommend it to potential customers, partners, and employees, so EX builds strong and lasting relationships.
It is time to stop messing around with your EX and give it the place it deserves in your employer branding strategy!
- Are you engaging with your employees through EX?
- How are you ensuring that you offer a balanced and valuable EX?
- Can you also identify the benefits of EX in the whole employee lifecycle?