Employee Experience Simplified: Here’s How to Develop a Winning Strategy


HR Insights for ProfessionalsThe latest thought leadership for HR pros

Monday, May 2, 2022

Delivering a positive employee experience from the moment someone looks at your job advert to the moment they leave can do wonders for your organization. Here’s how to build your EX strategy.

Article 14 Minutes
Employee Experience Simplified: Here’s How to Develop a Winning Strategy

In todays competitive landscape, talented professionals have many opportunities available to them. On top of this, the internet and online review sites have made it possible for professionals to quickly learn what its like to work for a particular company. As an organization, this can have a huge impact on your ability to hire new talent.

If you hope to attract and retain the right people, you need strong employer branding, something which is achieved through a strong employee experience (EX) strategy.

But what is employee experience, and how do you create the right strategy?

Unfortunately, this isn’t a quick job; it takes time and a big change in the companys mindset.

In this guide, we’ll simplify the employee experience and take you through the steps you need to follow to create and maintain a successful employee experience strategy.

What is employee experience?

Employee experience encapsulates everything a professional encounters or experiences during their time within your organization. 

From the moment a professional looks at your job advert to the moment they leave your organization, they’re experiencing your company in some way. Everything they learn, see, do and feel along the way contributes to the employee experience.

This becomes even easier to understand when we break it down into the employee experience lifecycle, which comprises six different stages.

The 6 stages of the employee experience lifecycle

  1. Attract: The first stage happens when professionals notice your brand and have a positive experience with you for the first time. This can be achieved in a number of ways, but a strong employer brand is crucial if you hope to keep their attention.
  2. Recruit: This stage covers all the steps required to hire a new employee, from application to interview, and is a chance to showcase why your company is great.
  3. Onboard: Once the candidate has accepted a job offer, they’re welcomed into the company. During their first week, they’re introduced to the team, given a tour and helped to settle in.
  4. Learning and development: The candidate has now established a daily routine, and they’re contributing to the growth of the business. Ongoing learning and development should be encouraged throughout their employment.
  5. Retain: They’re now fully integrated into the. company, and through respect, rewards, regular feedback and development opportunities such as promotions, they become a dedicated member of the team.
  6. Offboard: Should an employee decide to leave, the handling of their resignation and their exit interview is also part of the EX. This is usually when you get the most honest feedback about the business.

Why is employee experience important?

Think about it; every business recognizes the need to invest in its customer experience. After all, if the customer isnt happy or they have a bad experience with your business, they’re unlikely to come back, which won’t lead to success or growth.

But when it comes to how employees perceive the company and the impact they can have on its growth, the link is less obvious.

So why should you invest so much time and money into creating an employee experience strategy? Here are six reasons:

1. Reducing employee turnover

The time and money it takes to attract, recruit, onboard and retain employees is huge. Therefore, high employee turnover can have a very damaging impact on a company. Investing in employee experience can be an important way to boost happiness and company culture and stop employees from handing in their notice.

2. Reducing absenteeism

Disengaged, unhappy employees are more likely to look for excuses not to come to work. However, if you empower and motivate your people through EX, you can increase satisfaction rates and reduce absenteeism. In fact, a happy and engaged workforce can reduce absenteeism by as much as 41%.

3. Increasing employee engagement

Did you know that only one in five (21%) professionals consider themselves to be very engaged at work? This means four out of five don’t - costing organizations up to $550 billion per year.

EX impacts how your employees feel about the organization and, therefore, how engaged they are. Creating a strong employee experience strategy promotes recognition, collaboration and more. All of this can lead to a productive and dedicated workforce.

4. Boosting productivity

Employee experience impacts happiness and engagement. By supplying the right tools, nurturing a positive culture and providing opportunities to learn and grow, employees will work harder and innovate faster. This will naturally lead to a boost in productivity and output.

5. Attracting the top talent

Attracting the top talent is a priority for most organizations, and a strong employee experience can make this possible.

This is done through nurturing the existing workforce, showcasing a great culture and building a strong employer brand. If you can prove that you offer a great EX right from the very first moment a candidate engages with you, this can help to attract the top talent.

6. Keeping customers happy

Finally, when employees are skilled, happy and engaged in their work, they’re more likely to go above and beyond for your customers. Not to mention customers will notice when they’re being helped by someone who is genuinely engaged and knowledgeable.

Therefore, a good employee experience contributes to keeping customers happy, which can have a direct impact on sales and revenue.

Examples of great employee experience

In order to further your understanding of employee experience, here are a few examples of organizations that have got it right - and have the results to prove it.


Ranked number three on the Employee Experience Index, Apple has seen its employee retention rates skyrocket from 61% to 89% in just two years.

This was achieved under Senior Vice President of Retail and Online Stores, Angela Ahrendts, largely as a result of investing in the employee experience. They did this in several key ways:

  • By uniting employees around a strong vision and mission
  • Keeping people informed and creating a culture of open communication, ensuring information flowed freely throughout the organization
  • Continually offering opportunities for training and development 
  • Staying in tune with employee sentiment
  • Being careful to choose the right employees to begin with

It’s strategies like these that have kept Apple consistently on Glassdoor’s list of the top 100 companies to work for.


Slightly further down the index, ranking at number six is Airbnb. This brand has been spearheading the shift in focus towards EX in recent years. Back in 2013, they began creating an Employee Experience group, as they had already done for their customers.

From there, they worked hard to construct a business model based solely on the idea of feeling at home anywhere, whether youre a customer or an employee. They believe that employees should be extended the same level of service as their clients.


Closing the Employee Experience Index top 10 is Microsoft. In order to stay competitive with other tech giants like Apple and Google, Microsoft wanted to understand exactly what their employees wanted from a job and an employer.

They identified the five Ps of fulfillment and based their experience and company culture firmly around these. The five Ps include:

  • Purpose
  • Pride
  • People
  • Perks
  • Pay

They have even created an employee experience platform (EXP) called Viva, said to be the first EXP of its kind for the digital age.

Employee experience vs employee engagement

So far, as well as using the phrase employee experience, we’ve also mentioned employee engagement. There’s often confusion between these two terms, with lots of people unsure of the difference, even using these interchangeably.

However, there are some notable differences between the two, and its important that we address this and look at the key differences if you want to improve your employee experience.

Here are some of the fundamental differences to be aware of:

Employee experience encapsulates the entire journey that a professional takes with an organization.

Whereas employee engagement is the emotional commitment that a professional has for the company and their goals.

Employee experience is essentially the input. It’s a bottom-up concept that requires all processes and policies to be designed around employee happiness.

On the other hand, employee engagement is the output that you want to achieve. Its a top-down philosophy in which getting the right processes in place should encourage employees to be engaged with their work and passionate about the business.

How can an employee experience framework improve your EX?

Now that we understand why EX is so important, you might be wondering how you can improve employee experience in your organization.

The best way to do this is using an employee experience framework. This is essentially a structure or strategy that you implement to improve EX.

By getting the right strategy in place as soon as possible, you can maximize your performance at every stage of the employee lifecycle. Your framework will also help you to create a powerful experience through consistency.

Not only this, but you’ll be able to identify what truly matters to employees in order to optimize the work environment and boost company culture.

6 factors to consider when developing (or revamping) your employee experience strategy

Getting an effective employee experience strategy in place takes time, consideration and careful planning.

So, as we continue to look at how HR can improve employee experience within your organization, there are some key factors you need to consider.

Here are six key steps you can take to implement a successful EX strategy:

1. Review your talent management strategy and define your goals

The first thing you need to do is to evaluate your talent management strategy. In order to do this, you need to consider three important factors: company culture, physical office space and technology and tools.

The best way to do this is by asking for feedback from employees and starting a two-way conversation with them. You might wish to use in-person catch-ups, as well as an employee experience survey or focus groups.

Once you have this feedback, you can begin to identify areas that contribute to a negative employee experience. Based on these insights, you can start to set goals for your EX strategy, for example:

  • Ensure all managers are giving regular feedback and recognition to direct reports
  • Introduce new employee wellbeing programs
  • Implement personalized learning and training programs

2. Define your employee personas

Employee personas are semi-fictional representations of a group of employees. This is based on similar traits, experiences and behaviors.

These personas are a helpful way for organizations to build a narrative around the different groups within the workplace. They help HR teams and CXOs to better understand workers and to design experiences that are tailored to meet their wants and needs.

These personas can be created by gathering feedback, using analytics to identify cohorts and then adding demographic information to this. With this base, deep-dive interviews can be conducted before all the information is brought together to create employee personas.

3. Develop your employee journey map

Journey mapping is something that we tend to associate with customers, but if done right, the same rules can be applied to your workforce.

By mapping the employee experience journey, you can get a better understanding of the moments that matter most to your employees.

In order to do this, you must first return to your employee personas. You can then begin to identify the stages and moments that matter most to each persona. Couple this with feedback and insights from your data, and you can create an employee experience map or storyboard that helps you to visualize the journey from your employee’s point of view.

Examining your employee experience journey, you’ll be able to identify any points where an employee might begin to feel lost or disengaged.

4. Find out what your employees care about most

If you know what your workers care about, you can reflect on whether theyre getting what they want and need from the workplace.

As well as surveys, you can also find more fun ways to get to know your employees. From social events and team lunches to focus groups or more casual team meetings, you can learn what they really want from their job and employer.

5. Adopt personalization

One size doesn’t fit all when it comes to your workforce, especially when it comes to the digital employee experience.

In a nutshell, the digital employee experience is an employee's holistic experience with the digital workplace and the tools they’re provided to do their job.

Therefore, if you want to know how to improve both digital and traditional EX, the answer is personalization. The on-demand digital world has created an expectation of individualization and each employee expects to be treated as such. This can be achieved in several ways, including:

  • Creating a talent mobility program
  • Recognizing employees for their individual contributions to the business
  • Performing regular and personal evaluations
  • Personalized communications
  • Accepting and embracing flexible working styles
  • Ensuring they have all the technology and tools they need to do their specific role

6. Take internal communications seriously

Lastly, internal communications are required for the effective flow of information about the company. This is important for keeping all employees well informed, engaged and involved in the larger missions and goals.

It also provides focus points and can be used to align teams on tasks, deadlines, feedback, etc.

This means you have to take your internal communications seriously and have a clear communication strategy in place. What’s more, by understanding current communication tactics and personalizing these wherever possible – for example, by asking employees their preferred method of receiving updates – you can instantly boost EX.

How to measure employee experience

If you want to ensure the best possible EX, you need to make sure you’re constantly evaluating and reviewing your strategy.

Fortunately, there are lots of useful metrics you can use to measure employee experiences throughout the employee lifecycle. These can be accessed and measured in a number of ways through:

Employee experience surveys

Employee experience surveys are crucial for gaining valuable insights into your workforce. You can find out what’s important to them, as well as how they use the space and technology available to them. There are several different styles of survey you can use to achieve this:

  • Engagement surveys
  • Candidate reaction surveys
  • Onboarding surveys
  • Training feedback surveys
  • Performance reviews
  • 360 reviews
  • Exit surveys
  • Leveraging data analytics

Employee experience surveys are great, but as they’re based on self-reporting, there can be a margin for error.

So, as well as these, you should use data analytics to help measure employee experience. Data doesn’t lie, so you need to look at the important metrics gathered by your organization to determine how well you’re executing your EX strategy.

There are so many metrics you might use for this, but some ideas of where to start might be:

  • Rates of absenteeism
  • Staff turnover
  • Email usage
  • Customer feedback
  • Event participation
  • Promotions and transfers
  • Time to productivity
  • Monitoring what other brands are doing 

It’s vital that you look outside of your own organization from time to time to see what other successful brands are doing. You can use the Employee Experience Index to find employers offering a great EX and take a closer look into what they’re doing to get such great results.

Final thoughts

Its easy to see why employee experience is so important to both employees and organizations. Todays labor market is competitive, and if you want to secure the top talent, retain great staff and boost productivity, you need to offer the best possible EX.

There are organizations out there already reaping the rewards of a strong employee experience strategy - and your business can too.

Reviewing your talent management strategy, setting out employee personas, asking for regular feedback and adopting personalization are just some of the ways you can begin to get an employee experience framework in place. 

Just remember that EX is not a one-and-done solution. As technology and employee expectations continue to change, you need to continually measure and evaluate your EX efforts for the best possible results.

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