The Employee Journey: The Next Evolution in Employee Experience Management

Written by Cristina Hall.

Whoever first said, “life is a journey, not a destination,” was certainly wise. The phrase changes our perspective to consider not just an end goal, but the fact that it’s important to recognize, enjoy, and celebrate the experiences along the way.

At Explorance, our philosophy has always been “people first,” and our products and solutions reflect that vision. That’s why we introduced Employee Journey Analytics – an evolution of Employee Experience Management. This article will shine light on how we define the Employee Journey and offer three reasons why it provides greater benefit than a focus on employee experience management.

Why “Journey” instead of “Experience”? Aren’t they the same thing?

Why is this distinction between employee experience and employee journey important? Let’s examine it more deeply. If you experience something, it happens to you, or you feel it. It’s an external force, a discrete event in your memory. A journey is a process of traveling somewhere – of starting in one place, going through different stages, and ending up somewhere else. It’s a series of experiences, joined into a larger story.

The employee journey is more than a collection of experiences; it’s the connections between those experiences and the impact they have on whether the employee takes an active role in moving the journey forward or merely floats along passively. Each experience shapes the journey; sometimes as a seemingly mundane moment that passes without notice, and sometimes as a major event that changes the trajectory of the whole journey. Most often, the experiences that make up our journey are the small things that can add up to major differences; 20 minutes of daily exercise, being surrounded by great role models who we consciously or unconsciously try to emulate, or being part of a workgroup that trusts one another. The journey is personal.

At Explorance, we see an opportunity to build on the concept of employee experience and take it farther; to capture the employee journey.

The employee journey is more than a collection of experiences; it’s the connections between those experiences and the impact they have on whether the employee takes an active role in moving the journey forward or merely floats along passively.

Current State: Measuring the Employee Experience

Employee Experience management has become a hot topic in HR circles, as concepts borrowed from Customer Experience Management (CX) are applied to employees. There are many variations and definitions, but ultimately the objective is to understand the friction points and barriers that limit employee productivity so that the related processes can be optimized. This is typically done via surveys at specific milestones along the Employee Experience such as on-boarding and exit), at regular intervals like annual engagement surveys or competency/skill assessment, or based on specific events like training classes or the annual enrollment process.

A focus on the Employee Experience is more than just another feel-good initiative from HR: a positive employee experience drives business results. According to a 2017 study conducted by MIT, organizations identified as top-quartile performers in employee experience had twice the innovation, double the customer satisfaction scores, and 25% higher profits than organizations that ranked in the bottom quartile.

As a result, HR leaders are clamoring to understand and improve the employee experience at their respective companies. 84% of respondents to the 2019 Deloitte Human Capital Trends survey indicated that improving the employee experience was important, with 28% sharing that it is among the top three most urgent issues facing their organization. Despite this urgency, employee experience management is still in the early stages in most organizations; less than 1 in 10 indicated that they were very ready to address it.

And while organizations struggle to understand and improve the employee experience, new research from Bersin and Gartner suggests that employees are looking for more; more personalization, more autonomy, more meaning in their work. More than traditional experience management, as defined to date, can provide.

Why is employee experience management so hard, and how can journey analytics help? We’ve identified three challenges and how to solve them with journey analytics:

Why is employee experience management so hard, and how can journey analytics help?

Challenge 1: Experience data is siloed

In many companies, feedback on at least some parts of the employee experience is being gathered, but it’s siloed. Each department has its own data collection, and each tool has its own data schema and employee user experience. There is no cross-functional coordination or strategy to connect the data collection or analyze data across experience touchpoints.

The Journey Analytics difference:

Establish a strategy to centralize the employee experience strategy and data collection. This includes a holistic point of view on which experience touchpoints are the highest priority and a systematic process to gather them in a consistent and automated way. Working with a single vendor simplifies the IT integration, procurement, security, and employee feedback gathering experiences, and provides a common data structure to enable more efficient analysis across touchpoints.

Challenge 2: Experience data only tells part of the story

Formal employee experience surveys tend to be connected to specific milestones, events, or time cadences. This point-in-time data is valuable and useful for improving processes or understanding the impact of individual elements of the employee experience, the formal elements. But what is happening between these feedback points? It’s not enough to wait until next year’s engagement survey to see if employee experience initiatives have improved engagement or not. Many HR organizations have recognized the need to become more agile in their feedback gathering approach.

The Journey Analytics difference:

Continuous Listening is a critical part of a journey analytics strategy. Continuous listening tools fill in the white space between formal experience touchpoints so you can get better insight into what’s going on in the day to day environment. Continuous listening may be passive or active. Passive listening data is derived from activity employees are already doing, analyzing their meeting schedules, email patterns, and performance data. Active listening includes the human element, through always-on, 2-way communication, to go beyond “what employees are doing” to understand how employees are feeling, a real-time engagement barometer. Active listening provides opportunities to personalize the employee experience by gathering additional information, confidentially, and closing the feedback loop in real-time.

Continuous listening tools fill in the white space between formal experience touchpoints so you can get better insight into what’s going on in the day to day environment.

Challenge 3: Employee Experience data is not analytics friendly

Since feedback on the employee experience is housed in multiple tools and systems, which may or may not have consistent governance, it’s hard to make meaningful connections across the data sets due to different data structures. Time and effort are expended, manipulating, and cleaning data from disparate data sets in tools like Microsoft Excel or feeding it into in-house data warehouses through a variety of integrations. All of this only to realize that it must still be cleaned before it can be used.

The Journey Analytics difference:

Leveraging a consistent data structure sets the foundation for efficient and effective analysis. This leads to insights about what’s working for employees and what can be improved to reduce turnover and increase engagement and advocacy, leading to improved business outcomes. Operational reports can be automatically deployed to experience touchpoint owners to drive continuous improvement. The common data structure provides myriad opportunities for data scientists to connect data across experience points to reveal previously unknown connections that will influence the employee journey. Machine learning mines continuous listening data to provide a real-time pulse on employee sentiment so that individualized nudges or information can be used to shape employees’ perspectives on the work environment.

The future is now: Employee Journey Analytics

Since so many organizations are just beginning to adopt employee experience management, there is an opportunity to apply lessons learned from the challenges outlined above and take a more strategic, planned approach to apply a journey mindset to frame the employee experience in a more human-centered way. Explorance has aligned our solutions to support organizations wherever they are on the path toward Employee Journey Analytics. We can help you shape your Employee Journey strategy, centralize experience data collection, add real-time feedback gathering through continuous listening, and pull it all together into meaningful insights so you can optimize your organization’s talent strategy and optimize important talent levers like engagement, loyalty, and advocacy.

 


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