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November 15, 2023
March 1, 2024

Optimize the Employee Journey to Improve the Employee Experience

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The employee experience encompasses everything that a person goes through during their tenure at a company, and it influences everything from engagement to productivity. Simply put, companies that focus on the employee experience have happier, more productive employees. Those that don’t—well, the Great Resignation is still around for a reason.

The best way to build and improve the employee experience is with the employee journey. The employee journey is the plan an employer uses to guide the employee experience. For example, an important part of the employee experience is their first few months on the job—it’s no coincidence, then, that onboarding is one of the employee journey stages.

In this article, we’re going to give some tips and strategies for optimizing your employee journey with the goal of helping you improve your employee experience.

Key Takeaways:

  • The employee experience needs to be full of frequent, meaningful interactions all throughout an employee’s tenure.
  • Employees need to be empowered, engaged, and enabled in order to maximize their experience at work.

What Is the Employee Journey?

If the employee experience is everything an employee goes through at work, the employee journey is the framework that an employer creates to guide that experience. It’s the guardrails that make sure employees find happiness, satisfaction, and success throughout their tenure.

The employee journey is typically broken down into five stages:

  1. Recruitment. Everything from the first contact through the interview process.
  2. Onboarding. An employee’s first few months and includes everything that helps them start off on the right foot.
  3. Retention. What a company does to keep employees happy and engaged, including employee recognition, company culture, compensation, and the work itself.
  4. Development. Covers an employee’s opportunities to grow at the company, including performance reviews, professional development, and promotions.
  5. Separation. Covers an employee’s last few days, including exit interviews and letters of recommendation.

One of the greatest things you can do is map the employee journey. Mapping your employee journey means planning out each of these stages for different groups of your employees. For instance, what does onboarding look like for entry-level salespeople? What does development look like for software engineers? Which milestones, goals, and rewards should you plan for your employees?

With a robust employee journey map, you’ll have the infrastructure in place to support every stage of the employee experience for every employee. They’ll feel supported and cared for, which leads to more loyalty and higher productivity, creating a healthy relationship between employee and employer.

The key is to not only focus on a few great moments—for example, a five year anniversary, birthdays, or holiday parties—but to create a journey that is full of meaningful and frequent interactions spread throughout an employee’s time at the company.

For this blog, that’s what we’re going to focus on: optimizing your employee journey map to make it as impactful and meaningful as possible.

How to Optimize Your Employee Journey

While the employee journey is made up of multiple steps, each with multiple parts, optimizing the whole system is relatively simple and easy to do. There are three main strategies for optimizing your employee journey:

  1. Empower your employees
  2. Engage your employees
  3. Enable your employees

By tweaking your employee journey map to focus on these three priorities, you’ll have employees who love their work and their workplace from the beginning of their experience to the end. Let’s go over each of these in more detail.

1. Empowering Employees

When employees feel empowered, they know how to succeed and they have all the tools necessary to do so. Here are some aspects of empowerment that can make a huge difference to the employee experience:

  • Employers need to provide clear expectations for employees. When someone doesn’t know what’s expected of them, they don’t know how to succeed. This leads to disengagement, lower productivity, and stress. However, when they know exactly what’s expected of them, there’s less confusion and more opportunities to exceed those expectations.
  • Employers need to align work with purpose and values. Employees are empowered when they know that their work means something. Value-driven work can increase employee engagement by 49% and helps employees feel invested in the work they do. When everyone in the company knows the shared values, goals, and mission, they’re empowered to succeed.
  • Employers need to show trust. In the world of hybrid and remote work, many leaders lean toward micromanaging to ensure work gets done. However, when employees feel trusted to take care of their responsibilities, they respond with higher performance, more effort, and greater productivity. Autonomy and as much freedom as possible are key for building trust.

When employees are empowered to do their best, they’ll almost always meet or exceed expectations. By empowering your people throughout their employee experience, you can create more loyalty, productivity, and mutual trust in your workforce.

2. Engaging Employees

When employees are engaged, they enjoy the work they do and are invested in the success and growth of their team and the company. With these three tips, you can easily put the emphasis on engagement throughout an employee’s experience at your company:

  • Employers need to recognize employee efforts. The single best way to keep employees engaged is through employee recognition. When you recognize someone who works hard, goes above and beyond, or collaborates effectively, they’ll not only feel valued, seen, and supported—they’ll want to continue those behaviors. This creates a culture of productivity, recognition, and more productivity.
  • Employers need to offer incentives and rewards. Incentives are a great way to keep people engaged in work and push them to give their best—but only if the reward is worth the effort. Rewards should be personalized and meaningful, and they should be offered after incentives, for service anniversaries, and for those who exceed expectations.
  • Employers need to create a healthy work culture. Culture is the glue that holds a company together. One of the best ways to increase engagement is creating a culture of collaboration instead of competition. This way, employees and teams will strengthen and support each other, with everyone pushing toward the same shared goal.

Engaged employees are more happy and productive—that’s a fact. By adjusting your employee journey map with the angle of engagement, you’ll make each employee’s experience that much better.

3. Enabling Employees

Once employees are engaged and empowered to succeed, they need to be enabled to reach their potential. With the following strategies, you can enable your employees to grow and gain the skills necessary to excel:

  • Employers need to provide professional development. Employees want and need opportunities to better themselves. Professional development can be anything, including hard or soft skill training, relevant courses, lectures, shadowing opportunities, or simply new work responsibilities. 70% of employees would be happier at work with professional development, so companies need to offer it. 
  • Employers need to emphasize performance management. Managers and leaders need to help their direct reports improve. With regular feedback and performance management, they can answer questions, provide direction, and offer constructive critiques to ensure everyone is on the same page and working efficiently. Train managers how to effectively handle performance management—after all, managers play a huge role in employee satisfaction.
  • Employers need to focus on employee well-being. To enable people to create their best work, they need to have a solid foundation to build on. When companies focus on physical, emotional, and mental well-being, employees will have the help and support they need. Wellness initiatives, Employee Assistance Programs, flexible hours, gym reimbursements, etc.—there are plenty of ways to put the focus on well-being.

When employees have the opportunity to grow and improve, while also maintaining their work-life balance, they’ll have a much better long-term experience. 

Enjoy the Optimized Journey

Employees and employers are all in the same boat; we all come into work each day, trying to do our best to reach our goals and meet our needs. We all go through similar journeys, and we all have the right to enjoy the journey we’re on. Organizations play a pivotal role in the employee journey, and they have the responsibility to guide their people in a way that promotes happiness and success (incidentally increasing work productivity and motivation as well).

Hopefully, with these tips, you’ll know how to tweak your employee journey map to really maximize its effectiveness.