The 3 Anchors of a Successful Employee Experience Plan

Understanding the milestones in employees’ professional and personal lives that impact their work is crucial to building a tailored employee experience framework.

Employee experience is about a person’s entire journey from the time they become aware your company exists to the point where they leave the planet. I like to call it the “hire to retire experience.” To design a positive employee experience framework, you must break down all the key touch points you have with employees throughout that journey, keeping in mind that each person’s experience is unique.

Moments that matter for employees at work begins with the recruitment process, receiving an offer letter, and their first 30 days. Onboarding and assimilation are crucial parts of the employee experience. But it doesn’t end there. Other milestones like the first year, professional development opportunities, or a promotion impact an employee’s experience with their organization. No two employees will have the same experience, even within the same department.

Part of the employee experience includes celebrating milestones. How do you acknowledge employees when the group achieves a collective goal? Do you celebrate when you hit your KPIs or a stock price goal? Do you celebrate personal milestones in addition to the company’s milestones?

Life events also impact an employee’s relationship with their company. One milestone in an employee’s life that often affects work is the birth or adoption of a child. Most companies have a maternity leave policy, some may even have a paternity leave policy. However, time off is not the only thing that impacts this moment in an employee’s life.

Few companies consider how the process of returning from extended leave impacts employees. What’s the process for getting the employee back up to speed once they return to work? Are there flexible work options available? You can break down each significant milestone or event your employees may encounter during their professional career into the vital parts that impact work as you build your employee experience strategy.

Once you have that holistic view of an employee’s experience with your organization, there are three anchors to keep in mind as you develop your employee experience framework.

1. The leader’s voice is crucial

How often during their experience do your employees hear from your leadership team? Consider it this way: What if on your first day on the job, you received a video message from the president of the company welcoming you to the team and saying, “We’re so glad you’re here.” What kind of impact would that make? Would it make you feel more connected to the overall company vision and goals?

The leader’s voice plays a huge part in the employee experience. When employees can find points of commonality with their leaders, it begins to humanize your leadership team. Leaders drive the company culture. Their voice anchors your organizational values.

When creating an internal communications plan, it’s crucial to provide places for leaders to share. It’s essential for leaders to model the cultural values and to have a place to praise employees when they witness those values demonstrated in the workplace. When employees can find points of commonality with their leaders, it begins to humanize your leadership team.

2. Plan communications for a better employee experience

Communication is another key anchor in the employee experience framework. Employees want and need to understand company information in a way that is relevant to their day to day work.

Sometimes organizations miss an important step in their communications plan. They may create a press release with all the details for external customers but neglect to share the information with employees. It may seem basic, but if you’re going to communicate with your customers about a change or a new product, your internal people should also be aware of those changes.

How employees receive communications is another critical aspect of the employee experience. When planning communications, you have to consider when and how employees will be able to receive those them. Different people need different information at different times.

It’s rare that everyone with an organization will sit at a desk in front of a computer all day long. Your sales team may be in the field calling on clients. If you work in healthcare or retail, your frontline workers may only be at a computer a few times a day. When creating your employee experience strategy, you need to plan how you will communicate important messages to all employees, regardless of where they work. Clear communication is an essential part of a positive employee experience.

3. One size does not fit all

Communication is not the only aspect that needs to be tailored when considering your employee experience. As the way we work changes, the way we view benefits needs to change as well. Not every employee is motivated by compensation or by time off. Employee perks are increasingly moving towards a smorgasbord of benefits that employees may choose from versus two or three benefits offered to all employees.

With more generations in the workplace than ever before, the one-size-fits-all approach no longer works for the majority of your workforce. More mature workers may want benefits like a 401k, healthcare, and paid time off. The younger workforce might be looking at community involvement, flextime, or the ability to bring their dog to work. An employee’s preferences may not always fall naturally along generational lines.

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Each employee has unique needs and expectations for their work experience. Paid time off work is a great example of this. Some employees may take time off in large chunks, while others take a few days here and there. How they use it is different, but not any less important. Understanding what benefits are important and how employees want to use them is unique to each employee and impacts their employee experience. If you try to put everybody in the same box, you are going to create a bad experience for some of your employees.

Like communication, employee experience should also be a two-way conversation. As an organization, you can offer an array of benefits, but if employees don’t help you define what benefits are most valuable to them, those benefits still may not improve the experience. How can leadership strengthen their employee experience strategy if they don’t know what employees want that experience to be?

Collecting feedback and acting on the suggestions is a critical part of improving the employee experience. By creating a framework where individuals can choose the benefits that impact and improve their work life the most, employees are more likely to appreciate and use the offerings available. When employees feel empowered to share their needs and ideas for improvements openly, they feel more engaged with their work.

The employee experience is unique to each employee. In an ideal world, to increase employee engagement and retention, each employee would have a tailored plan. However, that’s not realistic.

A more realistic approach is to segment your employees into as many targeted stakeholder groups as possible, based around those moments that matter and their communication needs. Then you can begin to discover the areas where one size doesn’t fit all to make improvements.

Stephanie Meyer

Stephanie Meyer is the director of growth & partnership at Bonfyre. She has over 20 years human performance consulting experience in the financial services, pharmaceuticals, and online retail/tech industries focused primarily on employee engagement, organizational strategy & design, change management, learning & development, and mergers & acquisitions.

Stephanie has B.S. in business with an emphasis in organizational behavior and an M.B.A. in management and human resources. She is also certified in Prosci® Change Management and Blended Learning by ATD®