Articles & Insights

Safeguarding Employee Experience – The ‘EX’ Factor

“It’s not about what actually happened; rather, it’s about how the employee perceived what happened. Hence, it’s not just a factor of what a company throws at its employees; it’s how they perceive and interpret the company’s intentions. EX can be good or bad; it can be positive or negative. Your EX can either destroy your organization or transform it into something great.” -Matthew Wride

“So, my philosophy has always been, if you can put your staff first, your customers second, and shareholders third, effectively, in the end, the shareholders do well, the customers do better, and [your staff remains] happy.”
-Richard Branson

Gallup recently published it’s finding that in 2017, 85% of employees were not engaged or were actively disengaged with their work! As companies compete to attract the best talent, one of the most obvious trends we expect to see continue into 2018 is the further improvement of the employee experience (EX). EX, simply put is when an employee’s expectations meet the reality of working at your company. It’s tempting to view EX as things like sofas in the employee lounge, or putting up slogans by famous company people lauding the value of “our people”, but it isn’t. So, just what is it?

The writer interviewed a manager who participated in a week-long company designed leadership training seminar. Participants got to know each other well over the week. Although a deep camaraderie developed amongst the participants, their opinions of the firm which had started low, did not improve. Why? One reason was that the instructors emotionally stated several times that they had been begging their boss not to move them out of teaching the class, because they loved it so much. They had hoped to convey their passion for teaching and training employees, but they were inadvertently also conveying that at this company, you had to beg your boss not to take away what was important to you.

Another problem was that every employee participating had recently seen coworkers suddenly laid-off. They were concerned they might be next, since further layoffs were forthcoming. Whatever their expectations had been working there, those expectations were consumed by the reality that the firm was not meeting their expectations. Rather, the experience employees had was one of impending doom. It’s doubtful any company wants their employees to feel that way.

Our purpose here is not to argue about the necessity of layoffs. It’s to help illuminate that to the extent your employees’ expectations are met or exceeded by the reality of working at your firm, the better your firm’s EX is. The inverse is also true. Employees must experience being valued, or that their contributions are making a positive impact if we are to improve EX. Here is how Gallup described these unengaged employees.

“…they are not your worst performers, but they are indifferent to your organization. They give you their time, but not their best effort nor their best ideas. They likely come to work wanting to make a difference — but nobody has ever asked them to use their strengths to make the organization better.”

EX is not so much concerned with whether employees like the new ping pong tables in the lounge. Rather, are ping pong tables perceived by your employees as desired expressions of the firm’s appreciation for them? Or additionally, are an employees’ efforts perceived by that employee as having made a positive difference in the firm/world?

Companies often pride themselves on surprising and delighting their customers. What might happen if they did the same for their workers?

Author: Taylor Bradford