Understand, Design, and Build your Ideal Employee Experience: A Practical Guide

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Our world is accelerating – tech is supposed to simplify our lives but it seems to be doing the exact opposite. Nowhere is this more apparent than in our workplaces. In fact, only 33% of today's workforce is engaged. To help people manage this noise, some companies are taking innovative steps to provide a more conducive working experience. Here's a glimpse into how.   

Employers attract the talent they deserve and vice versa.  Taking this a step further, organizations comprised of certain people, in turn, attract and retain the customers they deserve. Companies are discovering that aligning these two focuses, customer-facing approaches with talent acquisition and development strategies, can result in lucrative gains for the entire organization.

This process – called the employee experience – has become mainstream over the past couple of decades due to three major themes.

  1. Technology is radically disrupting the markets we work in and straining traditional business models.
  2. Employees are demanding innovative work environments that cater to their personal goals and overall well-being.
  3. Employee bases are shifting (we’ll only use the word millennials once...).

To adjust to these external pressures, organizations are having to reevaluate, redesign, and realign their employee experience with new company objectives to drive growth and keep up with shifting landscapes. Every day a new job title of the person or division that is responsible for managing this transition process pops up: Chief Employee Experience Officer, Chief Culture Officer, Engagement & Talent Analytics, it goes on and on. The moral of the story is that companies are transitioning from a see and react mentality to a measure and predict philosophy to build more agile and proactive employee- and customer-centered businesses.     

The Psocratic index, alongside reports from Deloitte, Gallup, and countless others over the past two years, indicates why companies are focusing on the employee experience – essentially, companies with higher employee satisfaction and engagement rates dramatically outperform their peers. Gallup recently discovered that 70% of employees at the world’s top performing and most profitable organizations are engaged compared to only 33% of employees in the U.S. This translates to $350 billion in lost revenue annually!

To reduce this gap, and unleash the potential of our workforces, we need to do a better job of taking our customer-centric model and applying it internally to better understand and cater to the desires and drivers of the talent we want to attract and keep around.

The benefits are clear, but what exactly is the Employee Experience?  

Jacob Morgan, a regular Forbes contributor and author on workplace innovation, defines the employee experience as "the intersection of employee expectations, needs, and wants and the organizational design of those expectations, needs, and wants."

Similar to customer and user experience, the employee experience is the process of understanding the behavior and responses people have from the moment they learn about an organization to after they leave it, then taking this understanding and aligning it with company objectives to redesign how people interact with an organization at key moments to drive desired outcomes. In short, it’s all about building sustained relationships with the right people and growing together in a mutually beneficial way.


To cultivate this symbiotic relationship between an organization and its workforce, employers must understand, design, and build an Employee Experience that does the following:

  1. Maps out the employee experience to address key touchpoints.
  2. Makes sense of employee behaviors, desires, and drivers.
  3. Makes the experience social to build a culture that fosters collaboration, connection, and communication.

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1st: Mapping out the Employee Experience from Beginning to End to Identify Key Touchpoints.

To design a better employee experience, organizations must understand how employees engage with an organization: i.e. the work they are doing, the workplace they are in, and the workforce they are apart of. How are employees responding positively or negatively to the recruitment cycle, on-boarding process, promotional periods & transitions, compensation & benefits, physical and social environment, recognition, and exit?

This is a simplified version — here is a useful link to apply it more broadly.

Once a comprehensive map is started, organizations can begin to identify key touchpoints along the employee experience for specific demographics and cohorts. Measuring information during these touchpoints allows companies to make informed changes to their recruitment cycle, people operations, and workplace culture to provide employees with catered experiences to address their desires and drivers (as if they were a target customer). IBM is one such company that used this approach to their advantage. After mapping out the employee experience for a few geographies they were able to save more than $130 million by identifying when employees were at risk of leaving and taking the right steps to prevent it from happening. Furthermore, by taking action at these key touchpoints they were able to strategically align IBM's goals and mission with those of their workforce to ensure that both were growing in tandem. 

Similarly to customer experience, mapping out the touchpoints for the employee experience doesn’t provide any value unless the behaviors and desires of the target audience are well understood, in this case, an organization's preferred talent.

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2nd: Personalize the Employee Experience.

Companies that have a superior understanding of their target customer outperform their peers. Companies that have a superior understanding of their workforce and a customer- and employee-centric model define our top organizations.  

The first step to making the experience personal is to get to know your employees at a deeper level and uncover what motivates them to stay engaged and productive. Gaining insights into employee's personality and behaviors, and grouping key employee segments (like customer personas), provides HR managers with the information needed to start designing better experiences across key touchpoints for target audiences. Who are your best performers, and how do you identify and encourage them to stay engaged?

Just like organizations need to know the particularities of their customers and their desires and drivers, they must also have an intimate understanding of their own workforce and what drives them.

Companies are creating more robust talent and engagement analytics capabilities to keep an updated pulse to gain these insights. To do this, employees are asked frequent questions regarding personal and professional expectations, health motivators, social and team preferences, vision for the future, how they wish to contribute and grow with an organization, and what environment they tend to thrive in. While this information is a useful first step, it takes more than incoming data to create positive employee experiences.

Similar to customer-facing divisions, the employee experience has to be constantly updated to drive positive outcomes over time. Keeping this pulse necessitates new ways of communicating with employees, understanding behavior, and using data proactively to adjust and align the company mission with employee offerings.


As employers improve their understanding of what motivates employees to stay engaged and productive in their workplace, they can apply this knowledge to the various touchpoints that have been identified, ideally in real time.

Companies that use this approach, such as Airbnb, IBM, Cisco, and countless others, have taken it beyond engagement surveys and short-term solutions – like wellness campaigns – and instead use a holistic and proactive toolkit that ties in the overall culture and vision of the company to make continuous improvements.    

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3rd: Use Employee Experience Design to Improve Team Connection and Workplace Culture by Placing the Emphasis on Collaboration, Not Individual Output.

Measuring the employee experience is not just about the individual, it also covers how people expect to interact with their peers and overall workplace environment. To understand this relationship, companies must be able to answer how employees prefer to collaborate with their team, how they want to communicate both horizontally and vertically within an organization, and what support systems and connections do they rely on to accomplish goals. With this information, organizations can design jobs, teams, and entire environments that attract and retain the best talent, and subsequently, the best clientele.

Designing the employee experience with a social connection in mind is key to improve communication, collaboration, and connection to drive a company’s growth and to build a culture that works. To use a worn out yet relevant analogy, employees at Facebook, Google, and Apple expect the whole employee experience to meet their expectations. To accomplish this, these tech leaders work tirelessly to create holistic workplace cultures and brand perceptions (that may be borderline cultish, we agree) that promote social innovation and collaboration, unequivocal reasons they report the highest satisfaction and profitability per employee.    

Designing a business that is customer-centered and mission-driven is the goal. The best way to do this is to align business objectives with a well-designed employee experience that is always being updated, personalized, and social. Once employees start to think and feel like target customers they can begin to build stronger and more empathetic relationships and products that translate to higher satisfaction, engagement, profitability, and connection for everyone involved. Plus, companies with this mentality are the most enjoyable places to work!

If this method is something that interests you we would love to hear your thoughts! Please leave a comment or reach out directly. 

Psocratic is a proactive behavioral health platform on a mission to advance workplace culture and wellbeing. Schedule a demo or say hello: info@psocratic.com 🙌