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The Importance of the Employee Experience

How can HR become an active creator of positive experiences?

The Importance of the Employee Experience

It’s no secret that a positive “employee experience” is the foundation for committed, motivated staff. We tell you what it means to listen in the digital world and how you can become an active creator of positive experiences. From the first click on the career page to the last working day before retirement - there are many opportunities to positively shape the image of your employer.

From Michael Frühauf

The first working day, a frequently talked-about experience

Quick question: Do you still remember your first day at your current employer’s? Imagine finding the following recommendation in your inbox for the first big meeting with your new colleagues: “For your initiation meeting you will be going on a walk. We therefore recommend you being good shoes for gravel paths.” Over rough and smooth ground, loaded with stories about the company, on my first day at HR Campus I went for a walk through the hilly Zurich uplands. An experience of a different kind, which in the following weeks became the most talked-about anecdote in my family and among my colleagues. This down-to-earth attitude as a lived-out value would probably have made less of an impression with a mere PowerPoint presentation within the walls of the office building. It’s now hard to resist the temptation to quote countless studies that show the positive influence between targeted “Employee Experience Management” and the relevant key figures, such as fluctuation, productivity, employee commitment, customer satisfaction and innovation (a good selection can be found here Forbes). For the time being I stick to my personal example and do not mainly pursue the question of why, but how.

What counts on the employee’s journey

On the “Employee Journey”, there are a vast number of experiences that, together, will shape the image held of the employer – in other words, enormous opportunities. What if HR were to consciously use these opportunities to make a positive impression and thus increase employee commitment?

In the specialist literature, the “employee experience” is divided into three dimensions: the physical, technological and cultural environment. Let us make it concrete with three examples:

  • the modern furnished room at the interview (physical environment)
  • the completely digitalised and smoothly functioning onboarding process (technological environment)
  • the appreciative conversation when leaving (cultural environment)

An investment in the physical, technological and cultural environment of the employee means a “YES” to a place where employees want to go to work, instead of simply having to. Our call to action: As HR, make positive experiences the core focus of all your actions. Easier said than done, but, let’s walk the talk.

Design the employee experience in four steps

The following steps have proven to be a successful recipe for putting the experience of employees at the centre:


1. Define the points of contact between HR and employees

Maybe it’s the first click on a career site, or the phone call with the recruiting partner – the first impression counts. But those who are only convincing at the beginning, miss by far the innumerable creative possibilities that HR has in its hands. Keeping track of the employee journey can help to identify the points of contact relevant to success. HR can take on the role of travel companion and organiser for the employees. The first step is therefore to consider which “moments that matter” are the most important and where HR has room for improvement.

2. Listen carefully, especially in the digital world

Once the deciding moments have been pinpointed, listening follows:

  • How is the career site received by the candidates (technological environment)?
  • Where is the potential for improvement in the onboarding process from the perspective of newcomers (cultural environment)?
  • Why are the offices on the 1st floor most popular among the staff (physical environment)?

The winner is the one who asks the right questions. In addition to direct feedback discussions with employees, more and more companies are turning to digital solutions when it comes to measuring the employee experience and introducing employee-focused improvements. To name but one advantage: Thanks to the anonymous digital collection of feedback, more honest opinions come out of the woodwork. The acquisition of Qualtrics by the software giant SAP is considered a groundbreaking event for the digitalisation of the employee experience. The new SAP-branded “Human Experience Management (HXM)” itself gives an idea of the direction in which the digital HR of tomorrow is moving. Since the acquisition of Qualtrics, the SAP SucessFactors HR Suite has been gradually enriched with ways to collect valuable feedback.

3. Try to understand your employees

At the coffee machine at 8 a.m. in the morning. The HR manager of an industrial company with 2'000 employees meets her two colleagues. Topic: The selection of new benefits for the employees. Sipping coffee, the HR manager wants to hear the opinion of both colleagues. What if the two colleagues were to suggest an “insurance discount”? In the firm belief that this is the most cost-effective and therefore preferred choice of their direct superiors? Whatever the answer is, the fact remains: Two voices are setting the tone here and the remaining 99.9% of the workforce voices remain unheard. There is no trace of a representative and promising decision basis for a positive employee experience. In this case, the participation of all employees in the form of a survey would probably have led to a different benefit – and vice versa, it would also have spurred on employee commitment.

Let’s stick with my introductory example, the first day of work. There's no question about it – I would have participated in an automatically generated mini-survey without hesitation:

4. Create, organise, and act based on facts

Thanks to digitalisation, valuable opinions can be collected and interpreted in real time. Fact-based foundations are the breeding ground for effective action and the common language of management. Are you prepared to play an active role in shaping the employee’s journey and promoting employee well-beeing? Our call to action: Be aware of the employee’s physical, technological and cultural environment. Identify key moments. Listen. Understand and act.


HR Strategies, HR Campus

Michael Frühauf

As a strategies consultant, Michael Frühauf focuses on the employee experience. Together with clients, he introduces new life into employees' technological, cultural and physical working environments. He is committed to perceptible and quantifiable HR.



Published: 14. July 2020

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