Why companies should start paying closer attention to their employee experience

People should be at the center of every company’s growth and innovation strategy. Period.

If customer experience (CX) is all about gaining and keeping loyal clients, employee experience (EX) is about gaining and keeping talent. It’s just as vital to keep customers happy as it is to keep team members happy. And while recent years have seen a boost in companies that understand the importance of a cohesive and positive company culture, there are still a lot of organizations behind the curve. 

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not just talking about glass offices with no walls, or arcade games in every room. Employee experience encompasses every step that a worker takes within the company—from the moment they apply for the position to the moment they leave the company.    

Employee experience isn’t about a random sequence of events anymore, especially when each step belongs to a different and siloed part of HR. It should represent a thoughtful journey tailored to employees’ specific needs.

Modern strides in employee experience

Of course, the sharpest leaders know that humans are a business’s most important asset. And they’re changing their approach to prioritize employee experience in their strategies. 

Take Goldman Sachs for example. The investment banking giant decided to invest in boosting its employee experience as a strategy to drive the bottom line.

Dr. David Landman, their global head of talent assessment, understands that, “The balance of power is shifting from the employer to the employee.” He adds, “It’s our responsibility to give people a fulfilling, high-quality experience in their workplace.” 

This means a lot, coming from big banking. But it’s not out of the kindness of their hearts that they’re shifting their focus. A recent study by Accenture shows that companies with a highly engaged workforce are 21% more profitable than companies with low employee engagement. And it’s no surprise, since happy and relaxed employees are more innovative, more creative, and better listeners.

Accenture themselves are in the know about these benefits, and have poured money and research into the field of employee experience. Randy Wandmacher, the firm’s HR lead, identified four key drivers of modern EX:

  1. People have grown accustomed to instant gratification, thanks to tailor-made services like Amazon, Netflix, or Spotify. These expectations have carried over into employees’ professional lives, and they’re demanding more and more from their places of work.
  2. The line between work life and personal life has become blurred by social media and close collaboration with clients, so employees increasing value company culture.
  3. Employees need flexibility. “Traditional models of working in a corporate office from 9-5, 5 days a week, are just outdated and old,” says Wandmacher.
  4. Different generations of workers envision their career paths in different ways, and employers should offer employees personalized journeys for growth and development.

So how do HR teams respond to these issues? 

“We involved our people in the [EX] design, so it was a real process of co-creation with real people,” Wandmacher said. “If it’s just HR sitting in the backroom designing what will be rolled out to people, HR has missed the point.”

Rather than telling employees to work from home once a week, for example, ask them what their ideal schedule would look like.

Hurdles to human-centered design

If it’s all rainbows and sunshine, why isn’t every company rushing to act and reap the benefits of a well-thought-out employee experience? 

One answer is that the results aren’t immediate. Leaders have to take a leap of faith when investing so much in one strategy or initiative, and if they aren’t sure it’s worth it, they tend to stick to improving old models rather than inventing new ones—like the four-day work week or professional development funds.

But even when senior leaders agree on the importance of employee engagement, many struggle to develop and execute initiatives that actually work.

According to Energage, “A majority of organizations still don’t administer engagement surveys or other disciplined ways of getting feedback—and this leaves leaders to assume (or guess) what matters most to their people.”

Improvements in employee experience will come one way or another. But the companies who focus on this soon—and do it well—will attract and retain top talent and ultimately find success.


Gabriela Machado believes people are the key to solving any existing problem. She is passionate about human-centered design and is currently pursuing the Master in Customer Experience & Innovation. She is also a travel blogger, food lover, and an inherently curious person. Connect with her on LinkedIn.