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Employee Experience: What It Is and Why It’s Important

Creating a strong employee experience should be at the top of every company's to-do list. Here’s how to do it.

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What is employee experience?

Employee experience is a person’s perception of their journey through the company from recruitment until they leave. It’s how they internalize, interpret, and feel about the organization and the context behind those perceptions. The physical workspace, the relationship with the managers and their colleagues, the work itself, and the company’s culture all play a role in employee experience.

Every business owner is ready to invest to make the customer experience a stellar one. But not the same can be said about employee experience. However, this can play a crucial role in your business, productivity, and performance. It can be that final stepping stone that helps you reach your goals.

The stages of employee experience

Employee experience has five main stages:

  1. Recruitment. This is the person’s first contact with the company. Things that will shape their experience include how easy the application process is, how the interview goes, how quickly they can move between different phases and more.

  2. Onboarding. Once the person is employed, they need to start learning the ins and outs of their job and the company. Entering this stage, people are usually eager to learn. When this enthusiasm is quickly translated to a meaningful job and connection to the organization, the employee’s experience will be a positive one.

  3. Learning and development. This phase is ongoing from the moment the onboarding is complete until the person exits the company. People want companies where they constantly learn new things. The more chances they have to expand their skills, the better their experience.

  4. Retention. This phase goes hand in hand with the previous one. Creating a strong retention strategy will improve employee experience and retain top talent.

  5. Exit. Everyone will leave the company at some point, whether that’s because they have a better opportunity, or simply to retire. At this stage, people usually feel they have little to lose, so they’re more likely to be honest during an exit interview. Use this opportunity to improve the overall employee experience.

A cohesive strategy takes each of these stages into account, and introduces deliberate steps to improve the overall employee experience.

What are the benefits of a positive employee experience?

You know that the success of your organization is measured by customer experience. But did you know employee experience can influence customer experience?

Your employees’ perception will impact every aspect of your business. It can influence engagement, productivity, performance, turnover rates, and much more. Here’s how a positive employee experience can help your business.

1. It can boost engagement and reduce turnover

Engaged employees perform better and are less likely to quit. A positive employee experience is a vital contributor to engagement. When employees feel valued, have plenty of opportunities for growth, and appreciate their time with the company, they’re more likely to be engaged and do their best work. 

Plus, when they have a positive experience with the company, employees are less likely to quit unexpectedly.

2. It helps you attract top talent

The recruitment process can be difficult. You need to get the right person both in terms of knowledge and experience, but also in terms of their values. If possible, you need to do all that quickly to minimize the costs. 

Employee experience plays a huge role in your recruitment process. Firstly, companies where employees have a positive experience usually have excellent reviews on major job platforms such as Glassdoor. This means that top talent is more likely to apply when a position becomes available.

Secondly, there’s the experience of the person applying for the job. Their first impression of you is just as important as your first impression of them. If the application process is hard, slow, and unclear, or if the interviews feel hostile, people might retract their application or reject the offer.

Strong employee experiences are also a gold mine for recruitment marketing. By documenting and sharing what makes a company special, recruiters can build a strong case for why top performers should consider working there. It creates a flywheel effect where great experiences lead to great marketing, which in turn attracts top performers and drives the company forward.

3. It can increase performance

When you prioritize employee experience, including their psychological safety and development opportunities, you’ll notice an increase in performance. 

An employee who appreciates their workplace and has constant opportunities for improvement will be more motivated to do their best work all the time.

How to design a positive employee experience

Designing a strategy aimed at improving the employee experience isn’t something that can happen overnight. You need to decide what your goals are, what data you’ll use, and more. Here are a few steps to help you design an effective strategy to improve the employee experience.

1. Choose the stage(s) on which you want to focus

If you’ve never given employee experience much thought before, it is unrealistic to tackle every stage at the same time. So look at your current priorities. 

Will you be hiring many people in the near future? In that case, you need to start with the recruitment phase. 

Or maybe you want to focus on your current employees and improve engagement and retention. In that case, the learning and development, and retention phases should be your main focus.

2. Gather data

Now that you’ve chosen your priorities, it’s time to gather all the data to inform your strategy and actions. For example, if you’re focusing on the recruitment phase, look at HR metrics related to it.

These include the time to hire, acceptance rate, cost of hire, and more. The goal is to find what is working and what could be improved.

3. Run surveys

Metrics are a great and objective way to assess what’s going on in your company. But sometimes, you may need to dig a bit deeper and collect qualitative feedback directly from your employees. Engagement surveys can help you do this. 

Try to find out what employees want, what they like, and what they dislike. Be sure to let them know they won’t face negative repercussions for their answer. You can also choose to run anonymous surveys.

Engagement surveys aren’t the only type you can use. For example, if your focus is on recruitment or onboarding, run a candidate or an onboarding survey. Ask for feedback at various steps, such as following a new course. 

Finally, don’t forget about exit surveys. Regardless of why they’re leaving the company, people will usually give you a very honest look at what they liked and didn’t like while they worked there.

4. Communicate your findings and create a plan

The HR department is usually the one responsible for creating a strategy for a positive employee experience. Their superpowers can guide the company in creating the best experience for all. 

But they shouldn’t be the only ones involved. Once you have your findings, present them to managers. Together, you can decide on the next action steps and start creating the plan.

3 positive employee experience examples

Now that you understand what employee experience is and why it’s important, let’s see what it looks like in action.

Here are three employee experience examples from top-ranked companies.


eBay’s focus on creating a positive experience for employees is well known. Their secret? As Scott Judd, Sr. Director People Analytics told us, it’s empathy. Everything they create is always with others in mind and the way they will perceive it. 

By putting themselves in other people’s shoes, they can make the best decisions, support their customers and peers, and make sure everyone has the best experience possible.


Cisco is renowned for its flexible work schedule and for its remote and hybrid culture. Employees can choose when and where they work from. They also prioritize mental health and inclusion, which allows them to create a safe working environment.


On Glassdoor, 93% of employees approve of the company and would recommend it to a friend, while 98% approve of its CEO, Jensen Huang. That says a lot about their experience with the company!

How does the tech giant achieve this? Through various approaches that put the well-being of the people at the center. Besides a family-first approach, they also offer a flexible schedule, volunteering and donation opportunities, and a supportive team that’s always there when you hit a roadblock.

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Boost employee experience with people analytics

People analytics can help you review the employee experience metrics that matter and make decisions that will help you reach your goals. Analyze employee retention trends and talent acquisition insights to make informed workforce planning decisions that foster a positive employee experience.

Diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging (DEIB) are critical to a positive employee experience. People who work in diverse and supportive environments, where they feel safe no matter who they are, are happier and perform better. Use people analytics to measure and achieve your DEIB goals.

Collaboration analytics use collaboration as a marker of engagement and helps you get a complete view of how employees work together. The goal is to boost productivity and improve workforce effectiveness. Using people and collaboration analytics, you can help individuals grow and contribute in a way that benefits them, the team, and the company.

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