The 6 key elements of employee experience

“Engagement alone doesn’t fully capture employee experience,” according to new research.
By: | September 9, 2019 • 4 min read

Some HR professionals believe that employee experience improves the longer that workers stay on the job, especially when considering employee social networks, promotions, or rewards and recognition for their contributions.

But, based on a survey conducted earlier this year of roughly 1,400 workers in more than eight industries, after six months on the job, the enthusiasm of employees diminishes by about 22%.

The survey was conducted by ServiceNow, which offers a cloud-based platform that delivers digital employee experiences to enhance productivity. According to the company’s Employee Experience Imperative Report, employers aren’t supporting employees’ basic needs on a day-to-day basis during the employee lifecycle.


“Enthusiasm should get better over time,” says Sunita Khatri, senior manager in the product marketing team at ServiceNow. “But research is signaling to HR that forgetting to solve everyday moments and flow of work [issues] matters. That can lead to friction, causing a negative view of someone’s ability to be connected to their job or purpose.”

The survey revealed that 45% of employees still struggle to obtain information and answers to basic questions, such as finding a company policy or resolving an equipment-related problem. While only 41% believe their employers make it easy to select their equipment before their first day on the job, 51% say their employers make it easy to receive the equipment necessary to perform their responsibilities when starting their job.

Khatri says the next HR transformation will focus on delivering the best experience imaginable, which starts with improving internal customer service. Unfortunately, HR professionals are so focused on workforce strategy that internal customer service is an afterthought.

“Think about the design of significant moments,” she says. “Research validates that most employees today go through a leave of absence, onboarding, promotion, job or location transfer, have paycheck issues or offboard. These are the moments to look at to deliver a great experience.”

There’s plenty of room for improvement. Take onboarding. New hires often lack immediate access to computers, software, passwords or even working phones, adds Shekar NV (Nalle Pilli Venkateswara), senior director of talent management and organizational alignment at Willis Towers Watson.

“Most employees really struggle with these basic things on the first few days of work,” he says. “We take onboarding for granted but it’s a very complex process behind the scenes and, unfortunately, very rarely comes together to provide a beautiful experience. Employers really need to get this right. They’ve only taken baby steps.”

The employee experience can also be enhanced by expanding networking opportunities for all talent, including freelancers and contractors. Whether digital, virtual or face to face, NV says, the more employees are brought together, the more they feel welcomed by the organization and connected to each other.

Beyond Employee Engagement

Earlier this year, BetterUp, which offers a mobile-based leadership-development platform, surveyed 17,000 U.S. workers across 18 different industries. It researched the relationship between employee experience and its employee experience index (EX), which is comprised of six elements—authenticity, engagement, optimism, purpose and meaning, social connection, and belonging.

Among the organization’s findings was that “engagement alone doesn’t fully capture employee experience.” The relationship between EX and productivity was six times higher than for engagement alone. While these elements have risen to importance among employees, many HR professionals are not measuring them to better understand their relationship to business outcomes.

Surprisingly, employee experience varies by industry, says Evan Sinar, head of assessments at BetterUp. IT workers are 2.4 times more likely to have a strong employee experience than those in retail. The employee experience for workers in healthcare and financial services is also higher than for those in government, automotive and manufacturing. Sales functions rank at the bottom.