Why employee experience should be a holistic, personalized journey

An employee experience is comprised of a series of moments. Moment that matter.

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“As leaders, we have an opportunity to create better employee experiences during these times of uncertainty,” Teresa Smith, senior manager of the strategic advisory group at UKG, said Thursday during the virtual HR Technology Conference & Expo.

“[The employee experience] covers all interactions an employee has with a company before, during and after their tenure,” she said. “It’s important we’re creating an experience that will help organizations attract, develop and retain the workforce they need to drive their business forward.”

Three main areas, she said, really make an impact on these moments that matter:

  • Physical experiences (facility, break room or even the parking lot)
  • Human experiences (relationships with managers, customers and colleagues)
  • Digital experiences (related to the opportunities and tools that allow employees to perform their jobs)

“But with more and more people working remote, the lines between work and life are less clear,” she said. “You need to layer in the personable moments that matter.”

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Employers need to take a closer look at the employee’s whole journey through their company so they can better identify moments that truly matter to them and prepare them with the tools they’re expecting, she said.

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“When an employee encounters a moment that matters to them personally or impacts their job performances anywhere on their employee journey, it can have a negative impact,” she said.

Leaders need to take the whole employee into account when thinking about the experience, Chris Mullen, executive director of The Workforce Institute at UKG, added.

Every employee is different. For example, in the employees’ journey, while they’re at work, we know they’re training or mentoring, but what about their personal life? Are they married? Do they have children? Are they moving?

“What we don’t see or know about, these are in the background and impacting who they are,” he said. “This is what differentiates your employee experience.”

For example, Mullen said, experiences can happen in something as simple as clocking in and out for work. Whether it creates a positive or negative moment that matters depends on your company culture.

“Technology truly can be the difference between frustration and elation,” he said.

Taking a slightly deeper look into a specific part of the employee journey: requesting time off for vacation.

What does taking vacation look like from your employee’s perspective? Mullen asked.

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“There could be disconnects, like difficulty in accessing PTO balances. Or what about requesting, is it an arduous process? Could it be a negative moment??

And what about for managers? Are they juggling multiple requests, adding administrative burdens to their workload?

This is where tech can help. For example, you could have an automated system, and tell the system that if no one is already off, to approve the employee’s PTO request, he said.

If a dad with kids finds a deal on a flight or hotel and misses those discounted rates because he was waiting for signatures on a PTO request form, that could cause a really negative experience, he said.

And to take it one step further, Smith of UKG pointed to tech and AI as tools that can help prevent burnout by monitoring whether employees are taking time off.

“Think of it holistically and look for opportunity throughout the entire life cycle,” she said. “If you spend all your time focused on recruiting and onboarding, and you haven’t put time into engagement or retention strategies, it probably isn’t going to create a good experience.”

Of course, along with a great experience comes expectations, she said. “If you’re setting that precedent at the beginning of an employee’s experience, you want to make sure you’re setting yourself up to maintain that through the entire employee lifecycle.”


The HR Tech Conference will feature free, virtual content through Oct. 30. There is still time to register. For more information, click HERE.

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Nick Otto
Nick Otto is HRE’s former senior digital editor. He is a professional communicator with more than a decade of demonstrated accomplishments in newspaper and trade publishing. He has spent the past five years covering the employee benefits space and holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Florida.