Defining your employee experience (part 2) : the touchpoints

After a first post on how to define the employee experience of a business and make it workable, this one is about how to make it practically happen.

As for customer experience, what really matters is to make the experience real and consistent at every touchpoint between the organization and the employee. But there is a big difference between employee and customer experience : even if customer experience can involve a lot of touchpoints (and if actually involves more and more as practitioners get savvier over time), the employee experience playground is much larger and has few limits.

So one the most critical job is to list all the possible touchpoints in the organization. Of course, optimizing each of them for employee experience is not possible even if you have an army dedicated to this mission but it will help to decide which ones should be prioritized.

Here’s an attempt to categorize the touchpoints to structure the approach has much as possible.

• Human touchpoints : as surprising as it may seem in a digital-driven world, the most important touchpoint in the organization is the human one. The main employee experience driver is people. One of the main reason why people leave a company is their manager. What makes them successful is their managers and colleague. A lot of what makes employees happy, productive, successful and help them to improve over time is the people they work with.

So, what do you expect from managers and employee to deliver the expected employee experience, to make work easy, engaging, effective for others ?

One may argue that it’s all about culture, management style etc and I agree. But I’ve never met any corporate culture or management model. I’ve only met the people and processes that are their result. So, of course, culture will be a trigger but the observable and measurable results will be at the people level.

• Organizational touchpoints : it’s about hierarchy, processes (business or support), decision making. Are the organization, its rules and how it works designed for effectiveness, simplicity and engagement or to make it hard for people to do they job. Does the organization help employees to run fast or does it tell them to run fast while chaining them to a millstone at the same time.

Processes, policies and rules are – most of times – designed for the wrong people. They don’t serve their internal customer (manager, employee) but the people who run them and eventually become their own reason for existing.

• Technology : employee experience is not about technology but technology ultimately has a role to play. As our work tools are more and more digitized, the digital workplace experience becomes critical. Every business knows that the more clicks the customer has to do the fewer customer go to the end of the process and buy but forcing employees to go through tons of screens, make tenths of clicks to perform a simple task or submit a form seems to be ok for everyone but the employee.

Let’s say things are they are : if websites and ecommerce sites were designed as intranets, digital workplaces, and business applications no one would buy anything online. So it’s a matter of user interface, user experience (which is not the same because the interface often relates to one application while the experience follows the flow of work and is cross application).

It’s a matter of look and feel, number of screens, of clicks, searchability etc. The search experience must be similar to what we have with google at home, every piece of information and person should must be less than four clicks away, everything should take “four clicks or less” to be done. The digital workplace must be mobile first, designed for experience and engagement.

Once again, too often, digitization was used to help the people running the processes, not the client of the process. We should not hear in the workplace that the “good old paper form send by internal snail mail was easier to use than the new expenses /reporting/ …. application”. Sadly, it not the case today and a big amount of time (and money) is being lost by 95% of employees for the benefits of the others 5%.

Let me also remind you the impact of employees having a poor digital work environment, being told there’s no budget for that while millions are being spent (and sometimes wasted) to build ephemeral product websites and digital campaigns : it causes frustration and disengagement.

You might say “we have too many apps and systems to work on this side of the employee experience”. Unfortunately this is where your employees are spending most of their time.

• Physical touchpoints : offices, desks, machines…. even if the intangible part of your employee experience rocks, it won’t be enough if the “physical” experience is terrible. This part ranges from considerations such as location or general appearance to more practical and functional things like the provided services, ability to book a meeting room with a QR code…everything that helps to provide an engaging and seamless experience within the physical environment.

The physical work environments is known for having a huge impact on engagement, well being and even collaboration and productivity, no matter we’re talking about offices, factories or warehouses.

Once the most critical touchpoints are listed (there may even be a global list completed by a job/department/business unit one) the point is to decide the right initiatives to start while being consistent with the targeted experience.

The best way to do that is to make a table. Lines will be filled with the touchpoints, columns with the components of the experience, as explained in my previous post. If – what is in fact very common – you’ve come to the conclusion that your employee experience should be about making things simple, engaging and empowering, then each cell will contain one or several initiatives that will help this touchpoint to deliver either a more empowering, simple or engaging experience. Of course most of celles will be left blank, some initiatives will cover several cells but it’s a pretty good way to have a structured approach, stay focused and consistent. Having ideas is easy, choose the ideas that contribute the most to the big picture is harder.

This framework also helps to manage the experience over time and check that any change made to a touchpoint – for any reason – contributes to the employee experience. As a matter of fact, large businesses are very talented at breaking with the one hand what they just built with the other.

The bottom line is that employee experience is not rocket science provided :

  • The C-Suite knows and states that it actually matters
  • The company knows what kind of experience is needed to support the business
  • Touchpoints are managed according to the employee experience and everything in the company must comply with employee experience to make sure the internal side of the company is aligned to support the promise made to the customer.


This post was published first on the HRN Blog.

Photo Credit: Employee Experience by Alexander Supertramp via Shutterstock


Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler
Head of People and Business Delivery @Emakina / Former consulting director / Crossroads of people, business and technology / Speaker / Compulsive traveler

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